According to the National Institute of Health, sugar comprises 15% of the diets of American adults, and this statistic does not include foods with naturally occurring sugars such as fruit and milk. In short, Americans are eating too much sugar, and the statistics on overweight and obesity support that position. Excessive sugar consumption is linked to numerous health conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart disease.
What if I told you eliminating sugar might be as hard as an alcoholic conquering his desire to drink or a drug addict giving up the drugs that are destroying his life? We think of addictions in terms of THOSE kinds of things, but a study by the National Institute of Health reports that sugar is noteworthy as a substance that releases opioids and dopamine and might have addictive potential. To any of us who love sugar, addictive “potential” seems more like addictive “certainty.”
Avoiding sugar can be a challenge for several reasons. First and foremost, it has addictive qualities so once we have had a taste of it and it makes us feel so good, we don’t want to avoid it. From the outset, our desire is working against us. And the marketplace is at the ready to feed the addiction. About 80 percent of packaged food items you will find in the grocery store contain added sugars. And it’s even worse with drinks. Next time you drink a soda, flip the can around and feast your eyes on the sugar content displayed. Cans and bottles of contain about 40 grams of sugar, and there are drinks on the market that are even worse than that. According to the American Heart Association, the most added sugar a woman should eat in a day are 25 grams, so even indulging in one soda will exceed the recommended daily limit. And typically we are not stopping with one can of soda. You will also find sugar in lots of other favorites as well: Fruit juices (just as sugary as soft drinks, ladies), candies/sweets, baked goods, fruits canned in syrups, and low-fat or diet foods all contain way too much added sugar. Make sure to read those labels and if sugar is listed first, quickly return that choice to the grocery store shelf.
If you have trouble avoiding the sweet stuff you might have a sugar addiction to contend with, and if you’re trying to lose the extra weight the sugar gave you, you must overcome the sugar addiction first.
If you experience any of the following symptoms related to your consumption of sugar, you may have a sugar addition to overcome before you will experience success with weight loss.
Cravings. When you eliminate or cut back your sugar intake, do you crave it and think about it all the time? If you crave sugar constantly, there’s a good chance you have a sugar addiction.
Bingeing. When you consume sugary foods, are you able to enjoy a small and moderate amount at a time…just a little nibble? Or is it a full-on binge that doesn’t end until all evidence of sugar in your immediate area have been consumed? If you binge on sugar, rather than enjoy it in small and infrequent doses, there’s a good chance you are addicted to sugar.
Withdrawal. When you don’t consume sugar, what happens in your body? Have you experienced any of the following symptoms? If so, you might have a sugar addition.
- Lethargy or lack of energy
If you are overweight, reducing the amount of the sugar consume won’t be easy at first because you’ve likely developed a sugar addiction. However, reducing or eliminating the amount of sugar in your diet will not only reduce your risk for the health conditions listed above, but it will also help you lose weight. Expect the discomfort that will inevitably occur, but do so with the knowledge and certainty that reducing sugar intake is not only best for your long-term health, but also necessary for weight loss.
You have to decide whether to completely eliminate or simply reduce the amount of sugar you consume. Complete elimination, or “going cold turkey” is going to hurt, but the truth is reducing sugar is probably going to hurt a little as well. After all, breaking addictions always hurts, but doing so is always best for your body, mind and spirit.
The prevailing recommendation seems to be that you should work your way up to a no-sugar diet so that you gradually recondition every part of your body from your taste buds to your brain that sugar is no longer going to be a main attraction in your diet and is no longer going to be the answer to your stressors and problems. A gradual reduction of sugar seems to be the less painful alternative, and of course, will result in slower weight loss which is perfectly fine. For long-term conditioning and permanent results, it might be better to approach your weight loss, including reduction of sugar intake, as a marathon rather than a sprint.
To get started on a deeper dive into permanent weight loss, click on the calendar below to schedule a FREE mini-session with me. What do you have to lose but some weight??