Sugar: How to Minimize Cravings and Eliminate It From Your Diet
Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or carnivore, one of the best things you can do for your health and waistline is to give up added sugar. For most of us, this is easier said than done because sugar is addictive; giving it up can make you irritable, jittery, and moody.
Why We Crave It
Sugar has some of the same characteristics as a toxic drug. When sugar hits our bloodstream it stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain that respond to heroin and cocaine. Eating just a small amount creates cravings for more, and quitting suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms, like headaches, mood swings, cravings, and fatigue.
The good news is there are some things you can do to minimize withdrawal symptoms, including those dreadful cravings for more sugar and carbs. And, this, of course, will help you eliminate it from your diet entirely.
It’s common for people who are transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet to eat more simple carbohydrates, like pasta bread, and desserts.
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash
How To Minimize Cravings
Increase Serotonin Levels
Serotonin is the body’s feel-good neurotransmitter and can help stop cravings. Higher levels also help you to sleep better and boost your moods. To increase serotonin levels try the following:
Get plenty of sunshine
It’s scientifically proven that sunlight increases serotonin levels. No wonder we feel so good after a day at the beach!
Take Rhodiola or 5-HTP 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) Supplements
Rhodiola, an adaptogen, can raise serotonin levels, and feel-good opioids. Opioids produce morphine-like effects and are commonly used for pain relief.
The body converts 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) to serotonin and can help with sleep, mood, anxiety, appetite, and pain.
Take Magnesium and Vitamin C Supplements
Magnesium deficiency is common, especially for vegetarians, vegans, and others who eat a lot of grains. If you’re deficient, it can increase sugar cravings.
Another supplement that can help with sugar cravings is Vitamin C. Take 2,000 milligrams a day, but only during the sugar detox process and until strong cravings decrease or stop.
The average American consumes 77 pounds of added sugar per year!
Once you get your cravings under control, eliminating all added sugars from your diet becomes easier. It’s okay to cheat once in a while, but keep in mind that if you start eating sugar again, the addiction will return quickly.
Eliminating Sugar: A Good Place To Start
Sugar can be a hard habit to quit. Precisely how hard depends on just how much sugar you currently consume daily.
A good place to start is to focus on the hidden sugar in your diet. Read food labels and notice the amount of added sugar there is in everyday products. You’ll be astounded at how much you’re consuming. Then, start eliminating these processed foods from your diet. You can replace them with healthy, sugar-free alternatives, or foods with natural sugars like fruit.
More Reasons to Give Up Sugar
Sugar damages your skin, promotes premature aging and causes hard-to-lose weight. But there’s something much worse: it feeds and promotes cancer. The sugar and cancer connection is not well-known, nor has it been publicized in mainstream sources. Yet, the connection is backed by solid research, including the following:
- Pancreatic cancer cells use the sugar fructose to help tumors grow more quickly. This was discovered by researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. They concluded that anyone wishing to cut their cancer risk should start by reducing the amount of sugar they eat.
- Depriving cancer cells of glucose leads to cancer cell death. The research was conducted by Thomas Graeber (a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology) and colleagues, and then published on June 26, 2012, in the journal Molecular Systems Biology.
- Sugar feeds tumors. Research that was done by the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, states “. . tumor cells use a lot more glucose than normal cells. Our research helps show how this process takes place, and how it might be stopped to control tumor growth.”
- Women in their teens who ate high–glycemic foods that increased their blood glucose levels had a higher incidence of breast cancer later in life. The study was done by Harvard Medical School in 2004.
- Cancers are so sensitive to the sugar supply that cutting that supply will suppress cancer. This was the conclusion of a comprehensive review of the literature on carbohydrates and their direct and indirect effect on cancer cells. It was published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism in October of 2011.
With so many reasons to give up added sugar can you afford not to? I can guarantee from experience that once you do, you will not miss it. And your body and mind will thank you.
“Sugar Love (A not so sweet story)” By Rich Cohen, National Geographic
“Smile! This Sugar Helps Your Teeth”, John Doullard
© 2021 Living Well Health Coach
Disclaimer: The information on this site is for information purposes only. It is not intended to replace your healthcare professional or provide diagnosis or treatment.