When I was a kid I used to turn to certain foods to make me smile. Just eating these foods seemed to make my day better than it was before. Things like icing cake cookies, fudge brownies, powdered spice pumpkin balls (yeah, I might have been a weird kid), and gummy worm graveyards (oreo cookies crushed in whipped cream). But today, those cute little sugar buddies are no longer my goto friend when I’m feeling unhappy, a little distant, and a bit frumpy. In fact, I am declaring a silent war on them, and you may benefit from such a thing too.
Sugar as an additive is an alien species. It doesn’t really get along with the human body in large quantities, yet we have exploded our intake over the last hundred years into something that has become quite destructive. But sugar wasn’t always bad. Your ancestors had a sweet tooth, but in most cases, the amount they ate in one month was equivalent to what the average person eats in a week, or even one day.
That spike of sweet stuff has quite likely had a hand in many of today’ most feared diseases, including cancer, diabetes, other immunity disorders, and heart disease. And there is likely more problems it causes, but this should be enough to make sugar your public enemy number one. But let’s make one thing clear, we’re not going to stage any battle strike plans today because our approach is really more of a truce.
Fighting is Futile
Sugar is all around us. It is in berries, carrots, beets, and your body produces it naturally so that you can survive and live a healthy, happy life. So who made sugar the root of all evil? Nobody really. In fact, according to research, sugar is considered a possible component to
But you’ve probably already received the memo that sugar could be a threat. You may have already joined the bandwagon against sugar, and so you try to cut back where you can. But cutting back may not be doing much for your resistance, and I’ll explain why with the preparation of one healthy lunch:
You could eat a turkey sandwich and consider it a ‘healthy’ meal, until you realize that the two slices of bread each had 6 grams of sugar, the turkey was injected with a sodium solution that included 4 grams of sugar, and that sweet mustard sauce had no less than 7 grams a teaspoon, of which you generously slathered on (2 teaspoons), and why not, I mean the rest of it was healthy, wasn’t it?
Now we’re talking 30 grams of sugar, and you haven’t even got to the brownie for dessert, which could be packing 16 grams on its own. That is
How Much Sugar Should You be Eating?
After the previous example of a typical lunch, I am now going to tell you that the average person should probably not eat more than 40 grams per day (according to the American Heart Association) and more specifically, not much over 25 grams for the average woman. And now you see the problem. But while sugar may be our #1 enemy, intelligence is the best battle plan. A plan that should begin by making a truce and a promise to yourself.
Stop the Craving with Love, Not War
If you made sugar your number one enemy today and battled it with the ferocity of a wild bear, what happens when it wins some of the battles (and it will). It makes you feel depressed, defeated, and worthless. So what do you do? You eat even more sugar. I mean, what the heck, you already lost, you might as well go down in a blaze of glory. But that is the exact thinking that will send you down the sugar path pushing you closer to devastation (weight gain, sugar crash, disease).
The promise you should make is to love yourself, and not to eat certain foods in order to give yourself love. Make a promise to feed your hunger with food that will ultimately make you feel good about yourself, and promise that you will pay close attention to everything you put into your body. A lot of “healthy” packaged food, really isn’t all that healthy if you read the fine print (nutritional stuff) on the back of the box. So take the time to read before you chuck it in your grocery cart.
And the truce we speak of is to give sugar a key to your house, but with a strict set of house rules. Sugar is not bad by itself, but it is a bit like that bad boy next door. The moment that everyone tells you to stay away from him, he suddenly becomes even more attractive. But he’s still a bit of a jerk, so if you don’t limit your time with him, he’s just going to end up breaking your heart week after week.
So what you do instead, is you occasionally give into your sugar cravings just enough to satisfy a portion of your cravings. In other words, you allow cheat meals, but keep them at reasonable limits, as you would anything that is potentially bad for you. Keep in mind that with sugary food, the general rule is: in
Instead, place lower/natural sugar options that are just as quick and easy to munch on, like fruit, nuts, and vegetables around your couch or home office. Make a rule that if you eat your cheats too quickly, you don’t get any more until the next grocery week.
What to Do When the Sugar Cravings Get Bad
I didn’t say that winning out over public enemy number one was going to be easy. There will be times when your truce just does not seem to be enough. You’re going to want to cheat beyond your allowance, but this is where you need to be strong and use these alternative craving busters.
Eat Something (But Choose Carefully)– Your first alternative to beat a craving is always just to fulfill your hunger with a healthy meal (preferably heavy on protein as that will satisfy your craving more completely). If you are not hungry but just looking for some sugar to get you through a tense moment, it may be time to call upon other actions to soothe your urge.
Take a nap– a body that craves to be revived, will look for a quick energy jolt, and the quickest will come in the form of a sugar fix. And the best way around this is just to sleep 7 to 8 hours per night, and take a short power nap if you fell short the night before.
Take a Walk– Some people don’t nap well, and if that is you, then a short, brisk walk may be all you need to beat a sugar craving. It may even bring out a true hunger reaction, which means it will give you a craving for some nutritious food.
Have Some Sex– As an alternative to a walk, some of you might prefer a bout of sex, either with a partner or with yourself. It replaces one craving with another, and you’ll burn some extra calories while you’re at it.
Hot Shower– When any desire is on the brain, one method that seems to lessen the desire is a good old-fashioned shower. But not a cold one. You’re going to want to keep it hot and let it warm your entire body for at least 5 minutes. By the time you get out, you will feel a renewed sense of energy, and your body will no longer be looking for a quick fix.
The Long-Term Sugar Fix
The past couple of minutes was likely not the all-out dissing and fear-mongering you were expecting. And this is because sugar is not your typical profile of a public enemy #1. It is not something you can destroy with a punch, harsh language, or some muscle man leaping in the air in slow motion with an explosion trailing dramatically behind him. Sugar is the kind of enemy that loses its edge if you keep it out of the shadows. It is only with your back turned that it does its dirtiest deeds, like making you overeat at night, overeat when you’re stressed, and whispering sweet empty promises when you’re feeling down.
In other words, just keep an eye on your daily sugar intake and make some rules that will help the two of you live a happier and healthier life together. Sugar is actually not such a bad guy (for a public enemy) as long as you keep him out where you can see him, but not so obvious that he is always your first choice when looking to curb the fancy of your other mortal enemy, the hunger monster.