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Sugar craving and obesity

Craving sugar is one of the major reasons of the growing diabetes and obesity epidemics. In fact, most people cannot control their sugar craving even when their doctor says it’s killing them.

health and fitness Updated: Jul 10, 2012 20:19 IST
Dr Anjali Mukerjee

Craving sugar is one of the major reasons of the growing diabetes and obesity epidemics. In fact, most people cannot control their sugar craving even when their doctor says it’s killing them.

Sugar is addictive
Why is chocolate cake on many people’s list of comfort foods? Why do we continue to fill up on ice cream and candy, even when we really aren’t hungry? Why do cravings for a sweet snack seem almost impossible to ignore?

The easiest explanation is to say sugar is addictive, which is true. But a scientific one says that when you eat a lot of sugar, your body over-produces the hormone insulin (hyperinsulinism). The increase in insulin not only lowers blood sugar, causing it to drop, but also stores the sugar as fats. And when your blood sugar drops, you crave more of it. This is the cycle of sugar addiction.

Dealing with sugar cravings
Get some exercise. It will stimulate brain chemicals that will improve your mood.
Don’t tempt yourself by keeping high-calorie sweets in the house.
Don’t skip meals, which can make cravings worse.
Keep your meals simple. The more side dishes and flavors you include in your meals, the more likely you are to overeat.
Aim to eat balanced meals at regular intervals so that your blood glucose levels remain stable through the day.
Eat more protein. It will help reduce sugar cravings.
Increase your intake of water and fibre-dense foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains and protein-rich foods like paneer, dals and nuts to meet your energy needs.
Eating sweet fresh fruits is a better way to give in to your sweet tooth than eating sweets. Fruits provide fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, minus the calorie overload.
Opt for natural sources of sugar such as honey, jaggery, raisins and dates whenever you get the craving. But though these natural sources are better choices as compared to refined sugar foods, they still pack in loads of calories and must be eaten in moderation.
Every time you are able to overcome your craving, you will feel good. Every time you feel good, it means that you are in alignment with what your body really wants. So keep doing what makes you feel good and gives you a sense of achievement. A little self-discipline will help make these changes.

(Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and the founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre)