The Solution to Sugar addiction: How to Have your Cake and Eat It Too!
In this final excerpt from “The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction”, we begin the discussion on how to make sugar addiction go away by knowing your sugar addiction type. But first, we discuss simple ways to keep your pleasure, while tossing the sugar!
Now that you’ve figured out which type of sugar addict you are, it’s time to start fixing the problem. Chances are, you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed. That’s okay. Just take a nice deep breath and relax. This is a journey, not a quick jaunt. Our intention in part II is to help you do the following:
- Eliminate the underlying problems that are driving your sugar addiction. This will make it much easier for you to give up excess sugar and stay off it.
- Enjoy sweets in moderation, for example, as dessert or an occasional snack.
- Eliminate the physical and psychological problems caused by sugar addiction, so you can feel great.
In this section, you’ll learn all about commonsense practices that will help all four types of sugar addicts to begin the process of kicking their addiction. In the four chapters that follow, you’ll learn how to use the treatment protocol for your specific sugar addiction type(s), as determined in part I. Pleasure is good, and our goal is to show you how to enjoy what you eat while staying healthy. In short, we’re going to teach you how to “have your cake and eat it, too.”
Cut Out Sugar
The first step in breaking your addiction is to change the way you eat. Start simply by getting rid of high-sugar foods in your diet, including fast food, processed food, sodas, and fruit drinks.
Read the labels. Sugar has many other names. Besides those ending in “ose,” such as maltose or sucrose, other names for sugar include high fructose corn syrup, molasses, cane sugar, corn sweetener, raw sugar, syrup, honey, or fruit juice concentrates. As a rule of thumb, don’t eat anything that lists sugar in any form (sugar, sucrose, glucose, fructose, or corn syrup) as one of the top three ingredients on the label. In addition, you’ll also want to avoid the white flour found in many breads and pasta because your body rapidly converts this into sugar, giving you a sugar high and then a low. Though it’s an acquired taste (like beer), you’ll find, over time, that whole grain breads taste much better. Enjoy them in moderation.
To find out if a particular food has added sugars, check the Nutrition Facts panel. The line for sugars contains both the natural sugars and the added types of sugars as total grams of sugar. There are four calories in each gram, so if a product has 15 grams of sugar per serving, that’s 60 calories from sugar. This simple tip makes it easy. Simply divide the grams of sugar by four. That’s how many teaspoons of sugar are in each serving.
Sugar substitutes can give you some of the pleasure of sugar without the side effects. Today, there are more choices than ever before. Keep in mind though that some substitutes are healthy and some aren’t. Let’s take a look at some of the most common substitutes.
This excellent sugar substitute is safe, healthy, and natural. Used for many decades, it has recently been approved by the FDA for use in food processing. Therefore, more and more foods and even sodas that include this healthy sugar substitute will soon be available.
Stevia comes from leaves of the stevia plant, an herb in the chrysanthemum family. It grows wild as a small shrub in parts of Paraguay and Brazil. The leaves contain an extract (called a stevioside) that may be 200 to 300 times as sweet as sugar. This extract is safe and contains no calories. It can be used in cooking and as an excellent overall sugar substitute. It is even safe for diabetics.
Keep in mind, however, that unless stevia is properly filtered it will leave a bitter or licorice aftertaste. If you get a brand that does not taste good, it was not properly filtered. Simply switch brands. A good brand is Body Ecology. It comes as a clear liquid in a dropper bottle. Another good brand is Stevita, which can be found in many health food stores.
These are also safe and healthy sugar substitutes. In sugar alcohols, the sugar has been converted through a natural fermenting process to resemble alcohol—but not the form that gets you drunk. It still tastes sweet but is not absorbed into your body, so it does not cause the problems sugar does. The most common one is the maltitol used in sugar-free chocolates. The only downside of most of the sugar alcohols is that they can have a laxative effect, causing gas and loose stools in some people. If this occurs and is problematic, simply eat less of it.
Other sugar alcohols include inositol, which is helpful for anxiety (and improves bone density in people with osteoporosis), and most other substances ending in the letters ol]
Erythritol is an excellent alternative for those who can’t tolerate the other sugar alcohols. It provides all of the benefits of sugar alcohols without the gas or bloating.
Erythritol’s popularity is growing, and it will become even more readily available as Truvia and PureVia (which are mixes of erythritol and stevia) go mainstream. Truvia, developed by Cargill, is being added to a line of Coca-Cola and Sprite products and Glaceau vitamin water.
Each of the three main brands––Sweet’n Low, Splenda, and NutraSweet––is made from a different chemical combination.
Sweet’n Low (saccharin).
Of these three, saccharin has the best and longest overall safety record. If you are eating out and only have access to these three sugar substitutes, use Sweet’n Low (usually in a pink packet). As natural sweeteners such as Truvia and PureVia become more readily available, though, you won’t need to choose this or any chemical sweetener.
You’ll find this in a yellow packet. The jury is still out regarding its long-term safety; overall, however, sucralose is believed to be okay for most people and is often found in sugar-free ice cream.
It’s surprising that this sweetener ever received FDA approval for use. Although it is likely okay in moderation for most people, some individuals experience severe reactions to aspartame including seizures, headaches, memory loss, nausea, dizziness, confusion, depression, irritability, anxiety attacks, personality changes, heart palpitations, chest pains, skin diseases, loss of blood sugar control, and more. You may not realize aspartame is causing the reaction until you stop using it for seven to ten days and then retry it.
Approved in 2014 by the Food and Drug Administration, advantame can be used in products like baked goods, soft drinks, gum, candy, frozen desserts, puddings, jams and jellies, fruit juices, and as a tabletop sweetener and an ingredient in cooking. Advantame is 100 times sweeter than aspartame (Equal), so only a small amount is needed to achieve the same level of sweetness.
And the winner of best sweetener is…
Stevia and erythritol (PureVia and Truvia)! These two natural sweeteners win hands down, followed by maltitol (for sugar-free chocolates). Natural sweeteners are just safer and better for you. So whenever you are planning to eat out, or are on the run, be sure and bring along several packets of your favorite natural sweetener to use.
That said, a chemical sweetener like aspartame, in say a diet soda, is still better than sugar, if you are trying to heal your sugar addiction. So, if your choice is between a regular soda and a diet soda with NutraSweet, and there is no other sweetener option (and water just won’t do it for you at that time), enjoy the diet soda.
A key point is to use any sweetener in moderation. And remember, not all sugar is bad. For example, chocolate in moderation is actually a health food!
Excerpted from The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction (Fair Winds Press, 2015) by Jacob Teitelbaum M.D.