4 Steps to Breaking a Sugar Addiction
By Julieanna Hever, The Plant-Based Dietitian
Do you feel like your sweet tooth is making your whole-food plant-based diet feel impossible? You're not the only one. You can still satisfy your sweet tooth through a whole-food plant-based diet by consuming healthier and less refined whole foods. Here are 4 steps to breaking a sugar addiction...
1. Stepwise into it
Sweeteners or added sugars should be no more than 5-10% of your total calorie intake. Less is more. Start by making simple replacements. For instance, add in date paste or date syrup or maple syrup. These make great ingredients for recipes and help get your taste buds less expectant of those highly sweetened products. Remember that your palette and taste buds change when you switch to a whole-food plant-based diet. Your recognition of sweetness gets more refined as you start step-wising into it and consuming whole foods. You'll start to notice subtle sweetness in sweet potato or fruit. Use dried fruits, raisins, or dates for sweetened recipes. Need a treat? Blend frozen fruit together and add cacao for refreshing sweetness. The more you let go of the refined foods, the more sweetness you'll begin to notice in whole foods.
2. Cut out all artificial sweeteners
This includes Stevia, monk fruit sweetener, and all other artificial sweeteners. Even if they're noncaloric or lower in calories, artificial sweeteners are hundreds of thousands times sweeter than table sugar. Consuming artificial sweeteners sets the sweetness threshold really high for your palette. Diet soda is only one product example full of artificial sweetener. If you want your palette to adjust, start cutting out all artificial sweeteners.
3. Fill up on healthy foods
If you're eating a healthy diet and filling up on healthy whole foods, you're less likely to crave dessert. You're going to feel better and won't think about grabbing something sweet. Fill up on a whole food plant-based diet that includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices—an infinite amount of tasty combinations.
4. Challenge yourself to multiple days with no refined sugars
How long can you go without eating any refined sugars in your diet? There's no way to know unless you try. The longer you go with no refined sugars in your diet, the further away you are from that last dopamine hit, making it easier to continue. It's simple, but it's not always easy. You'll be faced with temptation daily. You have to want to break the cycle more than you give in to that temptation.
When you start cutting refined sugars from your diet, your brain will begin changing, your palette will start adjusting, and you'll eventually come to a place where you stop craving highly refined foods.
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