Did you know that when we eat sugar we have the same brain response as activities linked to addiction? It's true! When we consume sugar the brain releases dopamine which is a neurotransmitter associated with reward, pleasure, and happiness. It increases our motivation, including the motivation to seek out foods which give us a sense of happiness. HELLO SUGAR CRAVINGS!
When we think of sugar, sure we think of sweets and candy, cakes, pie, and baked good but sugar is more common than just in your morning doughnut or afternoon ice cream treat!
Below is a list of common places sugar is HIDING in your daily routines:
Sports drinks, energy drinks, smoothies, juices, sodas, sweet teas, fruit drinks.
2. Candy and Desserts
Cakes, cookies, pies, and baked goods such as pastries, doughnuts, brownies etc.
3. Cereals and MANY Breakfast Foods
Pre-make flavored oatmeal, frozen muffins, pancakes, waffles, yogurts and other dairy products.
4. Protein/Granola Bars, dried fruits
5. Sauces and Condiments
Ketchup, tomato sauce, marinades, soy sauce, salad dressings.
The problem lies in the fact that sugar is in MANY foods to add flavor to dishes and products. Now, not all sugar is bad. In fact, we WANT the natural sugars occurring in fresh fruits and vegetables but we want to consume these higher sugar content foods (as listed above) in moderation.
Sugar can be confusing, especially since it is hidden in packaging with numerous different names such as Rice syrup, corn syrup, maltose, lactose, sucrose, brown sugar, dextrose, agave nectar, and dextrin just to name a few.
I am not saying you can never eat sugar again, but transitioning into using natural sweeteners such as stevia, raw honey, and coconut sugar (ALL IN MODERATION) can help reduce the higher calorie and addictive sugar alternatives.
Adding healthy fats into your diet can also help reduce the cravings for sugar, as well as add a creamy texture and sweet flavor to dishes!
Last but not least, a great way to avoid loading up on all this excess sugar is to make your own smoothies, dressings, snacks, and meals so YOU control the quality and the amount of sweetness added into your food.
Reducing the amount of sugar in your diet will not only decrease cravings and increase your energy levels but will also help reduce some of the more higher calories foods in your diet which could help jumpstart any weight loss efforts you may be pursuing.