The ‘boss’, aka Active8me founder Jeremy Rolleston who is an Olympian, world surf life-saving champion and the general embodiment of healthy is the first to admit that he has a serious ‘sweet tooth’. Seriously, we have to hide the office chocolate supply to save him from himself! Ok, well that last part may not be quite true, but the point is that we all have tastes, desires and weaknesses for certain foods. For most, sugar addiction is a real problem with real consequences.
What’s your food vice?
Whether it be sweet, salty, deep fried or maybe all three…hmmm, salted caramel deep-fried ice cream anyone?! There is a possibility that you are exhibiting symptoms of sugar addiction. Jeremy?
We know, ‘addiction’ is a strong word. But for some it is the only way to describe their compelling need to devour sugar. Science backs us on this one, with animal research showing that a sugar high can be as strong as any chemical addiction. But the debate as to whether it technically classifies as addiction in humans continues. That really doesn’t help those who feel they can’t get enough of the sweet stuff.
So, how exactly can you ditch the reliance on sugar?
The medical fraternity rarely treat any addiction with the old ‘cold turkey’ approach. This is for good reason. They understand that both our mind and body can’t cope, causing our psychological and physiological state to suffer. The cold turkey approach relies on will power to get you through a strong physical attraction to feeding your addiction. And we know that doesn’t make sense as willpower runs out.
They also know that without treating the root of the problem, you are effectively only relieving symptoms of sugar addiction and not the cause. So, what are the causes of sugar addiction? Read on to discover the main underlying causes of sugar addiction with some really easy to action tips on beating it.
Lack of sleep is fostering your sugar addiction
Long hours at work, a few too many social commitments and a terrible night’s sleep (or many) and suddenly, every time the clock strikes 2pm you are ravenously searching for a sugar hit to pep you up. Sound familiar? We have all been there, right?! This cycle is not only harmful for your overall health, it fosters your sugar addiction by giving you unnatural spikes in your blood-glucose levels. Plus, you then experience the subsequent dips that leave you craving more quick sugar fixes. But, there is promising research that indicates having more sleep can result in an average of 10 grams less (added) sugar consumed daily.
Tip – Check out our Sleep Fit guide for great ways to improve both your quantity and quality of sleep! In the meantime, try having a green tea as your pick me up. The caffeine will help you get through the tiredness slump and the antioxidants will boost your brain power.
You’re in denial of your sugar addiction
Yes, all addicts go through this stage before they can progress to kicking the habit. The hard part with sugar addiction is that high amounts of sugars are often hidden in our foods, even those that don’t taste sweet! The best examples of this are condiments, low-fat foods, breads, cereals and sauces. The reasons for this are widely debated, from corn-fructose sugar subsidies to preservation techniques. Whatever the reason, you are the pawn in this sugar additive culture and you’re paying for the convenience of processed foods with your health.
Tip – Think twice about adding condiments to your meal… take small mouthfuls, chew slowly and enjoy the taste of the food for what it is. There are many options for sugar-free processed foods, but better still attempt to make your own! When you take a close look at the label, there is often only a few simple ingredients with some added herbs and spices.
Artificial sweeteners are nefarious chemicals! While they have no calories, they still provide your tastebuds and your brain with that sweet ‘hit’. This instant injection of sweet stimulates the cycle of your body expecting calories, yet not receiving them. Therefore, your craving for the actual sugar may intensify, eventually overpowering your will. A review of research also suggests that regularly using artificial sweeteners as sugar substitutes actually leads to weight gain.
Tip – If you want to stop drinking sugar then try replacing half of your soda drinks with infused water, eventually aiming for no sodas at all. Avoid cordial and things like Vitamin water. Avoid processed fruit juices. Doing this will help curb your sugar cravings and you will notice your waistline improving too.
Every meal deserves dessert, or does it?
That feeling of needing to complete your meal with a sweet dessert is purely a behavioural one. Yes, there is no sugar-coating this excuse. This belief may have started in childhood, where dessert was a reward for eating up all your greens! Nonetheless, it’s part of your psyche and only feeding your sugar addiction until you decide to think of it another way.
Tip – Desserts are definitely to be enjoyed, just not excessively and not all the time. Your attitude around dessert is what really needs to change. And here’s a simple tip on your language to help you make that change. Saying ‘I don’t’ eat dessert every night instead of ‘I can’t’ eat dessert every night empowers you. Check out our mindset video below which explains this further. Plus, dessert doesn’t always have to be ais kacang, ice cream or cendol try yoghurt and berries!
There is a good reason that certain foods are called ‘treats’. As humans we are motivated both intrinsically and extrinsically. We often use treats to bribe ourselves. ‘If I get this workout done, I will celebrate with a [enter your sweet treat of choice]? Does this sound familiar? Or are any of you a parent or own a dog and use treats? Need we say more?
Tip – Change your treats to better food that will nourish and satisfy your body. They can still be delicious and you can still reward yourself. Bribe yourself with a massage, new workout gear or a trip to the movies! Don’t do the hard work and then treat your hard-working body with the exact opposite of what it needs and wants.
Knowledge is power to make better decisions
At Active8me we believe knowledge is power which is why we want to educate you around sugar and nutrition. Armed with this information you can then make better and more informed decisions.
Tip – Read and learn about food labels so you can avoid products with a lot of added sugar and/or artificial sweeteners. Know the names of sugar and the difference between them – high fructose corn syrup, dried cane syrup, invert sugar, molasses, sucrose (or any word ending in “-ose”). Know what high and low GI foods are to stabilise your blood sugars and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
You’re an ‘all or nothing’ person
Jeremy Rolleston is the perfect example of this. He admits “Trying to cut sugar out completely, aka the I quit sugar phenomenon, was definitely not a solution for me. I ended up thinking about and craving sugar more than I ever had before. I just needed to feed my sugar cravings with healthier versions of sugar, such as fruits or a protein shake. Life and nutrition are about balance. I don’t want to completely forgo my sweet foods, but I need to ensure that I have a well-rounded number of macronutrients. Meaning I am fuelling with plenty of low GI carbs, good quality protein and beneficial fats. I’m not saying I find it easy, but I know that avoiding processed foods as much as possible leaves me feeling better physically and mentally.”
Tip – Give yourself a break! Set yourself up with healthy lifestyle habits, such as having fresh fruit readily available or prepping some less sugary snack foods such as a trail mix or nuts. If the better snack choice is there in front of you there’s less change of your all-or-nothing bingeing personality taking over. Creating good habits that you follow regularly will help you crowd out the habits that don’t serve you well.
Keeping it real – twice as likely to die!
When we get to the heart of the matter, it is simple – if you are addicted to sugar over the long term you will get fat and you are more likely to die as a result. It sounds very harsh, but it is true. Actually, even if you can escape the ‘getting fat’ part a new study suggests you are still more likely to die from it. The 15-year study found that those who consume 25 percent (or more) of their daily calories as ‘added sugars’ were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar. The real eye opener was that this was true regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index (a measure of weight). So, there is no escaping it. This is serious. It’s time to curb your sugar addiction, while you still can.
So let us help you by signing up for one of the Active8me programs. Built by experts for your success. With all of your nutrition needs covered, from recipes and meal plans designed by dieticians, to all the workouts, mindset lessons and even the ability to chat with a coach. Beat your sugar addiction (and get in the best shape of your life) with Active8me!