Avoiding Sugar: Fight Temptation With Knowledge

All you need to resist the urge to indulge in high-calorie foods is a little understanding of how your brain works.

So many people are addicted to the white powder that it’s become a national epidemic. I’m not talking about crack or other illegal drugs – I’m referring to sugar. The processed sweetener, along with highly saturated fats, are the source of too many nutritionally empty calories that pack on pounds and thwart your best efforts to stay fit.

You may not be truly addicted to unhealthy foods, but you might find yourself on an occasional snack bender that you regret when it’s over. Here’s how to equip yourself to fight the temptation to overdo it

Know: Our brains developed in conditions when calories were scarce and so we have positive responses to foods that are loaded with them. Eating foods high in sugar or fats cause our brains’ “reward center” to flood with dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, much the same as it does during a drug high.
Do: Let go of guilt for feeling tempted! It’s your natural instinct.

Food manufacturers are acutely aware of the brain’s response to food triggers, so they concoct snack foods that have neurologically rewarding amounts of fat and sugar.

Know: Food manufacturers are acutely aware of the brain’s response to food triggers, so they concoct snack foods that have neurologically rewarding amounts of fat and sugar.
Do: Avoid processed foods. They are manufactured to keep you eating them.

Know: We don’t overeat whole foods such as fruit and vegetables because they are nutritionally dense and high in fiber, signalling to our brains that our needs have been met and our stomachs are full.
Do: To satisfy a yen for a sweet treat, try green apples with fresh ricotta drizzled with honey or dried figs caramelized in the oven. Hungry for savory snack? Spread thin layers of avocado on cucumber slices, sprinkled with sea salt.

Know: Overeating may be hard-wired into our brains, but succumbing to the impulse can become a habit. The good news is, habits can be unlearned.
Do: When you just can’t resist an unhealthy food, don’t eat it straight from the package. Take out a small portion and close the package right away. That simple habit will force you to ask yourself if you really want more or if your craving has been satisfied.

Know: The opposite of overeating–undernourishing yourself–is no help. Your brain’s survival instinct will respond to the lack of calories with the urge to get some in a hurry.
Do: Eat well-balanced meals built around vegetables, fruit, legumes and whole grains. Keep healthy snacks in your home and carry them with you.

Know: You deserve a treat. Rewarding yourself for eating well and staying active wards off the feeling of being deprived that can set off the urge to indulge.
Do: Take a few bites of dark chocolate. Not only does it tend to be lower in fat and less sweet than milk chocolate and other candy, it’s rich in antioxidants that help protect your health.




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  1. Djuro

    What a great insight, Dana! Realizing our biological evolution didn’t catch up with our culinary one makes so much sense. I guess that’s why I can feel like a crazed animal when a junk food crave hits in :) Good thing we can step aside and watch the feeling then decide with a fresh perspective.

  2. Very useful knowledge, my challenge is getting my kids to snack on wholefoods, it takes more time, nuts and dried or fruit is not everyone’s favorite, lucky they like fruit and veg.

  3. Kendall Covitz

    I like your tips on satisfying a sweet tooth. Fruit and tea help me the most. Also making sure I’ve eaten balanced food during the day.

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