SUGAR ADDICTION & CRAVINGS
Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
BITTER TRUTH ABOUT REFINED SUGAR
According to the scientific data sugar indirectly contributes to 35 million deaths each year worldwide. Sugar weakens our immune and nervous system, contributes to cancer, deprives our organism of many vitamins and minerals, causes fatigue, hypoglycaemia, tooth decay, contributes to depression and many other health-related problems.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), indicated that participants whose diet was highest in added sugar had the lowest levels of the profitable HDL cholesterol and the highest levels of triglyceride, thus greatly increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke. In contrast, those who consumed the least amounts of added sugar had the highest levels of good HDL cholesterol and the lowest levels of triglyceride.
REFINED SUGAR, OBESITY & INSULIN RESISTANCE
You are probably acquainted with a popular saying according to which, “fat doesn’t make you fat but it is sugar that makes you fat.” Well, the truth is both fat and sugar can make us fat but it depends on the type of sugar and type of fat we choose. Eating sugar in the form of complex carbohydrates and consuming good fats found in unroasted seeds, nuts or raw coconut oil can actually help you to lose weight and stay healthy. It is true, however, that white flour products, white breads, pasta, refined grains and foods containing refined sugar can be even more responsible for obesity problem than high fat diet.
The rise of obesity is not only the result of overeating and lack of exercise but also the increased consumption of refined sugar as it drives the storage of fat and at the same time by stimulating insulin production forces our brain to think that we are hungry. In addition, sugar, like alcohol and lack of sleep, stimulates stomach to produce more ghrelin which increases hunger, thus contributing to overeating, leptin resistance, and obesity.
HOW MUCH REFINED SUGAR DO YOU EAT?
Due to the fact that refined sugar is being added to all kinds of processed foods its worldwide consumption has tripled over the past 50 years. An average British person consumes about 60 lbs (about 30 kg) of refined sugar a year. Much of that amount (about 75%) comes from hidden sources of sugar such as breads, salad dressings, ketchups, soups, etc. The average American consumes 130 pounds (about 60 kg) of refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) every year! It is equivalent of 40 teaspoons per person per day! But when you take into consideration that this amount is only an average for general population it means that Americans who love sweet foods may consume over 100 teaspoons a day!
REFINED SUGAR CAN BE HIGHLY ADDICTIVE
Health experts suggest today that white sugar is so harmful to our health that it should be controlled and taxed in the similar way as alcohol and tobacco. Some scientists even believe that regular consumption of foods high in refined sugar could have a heroin addiction-like effect. A 2008 Princeton University study demonstrated that when large quantities of sugar were ingested by rats, the changes to their brains were similar to those seen with drugs such as cocaine and heroin. It means that regular consumption of refined sugar eventually leads to addiction.
Sugar stimulates the same pleasure centres of the brain as heroin or cocaine. And just like those hard-core drugs, getting off sugar results in withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
HIGH SUGAR DIET LEADS TO DOPAMINE DEFICIENCY
Scientists have found that because sugar is very addictive, therefore like other addictions it also leads to dopamine deficiency followed by various negative symptoms such as lack of motivation, depression, brain fog, fatigue, etc.
Dopamine is one of the feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters (along with serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins). It is a very important brain chemical necessary for controlling mood, motivation, learning, sleep, ability to focus and concentrate, memory, or coordinating fluent body movements.
Normally the withdrawal symptoms last for 6 days and a significant reduction is experienced after 2-3 days. In a study conducted in California scientists asked 20 people to cut out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners for two weeks. Over half reported that the intense cravings stopped after two to three days, and almost 90 % no longer felt withdrawal effects after six days.
KISS YOUR SUGAR CRAVINGS GOODBYE
If you manage to follow the principles and recommendations listed below, you will be able to kiss your sugar cravings goodbye.
ADDRESS POSSIBLE UNDERLYING CONDITIONS
– Fight Candida as it is a major cause of sugar cravings. Find out how to treat CANDIDA >
– Treat HYPOGLYCEMIA > as it is often the key cause of sugar cravings.
