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Addicted to sugar? Here are our dietician’s tips on how to kick the habit

Have you noticed that once you have had one piece of chocolate your hand is already automatically reaching for another one? You are not the only one. It is sugar, which belongs to simple carbohydrates, that makes us crave more. Also, our taste buds tend to prefer sweet-tasting food. “The sweet taste gives rise to the feelings of harmony and peace. That’s why many people, whether feeling stressed or not, subconsciously reach for sweet things,” explains our dietician Martina Dvořáková. Just think of all the romantic films where the main female character is self-medicating with a huge tub of ice cream in times of distress.

How we become addicted to sugar

Do you remember when you were told: “Eat your dinner first and then you can have your dessert.”? The beginnings of a sugar addiction can really be this simple. What’s worse, its foundations are laid early in childhood - a bar of chocolate as a reward for a good school report, a bag full of sweets on St. Nicholas Day, sweets for your schoolmates on your birthday, you name it. “For children, sweets are associated with pleasurable occasions and this is enthusiastically supported by their mothers and grandmothers. From an early age, kids also drink sweet drinks. You wouldn’t believe how many children now struggle to drink just plain water or fruit tea without added sugar. These habits then get carried over into adulthood and the sugar addiction takes firm root,” explains Martina.

Don’t underestimate sugar addiction

Just like a nicotine or alcohol addiction, sugar addiction carries a number of health risks. “Firstly, it is linked to health problems associated with excess weight or obesity. On top of that, developed countries are now facing an alarming rise in type 2 diabetes. Other health issues, such as tooth decay, cellulite, mood swings, headaches and poor complexion should not be ignored either,” according to our dietician. You might not be aware of the link between your health problems and the large amounts of sugar in your diet. You are so used to them that it doesn’t even occur to you that you might have a problem.

Not all sweet things are the same

If you eat a regular, healthy and balanced diet, i.e. if your diet contains plenty of nutrients in the form of high-quality complex carbohydrates, protein and fats, as well as vitamins and minerals, you won’t even feel any need for “fast sugars”.  “This is because your body will utilize energy from naturally sweet foods, such as cereals, pulses, fruit and vegetables. These types of food have a low glycaemic index (GI), which means they don’t cause a sharp rise in blood sugar levels. This also explains why you don’t crave sugary snacks after consuming low GI foods,” adds Martina Dvořáková.

How to say goodbye to sugar once and for all

Cut the sugar out! It is the only and effective way to kick the habit. “At first, your body will try to fight back just as it would if you were giving up smoking. In the first few days, you might feel weak, shaky and nauseous. You might also experience headaches or even migraines. It all depends on how much sugar you used to consume. Your body will demand its next sugar fix. You will need to dig deep for strong willpower and motivation. It’s worth persevering though,” says Martina. If you stay determined, you will reap the rewards. Your complexion will look better and your hair and nails will be in a much better shape.  The tiredness will disappear and you will be buzzing with energy. Your sense of taste will change dramatically. You will find that the sweets you would regularly eat in the past are now sickly sweet.

Hang in there - even when on a diet! It’ll pay off

When you embark on a protein diet, you might experience similar symptoms. However, just a few days into the diet and your sugar cravings should naturally subside. If they continue to haunt you though, it is a sign that there is something not quite right with your diet. If that’s the case, get in touch with an experienced dietician who will go through your eating pattern with you and have a closer look at your diet plan. Don’t suffer and starve. Even a slimming diet can be tasty and fun. And if you still want to end your meal on a sweet note or enjoy a sweet snack now and then, you can always grab a low-carb protein bar, protein smoothie or one of our protein desserts – all guilt-free pleasures that won’t compromise your slimming.

Chocolate addiction? It does not exist!

Has your friend been telling you about her chocolate addiction? Well, it is actually not chocolate but sugar that she is addicted to. Also, it’s worth noting that not all chocolate is the same. The differences are down to its cocoa content and the ingredients.

Our dietician Martina Dvořáková explains the difference:

  • 100g of milk chocolate, favoured by many people, contains 60g of carbohydrates, of which more than 50g is simple sugar. It also contains 30g of fat (it is important to check what type of fat) and some cocoa if the product is to be labelled as chocolate. The minimum requirement is 25%. Any other product with a lower cocoa content is usually labelled as a cocoa-flavoured snack, not chocolate.
  • The same amount of quality 70% chocolate contains only 14g of carbohydrates, of which a mere 7g is simple sugar – less than in an apple. Furthermore, quality chocolate made from quality cocoa beans with a cocoa content of at least 70% has a positive impact on our nervous system and can even act as an anti-depressant. It is also packed with anti-oxidants and contains minerals, such as magnesium, manganese and zinc. Such chocolate is also quite filling, so just 1 or 2 squares will be enough as a sweet treat.

PLEASE NOTE!

A square of quality dark chocolate popped into your breakfast mash or straight into your mouth won’t do you any harm and can bring some comfort to your healthy diet, however, be aware that any type of chocolate is high in calories. Therefore, use it sparingly when on a slimming diet.

Author: Nikola Nevečeřalová

Photos: KetoDiet, Depositphotos, Nikola Nevečeřalová

 

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