Sunday, 14 October 2012

Are You A Sugar Addict?

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Sugary doughnuts for breakfast, biscuits for morning tea, a fruity caramel sauce coated snack bar later – hang on surely that’s got to be healthy right?  Who are we kidding here, are you 'addicted' to sugar?

It’s the same as owning 30 pairs of shoes in black and believing that you only own 5 pairs.  First it’s addiction and then denial.  Then there’s indulgence, addiction and further denial.  Notice how I consider owning 30 pairs of shoes as normal, but 30 pairs of black shoes a little bit indulgent.  I guess it’s all about where you draw the line.  After all, who does not own 30 pairs of shoes these days?

So where do you draw the line with sugar intake? 

It all really starts with how well fuelled you are.  Starvation increases food cravings and the likelihood of stuffing your face with the sweetest thing around.  Sure the festive delights taste phenomenal when you are starving, but with Christmas parties around the corner, never leave the house without breakfast.  If you really are not a morning person and struggle to exit the house with at least matching ear rings, have breakfast cereals or fruit and yoghurt ready to eat once you do get a moment to eat.

Contrary to common belief, a study in Clinical Nutrition concluded that there is no support from human literature that sugar is addictive.  This is great news, but that’s not to say that the dieter who plans his or her meals carefully will be less likely to be caught beside the biscuit tin at 4pm. 

It’s bitter sweet but the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in 2010 described that in some brains, the consumption of sugar rich foods or drinks prime the release of euphoric endorphins and dopamine.  For this reason, it’s not surprising that there is a natural preference for sweet foods.  

So how do you overcome ingrained bad habits?


First of all, get rid of the cookie jar and replace this with a large bowl of gorgeous fruits.

Eat just enough at meals to be at least 80%, full but with enough space for the next meal.  Ensure that your meal is comprised of complex carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are not evil.  If you need to be convinced, then read The Purple Carb Diet - How Low Do You Go?

Sugars are also carbohydrates but because they cause a yo yo type effect on your blood ‘sugar’ or glucose levels, it is preferable to stock up on low glycaemic index (GI) foods. 

The glycaemic index is a ranking of carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100 and how quickly they raise your blood glucose levels after eating.
Low GI carbs are:
  • fruit and vegetables
  • boiled white rice such as easy-cook rice or basmati rice
  • breads made with whole grains
  • high fibre bran cereals
  • oats prepared with skimmed milk
  • some fruity yoghurts
  • dried apricots and peach
  • lentils
  • nuts
  • Fusilli pasta
  • tagliatelle egg pasta 
  • and some fruit or nut based cereal bars

Remember, foods that are high in protein or fats can also have a low glycaemic index; like nuts.  That’s why digestive biscuits may appear to boast a low GI, but this is predominantly due to its high fat content.

It may be comforting to know that even dietitians eat sugary foods but the key is, eat these in moderation and in small amounts.  If your diet is primarily made of complex carbohydrates at breakfast, lunch and dinner, a small serving of that dark chocolate or the rich tea biscuit with your cup of tea is unlikely to send you on sugar frenzies.

So it’s not even a question of knowledge, because I know that you are already aware of these key facts.  

The trick is to kill bad habits and replace these with satisfying and rewarding ones.

Make friends with your diet and fill it with long lasting carbohydrates.  The short acting carbs in baking are tasty and fun I agree, but they really are not designed to stick around and will certainly leave you wanting for more.  Evil.  Oops, I meant, highly undesirable.

Here’s a quick GI checklist

Is your diet predominantly based on at least one of these low GI food items at every meal?

Reduced fat milk

Lunch and Dinner
Wholegrain breads

Fresh fruit
Dried fruit such as apricot or peach
Fruit or nut based cereal bar

If your heart simply cannot give up baking, then ensure that these are based on fruit, oats and slow releasing carbohydrates such as polenta.  If you have never baked with polenta see The World's Sexiest Carb - Italian Polenta.

Have a great week lovely readers.  How do you combat sugar cravings?

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