Like heroin, cocaine and caffeine, sugar is an addictive, destructive drug, yet we consume it daily in everything from cigarettes to bread.
–William Dufty, author of Sugar Blues.
It is that time of year again (Lent) when many people choose to give something up for 40 days. This year I have been reading on a number of blogs and hearing from friends that they will be giving up sugar or sweets. I had a friend ask about tips for giving up sugar here are my top 5 tips:
1. Chew More! Saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste. The more we chew, the sweeter our food becomes, so we don’t crave those after-meal sweets. Chewing also reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food.
2. Eat more grains, beans, vegetables and fruit. Unprocessed, sugar contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and proteins. When whole grains are cooked, chewed and digested, the natural carbohydrates break down uniformly into separate glucose molecules. These molecules enter the bloodstream, where they are burned smoothly and evenly, allowing your body to absorb all the good stuff.
3. Be aware of hidden sugars. The recommended daily intake of sugar is 10 teaspoons. There are many “healthy” foods that contain massive amounts of sugar for example a lemon poppy seed Clif Bar has 21 grams of sugar, or 5 teaspoons. The worst part is that a chocolate-glazed cake donut from Dunkin’ Donuts, has less sugar at 14 grams/3 teaspoons than its “healthy” counterpart. Additionally, don’t forget about your morning or afternoon Starbucks run that Grande Frappuccino actually contains 44 grams of sugar, or 10 teaspoons- a full days allowance!
4. Eat balance foods and find balance in your life. If you focus on eating foods that make us feel balanced you can naturally reduce cravings and feel healthier and happier. Balanced Foods include: Brown rice; Whole grains: brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, oats; Vegetables: squash, carrots, parsnips, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.; Dark, leafy greens; Beans and legumes. Along with eating balanced foods you also need to take time to make sure you are finding balance in all other aspects of your life including your relationships, physical activity, spirituality and career. When you have balance in all of these you will then find that your cravings will start to disappear.
5. DRINK WATER! One of the primary causes of cravings is dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water. However like everything else you need to find a balance because excess water can also cause cravings; don’t over hydrate.