CLEAN YOUR HOUSE AND WORKING PLACE
– Get rid of any sweet temptations you store at home and working place (if possible) and do not buy them again. I myself practice this principle and it works great simply because it is impossible to eat something we don’t even have.
REPLACE REFINED SUGAR WITH HEALTHY SUBSTITUTES
– Replace refined sugar with the following healthy substitutes (but not with artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame, Equal, Splenda, etc.): Fruits, (not fruit juices), Dates, Raisins, Figs, Bananas, Raw honey (make sure its true raw honey as many honeys on the market are fake and contain added refined sugar), Stevia (not truvia), Xylitol, Coconut Sugar, Pure Organic Maple Syrup, etc. Avoid high glucose / high fructose syrup as it even more dangerous than refined sugar itself.
– Online there are many websites with healthy sugar-free deserts recipes. Here is link > to my most favourite one.
WAIT 10 MINUTES
– According to Prof. John Foreyt of Baylor College of Medicine, if we are tempted to eat an ice cream, a chocolate, chips, or any other junk food in between meals, it’s usually a sign of craving, and not a true hunger. In this case, since according to Prof. Foreyt cravings typically last only about ten minutes, we just need to recognize that it is just a craving and cope with it by diverting our mind or involving it in different activities such as conversation with someone, listening to a music, watching an interesting program, meditating, reading, or exercising until the craving disappears.
DRINK MORE WATER
– In order to overcome sugar cravings especially in between meals and in the evening remember to drink 2-3 glasses of water (very warm is more effective in suppressing appetite) 3 times a day between meals (not with or after meals). Water will definitely reduce appetite for about 30 minutes. If you still feel hungry immediately after drinking water just wait 5-10 minutes, and you will find that your craving is either completely gone or dramatically reduced. In addition, studies demonstrated that drinking enough water helped participants to lose weight and increased their metabolic rates by 30%.
Lack of many vitamins and minerals contribute to sugar cravings and increased appetite. Nutritional deficiencies are very common today especially due to soil depletion, poor dietary habits (consuming mostly refined foods), stress and use of popular stimulants that also lead to lack of vitamins and minerals. As a matter of fact, refined sugar itself is one of the most effective ways to deplete vitamins and minerals from our body.
– Chromium deficiency is most often associated with sugar craving. In this case we are suggested to take about 200 mcg of chromium as it is used in insulin regulation of blood glucose and is important for balancing blood sugar levels thus helping reduce sugar cravings. Bio-Chromium is regarded as the superior chromium supplement as far as absorption and bioavailability is concerned.
– Magnesium deficiency, which is also very common today due to soil depletion, leads to cravings for sugar and especially chocolate. The recommended dietary intake of magnesium for those who crave sugar and chocolate is 2 times a day 400 milligrams of good quality magnesium such as magnesium citrate (highly bioavailable).
– Zinc is another mineral which helps reduce of sugar cravings as deficiency of this mineral is rampant today. Take 15-50 mg of zinc only after main meals (zinc citrate is good as it shouldn’t produce nausea). I have tried different forms of zinc and only after ingesting citrate never experienced any nausea by now.
– Other supplements that are recommended as helpful to cope with sugar addiction and reduce cravings include B complex (50-100 mg each) after breakfast, Boron (6-9 mg a day), and Potassium. Best source of potassium are raw vegetable salads every day, baked with skin white potatoes, and bananas.
– L-glutamine is believed to be an instant quencher for sugar cravings. Take Put 1/2 teaspoon on the tongue to quickly get rid of sugar craving. In addition take 500mg of L-glutamate two times a day between meals when blood sugar level goes down.
– Take 10,000 IU of Vitamin D3 a day because when this nutrient is low, you may feel hungry all the time. When you supplement vitamin D you must take magnesium as vitamin D supplements lead to magnesium deficiency.
– Take Tryptophan supplements (5-HTP is regarded as the best Tryptophan supplement) because your body requires it to make serotonin without which it is very difficult to control appetite and negative emotions.
