Face it. Sugar calls your name. Even though you know it isn’t healthy for you, and as hard as you try to avoid it, it still beckons, whispering seductively from every corner of your life. And it isn’t any wonder, we are bombarded with sugary treats from every side. In fact, doctors say that sweet is the first taste babies learn to love after birth. Learning to fight the sugar bug’s call can be tough, but it is doable. Here are a few foods that can help, as well as a bit of a primer on why sugar holds such a pull on our lives.
The Sugar Rush
Why it is that sugar has such addictive powers on our lives? One reason is the fact that sugar triggers a release of dopamine in the body, a hormone responsible for feelings of pleasure. Essentially, we crave sugar because it makes a feel good. Of course, this is not just the result of eating straight sugar, but many carbohydrate rich foods with high glycemic indexes produce the same result. As a result, many people are actually addicted to sugar, because they need it to feel good, to help them deal with stress, and overcome feelings of depression or anxiety. So, that almost helpless urge to devour a dozen cookies, a sugary sweet coffee drink, or down a couple candy bars? It may actually be a biological addiction, a cry for dopamine release in order to cope with life.
Alternatives to the Bad Stuff
Research points to the fact that too much sugar (and starchy foods) is not good for the health. Thought to promote the growth of various cancers, sugar can also contribute to cardiovascular disease, and many other ailments. So, what is a person to do to help drive away those sugary cravings? While there isn’t one simple solution (besides just saying no), here are a few foods that can help.
- Grab an Apple – if you read our previous article weighing sugar versus fruit, you know that although apples do contain naturally occurring sugars, those sugars are balanced by fiber and other healthy elements in apples that slow the release of the sugar into the blood. This makes apples (and other fruits) a way to get some sweetness on your taste buds while still maintaining healthy sugar levels.
- Slice up Some Tomatoes – tomatoes contain high levels of serotonin – another mood enhancing food. If your sugar cravings stem from depression or other emotional distress, some juicy fresh tomatoes may help you out.
- Sprinkle on the Cinnamon – cinnamon is more than a yummy spice for sweet foods, it actually helps to reduce blood sugar levels by enhancing the effects of insulin. As a result, you may crave less sugar.
- Healthy Alternatives – think about the sugar containing foods in your diet. Replacing these with healthier alternatives is a great way to reduce your sugar intake. In time, your body will adjust to the reduced levels and be more accustomed to the healthier options. Some places to look include breakfast cereals (many naturally sweetened options can replace the sugary choices on the main grocery aisles), jams and jellies (look for fruit only selections), and yogurt (try going for plain and adding fresh fruits).
Sources for this article include: