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Stop Blaming Diet Drinks for Sugar Cravings

Stop Blaming Diet Drinks for Sugar Cravings

A new study found that diet drinks don't make you crave fast food, sugar

Diet soda drinkers no longer have a scapegoat for their latest nacho cravings; while past research suggested that artificial hormones might cause people to eat more (thanks to disrupted hormones controlling hunger), a new study found that in the short term, diet soda has the same effect as water on your appetite.

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the diet habits of two groups, one group which drank water and another which drank diet drinks. Surprisingly, the group which drank diet drinks actually ended up eating fewer desserts (although the group which drank water did eat more fruits and vegetables).

Both groups, comprised of volunteers who did want to lose weight, ended up eating the same amount of carbohydrates, fat, protein, saturated fats, sugars, etc. "Our study does not provide evidence to suggest that short-term consumption of [diet beverages], compared with water, increases preferences for sweet foods and beverages," the study said.

So blaming artificial sweeteners for your sweet tooth? Not gonna fly anymore.


How I Finally Curbed My Sugar Cravings

One writer shares her monthlong quest to break her dessert addiction.

I&aposve had a sweet tooth my entire life. Give me a box of cookies and—until last month—I would have polished them off solo. I&aposd even look at the dessert menu at restaurants before deciding how healthy to be for the entrພ. The addiction was real.

But after hitting my mid-30s, the health benefits of cutting back and finding a sugar addiction cure once and for all suddenly seemed urgent. I was eating just as much sugar as I did when I was younger, but my body was processing it differently. For instance, I&aposve slowly gained weight around my midsection, a risk factor for insulin resistance, which ultimately leads to type 2 diabetes. Yikes. (Related: Ever Wonder What All That Sugar *Really* Does to Your Body?)

I began reading up on how blood sugar affects my body through start-ups such as Day Two, a service that tests your gut microbiome in an effort to predict how your blood sugar will react to certain foods. Finding out about the history of the powerful sugar lobby in the U.S. only confirmed my decision. (Full disclosure: I was also eager to find out if the glowing skin benefits of a sugar addiction cure were real.)

An interesting nugget from my dessert-related digging: Research suggests that drugs used to treat nicotine addiction could also help treat sugar cravings. But we addicts can’t head for the doctor just yet—it will likely be some time before the FDA approves it (the study was with animals). The good news is, this study sheds some light on why we struggle with trying to eat less sugar.

It’s not about willpower. Sugar raises levels of dopamine in the brain, activating its pleasure and reward centers in a similar way to addictive drugs like nicotine, cocaine, and morphine. And just like drugs, every sugar high will never be as good as the first. Continuing to give in to sugar cravings actually lowers dopamine levels, so you have to eat more sugar to get the same blissful feeling. (Discover the best way to successfully quit a bad habit for good.)

The researchers also found that the rats in the study reacted to artificial sweeteners the same way as sugar. so even "diet" artificially-sweetened foods can make it tough to kick the habit and find a sugar addiction cure. Empty calories in added sugars can lead to weight gain, which ups the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Artificial sweeteners may also increase your weight by feeding your need for sweet foods and messing with the good bacteria in your digestive system. Bummer.

Still, as a true dessert lover, I knew I wasn&apost ready to go cold turkey. (And, in my defense, there&aposs science showing that completely cutting sugar out of your diet can sabotage your fitness goals.) Instead, I decided to make a committed effort to cut back on my intake. With summer coming, I was eager to feel (and look) my best-giving me a concrete goal to keep in mind. (Related: The #1 Myth About Emotional Eating Everyone Needs to Know About)

Since I had tried and failed to find a sugar addiction cure in the past, giving up at the first sign of stress during a busy workweek, I realized I&aposd have to do things differently this time. I decided on a few parameters, including eating breakfast without added sugar to set the tone for the day, and writing down any items I did have with added sugar to make me more mindful of what I was eating. I didn&apost want the monthlong exercise to feel restrictive, but something I could stick to for months, or years. 