– Spirulina contains a substance named phonylanine which can help us to reduce food cravings. Also the high content of nutrients found in spirulina and other superfoods (chlorella, alfalfa, wheat grass, barley grass, moringa, etc.) can help to relieve hunger and boost energy thus encouraging us to exercise more.
– Take a good quality multivitamin-mineral formula such as Healthy Mega (HealthAid), Special Two (NOW Foods), Earth Source (Solgar) or VM-75 (Solgar) – 1 tablet after breakfast or at least B complex (50 to 100mg each): 1 tab or caps after breakfast. Never buy cheap vitamins or popular multivitamin supplements such as Centrum as they are very low in vitamins and minerals and contain only poor quality ingredients. Always compare the ingredients and strength.
– Fennel tea at night reduces cravings and resets taste buds.
– Fenugreek seeds (ground or capsules) are very beneficial in regulating blood glucose levels, stomach disorders and help reduce sugar cravings. In a study published in the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders, “fenugreek delayed the onset of diabetes in subjects with pre-diabetes and even helped to reduce fasting plasma glucose, postprandial fasting glucose, and LDL cholesterol.” You can have 1 teaspoon of ground fenugreek with food or drink 2 or 3 times a day. Also Karela should have similar effect.
– All types of Ginseng can help if you crave sweets when you are under stress and are especially helpful in curbing emotional overeating and also help maintain normal blood sugar levels. If you have high blood pressure use Siberian ginseng instead of Korean (Chinese).
– Often consume foods high in tryptophan including cooked organic soybeans, Tofu (highest by far source), ground sesame seeds, pulses, etc. as tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin which helps reduce appetite and calorie intake. Some studies also suggest that without sweet unrefined carbohydrates (especially fresh and dried fruits) in our diet it is impossible for amino acid tryptophan, from which serotonin is produced, to pass the blood-brain barrier. Therefore, to help tryptophan to pass blood-brain barrier try to have some fresh or dried fruits with your breakfast.
– Get more healthy plant protein in your diet as protein helps balance out blood glucose and therefore reduces sugar cravings. The following are some of the best protein foods: Organic cooked soya beans, Tofu, all beans, chickpeas, all lentils, Natto, etc.
– Consume more healthy fats such as avocado, cold-pressed flax oil, raw organic coconut oil, soaked in distilled water overnight nuts and seeds, coconut, flaxseed, etc.
– Consume more foods high in fibre as it will help you stay full longer: Berries, Figs, Artichokes, Peas, Okra, Brussels sprouts, Turnips, Quinoa, etc.
– Use stevia instead of sugar. Green leaf stevia extract is much better than truvia (chemically processed stevia with added ingredients).
– If you have to use a sweetener use xylitol instead of sugar as sugar impairs leptin hormonal signalling resulting in increased hunger and weight gain, while xylitol may boost satiety effect leading to reduced calorie consumption.
– Sweeten your foods with dates or coconut sugar instead of refined sugar.
– Eat plenty of leafy vegetables such as lettuce, different types of cabbage, and other leafy vegetables. They are so low in calories that you shouldn’t worry about them at all and feel free to have them in unlimited quantities. And if you take into consideration the fact that your body has to use calories in order to digest them we can actually consider them as calorie free foods. In addition, they also help to control appetite by filling our stomach and thus satisfying hunger. You can eat those vegetables after mixing them in a large bowel with fresh lemon juice, humus, or other healthy and low calorie home-made salad dressings. This is an excellent way to fill your stomach and overcome hunger while only giving yourself about a hundred calories from the salad dressing.
– Include soaked in water or in any plant-based milk (for about 30 minutes or longer) chia seeds in your breakfast because it is helpful in suppressing hunger. It is high in soluble fibre and can absorb large amounts of water (up to 12 times its own weight) thus providing a feeling of fullness that lasts for quite a long time. It means that adding just about 30 grams or an ounce of chia seeds to our diet can significantly reduce caloric intake and greatly increase the amount of fibre.
