Conquering the Cookie Monster
You’ve decided you want to get healthier and lose weight, so you find a nutrition plan, choose a start date for your new plan, and off you go! Everything is great the first few days. You think, “I can do this it’s not too bad. I like treats but fruits & veggies aren’t so bad either.” On day seven, you walk into the grocery store and suddenly the cupcakes have eyes starring you down, and you swear they came out with 20 new varieties of cookies in the past week. How do you fight these sugar cravings and stay on track?
Natural vs. Refined
First, let’s break down sugar. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, which are used by your body for fuel. There are two types of sugars; the first is naturally occurring sugar found in foods such as fruits and dairy. Sugars from natural food sources are good sources of calories. When you eat a piece of fruit you’re not only getting fructose sugar, but you also fuel your body with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.
The second type of sugar is refined sugar, which is when sugar is added to the food during processing by means of sugar and syrups. Refined sugars are used to increase shelf life and to improve flavor foods, especially low-fat versions of your favorite items. Foods with a lot of added sugar contribute extra calories in your diet, but provide little nutritional value in the way of vitamins and nutrients. It’s recommended by the American Heart Association to limit the amount of refined sugar you consume to no more than six teaspoons per day for woman and no more than nine teaspoons per day for men. One teaspoon of sugar is 16 calories. A few examples of items with refined sugar are soda (a 12 oz can contains 132.5 calories from refined sugar), ice cream (a 1/2 cup of vanilla contains 48 calories from refined sugar), and non-fat fruit yogurt (a 6 oz serving contains 77.5 calories from refined sugar). Keep in mind, these are just the calories from refined sugar – not the total calories! These are calories you could be filling with more nutrient dense foods to help fuel you and improve your health.
Now that we understand sugar, let’s look into our cravings for it. There are several parts to craving sugary foods – some of it is a chemical response, while some of it is out of habit, or the notion that you always want what you can’t have. Recently, I watched a documentary that will open your eyes to sugar and its effect on your health: Fed Up. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor at California University, San Francisco, there are 600,000 food items in America and 80% of these foods contain refined sugar. He highlighted a study done on brain activity which showed the chemical activity which occurs after consuming sugar – it’s the same response as when cocaine is used! He, and many others, believe that your body can actually become addicted to the sugar through your body’s chemical response. As with other addictions, cutting sugar completely out of your diet cold-turkey isn’t realistic, but cutting back and finding alternatives can help your weight loss and health goals tremendously.
Bikini competitor and sponsored athlete Kayleigh fell in love with weight training during her search for a healthier lifestyle. Wanting to challenge herself, she entered her first bikini competition and was hooked. She has become a master of making time to train and meal prep. Before competing she graduated with high honors with a bachelors in broadcast & journalism but after graduation chose a career in healthcare because of her love for helping others. Priorities for Kayleigh are making the time to eat healthy and train hard and she has a passion to share it with others. Her goal is to inspire and motivate others by sharing her fitness journey and experiences through progress, nutrition and workouts. Her favorite non-fitness thing is making others laugh. "As long as you have a smile on your face, everything else will take care of itself."