Tips for Reducing Sugar from Your Diet
Removing sugar from your diet can be one of the most difficult things that you attempt to do on your journey to health, but you probably already knew that. What you might not know is why this seemingly simple act is so challenging. Why does sugar have such power over us?
The answer might surprise you. When you eat sugar, your brain responds by producing opioids—those chemicals that cause feelings of pleasure and euphoria similar to those which come from using mood altering drugs like morphine and heroin. You literally have a whole-body physiological reaction when you eat sugar, and it feels great.
And since it feels so great, your brain wants to repeat the action again and again, so it drives you to seek out more sugar by releasing a chemical called Dopamine. This chemical increases your motivation for more sugar pleasure and propels you to seek out the foods that provide it. When you eat it, your brain rewards you by releasing opioids.
So resisting that brownie is a complicated process involving powerful physiological processes beyond your immediate control. That is why it is so hard. But it is not impossible. You can kick the sugar habit by following a few simple tips:
1. Understand the process. When you are staring down a piece of chocolate cake, it will help you to remember what is happening in your body. Being aware of the chemical processes at work will help you make the decision to resist.
2. Be patient. It takes a while to get over your sugar dependence and cravings. Don’t get frustrated with yourself if it takes longer than you would like.
3. Go slowly. The process of cutting out sugar will be much easier if you do it gradually. For example, if you normally put two teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, reduce it to one and one-half for a few days. Once you have adjusted to this amount, drop it down to one teaspoon, and so on. This gives your taste buds a chance to adapt.
4. Remove sugary foods. If you are not surrounded by sugary foods, you will eat less of them. Go through your kitchen, your office and even your car and get rid of all high-sugar foods.
5. Get support. Kicking the sugar habit is much easier if you do it with a friend. Ask a friend to join you so that you can provide accountability and encouragement for each other.
6. Manage stress. When you are stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol causes you to crave sugary foods. Learning stress management techniques will equip you to handle stressful situations in productive ways.
7. Eat a balanced diet. Make sure that every meal or snack that you eat contains a combination of protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains, vegetables and whole fruits). Well-balanced meals will reduce sugar cravings by keeping your blood sugar levels even.
A few of the benefits you will reap as a result of consuming less sugar –
1. Reduced Cravings. Because you have disrupted this pleasure seeking/ reward cycle, you will be rewarded with reduced cravings. Your body will not attempt to trick you nearly as often as it has or as forcefully. This act would aid you in boosting your WILLPOWER.
2. The ability to eat more food. Sugar is an energy dense substance (lots of calories, not a lot of space). By removing the calories form Sugar, you will have the ability to eat a lot more quality foods and most likely reduce your total energy intake.
3. Better energy with less “crashing”. By reducing your sugar intake, you most certainly would reduce the energy swings that you experience during the day. This would allow you to feel consistently better throughout the day.
4. Improved Performance. With the reduction of energy swings, crashes and cravings, this will benefit your performance. By adding in foods that fuel your body and create balanced energy you can have improved energy for performance and recover better from workouts.
5. Mental Clarity. By reducing total sugar intake and eating better quality foods you will not only feel better due to not crashing, but, you will have better mental clarity and focus because you will stop fighting with yourself over cravings and spending energy and effort where there is no benefit to you.