Sugar is a leading cause of childhood obesity and obesity among adults. Many adults eat 2 to 5 times more sugar than the American Heart Association recommends. The worst part, adults send their children into this cycle of weight management troubles by adding sugary snacks and foods to the children’s diet. Many will use the excuse, “It’s only one,” or “they’re young, they’ll burn it off.” While the latter may be almost true, it doesn’t excuse the sugar cravings you’re building in your child.
Adults blame their sugar cravings on the food. I’m at a loss to explain this concept in any rational way. For this article, I will assume they are referring to the smell and taste of sweet foods. That said, knowing how these foods affect you and your body, how do you justify dumping sugar into your kids?
There are other reasons sugar is so appealing. These are not excuses the be thrown around at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but examples and explanations to help you better understand why you want sugar. The goal here is to get rid of sugar and sugar cravings.
Childhood sugar addiction is hard to overcome
Sweets are a primary reward for many children or they are used to pacify a child between meals. Couple this with the ease of replacing grocery shopping and cooking for fast food, and you have a formula for obesity and obesity-related diseases. This teaches children that sweets are a sign of accomplishment and laziness is rewarded with fries. It may seem harmless, but these easily learned lessons turn into cravings and binge eating as adults. Our brain turns sugar into the champion of “feel good” moments.
The solution is simple; don’t use sweets as rewards. That’s the simple solution. The hard solution, for children already caught in this trap, is to start replacing sweets, and food in general, as a reward. Start by replacing sweets with healthy options. When cravings kick in, go to the park or find a way to keep them occupied until meal time. The same solution works for adults. Go for a walk, play a game or go for a drive with as few fast food restaurants on the route as possible.
Hormones force you to crave sugar
Insulin and some peptides are released when your body is hungry that let you know you are hungry. A candy bar or sweet pastry is like gas on a fire in this situation. Feeding your body sweets to keep energy levels up and as in between meals snacks teaches your body to crave them. Your hormones will scream at your brain to find sweets and your brain will have you hunting them.
Chocolate really will make you feel better when you are depressed or struggling emotionally. Sweets can turn on the dopamine factory. Dopamine will help ease emotional pain. Much like drugs and booze, sweets turn on your body’s reward system. Much like giving your kids cake for good grades, sweets train your body to want more sweets by rewarding you with feelings you can’t normally get with healthy foods.
Your brain is really the enemy in this sugar war. Your brain is programmed to use glucose as fuel for almost everything. You can provide better fuel and trick your brain into using the fuel you are feeding your body.
Plan your meals
Include carbs that digest slower than sugar. Slower digesting carbs provide a steady stream of fuel for your body and crush cravings before they begin. Meals should include protein, carbs and fats that are good for you. Having a nutrition plan and planning and prepping your meals ahead of time will leave you feeling better and lighter. You’ll also have energy all day and feel full longer between meals.
Never eat because you want to or feel the need to eat. Eat based on a plan to fuel and feed your body quality foods. If you do that, you shouldn’t want to eat or feel like you need to eat.
Dropping sugar will:
- Help you avoid type 2 diabetes
- Improve heart health
- Promote clear, healthy skin
- Improve learning and memory
- Help you lose weight
Anyone can follow this advice. Kicking your sugar cravings will not kill you, however, not kicking your sugar addiction will or at the least shorten your life.