When we eat sugar, our brain gets a hit of the neurotransmitter dopamine which contributes to feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. It's a quick and fast hit right in the nucleus accumbens, the pleasure center of the brain. You know what else lights up that area of the brain? Sex, drugs and gambling, to name a few. These addictive substances and activities provide a shortcut to the pleasure center. The hippocampus then records memories of this rapid sense of satisfaction, and the amygdala creates a conditioned response to certain stimuli like smell, taste, touch or sound.
So now when you smell a bakery, you suddenly have a craving for doughnuts when two minutes ago you were't even thinking about eating. You see your favorite candy bar in the checkout line and now you just have to have it.
It's not fair. It's just the way our brains work!
Now, keeping with the subject of addiction, imagine for a moment that you had a friend who was a recovering alcoholic. Would you ever say to that friend, "You can have just one beer!" No, I'm sure you wouldn't. It's vital to any addiction recovery to completely stay away from it under any circumstances. Recovering alcoholics even get rid of alcohol containing mouthwash and vanilla flavoring. If they didn't, each morning when they used their mouthwash, their brain may get that conditioned response to the taste of alcohol. It's so strong that willpower may not stand a chance. Do you see where I'm going with this?
1) MEAT PRODUCTS:
That's right! You think you're being all keto and those sneaky suckers are putting sugar in your carb-free food. So uncool!
They do this in various ways. Meat packers will feed sugar to animals just before slaughter to improve the flavor and color of cured meats. Chefs add it to hamburgers to reduce shrinkage. (I'm sure it also makes it taste better, too!) Have you ever looked at the ingredient list of the rotisserie chicken at your favorite supermarket? Yup! It's there, too.
What to do instead: Do not buy cured meats. When buying meat like bacon, check the package to be sure it says uncured. Cut back on getting food at restaurants. You just won't know if they're adding sugar to your meals. Check ALL labels for added sugar no matter what you're buying.
2) PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, OVER THE COUNTER DRUGS AND NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS:
This is a tough one. You'll have to really analyze the labels on these products. It may be listed in the inactive ingredients as sucrose. You will most likely find it in chewable tablets, syrups, lozenges, or gums. As far as nutritional supplements, always go with a reputable brand and check the ingredient list for alternative names for sugar. You may see maltodextrin, dextrose or fructose but there are over 50 different names for sugar! While we're at it, make sure it doesn't contain the artificial sugars aspartame, sucralose or saccharin.
What to do instead: Look for sugar-free versions of medication. Better yet, stay healthy so you don't need them! For supplements look for naturally sweetened or sweetened with stevia or monkfruit. Erythritol and xylitol are ok as well. Just be careful how much you have as they can cause gastric upset.
3) SEASONINGS AND CONDIMENTS:
The seasonings would most likely be in mixes like taco seasoning, salad dressing mixes or sauce mixes. Condiments? ALL OF THEM! Mustard, mayo, salad dressing and ketchup to name a few.
What to do instead: At the risk of repeating myself, read your labels. Also, make your own! It takes minutes! I have plenty of recipes for these things that you can take a look at. It's so worth it!
4) Granola, energy and protein bars:
There are hundreds if not thousands of varieties of this type of treat. Most of the time you think you're doing something healthy for yourself. They have claims on the labels like heart healthy, muscle building, good for you, etc. They are the complete opposite. Most of them are just as bad as candy bars, if not worse! There are very few bars I recommend although some newer companies are doing a much better job.
What to do instead: Eat real food! Pack on the go snacks like nuts, fruit or clean jerky like the Epic brand. No sugar or fillers. You can also add protein powder to a shaker cup and add water when you're ready for a snack.
5) BREAKFAST FOODS:
You know that doughnuts, muffins and coffee cakes are loaded with sugar but what about your breakfast cereal, oatmeal or yogurt? Those are huge sources of sugar. Lots of breakfast meats have added sugar as well. How about that maple flavored bacon or apple flavored sausage?! Those are full of sugar. In fact, most sausages contains sugar, even the spicy ones.
What to do instead: Go for a nice frittata or omelette. Make your own sausage with ground meat and your favorite spices. If you like yogurt and dairy doesn't upset your system, go for plain Greek and add a little stevia and your own berries. Another option it to break your fast (breakfast) at noon with a crisp, green salad with chicken and skip all those needless breakfast foods! Intermittent fasting is a great way to boost your health and slim your waistline!
So there you have it. Five sneaky places that sugar hides. Now you're just too smart to let them get away with that nonsense. You're armed and ready for battle! Remember, if you need some more help or support, reach our for a call with me to see if we're a good fit to work together on your goals. I'm always here for you!
May you be blessed with love and health!