Don’t let the title fool you, this isn’t an article on how much we love Dad jokes (we really do)… this is an article about addiction to sugar, and what you can do about it.
From a young age, we have been bred to be weapons of mass sugar consumption.
Did your homework? Nice work, here’s a lollipop.
You’ve been quiet for 5 minutes and haven’t hit your sister? Fantastic, here’s an ice cream.
It’s your birthday? OMG! Here is an entire party devoted to the sugar gods. Cake. Lollies. FAIRY BREAD. Heaven on earth.
For a long time there has been a common practice of rewarding children and associating fun times with sugar. And on the surface, this doesn’t seem to be a big problem. Especially if the child is otherwise active, fed a healthy, balanced diet, and doesn’t have blood glucose disorders.
But beneath the surface… and we’re talking literally beneath the surface of your skin… sugar has been shown to stimulate the same areas of your brain as heroin and cocaine. And so, just like those hardcore drugs, sugar abuse (read: consumption) leads to addiction. And we all know that with addiction comes cravings, withdrawals … and problems.
High level sugar consumption leads to increased risk of diabetes, obesity, depression, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, dementia, hypertension, liver cirrhosis, cancer … yeah, you get the point, we’ll stop. But basically, our sugar-filled rewards and good times as children set us up to be over-indulging, sugar-dependent adults, prone to the conditions just mentioned and many more.
Now look - here at DadBods we are the biggest preachers of everything in moderation, including moderation… which means that yes, occasionally indulge yourself, even excess is okay sometimes… but the problem with sugar is that in today’s society - moderating your sugar intake is very, very difficult. What seems like just a little sweet treat every now and then, is often a full blown sugar addiction.
Sugar is everywhere. Sugar has managed to permeate every meal from breakfast through to dinner. There is sugar in fruit. There is sugar in cereal. There is sugar in dairy products. There is sugar in bottled sauces, flavour mix-ins, juices, sports drinks, lollies, protein bars, smoothies, granola bars, soft drinks and canned food. Don’t even get us started on chocolate. Or cookies. Or nutella. BRB … going to the store.
But seriously, sugar is everywhere. There is even sugar in so called ‘superfoods’ or healthy alternatives to traditional products.
Almond milk? No lactose… but (normally) lots of sugar.
Coconut water? More like, sugar water.
Blueberries? Oh yeah, sugar me up baby.
Acai Bowl? Might as well just eat a bowl of sugar.
So how the hell do you keep your sugar intake to a healthy level?
There’s no magic answer here - pretty much anyone who tells you that they have 100% given up sugar is full of sh*t. They may try to do it for a short while … but are you trying to tell me that they won’t eat a piece of fruit again in their life? Drink a lemonade? Chew a piece of gum? C’mon … let’s get real.
But we know that you’re not full of sh*t. You’re not trying to completely eliminate sugar from your diet, but you would like to take steps to reduce the amount of sugar you consume. So here are some basic tips to help you moderate your sugar consumption:
1. Avoid processed foods
This goes for limiting your sugar intake and just about every other healthy eating goal out there - stick to natural, non-processed, whole foods! Processed foods, by their very nature, are normally full of added sugar (corn syrup anyone?), preservatives, colourings and flavourings. Stick to the natural stuff. Your body will thank you.
2. Drink water!
Ok this one definitely doesn’t surprise you, but seriously, how much water have you drunk in the last 24 hours? Because if it is any less than 2 litres as an absolute minimum, then you are probably dehydrated, and without boring you too much… dehydration disrupts your brain’s serotonin levels (read more below) and makes it difficult for your liver to release glycogen and other components of stored energy. And guess what these effects can lead to? Yep, you guessed it, sugar cravings. So drink more water, stay hydrated, and avoid those cravings!!
Did you also notice that a lot of the sugar-filed products we have mentioned in this article are actually drinks and not food items? Soft drink, fruit juice, smoothies, milkshakes. All unnecessary, and all normally loaded with sugar (or artificial sweeteners … which probably deserve their own blog… but until then, just try and stay away from them). Switch out any and all of these sugary drinks for water and save money, calories, and even your teeth!
3. Boost your serotonin with exercise instead!
Yeah, serotonin, the feel good chemical, the one that party drugs release in your brain in abundance. If you have low serotonin, you may have intense cravings for sugar - this is your body's way of trying to increase serotonin, because eating sugar produces insulin, which helps tryptophan (from which serotonin is derived) go into your brain.
But you know what else boosts serotonin? Exercise. Good ol’ fashioned regular exercise. So get out there and move. Extra bonus is that the exercise might help you burn off any sneaky extra calories your sugar addiction might have added to your diet recently … just don’t get stuck in the habit of trying to exercise your way out of eating lots of sugar… that is a recipe for disaster!!
4. Keep your blood sugar stable.
You probably know what it feels like to have low blood sugar - irritable, weak, shaky, perhaps even a headache. This feeling normally coincides with the desire to grab the nearest high-calorie snack available and jam it down your throat. The problem here? That snack is normally full of sugar, and this eventually perpetuates the problem and a vicious cycle forms.
The answer? Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in protein and good fats, and AVOID OVEREATING! This should keep the flow of sugar to your brain at a healthy level and avoid the crash associated with low blood sugar levels.
5. Give in a little … every now and then … and ENJOY IT!
You were hoping we would say this right?!?!
Yes, part of the way to keep your sugar addiction in check is to allow yourself a sugar hit every once in a while. Just make sure you take the time to savour the sweetness! Choose a small portion of your favourite sugary delicacy (e.g. a square or 2 of chocolate instead of the whole block), consume it away from distractions (don’t binge eat while you binge watch Netflix, however tempting that may be), take your time to eat it, and remind yourself that this is a treat… not something to be enjoyed with every meal!
Hope these tips help you stay on the good side of the sugar addiction line.
Written by a Fitness-Obsessed Part-Time Sugar-Junkie with an Addictive Personality :-)
P.S. This is not medical advice!! Please see your GP if you have any serious issues to do with your blood sugar levels or anything else sugar related!
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