Sugar is one of the main culprits behind the obesity epidemic that has swept the globe in recent decades. The United States has been hit particularly hard, with a staggering 39.6% of U.S adults being obese according to data from the latest National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Health experts and government agencies around the globe are urging citizens to cut their sugar intake in response to the crisis. Given sugar is one of the most addictive substances in the world, that’s a lot easier said than done.
A study of rats conducted in 2007 showed that sugar is even more addictive than cocaine. When given a choice between the two, 94% of the rats chose sugar water over the highly addictive drug. They also displayed behavioral and neurochemical signs of craving and withdrawal when sugar was withheld from them.
For anyone trying to cut back or eliminate their sugar intake, award-winning medical doctor and weight loss expert Dr. Jan McBarron recommends using several proven methods to tackle the inevitable cravings. She shares a few of her most successful sugar-beating secrets below.
Play Tetris for a Few Minutes
A 2015 University of Plymouth study found that playing Tetris for as little as three minutes at a time reduced a wide range of cravings, including for food, drugs, sleep, and sex. Dr. Jan McBarron says that cravings often manifest in the form of strong visualizations and that playing a visually stimulating game like Tetris, which is available for smartphones, appears capable of disrupting them.
Drink Something (That Doesn’t Contain Sugar)
According to Dr. Jan McBarron, the hunger cravings that often compel us to reach for something sugary are oftentimes signals that we’re thirsty. Downing a large glass of water can help fill the stomach and quench that thirst. Dr. Jan McBarron has also had success drinking green tea regularly, which has hunger suppressing properties. As an added bonus, green tea is also a great fat-burner.
Cut Out Stress to Cut Out Sugar
High levels of stress have been linked to food cravings, so tackling the root problem can prove highly successful in eliminating the desire for sugar. Dr. Jan McBarron recommends any of the following techniques to lower stress and take your mind off unhealthy food:
- Breathing techniques such as breath focus or body scanning; these can be combined with mindfulness/meditation for added benefits
- Laughing or smiling; even if forced, these actions signal to the subconscious that things are alright, and the stress response isn’t needed
- Listening to relaxing instrumental music, including music with added nature sounds
- Interacting with your pets
- Working on a project that involves your hands including jig saw puzzle, knitting, cards
Dr. Jan McBarron Recommends Exercising
Exercise is another great way to reduce stress in addition to silencing sugar cravings. An Austrian study found that going for a 15-minute brisk walk significantly reduced sugar cravings in overweight subjects who ate sugary foods daily. Besides walking, Dr. McBarron found success doing short bursts of exercise when cravings hits, such as going up and down a flight of stairs a few times or doing some push-ups.