So how&aposd I fare on my quest for a sugar addiction cure? My aim was to curb my cravings and not be tempted by every chocolate croissant, and I&aposve been relatively successful. But that&aposs not to say the past month has been easy-retraining my sweet tooth not to crave simple carbs or desserts is still a work in progress. While it&aposs getting easier to eat less sugar at home, I still struggle when at a party or hanging out with friends. Not eating dessert or birthday cake still just feels like I&aposm missing out. (To deal with it, I try to find a willing partner to share with me or just steal a few bites from my husband.)

On the upside, I&aposve shed a few pounds and feel less bloated overall. To be honest, I&aposm motivated beyond the numbers I see on the scale. It&aposs easier to focus on my work throughout the day, my cravings have subsided, and my skin breaks out less often. And because I&aposm more choosy with my sweets, I find I enjoy them more when I do indulge. Bonus: Even natural fruit tastes sweeter to me these days. (Related: How to Get Over Cravings, According to a Weight-Loss Expert)

If you&aposre looking to cut back on sugar, there are a few tricks that can make the process less painful. Here are six things that have helped me make the transition away from processed sugar,

6 Tips That May Help You Find a Sugar Addiction Cure

Sugar Addiction Cure 1: Try a morning drink.

I was initially skeptical about a wacky pre-breakfast morning drink, but I decided to try out a riff on the trendy Master Cleanse𠅊 mix of apple cider vinegar, lemon water, cayenne, and Stevia. Within a week I became a convert of what&aposs reportedly Beyoncé&aposs favorite concoction. Drinking this as a morning pick-me-up meant I wasn&apost reaching for sugary snacks as a substitute for a real meal (or finishing my kids&apos breakfast). I&aposm also experimenting by throwing in other spices such as cinnamon, a natural appetite suppressant, or opting for a bottle of Suja&aposs Probiotic Vinegar Juices, which also helps me curb my cravings and better ease into the day.

Sugar Addiction Cure 2: Fill up on healthy foods.

Before I start to feel extra hungry—which is when I&aposm more prone to reach for sugar—I&aposm making an effort to eat fiber-filled salads or simple raw vegetables with hummus. Noticing that I&aposm hungry well before I&aposm ready to eat whatever I can grab allows me to have a healthier, more thought-out meal. If I still have cravings for sweets at the end of a healthy meal, I&aposve found that low-calorie hard candy, including MealEnders lozenges, help keep them at bay.

Sugar Addiction Cure 3: Save sugar for the evening.

During my experiment, I found it way easier to fight sugar cravings during the day than at night. (And it&aposs not just me-the body&aposs circadian rhythm is to blame.) So while I don&apost totally cave to my cravings the way I did in the past, I now reserve the occasional sweet treat for the evening after dinner when I know my body will be craving it the most. By working with my body rather than against it, I&aposve been able to cut back on my overall intake. (Related: How Bad Is It, Really, to Eat at Night?)

Sugar Addiction Cure 4: Become a savvy label-reader.

Added sugars lurk in unexpected places: salad dressings, bread, spaghetti sauce and more! Check out ingredient lists on your condiments, sauces�sically everything you put in your grocery cart. If the ingredients include anything ending in "ose" such as glucose or fructose, anything called "syrup", anything with the word "malt" in it, it&aposs a red flag. Also, look out for foods trying to use honey or molasses as "natural" sugars. It&aposs all the same when it comes to sugar addiction.

Sugar Addiction Cure 5:  Avoid personal trigger foods.

For me, the struggle with sugar is always about portion control. I&aposve realized that eating stuff I love in small quantities takes more willpower than simply resisting altogether, and that extends to sugar. (Check out how to curb your appetite when it feels out of control.) That means I&aposve stopped storing my favorites—including chocolate wafers, stroopwafels, hazelnut spread, and ANY cookies whatsoever-to keep from feeling tempted. Instead, I keep around some ultra-dark 80 percent chocolate. Since I don&apost love super-dark chocolate, if I&aposm really craving sweets I can reach for a piece without being tempted to go overboard and eat the entire bar in one sitting.

Sugar Addiction Cure 6: Don&apost deprive yourself.

