We have all heard that sugar can affect our waistlines, but recent research also provides evidence to support what many have been saying for years – that sugar can cause addiction-like symptoms such as craving, withdrawal and tolerance. So what can we do if we find ourselves experiencing these symptoms? Below are five steps to help you break out of the cycle of sugar highs and lows and get control of your sugar intake.
Know the enemy
The key to curbing your sugar addiction is to curb your sugar intake. In order to do this, it is important to know where sugar is located – and often hiding – in your diet. Thus, the first step of this plan is to learn how to properly interpret nutrition labels so that you can see the amount of sugar you are eating and identify exactly where it is coming from (see example and steps below). Using this knowledge, I encourage people to keep track of their sugar intake for one week with a notepad, smartphone or whatever works best for you.
Step 1: Each gram of sugar is equivalent to approximately 4 calories so you can multiply the grams of sugars listed by 4 (26 X 4). In this case, roughly 104 calories per serving come from sugar.
Step 2: After step 1, check the serving size. If there is more than 1 serving, multiply the number found in step 1 by the number of serving sizes (104 X 2). In this case, the entire drink or food item contains about 208 calories from sugar alone.
Cease and desist
At the end of the week, look over your list and identify which type of food or beverage is contributing the most to your sugar intake; does most of your sugar come from 3 p.m. soda trips to the vending machine or is it hidden in your normal breakfast of yogurt and a protein bar? Then, focus on eliminating the main contributor to your sugar intake.