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- December 22, 2015
- by Generations Dental
- Cut down on sugar, Generations Dental, Too much sugar, Ways to eat less sugar,
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Everyone knows that eating an excess of sugar is bad for your health. Too much sugar can cause cavities and increase your risk for conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity to name a few. They problem is that sugar tastes good, our bodies crave it, and it is in pretty much everything we eat. Sugar is very difficult to stay away from.
Sugar is found in obvious foods such as candy, baked goods and fruit. However it can also be found in less obvious places as an additive. Some common culprits of foods with hidden sugar include dairy products, bread, ketchup, and boxed meals. “Low Fat” foods tend to have more added sugar than regular fat options because sugar is added to make up for the flavor that is lost as the fat is reduced. When you eat sugar, your body releases dopamine from the reward center of your brain. Dopamine is the “feel good” hormone. Every time it is released it makes your body feel good and it wants more. This is the reason that sugar becomes so addictive and why we crave it when we are feeling sad or depressed. At Generations Dental, we want to help you fight this addictive cycle and help you start the New Year as a healthier you.
Here are five ways to help curb your sugar addiction:
- Quit cold turkey. As with other addictions, making a clean break may be the best way to cut added sugar out of your diet. Remember that all carbohydrates are really complex sugars. Many of these can be a healthy part of your diet as long as they don’t make up your entire diet. It is up to you to decide how much sugar you want to cut out of your diet. You may want to cut out all added sugars or you may just want to cut out sugary beverages. Stopping or reducing consumption of sugar can help your brain get a chance to reset. This resets those dopamine levels and helps you lose your sugar cravings. Quitting cold turkey is the best way to quickly reset these levels but may leave you feeling tired or grumpy for a few days due to withdrawal.
- Clean your pantry. Get rid of all the sweets in your house that could be sabotaging your efforts. If you don’t have sweet foods readily available, you are much more likely to grab a healthier option.
- Divert your cravings. Remember that when you are craving sugar, your body is really looking for a dopamine release. Next time a craving strikes, instead of eating, try doing an activity that releases dopamine but doesn’t hurt your waistline. Activities like going for a walk or run, yoga or simply reading a book can trigger the same pleasure spot in your brain. If that doesn’t work, drink a big glass of water to make sure you are not confusing hunger with thirst. If the craving still persists, try substituting a food with a natural sugar, such as fruit, for a refined sugar snack.
- Keep an eye out for sneaky sugars. As stated above, added sugars can be found everywhere. Be sure you are reading your labels and checking for added sugar in your food. Sugar can be found under many different names. Look for words ending in “-ose” (like sucrose, fructose, dextrose). Other sneaky ways that sugar is commonly labeled include glucose, maltrodextain, corn syrup, and malt. Keep in mind that food companies know people worry about sugar consumption so they try to make it as difficult to spot as possible. Become a smart shopper and know what you are eating.
- Keep your blood sugar balanced. Maintaining a balanced blood sugar level can help you avoid intense sugar cravings. Try eating smaller, more frequent, nutritious meals throughout the day (every 3-4 hours). Make sure these meals/snacks are loaded with protein and fiber to keep you full longer. Refined sugar enters your blood stream quickly but also leaves quickly giving you a “sugar crash.” It is the crash that signals to your brain the need for more sugar (read: dopamine) and the cycle repeats itself.
We hope these tips will be useful in reaching your health goals for the New Year. It is a New Year for a New You. This year make your health a priority. There is no better day to start than today.
-Your team at Generations Dental