– Drink 1 – 2 glasses of cold-pressed vegetable juice about 30 minutes before each meal, then start your meal with most healthy and nutritious foods such as raw vegetables.
– If you have to eat something sweet then make a banana- or strawberry-flavoured soy protein shake by blending together the following ingredients: 1 banana, a cup of plant based milk (oat, rice, almond, hemp, etc.), soy protein powder, 1 tablespoon of guar gum or xanthan gum powder, and a bit of stevia or xylitol as a sweetener. Mix all ingredients in a blender until it will look like a pudding. You may also experiment adding a teaspoon of carob powder, etc.
– Raw and cooked vegetables are the best to satisfy your hunger and reduce body weight as they are very low in calories but if you don’t like them than fresh fruits such as apples, strawberries and other fresh fruits or even dried fruits are much better than processed and refined high-calorie foods as they are loaded with fat, sugar and deprived of fibre. And while it is easy to eat 1000 calorie junk food no one get even close to the same amount of calories by consuming apples as you will probably have enough before reaching 200 calories! Apples are great appetite suppressing foods because the bulky fibre fills up your stomach before you overeat. In addition, apples contain various phytonutrients, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals.
– You can also increase the appetite suppressing effects of any meal you consume by swallowing a good quality fibre (psyllium husk, glucomannan, apple pectin, oat bran) in the form of powder, capsules or tablets about 15-30 minutes before meals. Avoid overdosing those fibres and always have them with at least two glasses of water and make sure you drink minimum of 8 or 9 glasses of water every day. It is very important because those fibres absorb a lot of water and in case your body is dehydrated they get hard and can even block your intestines! After about 15-30 minutes start your meal by eating a large portion of raw vegetable salad.
– Avoid coffee and anything with caffeine (black tea, green tea, cola, chocolate, etc.) as it increases sugar cravings.
– Cooked organic (non-GMO) soybeans should be regarded by you as one of the best foods if you want to keep your appetite for sweets satisfied for a longer time. First of all, together with Tofu (soya cheese), it is the highest source of tryptophan which is used in our body to make serotonin – a very important appetite regulator. Soya also increases satiety due to the fact that it is also the best source of high quality protein and at the same time it contains complex carbohydrates which help tryptophan to pass the blood-brain barrier. But apart from that, a 2003 study demonstrated that soybeans contain a special chemical called beta-conglycinin which suppresses appetite by stimulating cholecystokinin release.
– Get rid of all the refined and rich in empty calories foods (white flour products, white rice, etc.) as they trigger sugar craving and make you hungry soon after consuming them and force your body to crave for more food. As soon as you start increasing the consumption of high-nutrient plant foods (vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruits, beans, lentils, seeds, nuts), your appetite for the unhealthy and low-nutrient foods will gradually decrease. Keep in mind that any refined diet (meat products, dairy, foods containing refined sugar, white flour products, etc.) which is low in fibre, vitamins, and minerals always quickly stimulates our appetite again thus forcing us to eat between meals in hope that next time we will nourish it with sufficient amount of nutrients. The situation gets even worse if you habitually use stimulants such as caffeine products, tea, cola drinks, or alcohol which tend to farther deprive your body of these few nutrients you supplied it with your refined diet. Dense living nutrients found in raw unrefined plant-based foods (especially vegetables) are what meet and satisfy our cells nutritional needs, so that there is no need to struggle with uncontrollable hunger.
– Consume healthy, natural, high in vitamins and minerals, and unrefined foods. Doing this very day you will be free from craving and eating between meals simply because your body will finally get what it needs to be able to function properly. Remember that too much insulin (which increases appetite) is produced only when you consume refined carbohydrates (anything which contains white refined sugar and white flour).
SLEEP 7-8 HOURS
– Sleep at least 7 hours a day and avoid alcohol as lack of sleep and alcohol stimulate ghrelin production in our stomach thus increasing hunger. Proper rest and sleep help the fat cells in our body to produce more leptin a hormone which plays very important role in increasing satiety and improving our ability to control appetite. Apart from the lack of sleep also stress greatly reduces the amount of this hormone in our body leading to binge eating.