While I don&apost regularly stock my pantry with my "triggers," I also don&apost deprive myself of a homemade dessert or the comfort of indulging in special sweets I loved as a child. And I don&apost force myself to drink my coffee black either (though I&aposm trying more natural sweeteners such as coconut sugar and date juice to keep from using processed sugar). But I *will* reinstate my daily ice cream habit that starts once the weather warms up just because not depriving myself of things I love keeps me from feeling like I&aposm really sacrificing it all—which is so much more sustainable. (And there&aposs research to back up the need for cheat days, too!)


The Benefits of Drinking Sugar-Free Beverages

Whether you just reduce your sugar intake, or you cut out sugar completely from your diet, you will experience an array of benefits. They include:

• Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes

• Improved cardiovascular health

• Reduced unhealthy food cravings

• Increased energy throughout the day

It’s definitely challenging to eliminate sugar from your diet, especially if it plays a big part in it. But there’s a perfect solution to help you cut back on sugar and stop the cravings while still satisfying your sweet tooth. Let’s see what it is.


Why do electrolytes work?

Turns out, most things we do to lose weight in a healthy way cause our blood-sugar and insulin levels to drop — both factors proven to accelerate fat burning and protect our overall health.

The hitch: As insulin drops, it causes the body to release large quantities of sodium, explains James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, a research scientist at St. Luke’s MidAmerica Heart Institute in Missouri. “Doctors often urge patients to reduce salt intake as they try to slim down, so what ends up happening is people are taking in less sodium just as the body naturally excretes large quantities of sodium. This often causes a sodium deficiency, the side effects of which make weight loss extremely difficult,” notes the Salt Fix author.

He adds that a lack of salt also causes levels of potassium and magnesium to drop, making matters worse. “The body needs electrolyte minerals to function optimally,” says DiNicolantonio. “When we don’t have enough, symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, headaches, intense hunger and carb cravings.”

Magnesium helps insulin work so much better that studies show getting enough of the mineral cuts the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 47 percent.


Top 3 Foods & Tips To Curb Sugar Cravings By Celeb Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar

Highlights

The best of people on the most stringent of diets fall prey to untimely sugar cravings. We all crave that one little bite of our favourite dessert post meals, whether it's cake, mithai or a cookie. The secret to kill these cravings lies in some simple adjustments to your meals. Celebrity Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar shared some tips and tricks to nip sugar cravings in the bud. She swears by three important additions to our meal plan that would curb our urge to binge on sweets. Take a look at the Instagram video she shared:

Here Are The Top 3 Foods To Curb Sugar Cravings By Rujuta Diwekar:

1. Intelligent use of spices

According to Rujuta Diwekar, the absence of spices is considered to be a so-called 'healthy diet' and is put on a pedestal. In fact, spices are a must in any meal or dish that is prepared at home. The absence of spices in our food is what gives rise to sugar cravings, as they themselves contain vital nutrients. "All spices have a blood sugar regulating effect. They ensure that there is a slow, steady release of blood sugar which is why you don't get highs and lows," said Diwekar in her video.

2. Tubers Like Yam & Suran

Tubers such as Yam, Suran, Beetroot, Arbi, and Sweet Potato are a must if you want to curb the urge to eat something sweet. Rujuta Diwekar recommends adding them to your meals at least 3-4 times a week. The tuber vegetables are great for people suffering from kidney problems, diabetes or irregular periods. They are also rich in antioxidants which keep the skin looking healthy and replenish the body too.

3. Peanut Powder

Peanut is a great addition to your diet for untimely sugar cravings. Peanut powder can be made out of it and can be added to any sabzi, chutney or dals. The presence of nuts makes the meal slightly sweet, and also gives it a satisfying and wholesome taste. "They are excellent due to the amino acids, fibre, and essential fats to your diet. Add it to one meal per day," recommends Diwekar.

Peanuts are a great source of protein.
  • Drink adequate amount of water to keep yourself hydrated. Refrain from taking more than 2-3 cups of tea or coffee in a single day. Sugar can be added to it.
  • Adding ghee to your diet, which gives you the much-needed dose of essential fats and keeps you satiated for longer.
  • Having fresh Dahi and Chaas regularly, as they comprise a lot of essential nutrients such as Vitamin D and B12 which help curb sugar cravings.

Start with these small tips in your diet today, and see the difference!

