We all know that too much sugar can be damaging to our health. Here are some tips for alleviating sugar withdrawal symptoms to make the process of quitting sugar easier.
Limiting, or removing sugar from your diet is a great lifestyle choice if you wish to improve your physical health. The average American consumes 22-30 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is nearly five times the American Heart Association’s recommended maximum sugar intake.
Studies show that diets high in sugar can lead to many health problems including weight gain, diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. Studies also show that a diet high in sugar can reduce your energy levels and leave you feeling tired, as well as cause sugar headaches. When you give up sugar, you may notice that you feel physically and mentally rundown. When you eat sugar, your brain releases dopamine, a hormone that makes you feel happy, and this increases future sugar cravings. When you cut out sugar from your diet, your brain needs to adapt. Scientific research shows that sugar produces physiological and behavioral effects, similar to those caused by addictive drugs.
Symptoms of sugar withdrawal include:
- Mental symptoms: cravings, low mood, anxiety, irritability and cognitive issues.
- Physical symptoms: tiredness, nausea and headaches.
However, if you wish to cut sugar out of your diet, you’ll need to learn how to deal with these withdrawal symptoms. We’ve listed five tips below to help you on your journey.
Getting active will help to boost your mood by releasing ‘feel good’ hormones such as endorphins. By feeling physically healthier this can help you move away from craving sugar and instead focus on eating healthier foods. Running, cycling, or swimming are great cardiovascular exercises to try. Mindfulness based exercise is also valuable for alleviating symptoms of sugar withdrawal as it will help to balance your mind and will help to remind yourself the reasons for why you are giving up sugar. Yoga is a mindful practice to try, although there are many alternatives to yoga with similar benefits.
2. Eat Healthy Sweet Foods
Whole fruits contain natural sugars, which can be a great way to curb sugar cravings that you may feel when you give up sugar. Try our quick fruit salad recipe for a refreshing and healthy snack. Diets rich in fruits provides your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy. Eating fruit helps to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems and can stabilise blood sugar levels.
3. Quit Sugary Drinks and Drink More Water
Drinking ‘zero sugar’ drinks such as diet soda can actually make you crave sugar more, as consuming artificial sweeteners like aspartame can trigger your brain into wanting more sugar. As well as this, scientific research shows that there are many health risks associated with drinking sugar-free sodas. Instead of consuming artificial sweeteners, you should keep yourself hydrated by drinking water. You can make water taste more interesting by adding different fruits and vegetables to create an infusion drink. Try our refreshing and healthy ginger water recipe.
Magnesium is a mineral that promotes healthy bodily functions. Magnesium supplements are thought to reduce headaches and migraines, which is a symptom of sugar withdraw. The mineral is also known to help regulate blood sugar levels, and a 2016 study has found that those at risk of diabetes show improved blood sugar levels two hours after taking magnesium supplements, as it helps to regulate blood glucose levels.
Foods that are a rich source of magnesium include:
- Dark, leafy green vegetables
- Beans and legumes
- Whole grains
5. Eat Whole Foods
Eating whole foods, such as whole grain pasta, rice, and bread, as well as legumes, fruits, vegetables, and nuts will ensure that you are kept fuller for longer. This means there is less of a chance that you will be hungry and get a craving for something sugary as a quick fix to your hunger. Eating whole foods and cooking from scratch instead of consuming processed, packaged foods also reduces the amount of hidden added sugars.
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