The holidays are over and you are finding yourself craving more and more sugar because there was plenty of overindulging. For those with chronic gut and/or hormone problems this issue is even more problematic since most of these patients will have some sort of blood sugar instability. 

In fact, sugar is just like the worse addictive substance:

· Heavy sugar consumers have trouble functioning without it.

· People eat it compulsively, despite negative consequences and the intention to stop.

· With continued use, people develop a tolerance to its effects.

· It stimulates the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, just like alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs of abuse.

· People eat it compulsively, despite negative consequences and the intention to stop.

· When consumption stops, withdrawal symptoms occur. 

WHAT IT MEANS: Breaking free from sugar addiction is easier said than done. Because the roots of sugar addiction are both physical and emotional, you need a combination of physical and psychological approaches. The less you eat sugar, the less you will crave it. If you get withdrawal symptoms, know they will only last a few days and then you’ll feel more balanced and energetic than ever.  

These 10 tips will make it easier to get a sugar problem under control.

#1: Keep sugar and sugar products out of your house. This includes white and brown sugar, corn syrup, and maple syrup. 

#2: Eat enough healthy food to satisfy your hunger in different colors, textures, etc. Eat healthy, whole food snacks like carrots, berries, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, dried apricots (unsulfurated) to satisfy your sweet tooth. Drink plenty of water, too. Add a little fruit juice to mineral water for the experience. Once you have cleared sugar from your system, your taste buds will become more sensitive, and these whole natural foods will taste sweeter and more satisfying. If you slow down and eat mindfully, you’ll enjoy these foods even more.  

#3: Eat three regular meals each day that combine complex carbohydrates (veggies, whole gluten-free grains, and berries), lean protein (poultry, fish, lean meat and beans) and healthy fats (omega-3’s, olive oil and other cold-pressed oils). This will help you maintain a steady blood sugar level throughout the day and reduce your sugar cravings. Eating a diet high in fiber also helps to reduce sugar cravings.  

#4: Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement. Chromium picolinate and l-glutamine help to reduce cravings for some people. I recommend Metabolic Synergy (multi-vitamin with sugar supporting nutrients).  

#5: When you go out, make sure you are not starving, especially if sugary sweets will be the only food available. Bring your own healthy snacks with you, or eat before going out.  

#6: Get regular exercise, like Yoga, plenty of sunlight or at least an adequate amount of vitamin D, and adequate sleep to reduce sugar cravings.  

#7: Learn to identify and manage cravings that are not a result of physical hunger, but instead are rooted in stress or anxiety. Develop alternative ways of managing stress: Take a walk, call a friend, read a book, play with your pet, watch a movie. Breathe, listen to music, meditate or take a hot Epson salt bath to activate your body’s relaxation response. Relaxation helps to balance your blood sugar and reduce cravings. 

#8: If you have turned to sugar to deal with uncomfortable feelings, learn to identify the specific feelings and respond appropriately to them. If you are tired, take a break or rest, rather than trying to persevere in the face of fatigue. If you are bored, find something stimulating to do. If you are lonely, reach out to a friend. Overcoming your sugar addiction involves really paying attention to what you are feeling, and giving yourself what you really need instead of using sugar as a substitute.  

#9: If you do overindulge in sugar, acknowledge that you slipped, and get back on track as soon as possible. Let go of the guilt and shame. Eating sugar is unhealthy, but it’s not a sin. As with other addictions, it doesn’t matter if you need multiple attempts to quit, just that you keep trying until it sticks.  

#10: Love yourself! To end the struggle with sugar, learn to nourish your body well and respond compassionately to your own feelings. The best sugar substitute is genuine self-acceptance.

 

Dr. Inna lukyanovsky, PharmD

Dr. Inna lukyanovsky, PharmD

Doctor of Pharmacy, Functional Medicine Practitioner, Gut Health Expert and Best Selling Author of the book "Crohn's and Colitis Fix."

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