There’s no getting away from the fact that most of us love sugar..…I mean we really really love sugar. Sugar almost seems perfectly designed to entice us, coming in the form of light sponge cakes with jam in the middle or creamy chocolate. Actually, all things sugary seem to look and smell delicious. Eating such simple carbohydrates, without the backup of proteins or fats, can quickly satisfy hunger and give your body a quick energy boost, but almost as quickly the body is left famished and begins to crave more. But why do we crave more sugar and how can we tackle this?
Sugar is like crack cocaine!!
Ok, may be a bit extreme, but the consumption of sugar induces a similar effect on the brain to pain-killers and other opiates. The effects that these drugs cause is an almost instantaneous sensation of pleasure, calm and satisfaction, consequently making them very addictive and causing us to consume more and more.
This is well known by many large food manufacturers who consequently pump sugar into nearly all processed foods, soft drinks and even most of the so called ‘healthy foods’ like breakfast cereals.
As a result, it is now in the last 20 years that average sugar consumption in theUSand theUKhas increased from 11.7kg to 61.2kg per person per year. Re-read that statement a second, because it’s absolutely MENTAL!! In the last 20 years sugar consumption has increased by over 550%! This is pretty much in line with cocaine, but that’s another story.
Furthermore, (and this really doesn’t help) an emotional attachment is also common with most of us, as sugary foods and sweets were often used as a reward or as a tool to cheer us up. Remember when we were kids and if we tidied our room or ate all of our dinner we would be given some cola cubes or a packet of fruit pastilles? No wonder many of us utilise sugar as a tool to make us happy and associate it with good times. It’s ingrained from an early age.
Such a vast quantity of sugar consumption is not conducive to weight loss and consequently is one of the main contributors to the ever increasing volume of obesity across the world. This is due to the fact that firstly, sugar leaches the body of vitamin B. Vitamin B is important in keeping your metabolism healthy and also boosts energy levels. Secondly, sugar consumption also causes a significant spike in insulin levels, of which leads to the utilisation of glucose rather than fat as an energy source and consequently leads to fat storage.
So, as a result it would seem that we are eating vast amounts of sugar that is in turn the main cause for making people fat and lazy, but we cannot stop eating it. So how do we curb these sugar cravings?
An initial strategy is identifying the foods that have large amounts of sugar, as it is crucial to know what to avoid. The worst offenders and key things to avoid are white refined sugars (the stuff you get in packets and stir into your tea or cake mixtures), fruit juices and bad carbs such as pasta and bread of which have a high GI.
These foods are things that will cause the greatest insulin spike (refer to the diagram above) and the greatest amount of fat storage.
My top 3 tips to curb those sugar cravings however, would be:
- Try chewing on a piece of sugar free chewing gum to get that sweet taste hit, without the actual consumption of sugar.
- Reach for some fruit. If sugar is a must, then fruit provides the most natural sugars (berries are best) and also provides fibre and other nutrients.
- Eat regularly. Eating regularly (five small meals a day) will help to avoid blood sugar levels dropping, maintaining low hunger levels and therefore less of a likelihood to eat sugar.
- Bonus Tip: replace sugar with the Stevia. The Stevia plant is found in sub tropicalAmericaand the leaves of which are used as a calorie free replacement to sugar. You can buy in most major supermarkets.