Tuesday, February 24, 2015
If you’re challenging yourself to eliminate sugar from your diet as part of your New Years resolution or you are avoiding chocolate and sweets for Lent, you may experience a few withdrawal symptoms. If you love sugar coated snacks, you may find it more difficult to avoid sweet treats than first expected. Whether you’re got a sweet tooth when it comes to biscuits, fizzy drinks or chocolate treats, cutting out sugar can result in withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, tiredness and anxiety.
Why does giving up sugar make us feel glum?
Sugar Is a Reward
Our brain registers when we are doing something we enjoy, E.g., consuming sugar, by releasing hormones that make us feel happy. The brain also activates hormones that tells our body to remember activities that we enjoy, therefore reinforcing the likelihood that you will want to eat sugar again. Due to evolution, we are designed to acknowledge that sweet things provide a healthy source of nutrients. Therefore, as we are programmed to enjoy sweet treats we miss this ‘reward’ when it is restricted in our diet.
Cravings and Withdrawal
With busy work schedules and families to look after, many of us look for quick fixes to boost energy and fight fatigue. Snacks and energy drinks with high sugar content work to disguise the feeling of tiredness rapidly. Therefore, after your first few days of detoxing you may find yourself eating more carbs than usual to compensate for the lack of sugar. After the almost instant ‘sugar-high’ has faded your energy levels will plummet. The more sugar that you consume the more tolerant your body will become to the effect, in turn this can lead to unhealthy eating habits and weight gain.
In an effort to be healthy how can you replace unnatural sugars with healthy alternatives?
1. Be Smart With Carbs
Carbohydrates are a great source of energy for the body. Opt for foods such as brown rice and brown pasta, cereals and whole wheat bread. By fueling your body with carbs you will reduce cravings for sugary snacks, such as sweets and processed foods.
2. Fill Up On Fruit
Try to replace your daily sugary snack with a fresh piece of fruit. Opt for fruits that are rich in vitamins, such as as blackberries, kiwis, oranges or other citrus fruits. Fruit is a much healthier option which will provide slow releasing and long lasting energy throughout the day.
3. Enjoy Sweet Vegetables
You may think that vegetables lack flavour, and especially sweetness. However, with a wide variety of vegetables available to us, there are a few vegetable options that provide a sweet flavour. Try adding sweet potatoes, beets and carrots to your diet in order to satisfy your cravings for sugar.
4. Eat Homemade Meals
Many shop bought processed foods are packed with hidden sugars. Therefore, foods that you may think are healthy can have a high sugar content, such as cereals, fruit juices, smoothies, yogurts and salad dressings. By cooking at home you have complete control over the ingredients that go into your meals, this way you can make your diner as sugar-free as possible.
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