Beat the Sweets for Good in Sugar Rehab!

Amy Kuras

sugarLots of us joke about being "chocoholics" or having a "sugar jones." Some research is suggesting, though, that it might not be so much of a joke.

One of the latest bits of diet advice actually suggests a brief "junk food detox" before starting a weight-loss program. That actually sounds like a great idea: Full-on sweets rehab, no excuses.

Here are some ideas to make it happen:

The most important thing is to get tempting treats out of the house. If it's not there, you can't eat it. Check your car, your kids' backpacks, even that forgotten stash of leftover Easter candy at the top of the fridge. Get rid of it however you can ... bring it to work, make your spouse bring it to work, let your kids have all their friends over and sugar the little maniacs up. Whatever you have to do, do it.

Once that's done, don't let it back in. Yes, Halloween is coming, but my trick has always been to pass out non-candy treats (kids love glow bracelets) or stuff I don't like. Grocery shop alone, if possible, so you don't have to hear your kids' desperate pleas for cookies or candy, and avoid the aisles where they're kept.

Get enough sleep. I find my eating habits go right to hell when I'm tired. Fully rested, doughnuts reveal themselves for the horrible breakfast choice they are. Tired, they look like manna.

Suffer through the cravings. It's going to suck the first week or so, but after awhile you forget about it. And the best part is, once you've weaned yourself off super-sweet, refined sugar foods, you'll discover how delicious the natural sweetness of food is. A lovely ripe pear will taste like candy, but will fill you up and won't send you into sky-high sugar buzz.

Enjoy your even energy levels. I get brutal sugar crashes if I have eaten a lot of sweets; if I'm eating healthfully, I suddenly realize it's dinnertime and I haven't had to fight through mid-afternoon sludge head.

Watch out for unexpected sugar bombs: Yogurt, alcohol, even ketchup.

Don't knock it 'til you try it. Researchers recently gave a group of rats a standard rat diet, and another group a kind of "cafeteria-style" food ... yummy, high-calorie, easily available foods high in sugar and fat. The junk-food rats ate twice as much as their healthy-eating friends. Worse yet, when they were switched back to a normal rat diet, they starved themselves for two weeks (an eternity in rat time, I'm guessing).

The junk food actually lit up the brain's reward circuits in some rats like heroin or cocaine would. For anybody who has turned the house upside down in a desperate search for chocolate, this is not a surprise. Thus, the idea for a sugar rehab was born.

Are you a sugar addict?


Image via Public Domain Photos/Flickr

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