You've been hooked to sweets from before you were born. It's not your fault! Blame evolution if it makes you feel better (but it won't help)....
Scroll down for 5 Ways to Kick the Cravings...
How sugar affects the brain
In the excellent Ted_Ed video above, Dr. Nicole Avena explains that when you eat something loaded with sugar, your taste buds, your gut and your brain all take notice. This activation of your reward system is not unlike how bodies process addictive substances such as alcohol or nicotine -- an overload of sugar spikes dopamine levels and leaves you craving more. Nicole Avena explains why sweets and treats should be enjoyed in moderation.
Many factors may lead an individual to repeatedly consume high sugar foods and/or beverages, including social and psychological factors, however, the neurobiological changes that occur in response to excessive consumption of sugary foods is what we believe causes the addictive cycle. We believe that a sugar addiction can be cured by breaking the cycle of overeating these types of food.
Hardwired from birth to crave sweets...
While our ancestral human diet varied for different groups of our forebears who lived in different habitats, it did have certain common features. It was a diet that was mostly vegetarian, with very little fat (probably about 10 percent of total calories) and very little sugar. Sweet flavors were rarely encountered—they typically occurred in ripe fruit or wild honey—and meat was a rare luxury and was usually quite lean when it could be obtained. For inland peoples, salty flavors were almost unknown. There were few foods with high moisture and oil content that would enable them to be chewed and swallowed quickly. Most importantly, in many locations intermittent famines were regular occurrences, so when energy-dense foods containing fat and sugar were available, it made sense to gorge on them to establish a body fat reserve for anticipated hard times. (read more from Dr. Aveena's blog)
5 Ways to Kick The Cravings
The good news is that sugar cravings can be managed, and studies show that insulin resistance can be reversed in as little as 48 hours. Here are five tips from Dr. Sara Gottfried for stabilizing your blood sugar, and getting cravings under control.
- Eat regularly. A meal or a snack every 4 to 6 hours will help keep your blood sugar balanced.
- Get enough fiber. Aim for 35-45 grams per dayof dietary fiber for women, and 40-50 grams per day for men. In addition to stabilizing blood glucose levels, fiber keeps you feeling full longer. A note of caution: work up to these levels slowly, or you risk experience bloating, gas, or even constipation.
- Eat real, whole foods. Packaged foods are notorious for including not only added sugars, salt and chemicals, but also high-fructose corn syrup. As much as possible, eat foods that are organic, from the ground, and in their whole form.
- Spice it up. Several studies have shown that cinnamon has the ability to balance blood sugar levels. Add a pinch to your tea or sprinkle it on oatmeal in the morning.
- Get enough Zzz’s. Good sleep is like the Holy Grail of total body health, and blood sugar is no exception. Hit the hay before midnight whenever possible.