When we think of an addiction one of the first things that comes to mind is usually drugs and alcohol. We assume that an addiction impacts how we function in our lives significantly and that when it becomes a part of our daily lives we often lose our jobs, our relationships and sometimes even our life. What most of us don’t know is that one of the leading addictions that is creating a pandemic of health problems right now is Sugar. That’s right…sugar. In other words, the substance that makes our desserts taste so delicious and our break-ups not so bad. Recent studies have shown that sugar actually plays a much more detrimental role on our health than fat and that that amount of sugar North American’s are consuming on a regular basis (2-3 pounds per week) is leading to devastatingly high numbers of chronic disease.
Below is a list of ways that sugar affects your health along with a few alternatives to try when you are craving something sweet.
- Contributes to anxiety, depression and hyperactivity
- Decreases immune functioning by up to 40%
- Feeds cancer cells, giving them the energy they need to grow and multiply
- Triggers weight gain
- Creates a hormonal imbalance which can lead to changes in our mood, weight, skin, energy and more
- Impacts our insulin levels which can leave us feeling tired and hungry
- Increases the risk of heart disease
- Causes kidney damage
- Promotes premature aging
So What Can You Do About It?
- When you are baking, try using dates in replace of sugar. Or, if you don’t like that idea, try cutting back the amount of sugar it calls for gradually (ex/ if it calls for 1 cup of sugar, cut back to ¾ cup). In time you will get used to your favorite baked goods being less sweet
- Look for food products that have 7 grams of sugar or less per serving.
- Eliminate soft drinks and juice from your diet. Not only are these really high in sugar but they are also full of empty calories
- Keep lots of fresh fruit around and snack on that. The sugars in fruit are better for you because fruit contains lots of vitamins and fiber. Having a healthy sweet as a snack, such as fruit, can reduce sugar cravings later on.
- Be wary of low-fat or fat free foods, they often load them up with sugar or artificial sweeteners to make them taste better. Additionally, these products are usually lower in fat but still have the same number of calories.
- Aim to eat a healthy, low sugar breakfast every day. This will increase your energy and eliminate the risk of having a sugar low mid morning. Sugar lows often leave us craving more sugar and cause us to overeat.
Remember that it’s healthy to eat everything in moderation and that you don’t have to restrict all sugar from your diet. Aim to make one or two changes in your sugar intake and you are already one step closer to leading a long healthy life!
Here are some distractions I use when i feel a dtseerape urge to binge. 1. make sure other people are around. even them just being there and knowing you cant freely access the kitchen / food helps.2. do not keep food in your room, and ensure binge’ food is kept at a minimum. if you are serious, perhaps you could literally ask your parents [if you live with them] to keep them in a locked cupboard if they feel its essential to have cake/chocolate/chips in the house.3. just WAIT. wait 10 minutes. wait 20 minutes. give yourself a time limit, because sometimes by that time your so frustrated that you havent given in to the urge that you dont want to binge [its unlikely, but test it.]4. have something to DO after you eat. have this prepared. if you plan to watch a movie, have the movie in sight as you are eating. it will remind you that you are not going to binge. if you are going to do schoolwork, have your diary in front of you. if you are going to do painting, have the paints out.5. ask yourself where you want to be in a year/month/week. Recover NOW. start your binge/purge free days NOW. you might think this will be the last time . remember last time you said that too? ACTUAL ACTIVITIES:- Have a shower. you cant eat in the shower.- do something that [usually] fully engages your mind. Crosswords, puzzles, assignments. have these out BEFORE you start eating.- change your environment.. get away from food completely. go for a walk somewhere. bike ride [ do not do this to COMPENSATE though]- craft. this helps me the most. paint, cross stitch, long stitch, work with canvases, soft pastels [use your hands, you cant eat if you are finger painting], collages, drawing, making cards- make things for the people you love. give you a purpose to not do it for 5 minutes and then go and binge.- if you are angry and frustrated, find something that you can do to get your anger out. Totem tennis, anyone?- call a friend or family member and talk- play an instrument- redecorate your room / wardrobe- chat to friends on the internetessentially, the most effective thing for you not bingeing will be the thing that fulfills the need that you would usually be filled by bingeing. eg. if you binge because you feel isolated, calling a friend will directly fill that need. call friend after friend if need be. if you binge because you feel rejected, call someone you feel accepted by. if you binge because you simply have the house to yourself, make sure you eat with people and have them stick around after the meal! if you binge because you feel worthless and dont feel that you should have eaten the meal, then do something that makes you feel worthwhile make things for friends, create something, do something productive that you can SEE you are doing something. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE:1. a list of people you can call when you feel like you want to binge. 2. a list of things you can do when you do want to binge.rate both of these activities and people: eg. Activity: Punching a pillow. Good For: releasing frustrations, initially taking my mind off bingeing.Activity: Doing an assignment / schoolwork. Good For: showing that i can achieve something. you really need to make sure you get yourself SUPPORT. no matter if you have been bingeing or struggling with eating disorders for a month or a year, you WILL continue to struggle until you empower yourself and decide that you do not want this life. if it helps write down a list of things you want from life. is bingeing included? er.. no. See a psyc. See family members. See friends. See a team. Art therapist, music therapist. REMEMBER THE 5 D’SDELAY your response so you can figure out what exactly is tempting you to binge.DETERMINE what’s going on. Ask yourself, “Why is my desire to eat so high right now? Am I physically hungry? If not, “what do I really want or need?”DISTRACT yourself for 10 minutes (WAIT).DISTANCE yourself, physically, from the temptation.DECIDE how you will handle it.- If you’re tired, take a nap. If you’re feeling lonely, call a friend. If you’re feeling anxious, go for a walk or take a bubble bath.- If you’re having a specific food craving, identify what you really want, go get a single HOW TO STOP FOOD CRAVINGS Craving chocolate? Eat a banana. It sometimes satisfies the yearning for chocolate and is much less fattening. Chew sugarless gum. It speeds up the digestive system, burning more calories, and sometimes kills a craving. Exercise! Your appetite will temporarily subside and you’ll feel better about taking such a proactive approach. Still craving chocolate? Try a magnesium supplement. Many women are deficient in this mineral, which is found in chocolate. Craving fatty foods? Eat fish, or take a fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement. You may be low in essential fatty acids. Grab something to drink. Sometimes, cravings for food are really thirst in disguise. Sweet tooth? Protein, fat and fiber keep blood sugar levels more even and help keep such cravings under control. Watch your caffeine intake. Caffeine seems to make sugar cravings worse. If your will power weakens at night, try leaving the lights on until the minute you go to bed. Dimmed lights tend to lower inhibitions. Turn off the lights in your kitchen and avoid hanging out there. Whew!!! It seems that I’ve gathered a lot of suggestions. I hope one or most of the lists of advices above help you.