A decade ago, critics were skeptical about the addictive properties of sugar. But new studies are pushing more and more prominent experts to speak out about the legitimately dangerous aspects of sugar consumption and addiction, especially as high-fructose corn syrup has become more common.
Not only are we learning that sugar is addictive, but also that the addiction is biological rather than emotional. Doctors now say that sugar and carb cravings are fueled by hormones and neurotransmitters, which drives overeating and, as a result, a variety of health problems.
And the immediate gratification of sugar addiction isn’t the only problem. Sugar addiction feeds into itself by creating the perfect storm for future cravings. The hormonal chaos caused by sugar drives up insulin, which in turn blocks the release of the satiety hormone leptin. It boosts the stress hormone cortisol, and we all know how stress can lead to overeating. That same cortisol also promotes the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin during sleep, meaning you wake up in the morning looking for another carb-heavy, sugary fix.
Simply put, your body becomes hungry for sugar-rich foods because that’s what it has taught itself to eat.
The Dangers of Sugar Addiction
The health risks posed by eating sugar are very real.
First of all, the hormonal changes brought on by a high-sugar diet create the perfect environment for adding body fat. When insulin, cortisol, and thyroid hormones are working against you, they create a snowball effect in which storing body fat becomes easier and easier.
What’s more, when insulin is elevated often enough, our cells become resistant to it over time, forcing the body to produce ever higher levels to drive blood sugar back down. This is known as “insulin resistance.” If left unchecked, the result is Type 2 diabetes.
Finally, inflammation is triggered by high-sugar, high-calorie meals, along with the free radicals that are released when sugar is consumed. And research shows that inflammation and obesity go hand in hand.
Eating to Crush the Cravings
So what should you eat when you hear the siren song of sugar? We recommend foods that have a higher healthy fat content. Fat satiates and hits the same reward center of the brain while having zero affect on blood sugar. Keeping insulin levels low makes it easier to lose body fat, counters inflammation, and makes you less likely to grab for sugary snacks later. Here are three recipes that will do exactly that:
1. Baked Eggs in Avocado
This recipe is absurdly easy, even for non-chefs. With just two ingredients (you guessed it: eggs and avocados) plus seasoning, this protein-packed snack can be made in under 20 minutes. Watch this video to master this quick, healthy indulgence!
2. Chocolate Peanut Butter Greek Yogurt Parfait
Avoiding unhealthy sugars doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of tasty treats. This parfait is easy to make and even easier to enjoy. And with only four ingredients, you don’t have to worry about hidden sugars haunting you later. Learn how to whip it up in this video.
3. Toasted Cashews
With three ingredients (and spices to taste!), these cashews are a great alternative to unhealthy savory snacks. Simply toast them on the stove, let them cool, and enjoy! Watch for the details.
Breaking the sugar habit might not seem easy, but sometimes it’s just a matter of replacing bad foods with healthy yet delicious alternatives. And feel free to play around with them a bit and personalize them to suit your tastes. The next time you feel sugar calling you, resist the craving and try one of these recipes.