“Sugar gave rise to the slave trade; now sugar has enslaved us.”
Sugar is not a treat but a threat to your health. Sugar is the biggest drug of
addiction in our society today. It activates the same centers as do other
drugs of addiction such as cocaine. Scientists have shown that when
laboratory animals are given a choice of sugar or cocaine, they choose
sugar. This powerful addictive potential can make weaning off sugar
difficult for some people. I have cared for patients who develop classic
withdrawal symptoms when they try to give up sugar. Symptoms such as
agitation, irritability, headache and inability to tolerate normal stress are
indication you may be addicted to sugar.
Sugar is a major cause of chronic inflammation which leads to many
chronic diseases. These include obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart
disease, arthritis, autoimmune disease, stroke, cancer and even dementia.
This seems like too big a price to pay for sugar. Don’t you think? That is why
you must find a way to beat the sugar addiction for good. Your health
If you are struggling to give up the “sweet treats” try some of the following
to help free yourself from the dangerous grip of sugar:
Know your daily allowance.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of
sugar a day for a woman and 36 grams for a man.
For perspective, one 12 oz can of soda has 39 grams of sugar.That’s more
the total daily allowance for both men and women. You can see how easy it
is to exceed this limit.
Cut back on added sugars.
Try reducing the amount of sugar you add to your drinks and foods. This includes
white sugar, brown sugar, honey, syrup and molasses. Start by cutting the usual
amount you add in half and every week continue to lower the amount of added
sugar in your diet.
Don’t drink your sugar.
Drinks such as sodas, fruit juices, sports drinks, sweetened milk, sweetened ice
tea are major sources of sugar in our diet today. The best thing to drink is water.
You can add a slice of lemon, lime or orange to give it flavor. Or add berries or
cucumber. Alternatively try seltzer water or tea.
Read the food label.
Choose foods with the lowest amounts of added sugar. If a serving of the food
has more than 5 grams of sugar, exercise caution.
Don’t go hungry.
Eat regularly to make sure there are no wide swings in your blood sugar levels as
this may provoke cravings. Eat at least three meals a day. If you are hungry in
between meals, schedule low sugar snacks.
Eat more vegetables and Protein.
A diet high in whole foods such as vegetables and high-quality protein, is
naturally low in sugar. It is nourishing and keeps you full longer.
Replace sugar in recipes.
Use spices to add flavor to recipes instead of sugar. You can also use extracts
such as vanilla or lemon. Substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in your
Use alternative sweeteners.
Try alternative sweeteners such as stevia or xylitol.
Go easy on desserts.
If you like to enjoy desserts with your meals, start by switching to healthier
options. Try whole fruits rather than candy. Dark chocolate (at least 70%) for
chocolate. Try to cut back the number of times you eat dessert and eventually
only do so rarely.
Dr. Ife Ojugbeli, MD, MBA