You've heard about sugar addiction on the evening news and you've probably read about the evils of eating too much sugar in health magazines. But how do you know if you're addicted to sugar? What are the warning signs? What symptoms will you experience if your sugar intake is too high?
I spoke to Dan DeFigio to get answers to your most pressing questions about sugar addiction. DeFigio is the author of Beating Sugar Addiction for Dummies, a book that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to clean up their diet and feel better about their health. DeFigio is the owner and director of Basics and Beyond fitness and nutrition and he has worked as a nutrition counselor and rehabilitative exercise specialist for over 20 years. He explained some of the warning signs that you might experience when your sugar intake is too high and some of the benefits you'll enjoy if you reduce the sugar in your diet.
About.com Weight Loss: What are some signs or symptoms you might experience if you are addicted to sugar?
Dan DeFigio: The top 3 signs that you are addicted to sugar are:
- You eat sugar and junk food compulsively, even though you realize the negative consequences. You promise yourself you’ll never binge again.
- You hide your sugar consumption from other people, or lie about your eating behavior.
- You turn to sugar for an emotional lift, such as when you feel lonely, bored, or stressed.
Interestingly, there are different types of sugar addicts. You can take the quiz in Chapter 2 of Beating Sugar Addiction For Dummies to find out which of the four main types of sugar addicts you might resemble.
About.com Weight Loss: How can reducing sugar intake change the way I look and feel?
Dan DeFigio: Cutting back on your sugar intake can trim your waistline, increase your energy, ease the mood roller coasters, improve your blood sugar and cholesterol profiles, increase the effectiveness of your immune system, reduce food cravings, reduce bloating, and lower inflammation.
About.com Weight Loss: If I decide to reduce my sugar intake, how long do I need to make changes before I see some results?
Dan DeFigio: Most people report that when they start eating less sugar, they start feeling better right away. Your pants will start to get looser in 2-4 weeks.
About.com Weight Loss: Is sugar reduction something that I need to do for the rest of my life or can I do a "brief cleanse" to get a benefit?
Dan DeFigio: I am not a fan of temporary diets and cleanses, because they don’t change what’s “normal” for you and therefore they don’t result in any permanent changes. That being said, any healthy behavior is better than none, so making some temporary changes (a “brief cleanse”) is better than doing nothing.
How To Reduce Your Sugar Intake
If you think that you might be addicted to sugar, a slow approach to change is usually the best method. Take baby steps to reduce your sugar intake. Begin by reading ingredient labels and identifying foods that contain too much sugar. Sometimes finding sugar is harder than you think. Sugar is found in many savory foods and sauces that you might not expect.
For example, did you know that many brands of ketchup contain high levels of sugar? In fact, many of the calories in ketchup come from high fructose corn syrup, a common form of sugar. Breakfast cereals, breads, and many popular "healthy" drinks are also often high in calories and sugar.
Learn the common ways that sugar can be disguised in the foods that you eat. Then be religious about reading nutritional labels and ingredient lists on the back of each product that you buy. DeFigio recommends that you avoid prepared foods that contain more than 10 grams of sugar per serving. In his book, he also provides handy lists of foods to avoid and foods to include in your diet.
If you're still not sure if you're addicted to sugar, give sugar reduction a try and see how you feel after a couple of weeks. You've got nothing to lose but a few extra pounds. To get more information about Dan DeFigio's program to help beat sugar addiction, visit his website, BeatingSugarAddiction.com.