About Aditi Ahuja Aditi loves talking to and meeting like-minded foodies (especially the kind who like veg momos). Plus points if you get her bad jokes and sitcom references, or if you recommend a new place to eat at.


Stay hydrated

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Staying hydrated has countless benefits, and here's another one. "Drink plenty of water so that you're not mistaking a craving with being thirsty," says paleo expert Diane Sanfilippo, Certified Nutrition Consultant and New York Times bestselling author of Practical Paleo and The 21 Day Sugar Detox. We often confuse our thirst for hunger, so before you grab the processed snack, drink a bottle of water or a flavored seltzer, then see how you feel.


5) Low-Carb Hot Chocolate

When you want a sweet drink, a warm and comforting low-carb hot chocolate might do the trick. The coconut cream or heavy dairy cream and unsweetened cocoa powder can add plenty of sweet and creamy flavor. Still, if you want more sweetness, you can always add a keto-friendly sweetener like monk fruit, stevia, or erythritol. You might also like this keto mocha frappuccino or pumpkin spice latte .


Why do we get sugar cravings?

Our body is actually wired to crave sugar – eating carbohydrates leads to release of serotonin, the feel-good hormone. Because sugar is a simple carbohydrate (that digests easily), it leads to the release of serotonin, making high sugar foods “comforting”. 1
As well as triggering the feel-good hormone, eating sugar also releases dopamine, telling your brain that you ’ re happy.

This positive feedback cycle makes you crave sugar, and over time with high sugar consumption can require even more sugar to get the same “good” feelings. 2

Although sugar makes us feel good, too much sugar in our diets can lead to obesity, and different heart health related problems . If you are concerned about your sugar intake, reducing your cravings can be a beneficial step to preventing the overconsumption of calories from sugar.


Starting a sugar "detox":

Discover the root of your endless sweet tooth by adapting your daily routine first you may find your body responds immediately (goodbye afternoon sugar crashes!) "You want to prioritize food that can anchor sugar in your diet, so that it's not releasing into your blood stream so fast (hence the crashing)," Sassos explains. "Protein and fiber are two things that can help you avoid a sugar rush and crash in a given day, especially if you know you've overdone it. incorporating those two things in your daily routine can stabilize your blood sugar."

Here are other ways to change your daily habits right now:

  1. Frontload your meals with protein and fiber: This is crucial if you've managed to eat or drink too much sugar early in the day. Protein and fiber, when paired with a carbohydrate of choice, can stabilize your blood sugar and help you avoid that dreaded crash. Be sure to choose snacks and meals that are high in fiber and protein naturally: hard-boiled eggs, for one, or even a small omelette a handful of nuts at your desk an apple with peanut butter, or even some crudité and hummus.
  2. Ensure you are eating your micronutrients: Counteract too much sugar by supercharging your next meal for your liver's benefit namely with dark, leafy green vegetables that are high in a suite of micronutrients. "Try to eat foods to help assist the liver in natural detoxification, which is much healthier than doing something compensatory like sweat out the donuts you just ate&hellip that isn't helpful, and may be harmful, in the long run," Sassos adds.
  3. Stay hydrated: Keeping up with water and unsweetened beverages is important, as a lack of water or fluids can make it that much harder for your liver to handle excess sugar. While chugging a liter of water can't "flush" out the sugar in your system, Sassos says warm fluids like warm ginger tea may help to speed up the digestive process for those who are searching for some immediate relief &mdash but that's not an effective long term solution.

Making Better Choices

More important than eliminating soda, nutritionists say, is adding more nutritional choices to your diet.

"Soft drinks are bad for the diet only when they replace foods that contain beneficial nutrients," says Sandquist, who is also a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.

Continued

And if you can't kick your "addiction," don't beat yourself up. Gregorczyk, for example, says she's striving for moderation, not perfection.

"I will never be able to go cold turkey," she says. "The most I've tried to force myself to do is cut back, so, for example, I'm currently trying to have no more than two Cokes a day.

"Eventually I would like to get down to one Coke a day, but I'm not sure how easy that will be. As long as I limit myself right now, I tell myself that I am heading a step in the right direction."