Sugar: The XXI Century Addiction

What are sugars? They are carbohydrates, composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Sugars come in a variety of forms, but can be distinguished by their chemical structure.

The main structures are monosaccharides (simple sugars and include glucose, fructose, and galactose), disaccharides (simple sugars and occur as a result of two monosaccharides combining.

They include sucrose, lactose, and maltose) and polysaccharides (are commonly known as complex carbohydrates - complex sugars. They are a combination of several monosaccharides and include starch and glycogen).

Here are some examples you can understand better:

Monosaccharides = Fruits and fruit juices (glucose, fructose), honey…

Disaccharides = Sugar cane syrup, milk, molasses, maple syrup…

Polysaccharides = Wheat, oats, barley, corn, rice, potatoes, tapioca, yam, legumes…

Just looking this list of foods with “sugar” you can see that most of food have a natural amount of sugar and that all carbohydrates (simple or complex) have sugar. That means sugar is = ENERGY. But this energy is also quick. As soon as consumed, it quickly disappears and if you don’t any long-lasting source, such as protein or fat, your body will need more and more.

That observation might also help you understand that we already consume sugars in our diet daily, through carbs. So, if we already consume carbs daily, we are already eating sugar every single day. Imagine when we add more sugar to our diet through the sugar we see and the hidden sugar? The hidden sugar is the sugar hidden in the processed food, even some labeled “natural” could have more sugar than supposed to.

But how should we consume per day?

• No more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories a day of sugar for most women

• No more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories a day for most men.

Just to have an idea, nowadays in US, most adults consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day. Which answers why we are having an increase of diseases such as:

  • Gallbladder and liver diseases

  • Leaky Gut

  • Heart disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Low immune system

  • Stroke

  • Diabetes

  • Depression

  • ADHD

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Gynecological problems such as infertility

  • Respiratory problems

  • Sleep apnea

  • Cancer

Wow, and the list does not stop! To help you understand better how much sugar you are consuming, try to complete this task:

For one week, write down everything you eat and try to do the same for your family (if you have kids at home). Check how much carbs/sugar you are consuming every day. Also, relate the sugar intake to the diseases on the list above.

Why we have sugar cravings?

Well, first we have to understand that sugar is as addictive as cocaine! A study published in the Public Library of Science highlights a lab rat experiment involving sugar and cocaine. The rats were given cocaine until they became dependent on it. Then, they gave them a choice – the rats could continue to have the cocaine or they could switch to sugar. The result? 94% chose to make the switch to sugar.

Even when the rats had to work hard to access the sugar, they were much more interested in it than they were in the cocaine. Starting from that, we can understand that once we start consuming sugar, it is hard to stop, and of course, it varies from person to person. Then, why we let ourselves to get addicted? Here are some answers and, how to stop your cravings:

1. You don’t eat enough and/or eat too much carbs and not enough fat and protein

When you have a poor diet full of carbs, which lacks some nutrients and especially fat and protein, you will feel hungry faster and then your body will crave for sugar to regain more energy. The same thing happens when you don’t eat enough calories.

Solution: Eat more healthy fats (avocado, nuts, raw cheese, coconut oil, olive oil…) and protein (vegetable or animal) than carbs. Add also more greens and sweet vegetables like beets, carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes to your daily diet.

2. You are thirsty

When you don’t hydrate your body enough, it thinks you need sugar. But once again, your body gets confused and you are not craving for sugar, you are simply thirsty.

Solution: You are desperately craving for a candy bar? Before attacking the first sweet you see in front of you, drink a big glass of water! And wait the desire to go away. It will go!

3. It became a habit

If every single day you eat a piece of chocolate, cake, cookie, and don’t even think about it, it is because it became a habit, a bad habit. In this case, it is already an addiction!

Solution: Pay attention to what you eat. Don’t eat watching TV or with other distraction. Eat in a quiet place, enjoy your food. After eating, enjoy a nice warm cup of tea, like apple or vanilla. They are sweet, but healthier!

4. You need love

Craving for sugar can be a sign of lack of affection.

Solution: Next time you have these crazy sweet desires, ask for a hug. Talk to someone who is a “sweet” person, watch a beautiful movie.

And one more thing! Please, don’t give sugar for your kids, especially those under 4 years old. Sugar is not a sign of love!

How to reduce sugar in our lives and alternatives to sugar.

With all this information, are you still going to let be fooled by the food industry saying you need to eat this or that? Are you still going to avoid making your own food just because you think you don’t have time to cook at home?

I am telling all that just because if you identify that you have a sugar addiction and you want to break it, you must be open for it. Knowing that you want and need to stop this addiction, read once again the instructions above and start acting now. Put your cravings to test. But remember, to reduce sugar is like any other drug, you must go slow. If you remove all sugar sources from now on there is a big chance your cravings to come back. Go baby steps!

Another important thing is to learn other alternatives to the white sugar. But pay attention! Alternatives to “white sugar”. But they are still a source of sugar!

So, don’t think because they are a healthier option that you are going to use every single time and going over the daily limit. You must use them in moderation, after all, although these natural sweeteners are healthier than refined white sugar and with no fluctuations in blood sugar levels, yet it is necessary to control it. Here are some of these options and the quantity of each of them compared to 1 cup refined white sugar:

✔️Coconut sugar = 1 cup

✔️Honey (better raw honey) = 1/2 - 2/3 cup

✔️Stevia = see how the manufacturer's instructions, because it may vary.

✔️Xylitol = 1 cup

✔️Turbinado sugar = 1 cup

✔️Molasses = 1/3 cup

✔️Rapadura = 1 cup

✔️Dates = 2/3 cup

✔️Maple Syrup = 1/2 - 3/4 cup

PS.: You might be asking yourself, but what about the artificial sweetener? Well, even worse than white sugar! Besides the same effect in your body (sugar feeling) is processed and zero in nutrients!

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