The irritability you might experience when you are very hungry and your blood sugar drops is different from what a smoker or a coffee drinker goes through in the absence of nicotine or caffeine. You might reach for a candy bar to quell your craving, but a turkey sandwich, a handful of smoked almonds, some soup and crackers, or any number of other non-sugary snacks could also satisfy your physical hunger. Your body doesn’t need those Junior Mints — but try telling your mind that.
For some people, the solution is to avoid sugar entirely — a difficult proposition given its presence in so many natural and processed foods. Eliminating all traces of sweet things does help some people avoid the inexorable slide into confectionery madness, however, for some diabetics, sugary drinks or glucose tablets are essential to treat hypoglycemia. Managing your sugar intake when you have diabetes/prediabetes is extremely important. So what is the solution?
Most nutritionists and psychologists suggest replacing bad eating habits with good ones. And many point out that if you get the recommended five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily, along with an optimal amount of protein and grains, you may not have enough room left for a handful of M and Ms, let alone the whole giant economy-size bag.
As long as you’re getting proper nutrients in the rest of your diet, a spoonful of sugar probably won’t hurt you in most cases. However, for those that are looking to cut sugar entirely from their diet, or trying to prevent the onset of diabetes, with a little practice and planning, you can get that sugar monkey off your back. Here are some guidelines from researchers and nutritionists:
1. Don’t use sweet treats as a distraction.
When you find yourself reaching for the jelly beans, ask yourself what’s going on. If you’re hungry, have the kind of snack that will last longer than a sugar rush — a handful of almonds or an ounce of cheese, for instance. If you’re stressed, take a walk. If you’re sad, call a friend. If you’re bored, get out of the house.
2. Eat regular meals.
Most nutritionists recommend eating small meals every three hours to keep blood glucose levels stable.
3. Get rid of your stash.
Get rid of the candy dish on your desk and the stash of Ring-Dings in your kitchen. If junk food isn’t around, you can’t eat it. When you want a sugary snack, go out and buy ONE.
4. Watch your daily sugar intake.
Keep added sugar to 10 percent of your daily calories (for a 2,000-calorie diet, this amounts to no more than 12 teaspoons a day. (Sugar is listed in grams on food labels, and to convert this to teaspoons, there are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon.)
5. Watch out for sugar substitutes.
People who rely on low- or no-cal sugar substitutes aren’t necessarily taking in fewer calories. You can substantially reduce calories by