There’s no question that excess sugar isn’t good. It’s linked to an increase in belly fat and energy crashes, plus it can even worsen fine lines and wrinkles. But it can be hard to tame cravings for the sweet stuff, especially after weeks of holiday sweets - but it is possible to rein in that sweet tooth.
When combined with fat, sugar can trigger the release of feel-good hormones and stimulate the same areas of the brain that are also activated by addictive drugs.
- A high sugar intake is linked to high cholesterol and triglycerides, obesity, and other risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
- The AHA recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories of added sugar per day, and men not more than 150 calories.
- To help curb your cravings for the sweet stuff, try these six sugar slashing strategies:
Go cold turkey. Sugars and white carbs are absorbed almost immediately, causing a rapid rise then crash of blood sugar, insulin, and energy. The result: We’re looking for more sugar for a pick-me-up. Nixing sugar altogether may seem extreme, but that can be what it takes to get cravings under control.
Minimize artificial sweeteners. There’s a lot of debate about whether or not artificial sweeteners help or hinder weight loss efforts, but my clients who consume large amounts of these highly concentrated sweeteners seem to have trained their taste buds and brains to become acclimated to intensely super-sweet foods and drink.
Make an extra effort to incorporate protein (especially with breakfast and snacks). Incorporating enough protein – particularly at breakfast – can help to curb cravings, burn more calories, and consume fewer calories throughout the day.
Stay hydrated. One of the first signs of being even slightly dehydrated is fatigue, and when that sleepiness hits (think afternoon energy dip), it’s easy to turn to sugar for a quick pick-me-up.
Get enough sleep. Studies have consistently shown that lack of sleep can impact hormones that regulate our appetite and blood sugar levels. Most of us need about seven or eight hours a night.
Watch out for sugar fake-outs. Even seemingly healthy foods can be loaded with sugar. Whole grain breakfast cereals, cartons of low-fat flavored yogurt, granola bars, 100% fruit juice, frozen yogurt, and even ‘diet’ products like Slim-Fast shakes and Special K Meal Bars are often loaded with sugars.