Sugar Addiction ?

Intuitive eating
Eating Disorders
refined sugar with a raspberry

"I would like to eat less sugar, but I feel like I'm addicted," you would say. "It's very likely! "I would say to you. Humans adorrrrrrre sugar, yes because it tastes very good but also for a prehistoric and physiological reason. 

At the time of Cro-Magnon, being so naturally attracted to carbohydrates allowed prehistoric men to make sure to eat and survive, among other things!

But let's go back to the current time. The body's main and favorite source of energy is carbohydrates, we are naturally attracted to them. Indeed, between 45% and 60% of the calories that humans ingest should come from carbohydrates. The remaining percentage is divided between lipids and proteins, totaling the three macronutrients that provide the calories needed by the body. 

What sugar are we talking about? 

Today, we commonly use the term sugar to refer to all types of carbohydrates. Know that the term carbohydrates is broad and encompasses a multitude of varieties of "sugar". In this article, we will distinguish between refined and added sugar in processed products such as soft bars, yogurt, cereal or cookies from other sugars that are naturally occuring in food (grain products, whole fruits, vegetables, dairy products ). It should not surprise you that individuals mainly have strong compulsions towards refined sugar, usually added to commercial products, or towards foods that are highly concentrated in sugar such as fruit juices.

While more and more studies are being conducted on high sugar intake and adverse effects on our health (insulin resistance, hypertension, increased abdominal obesity, diabetes), this new poison, like many call it, has never been so present in our diet. 

Why am I addicted? 

In many cases, sugar consumption is rooted in your eating habits since childhood. Your taste buds and your brain have become accustomed for years to receiving a large amount of sugar, sometimes very concentrated. Thus, eliminating this flavor that your brain craves can seem very difficult to achieve. And with reason. But do not be discouraged! There are several techniques that help reduce this compulsion and therefore, your sugar intake. Here are some that you can put into practice. 

1. Avoid sugary drinks 

Highly concentrated in sugar, sugary drinks are to be avoided as much as possible. They contribute enormously to the appetite for sugarin addition to representing empty calories, or in other words, calories that will not support you. Despite the appearance of some "health" products, commercial juices and smoothies are similar to all types of sweet drinks (juice, punch, soft drinks). A cup (250ml) of these drinks contains on average 20g to 30g of sugar, the equivalent of 4 to 6 squares of sugar. 

Water should always be preferred. If you have difficulty drinking water alone, add a little spice by adding a few quarters of lemons, oranges, raspberries, cucumber, mint ... Be creative! Personally, I love to put a few slices of fresh ginger. 

2. Make sure you are full enough and supported between your meals 

If you have not eaten enough and you do not feel well supported between meals, it will be much more difficult to resist the sweets of your food environment.

In this sense, make sure you have a sufficient source of protein in your meal (tofu, eggs, fish, poultry, cheese, etc.) and a source of fiber (whole grains, vegetables, legumes). Nutritionists can help you understand your needs for these nutrients and help you stay satiated between meals. Do not hesitate to bring snacks that satiate you over bring sweet snacks. Greek yogurt, some nuts with a fruit, a homemade bar, a piece of cheese with raw vegetables are good examples. 

By being well satisfied, you increase your chances of not succumbing to a craving for sugar throughout the day. 

3. Become aware of the false hunger of chocolate 

 Do you ever get tired in the office and walk around to change your mind and suddenly fall on chocolate that a colleague always has on his desk? Or, to be at home and hang out around the pantry that contains cookies that turn out to be much more interesting than cleaning the living room? 

It is very likely that you will experience a false hunger at this time, and that boredom or stress is the fundamental reason you are going to seek comfort in this piece of sugar. Before eating, stop, wait a few minutes and then ask yourself if you are really hungry. If the answer is no, try to find an alternative and change your mind to avoid eating. Easy to say, isn't it? The important thing is to break the habit of turning to sugar when one experiences a more or less negative emotion. Take a walk, prepare a good tea, call a friend, read a book ... Think of something that will please you and make you feel much better in the long run than eating a chocolate bar. 

4. Cook! 

If you can take a few minutes to make your own cookies, muffins or homemade bars, you are investing in reducing your sugar consumption, in addition to reducing your grocery bill. This of course, if you use recipes that are reduced to sugar. Know that it is possible to reduce by half the amount of sugar in a traditional recipe, without the quality of the product being affected. 

Lack of inspiration? Have a look at our homemade energy bar recipes! And why not make two varieties and freeze some to have on hand when you have less time to cook. 

5. Be ready! 

If you've been used to consuming refined sugar on a daily basis for a long time, do not be surprised to find yourself a little irritable, or even more stressed, at the time of "weaning". Expect to find this modification difficult to do. If this is too difficult, you can start by reducing the amount, rather than wanting to cut the sugar from your diet. For example, you can eat one cookie instead of two. You can also cut in half the sugar you add to your coffee or yogurt. This will help you reduce the amount of sugar your taste buds are used to taste. 

Finally, know that TeamNutrition nutritionists are available through the "Better Eating" program to help you reduce your added sugar intake and improve your eating habits. By applying all these tools available, you can surprise yourself by hearing you say by crunching in a decadent chocolate cookie "Oh lala ... it's so sweet!". 

Have a  good success!

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist