Do you have an addictive personality?  Crave sweets or starchy foods?…This combination may be tricky for you to navigate.  Sugar – especially highly refined sugars and starches –  create a bonafide chemical reaction in your body.

Why do you get a rush when you eat a midday candy bar? The sugar in it — called a simple carbohydrate — is quickly turned into glucose in your bloodstream. Your blood sugar levels spike. Simple carbs are also found in fruits, veggies, and dairy products. But these have fiber and protein that slow the process. Syrup, soda, candy, and table sugar don’t.

Your body needs to move glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells for energy. To do this, your pancreas makes insulin, a hormone. As a result, your blood sugar level may drop. This rapid change in blood sugar leaves you feeling wiped out and shaky and searching for more sweets to regain that sugar “high.” So that midday sugary treat has set you up for more bad eating.

Even if you feel like you don’t have a sweet tooth, but you enjoy bread, pastas and bagels…you’re still getting sugars.  These foods are complex carbohydrates which break down into glucose in your system.  White bread and pasta are the worst culprits.   

What should you do if you’re caught in this cycle?  Let’s explore some of the “remedies” out there.

Do sugar detox diets work?

Can you beat your sugar habit by quitting cold turkey? Some sugar detox plans urge you to avoid all sweets. That means all fruit, dairy, and refined grains. The idea is to purge your system of sugar. Diet changes like this are too drastic to keep up. Changes that you can do only for the short term mean you’ll fall back to your old habits.  Nothing that drastic change can be a lifestyle change.

How about something a little less drastic.  Moderation is a great tool…and did you know that you can actually retrain your tastebuds?  You don’t need sugar as much as you think you do. Try cutting out one sweet food from your diet each week. For example, pass on dessert after dinner. Start putting less sugar in your coffee or cereal. Over time, you will lose your need for that sugar taste.  If you make small, simple changes to your diet, it’s easy to keep them up. Start by eating more fruits and vegetables. Drink extra water. Check food labels, and pick those that don’t have a lot of sugar. Cut out a little bit of sugar each week. After a few weeks, you’ll be surprised at how little you miss it.

Some other helpful changes might include eating more protein and fiber which create sustenance in your diet and help you feel full.   Drinking more water is good for many reasons but it also helps you feel more full and satisfied.   Get outside and exercise.  Sitting in front of a screen too long will make you feel like munching.  Limit “healthy sugars” as well – honey and agave are more natural and unrefined, but are still sugars.  Lastly, You don’t always see the word “sugar” on a food label. It sometimes goes by another name, like these:

  • Agave nectar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Glucose
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose

Watch out for items that list any form of sugar in the first few ingredients, or have more than 4 total grams of sugar.

Eating too much sugar can be a cause of added weight gain.  A heavier body can, over time, start resisting insulin uptake resulting in Type 2 Diabetes.  

There’s no one right way to cut back on sugars, but starting to do so in a way that works best for you is a great start to a healthier lifestyle!