Quitting sugar can be a challenging process, but it is worth it for the long-term benefits to your health.
In Nigeria, like many other countries, sugar is widely available and often consumed in high quantities, making it difficult to break free from its addictive grip. However, with determination and some simple strategies, quitting sugar is achievable.
What is Sugar Addiction?
Sugar addiction is a growing problem in today’s society. It is characterized by an intense craving for sugary foods and drinks, and a dependence on them to provide a quick burst of energy or satisfaction. While sugar is an important source of energy, consuming too much of it can have serious health consequences, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. In addition to these physical health problems, sugar addiction can also affect mental health and lead to mood swings, anxiety, and depression.
Quitting sugar can be challenging, especially for those who have developed a strong dependence on it. However, it is possible to break free from this addiction and regain control of your health and wellbeing.
How much sugar is okay to consume?
According to the NHS, sugar should not exceed 5% of your daily calorie intake. This means a limit of 30g of free sugars per day, which is equivalent to about 7 sugar cubes. This does not include sugars that occur naturally in fruits like bananas or apples.
Easy Ways to Quit Sugar Addiction for Good
Here are some easy ways to quit sugar addiction for good:
1. Know Your Triggers
Identifying the situations or emotions that trigger your sugar cravings is key to overcoming them. For many people, sugar cravings can be associated with stress, boredom, or low energy levels. Knowing your triggers will help you to avoid them or find alternative ways to manage them.
2. Find Other alternatives
One of the most effective ways to quit sugar is to find alternative sources of energy and satisfaction. This could include physical activity, mindfulness practices, or finding healthier sources of sweetness such as fruit or natural sweeteners like honey.
3. Replace sugary snacks with fruit
When you feel the urge to indulge in something sweet, grab a piece of fruit instead. It will provide you with fiber, vitamins and minerals, and satisfy your sweet tooth. It is recommended by certified addiction specialist, Judy Chambers, to keep healthy options such as nuts, seeds, and dried fruits readily available. This way, when you feel the urge to snack, you can reach for these healthier alternatives instead of reaching for sugary treats.
4. Replace diet drinks with sparkling water
According to nutritionist Sarah O’Neill, don’t be misled into believing that diet drinks are a healthier option. Studies have shown that these drinks can actually increase sugar cravings, leading to greater consumption of sugar in the long run. A simple and effective alternative is to have a glass of sparkling water with fresh mint or lime, served in a wine glass.
5. Familiarize Yourself with Different Names of Sugar
Sugar can be disguised under various names on ingredient lists. Some examples include maltose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar, raw sugar, syrup, honey, corn sweetener, and fruit juice concentrates. To understand the amount of added sugar in food, look at the “added sugars” and “total sugars” sections on the Nutrition Facts label. One gram of sugar equates to four calories, so if a serving contains 15 grams of sugar, it means it has 60 calories just from sugar, not counting the other ingredients.
6. Drinking plenty of water
Drinking plenty of water is essential for breaking the sugar cycle. Not only does it help flush out the sugar from your body, but it also helps you feel full and less likely to reach for sugary snacks.
7. Ensure Adequate Rest
When sleep is elusive, we tend to indulge in unhealthy foods as a source of energy. Sleep deprivation weakens us and drives cravings for high calorie foods. Therefore, it’s essential to aim for sufficient sleep to allow the brain to recharge and be ready for the next day’s activities, keeping us alert and energetic.
8. Consume Protein and Healthy Fats
“Instead of starting your day with a sugary breakfast like muffins or cereal, try incorporating more protein and healthy fats like eggs and avocado,” suggests Kohn. This helps keep you full and energized, reducing sugar cravings, and promoting overall health.
9. Try chewing gum
“If you’re looking to resist a sugar craving, try chewing gum,” advises registered dietitian Dave Grotto. “Studies have shown that gum chewing can help decrease the urge to eat,” explains Grotto.
10. Seek support
Finally, quitting sugar is easier when you have support from others. Whether it’s friends, family members, or a support group, having people to encourage you and help keep you accountable can make all the difference.
What happens when you stop consuming sugar?
According to the source, the initial withdrawal symptoms should subside after three weeks. Although there is limited research on the long-term effects of quitting sugar, studies on the ketogenic diet (high in protein and fat, low in carbohydrates) have shown mixed results. One study showed that participants had reduced body weight and BMI, and improved cholesterol levels and blood glucose after 24 weeks on the diet. However, other research suggests that a high-fat diet may not be beneficial for heart health in the long term.
On the positive side, reducing sugar intake to meet the recommended levels set by the National Health Service (NHS) has been linked to reduced risks of certain diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as improved oral health. However, it’s worth noting that quitting sugar entirely may not be necessary, as moderate consumption of sugar as part of a balanced diet can still be enjoyable and harmless.