It’s pretty common knowledge these days that people in general are eating just way too much sugar. Of course, there’s sugar that shows up naturally in certain foods like fruits – but that’s not the issue here. The real problem is added sugar, which we either pile on ourselves or is packed in to processed foods to make them more appetizing. In fact, the American Heart Association estimates that the average American eats about 22 tablespoons of added sugar every day which equates to and extra 350 calories – roughly equivalent to a small meal.
But there’s a very insidious reason that added sugar is such a problem: Our brains love the stuff. There’s actually fairly solid evidence that our brains are hardwired from birth to crave sugar which is, to be fair, a potent fuel for both body and brain. And things just get worse from there. In addition to our natural drive to eat sweet, calorie-dense foods, that behavior is reinforced each time you indulge in a sugary treat since your brain releases dopamine and other “reward chemicals.” Some startling research has even shown some stark similarities between the response of our brain to sugar and the chemical changes to occur in the brains of drug addicts.
Clearly, something needs to change. So how can you get a handle on this and over come your sugar addiction? Here’s a few tips.
- Go for a walk. This might seem overly simplistic but a brisk walk can help you deal with sugar cravings in two ways. First, the activity will distract you and help replace a bad habit with a good one (which we’ll cover more in a moment). Second, heading out for a walk will help get you away from any temptation you might be dealing with where you are. For many people, sugar cravings are a response to stress which a nice walk outside can help alleviate.
- Replace rather than deny. As mentioned, you need to get rid of those old, sugar-laden habits. Unfortunately, your brain loves habits and refuses to let go of them. In fact, the more you think about an old habit – even though you aren’t giving in to it – the more that particular thought pattern is reinforced in your brain. The trick, then, is to focus on replacing bad habits with good ones rather than stressing about deleting the old ones. To do this, train yourself to enjoy healthful, naturally sweet foods like fruit rather than heavily processed treats.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. It seems to make sense: If you want to cut out sugar but still have sweets, switch to artificial sweeteners. The sad truth, though, is that this is one of the worst things you can do. Although most of them contain little-to-no calories, artificial sweeteners have been linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. There is even some evidence that artificial sweeteners can increase the risk of certain cancers, in addition to neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
Staying active while sticking to all-natural, whole foods really is the best way to go – both in regards to general health and overcoming your sugar addiction. To help you with this, all Gnarly products use natural, low-glycemic index sweeteners that taste great and don’t rely on added sugar. Why not take a few minutes to explore our products and learn more about the good stuff in the tubs?