A healthy lifestyle is never out of your reach if you desire it. All you need to do is implement a few critical lifestyle choices; like drinking more water, taking more fruits or 100% natural fruit juices, doing exercises, including more hours of sleep in one’s daily routine, or reducing your daily sugar intake. Maybe even cutting sugar out totally. But that is a decision for the determined. And we are all determined, aren’t we?
So why is it hard for many people to give up sugar? Here is an interesting fact:
Scientific research has revealed the existence of an area in the human brain called Nucleus accumbens. In the Nucleus accumbens, sugar intake triggers the release of dopamine, a brain chemical associated with pleasure and reward. This dopamine not only makes you feel good, but it also causes you to actively look forward to the next dose of sugar.
This cycle may sound familiar to people who have successfully beaten drug addiction. It is no surprise to note that Nucleus accumbens, also known as accumbens nucleus, is the same area of the brain stimulated in the response to drugs like cocaine. This makes sugar just as addictive. The action of dopamine is why you can’t stop slugging that very sweet beverage every now and again. Sadly, this sets you up with several health problems down the road.
You might think this is too much negativity for dear sugar. Afterall it’s the human body’s energy source. So it is an indispensable substance, almost like air. Moreso, humans are wired to want sugar because of the body fuel factor. But as glaring as these facts are, we cannot deny that our modern diets are laced with a lot of added sugar. Getting hooked on sugar has never been so easy.
But now that your goal is to promote your overall health by cutting down drastically on your sugar intake, read on to find out more about the little obstacle called sugar withdrawal and how you can cope with it.
Why do you have sugar withdrawal…
Because sugar triggers dopamine release in the same brain location as addictive drugs, reduction in sugar intake comes with some unpleasant symptoms, behavioural and psychological body effects similar to those experienced by drug addicts who are in the process of giving up hard drugs. This is due to the fact that you are not giving your body that sugar that it has grown used to and so ‘desperately’ craves. Should you decide to reduce your sugar intake, here are the physical and mental symptoms to expect:
- lack of energy
- muscle aches
- stomach cramps
- irritability or anxiety
- Change in sleep patterns: For some people, reduction in sugar intake messes with their sleep patterns. That means you’re likely to wake up in the middle of the night. Sometimes, you might even find it hard to sleep
- Anxiety: Have you ever felt like the world’s most impatient man or woman? If not, then you’re likely to come into that feeling because of your body’s reaction to the reduction of sugar.
- Cravings: A reduction in your normal dose of sugar will normally intensify your craving for the normal dose of sugar, even more. This newly reduced level causes your body to crave for other foods, e.g carbs, in its bid to get more sugar into your system.
- Cognitive problems: If forgetfulness is uncharacteristic of you, then your recent reduction in sugar is the culprit. This is brought on by lack of concentration from time to time.
- Depressed mood: You may feel down and unmotivated for anything after the reduction of your sugar intake. Understandably, this is due to low dopamine release.
So how can you cope with sugar withdrawal?
There is no doubt your body can adjust to your new reduced level of sugar intake. The challenge here is how you can cope with the withdrawal your body is going through, pending the time your body finally adjusts to it. That said, here are 6 ways you can cope with sugar withdrawal:
Be honest with yourself from the get-go
‘What’s good for the goose is good for the gander’ may not apply to you as far as sugar reduction is concerned. The goal here is to reduce added sugar for life. So, be honest with yourself: Can you go hard on yourself and cut sugar off completely from your diet or can you take it easy and reduce sugar gradually? The decision is ultimately yours.
What is that sugary beverage that has to go in order for water to stay? Is that hard to do? Consider this: Swapping sugary beverages with water will readily help you along in your sugar reduction goal and help you manage your sugar cravings. Besides this, your body contains mainly water, about 60% for adults.
Not only are you reducing your sugar intake and managing the withdrawal effectively, you are also giving your body what it needs for smooth daily bodily activities, like daily blood volume boost, flushing out of toxins as urine, softening of stools for easy passage through the digestive system, etc
Don’t joke with protein-rich foods
In the business of managing sugar withdrawals, protein-rich foods are very important. Why? Aside from the fact that they contain nutrients that repair body tissues, they keep you feeling full for some time. Are you wondering how this information helps you cope with sugar withdrawal? Adding protein-rich foods to your meals helps you combat sugar cravings. Also, such foods help you manage low energy levels adequately, adequately helping you to curb the physical aspects of withdrawal.
Get enough sleep
We know you have a busy schedule, and one thing or the other may keep you up at the dead of the night. But when you have sugar withdrawal to worry about, you need to make sleep a priority. This is important because sleeplessness leaves you craving sugar, which worsens your sugar withdrawal symptoms if you have reduced your sugar intake.
Exercises, especially cardio, keep you refreshed. Heart sufficiently raced to pump blood, lungs sufficiently raced to take in as much air needed by the body, muscles sufficiently strengthened from the motion of the movement, all these work together to balance your sugar levels.
Maintain a quality diet
Balanced proportions of nutrient-rich meals like fish, vegetables, sweet potatoes, classes of foods in your daily meal, with a good helping of fruits, especially low sugar fruits, like water melon and oranges, are a given when you reduce your sugar intake.
Eating your fruits whole provides you both nutrients and fibre in them. However, there are other wonderful healthy alternatives, for example low sugar juices, like oranges, from which you can enjoy the nourishing goodness only fruits provide.
Maintaining a consistently-rich quality diet not only helps you manage your sugar cravings and wade through the discomforts of sugar withdrawal, but it also helps improve the general health quality of your life.
There is much to live for, only when you enjoy great health. Improve your health today starting with sugar reduction. When you feel the effects of sugar withdrawal, we are glad that now you know what to do.