Undoubtedly, what we eat impacts our health. In recent years, few foodstuffs have received more negative press than sugar. Of course, we need sugar just as we need fat, salt, and the others things against which we are warned, but glucose sugar is problematic because it’s addictive. Glucose tricks our bodies into making us feel hungry. This is how glucose sugar works and what you should do about your cravings.
Why We Need Glucose Sugar
The particular sugar in question is glucose, which is particularly useful for brain health as it helps the neurons in the brain transmit signals to the body. The brain cannot store glucose – unlike other parts of the body that can store other types of fuel – but it needs a constant supply from the bloodstream. Too little sugar makes us lethargic and gives us headaches and hunger pangs. Luckily for most of us, sugar is in most things (occurring naturally in fruit and added to sweeten flavours) so this is not so much of a threat.
The Sugar Craving
It’s a well-known fact that glucose in sugar boosts the mood, creating an air of well-being. This is because the brain releases serotonin during sugar consumption, the drug released during physical activity and in the sunshine. Sugar is an instant “happy pill” and the main reason we turn to sweet treats when we want to indulge, celebrate, or make ourselves feel better after a bad or stressful day. The feel-good reward that comes with sugar is not in doubt or problematic in itself. Occasional indulgence is good for the spirit.
What is problematic is that the sugar rush triggers insulin production. The body is trying to cope with the sugar to get glucose back to normal levels; mood drops and the body subsides to its pre sugar rush state. This “Sugar Crash” leads to a physical sugar craving. The body can’t tell when it’s had its fill of sugar (unlike other foods) and we respond to it in the only way we know how – we eat more of it.
What to Do About Sugar Craving
Cut Down on Refined Sugars
As with any addiction, the first step is recognising that there is a problem and breaking the vicious cycle. Sugar’s attributes and the fact that it’s in almost everything is particularly problematic. The best way to break the cycle is to limit the amount of sugar that you intake through refined sugars. Sweet treats should not be a daily indulgence but an occasional treat.
Tea and Coffee
One of the most significant changes you can make is omitting sugar from tea and coffee. It may take some getting used to but once you’ve broken that habit you’ll wonder why you ever put sugar in your hot beverages in the first place. Also, cut back or eliminate any habitual biscuits you might have with your hot drink. This can make a lot of difference.
Switch Fizzy Drinks
People never fail to be surprised at the amount of sugar in colas. Switch to diet alternatives. Some people do not like Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi which is why the two major cola brands introduced alternative diet drinks – Pepsi Max and Coke Zero. There are a handful of differences between the two drinks, most notably the acids used in the production and the caffeine levels. Coke Zero and Pepsi Max taste more like the original drinks.
You should find your sugar cravings subside by reducing your sugar intake to a more natural and manageable level. Substitute sweet treats for fruit – choose some that feel indulgent such as mangoes and pineapple.