Sugar addiction is more common than you might think. Just because you’re not gorging on Krispy Kreme doughnuts and drinking litres of sugary soft drinks doesn’t mean you’re not a sugar addict. Sugar lurks in some of the unlikeliest foods, and it tries to lure us into a false sense of security by hiding behind many different names, like sucrose, fructose, honey and syrup. Yes, sugar is everywhere and as a nation we’re addicted to the sweet stuff.
Like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is a highly addictive drug. In fact, studies have shown that sugar is eight times more addictive than some Class A drugs. For those of us with an insatiable sweet tooth, the amount of sugar we’re consuming is having serious implications on our health. And not just our waistlines.
Unlikely foods high in added sugars
Adults should be consuming no more than 30g of added sugar a day. The problem is, with so much of the everyday foods we eat laced with sugar, most of us simply don’t have a clue how much of it we’re actually consuming.
Everyday foods high in sugar include:
- Tomato sauce
- Salad dressings
- Whole wheat bread
- Muesli bars
- Baked beans
- Flavoured yoghurts
- Anything “fat free”
Things you can do to lower your sugar intake
Many of us have an emotional and physical attachment to sugar and we’re not even aware of our addiction. If you’re prone to after-lunch slumps, brain-fog, bloating, low mood and low energy, or suffer from poor sleep, sugar could well be the cause.
Although by no means an easy habit to kick, by implementing a few simple healthy lifestyle changes you should be able to reduce your sugar consumption significantly.
- Swap sugary soft drinks and fruit juice for water.
- For breakfast, eat wholegrain cereals and avoid anything coated with honey or sugar. If you prefer toast, swap jam, marmalade and honey for lower-fat spreads or sliced banana or avocado. If you can’t live without your preservatives, spread them thinly.
- If you usually add sugar to your tea or coffee, reduce the amount gradually until you are able to cut sugar out completely.
- Avoid low fat foods as much as possible. Many contain more sugar than their whole food versions.
- Familiarise yourself with sugar’s many different aliases. So when you’re out shopping you can check food labels and ingredients for nasty added sugars.
- Limit processed foods and junk food. Instead eat healthy meals cooked from scratch.
- Cut back on confectionary, including cakes, biscuits, crisps, ice cream and chocolate. You don’t have to cut out sweet treats completely, but limit your intake to just once a week.
Breaking a sugar addiction can be life changing. But most people trying to kick sugar to the curb will experience withdrawal symptoms, including cravings, headaches, fatigue and mood swings. Although unpleasant, these symptoms are completely normal.
This article was originally written for The Hotel Collection, as part of a series of health and fitness related blogs.