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sugar addiction

The 12 Step Program to Beating Sugar Addiction, By James Keller

Most of us don't realize it, but we are drug addicts. Our drug comes in a pure, white crystal or powder form. We use it even when we don't know we're doing it. It's in salad dressing, peanut butter, soup, pickles, bread, jam, yogurt, canned fruits and vegetables... We crave it after every meal. On an average, each of us consumes about 130 lbs. per year. What is this controversial drug, you ask. It goes by many names, but the most common is sugar.

This deliciously sweet substance is also deliciously devoid of any nutritional value. Sugar passes through the wall of the stomach so quickly that it causes blood sugar levels to skyrocket, then plummet just as rapidly. I'm sure you are familiar with the feeling.

The problem that arises in coping with sugar addiction is that sugar is in so many common foods now, it's practically impossible to cut it out completely. You can't eat a sandwich without getting sugar from the bread or the mayo. You can't eat a salad without getting sugar from the dressing.

Beating sugar addiction may seem like a hopeless battle, but just like any drug addiction, you have to have a structured plan to win the war. I make no claims that it will be an easy battle. You won't be vomiting in back alleys or shivering in bed all night, but you will have the uncontrollable desire for something, anything that will give you your sugar fix.

Here is your twelve step program to beating sugar addiction. It won't be easy, but it will be worth it:

1. Stick to foods that are closest to their original form. Instead of eating corn from a can, eat corn on the cob. Banish white bread and embrace wheat bread. Forget fruit juices; go for the actual fruit. The closer a food is to it's original form, then less processed sugar it will contain.

2. Eat protein with breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but do you know why? Breakfast is the meal that will make or break you for the rest of the day. Your first meal must create blood sugar stability that will carry you to the next meal without sugar cravings.

3. Eat protein with every meal. As soon as your blood sugar is thrown out of whack, you will be off the wagon again. Eating protein with each meal prepares your body for the increase of seratonin production and keeps your blood sugar stable throughout the day.

4. Read Labels! It's incredible how many things we put into our mouths without the slightest idea what is in them. The longer the list of ingredients, the more likely sugar is going to be included on that list.

5. Don't starve yourself in order to reward your restraint with a donut or a Twix. Not only is this bad for your body, but you won't lose weight. Your body will just go into starvation mode, storing all your calories as fat. So that slice of chocolate cake you eat after a seven hour fast is going straight to fat.

6. Keep a journal of what you eat. You will be surprised, and probably shocked, by the amount of sugar-filled snacks and extras involved in your diet. Write down everything, down to those five M&Ms or that tablespoon of teriyaki sauce.

7. Brown is beautiful: brown rice, wheat bread, brown cereals, etc... Brown foods give your body the positive effects of carbohydrates without unbalancing your blood sugar and creating cravings.

8. Be active and keep busy. Most of us snack the most when we are bored and inactive. Go for a walk. Go shopping. Organize your entire house. Anything to keep your hands busy and away from the cookie jar.

9. Eat a potato before bed. Before your head explodes from the thought of eating a starchy, carbohydrate-filled potato right before bed, consider this: when taken with the right vitamins, that spud will increase your production of seratonin, balancing your blood sugar levels. Besides, it's better than eating ice cream before bed.

10. Try a detox program. Detoxing isn't just for yoga yogis and Enya junkies anymore. There are dozens of detox programs designed for health enthusiasts of all levels. Some last two days, some last two months. But they all have one thing in common: after the initial overwhelming sugar cravings, your body adjusts and you won't even want the sugar anymore.

11. Drink water constantly. The more water you drink, the more your body will be fooled into thinking it is not hungry. Plus, you can rest assured that there is not a grain of sugar in water.

12. Don't get down on yourself if you slip and eat a desert every once in a while. It's okay to reward yourself, just don't start the addiction all over again. There are always healthier options for deserts. Eat berries with some low-calorie whipped topping. Snack on a couple of graham crackers. Maybe you would be healthier if you cut out sugar altogether forever, but people who do things in moderation get the best of both worlds. Enjoy your life, but don't overdo it.

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