– Remember to exercise every day as apart from improving metabolism and burning calories it also reduces hunger by increasing the body’s sensitivity to hormones that control appetite. Exercise also increases the ability of to improve insulin sensitivity in our skeletal muscles which lowers insulin levels in the blood thus reducing appetite especially in between meals. According to the American Journal of Physiology one hour of high-intensity aerobic exercise is able to suppress appetite stimulating hormones so effectively that we can forget about food for a couple hours.
Daily vigorous exercise (especially aerobic) for at least 60 minutes helps overcome addictions and cravings and helps strengthen the effects of treatment. As a result of exercise, endorphins, serotonin, dopamine (increases motivation) and other naturally released happy hormones create a safe and natural high that helps reduce or eliminate craving. Regular exercise also helps reduce irritability associated with cravings during abstinence. Research suggests that adding exercise to addiction treatment strengthens the effects. One study of patients being treated for substance abuse published in Mental Health and Physical Activity revealed that exercise leads to a sense of accomplishment, feeling stronger, and increased confidence in staying sober.
– Since stress is a huge trigger for cravings you need to learn how to cope with it through regular exercise, healthy unrefined diet, prayer, supplements, herbal remedies and other methods which are described in this book.
MOTIVATION & EMPOWERMENT
– Because from my own experience I know and remember how difficult it was, in my case, to change my eating habits and give up on junk food and stimulants using my own pathetic at that time will power, I would like to encourage you to try gaining strength by connecting to a Higher Power.
If you believe in existence of God don’t forget about daily meditation (fervent prayers): “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV).
Another excellent way to gain moral and spiritual strength is by reading or listening to a good spiritual literature, such as the Bible (start from Gospel of John and other Gospels), Desire of Ages > and “Ministry of Healing” > by Ellen G White (available online free of charge) which present God as loving, healing, forgiving, empowering, carrying and saving from eternal death Person.
All this will greatly increase the effectiveness of your improved diet and lifestyle according to the inspired promises: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).
I also recommend to you reading or listening to a book “Steps to Christ” > and Great Controversy > by Ellen White. If you carefully study all the information presented there and follow the steps, you will not only become victorious but will actually experience an inward transformation which will enable you to enjoy your new lifestyle (including diet and physical activity).
– Get spiritual and moral empowerment from the chapter Motivation and Empowerment >.
– Find most healthy RECIPES > that will help you overcome sugar cravings.
– One of the best examples of healthy recipes is found in the Hallelujah Diet website >
– Find out more information in the detailed HEALTH RECOVERY PLAN >
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH
– Blom WAM, Abrahamse SL, Bradford R (2012). Effects of 15-d repeated consumption of Hoodia gordonii purified extract on safety, ad libitum energy intake, and body weight in healthy, overweight women: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 12, 2011.
– Nishi T1, Hara H, Asano K, Tomita F. 2003. The soybean beta-conglycinin beta 51-63 fragment suppresses appetite by stimulating cholecystokinin release in rats. J Nutr. 2003 Aug; 133(8):2537-42.
– Dr. Agatha Thrash, Health Recovery Program. Online: http://www.ucheepines.org/health-recovery-program/
– Nickols-Richardson, S.M., Volpe, J.J., Coleman, M.D., “Premenopausal Women Following a Low-Carbohydrate/High-Protein Diet Experience Greater Weight Loss and Less Hunger Compared to a High-Carbohydrate/Low-Fat Diet,” Abstract Presented at FASEB Meeting on Experimental Biology: Translating the Genome, April 17-21, 2004, in Washington, D.C.
– King, N. A., Horner, K., Hills, A. P., et al. Exercise, appetite and weight management: understanding the compensatory responses in eating behaviour and how they contribute to variability in exercise-induced weight loss. Br J Sports Med. 2012; 46(5):31522
– Astrup A, Vrist E, Quaade F (February 1990). “Dietary fibre added to very low calorie diet reduces hunger and alleviates constipation”. Int J Obes 14 (2): 10512. PMID 2160441.
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