Human beings evolved from apes that relied on fruit for most of their calories and fruit is basically just carbs and sugar in the form of fructose. Although human beings have a far more diverse, omnivorous diet than our hairy ancestors, we still have a penchant for sweet things. Refined cane sugar is basically a concentrated drug-like form of the fructose we find in fruit and our bodies absolutely love it.
Each time you eat a sweet biscuit or cake, your body is rewarding you with an endorphin rush. You also get a rush of energy from all that glucose, but when it wears off your blood sugar falls and you experience a “crash” which can only be fixed with another sugar fix.
This is the vicious cycle of sugar addiction that can lead to all kinds of health problems from being overweight to diabetes. Some dietitians advise weaning yourself off by incrementally lowering your daily sugar intake over time. This might work if you are extremely careful and keep an exact diary of everything you eat or drink that contains sugar.
But many find that it is simpler and more effective to just go cold turkey and kick the habit in one go. You can replace the exact same rush you get from refined sugar by eating other kinds of simple carbs, such as those found in fruit, vegetables and dairy products. These have fibre and protein that slow the process of digestion and prevent that fast spike in blood sugar levels you get from eating refined sugar.
You must also be careful not to substitute your sugar addiction for a carb addiction. Starchy foods like breads, chips and pasta contain complex carbohydrates that the body converts into simple sugars. Carbs like these are fine as part of a meal but if you are snacking on carbs instead of sweets, then the effect is the same. You will still be jumping between spikes in blood sugar followed by crashes.
Some diets recommend cutting out all sugars, even natural ones like fructose. This would make cutting even more difficult. It is best to begin with manageable steps, such as skipping pudding or not having sugar in your morning tea. When you find yourself itching for a sugar fix, just have some raisins or nuts instead. It is a good idea to keep healthy snacks nearby all day in case of just such an emergency. Another tip is to make sure you drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep. Being well rested and hydrated makes your body function more efficiently and means you are less likely to give in to cravings.
DO NOT – replace sweets and sodas for their sugar free alternatives! Diet Coke and other kinds of so called “diet” foods contain very harmful artificial sweeteners. Try to avoid any artificial sweeteners, especially ones that end with “ol”. Not only can these cause intestinal problems, but they trick and confuse your body which thinks it is getting sugar. Check out the infographic below to learn what happens when you drink “diet” sodas.