Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.
The average person in the United States consumes 76.7 pounds of sugar per year according to the United States Department of Agriculture. This might be why the United States has earned itself recognition as the “world's largest consumer of sweeteners, including high-fructose corn syrup,” an honor not to be overly proud of.
While it's difficult to nail down all the different sweet sources to consider, as many sugars are naturally occurring, the worrisome load seems to be coming from processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages.
However consumption reports are analyzed, one thing is spot on—we’re eating a lot of sugar.
Why do we have sugar cravings?
Perhaps we should be looking at sugar intake as an addiction. Forbes states that “chronic added-sugar consumption is no less a problem than smoking or alcoholism.”
We have deep positive associations etched into our brains when it comes to eating sweets. Mood enhancing neurotransmitters such as serotonin are released when we consume sugary products. But eating sweets must come to an end at some point. When we eat sugar, we are testing the body’s ability to pump out insulin, and then are forced to inject insulin. Or, we may suffer from the feelings of high blood sugars including lethargy, blurry vision, increased urination, and grumpiness.
But have you ever noticed that you care less about candy or cake if you haven’t eaten it for a while?
Instead of treating our low blood sugars with processed sugars and carbohydrates, let’s satiate them with natural sugar sources like fruit or whole wheat bread. If low blood sugars are occurring frequently, education and medication changes may be needed.
It’s hard to stop craving processed food. But it is possible.
7 tips to rid yourself of your sugar cravings
1. Eat real food regularly. This means ditching the boxes of processed foods including crackers, cookies, chips, and more.
2. Go cold turkey and detox simple sugars from your diet to reduce cravings. This means you have to stop consuming white flour products and anything in the bakery, along with candy.
3. Try substituting dried fruit or fresh fruit during cravings and low blood sugars.
4. Explore any emotional attachments you have with food. Processed food may be your comfort blanket. Learn how to channel your emotions into healthier behaviors like running, reading, playing music, etc.
5. Be sure your diet includes adequate protein and natural fat for satiation. Natural fats like avocado and nuts help satisfy your stomach.
6. Meet with a dietitian for support and guidance, especially with label reading.
7. Deconstruct what you’re about to eat. Ask yourself what the ingredients are. This practice may stop you in your tracks and prevent you from eating the unhealthy, processed food.
Think you can go a week without sugar? How about just a day? The longer you go, the easier it will get. Let us know how you do in the comments below.