How to Break Sugar Addiction Through Balance & Awareness
I have been thinking about this blog for a while and with Halloween around the corner it seems like perfect timing. Yes it took me a long time but I fully admit it: I am craving sugar every single day, and I know I am not alone in this.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that so many people have that daily hunger for sugar. Going back to caveman days, the role of sugar in our diet was minimal. We consumed it in form of fruit or possibly honey… but it was a rare and small treat.
Over the last decades our bodies have become accustomed to sugar from a very young age on; and rather large amounts of it. Some even say we have become “strategically addicted” by the food industry. Sugar makes life “so much sweeter” and it boosts sales of pretty much any product you can think of. It is mixed into almost any kind of store bought foods that we are consuming today including: bread, crackers, cereal, soups, sauces and dips, granola bars and lot’s of juices and yogurts.
There has been quite a bit of information surfacing over the last years about a world wide “sugar addiction epidemic”, including the successful documentary “Sugar Blues” (sugarbluesfilm.com).
Fact is: Sugar causes inflammation in our body, and the large amounts we are consuming are suppressing our immune system. It completely weakens our body and has been linked to almost any disease you can think of. Starting with more harmless ones like exhaustion or headaches, all the way to auto-immune disease and cancer (“5 Reasons Cancer and Sugar are best Friends” on beatcancer.org).
What does this mean for us? I personally can’t live without some form of sweets at this point in my life- yes I DID figure this out over the last couple of years. There are currently movements and people out there that are cutting sugar completely out of their diet, which is pretty amazing.
The Australian TV and radio host Sarah Wilson is one of them, and she wrote the New York Times bestseller “I quit sugar”. She was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease (an auto-immune disorder that attacks the thyroid) and was able to manage it by quitting sugar altogether. If you are interested check out her 8-week-program to quit sugar on iquitsugar.com.
For my family and myself I came up with the following strategy: less is more! Plus I’m trying (most of the time) to pick my sweeteners wisely. I found out that I can bake muffins with bananas as a sweetener and use stevia, agave syrup or honey. All choices that are healthier than refined sugar, and yet my muffins still taste sweet and delicious!
I also noticed when sending some fresh fruit in my children’s lunches that the craving for sugar is less, cause they are consuming the natural fruit sugar. So what’s the conclusion? For me it is not about perfection. I am not the mom loosing it when my kid eats a candy or goes trick or treating (even though I like getting rid of a good chunk of the candy because whatever is in our house WE EAT).
For our family it’s about balance and awareness. About my kids knowing the difference between “good sugar” and “bad sugar”, and to learn opting for the healthier choice most of the time.
My older son was craving sugar majorly when he was around 5 or 6 years old. Today he is 12 and it has almost completely vanished. He still gets excited when eating an ice cream or other treats. But he isn’t asking for it very often and most nights fruit as a desert will do just fine.
This is a process and it takes time to slowly get the body accustomed to less sugar being constantly in our system. After all, sugar is apparently more addictive than cocaine, as we can read in the famous lab rat experiment conducted in 2007 (journals.plos.org search for sugar addiction).
The beauty of it is that there are so many options of healthier sweeteners offered today including stevia, barley malt, rice syrup, palm sugar, molasses, cane juice, honey, maple syrup and more. It was never this easy to get healthier choices. We can find some of them in most grocery stores, so we don’t have to pay the big bucks at the health food store.
The IIN Nutrition school that I graduated from talked about balance, and the importance of not ever feeling guilty around food. They discussed the 90:10 rule, and how to try eating “good food” 90% of the time; and enjoying the other 10% when eating the “other foods”.
We all have to figure out what our ratio is at this point in our life, maybe 90:10 or 80:20. Or more like 50:50?
For me it’s exactly about that: not being too hard on myself. Life is a journey and we learn and try our best every single day!
Stay tuned for more about how you can break sugar addiction and more “Confessions of a Sugar Addict” and one of my favorite super easy homemade chocolate recipes next week!
– Yulia Sauter –