We’re friends, right? I’d like to create a judgement-free zone here. I must confess something. Ok, great, deep breath, here goes: I am a nutritionist and I love sugar. I’m well aware of the dangers, as I’m sure you are, of excessive sugar consumption.
For quite some time, nutritionists, medical experts and publications (including this one) have been talking about everything from inflammation to diabetes to heart disease and more. I would like to say that I quit the sweet stuff the day I started studying nutrition, but I didn’t.
There’s been more talk over the last year or so about how sugar addiction is biologically similar to drug or alcohol addiction. To name a couple of articles, Mark Hyman, MD, talks on his Web site how some people need more stimulation to activate pleasure receptors, and Dr. Frank Lipman cites a 2007 study where rats chose sugar water over water laced with cocaine. While I find that interesting, also comforting to know that my cravings are more than just lack of willpower, I owe it to myself and to you to figure out a healthy way to live with sugar cravings.
I can’t imagine living in an unsweetened world. Here are some of the things I do to maintain a healthy relationship with sugar:
- I rarely keep binge-worthy foods in the house.
- I’ve mostly stopped using refined sugar. At home, I use natural sweeteners for my coffee, and occasionally when I’m out I’ll use a little raw sugar.
- I’ve cut about 80 percent of the processed foods I used to eat out of my diet.
- When a sugar craving hits, I always start with something natural. I try to keep at least one type of fresh fruit (grapes and apples are a couple of my favorites) around and I usually have raisins on hand in case I’m out of everything else.
- When I do slip, as soon as I can, I forgive myself. I try to learn what I can from the experience, and move on.
I’ve cut as much sugar from my diet as I can and still keep life bearable. The first few days of starting a new habit are the toughest so hang in there. Hey, remember, we’re in this together! Please lean on me for support or if you have any questions about these strategies.