Beating the Sweets: Kicking the Sugar Addiction

Sugar and spice and everything nice, right? Spice, yes. Sugar, not so much. Recent reports link sugar, not fat, to our nation’s obesity epidemic.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, “Obesity rates have more than doubled in adults and children since the 1970’s:

  • 68.5% of adults are overweight or obese; 34.9% are obese.
  • 31.8% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese; 16.9% are obese.
  • 30.4% of low-income preschoolers are overweight or obese.” (http://frac.org/initiatives/hunger-and-obesity/obesity-in-the-us/)

Sugary drinks, particularly sodas, are major contributors to the problem (especially when it comes to childhood and youth obesity). A 12-ounce can of Coca Cola contains about 39 grams of sugar (a can of Pepsi has 41 grams); a one-liter bottle of Coke contains about 108 grams of sugar (that’s 400 calories from sugar!). Any nutritionist, or your mom, will tell you that’s just too much sugar. Recent World Health Organization draft guidelines suggest that sugar should make up only 5% of your daily total calories (this is about half of previous suggested amounts). That means that just ONE soda would put you over the top. 

We can drill down further into this quagmire of bad news, but let’s look at the bright side: there is something you can do about it! Though more and more doctors claim that sugar is addictive in the same way that heroin or cocaine are addictive, you can create your own 12-step program for freedom from the white stuff (this is particularly poignant as we start to think about the chocolate bunnies and jellybeans of Easter).

  1. Eat regularly – this means about five small meals each day. If you are hungry, you’re more likely to reach for sweets.
  2. Choose whole foods – closest to their original state (think strawberries or tomatoes).
  3. Eat a protein-rich breakfast – breakfasts packed with carbs will just cause you to crash and reach for the white stuff for a little pick-me-up.
  4. Exercise – the more you move your body, the better you’ll feel about it and the better you’ll feed it.
  5. Stay hydrated – thirst can create sugar cravings.
  6. Read labels – the more you read, the more hidden sugar you will find.
  7. Make it spicy – spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are naturally sweet and without calories.
  8. Keep sweets out of the house.
  9. Breathe – before you reach for a sweet snack, take a moment to breathe and be mindful about your actions. You may just change your mind.
  10. Get enough sleep – tired people reach for sweets to get that boost. This is especially true of college kids. Ever heard of the Freshman Fifteen?
  11. Reset your appetite with a seasonal cleanse or detox.
  12. Do not use artificial sweeteners. New research reveals the dangers of artificial sweeteners.
  13. Give yourself a little bit of a treat every once in a while – perhaps weekly. Make it special (think gourmet chocolate instead of a candy bar).

Did we step 12-step program?