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As a nurse, you understand that addiction is about binging, withdrawal and craving. From a medical standpoint, this means that people get addicted to more than just street drugs. Sugar, for example, can be a strong influence, because it works the addiction and reward pathways of the brain just as effectively as cocaine or nicotine.
Like most bad habits, too much sugar in your diet can lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure. If sugar is affecting your ability to make smart lifestyle choices, then now is the time to kick the habit. Consider ways you can curb sugar cravings both on and off the job.
Easier said than done when you are in the middle of a shift, but poor meal habits lead to low blood sugar and cravings, so find ways to fit in at least a snack on the go. If you regulate your blood sugar throughout the day, you are less likely to hit the vending machine for a candy bar to curb sugar cravings.
A sugar craving may be your body’s way of telling you that your diet doesn’t include the right balance of macronutrients:
Protein – 10 to 35 percent of calories
Carbohydrates – 45 to 65 percent of calories
Fat – 20 to 35 percent of calories
This is the downside to many fad diets, in fact. The body needs all three of these elements in the right portions to function efficiently, explains the University of Illinois. You can avoid eating sugar by managing your macronutrients levels.
Just because you like it sweet doesn’t mean you have to have sugar. The right combination of spices can fill your sweet tooth without introducing you to simple sugars. Try spicing up your smoothie, fresh fruit or veggies with:
Learn to curb sugar cravings with one of these spices, instead.
If you enjoy loading up your coffee drink with flavored creamers or plain sugar, try a new breakfast beverage. These teas are naturally sweet and flavorful without the sugar and calories but will still give you a morning perk.
Nursing is a high stress job, so it is natural to reach for comfort food like chocolate. Ask yourself the next time you get the urge for sweets if you are trying to curb some other issue instead, like a difficult day or boredom at home. If the answer is yes, then start looking for healthier ways to cope like taking a quick walk around the floor or hitting the gym. Once you find ways to plug those emotional surges, you will find yourself relying less and less on the vending machine for comfort.
Many people turn to substitutes to curb sugar cravings, but this doesn’t really get to the root of the problem. A sugar substitute just continues to feed that need, instead of dealing with the underlying problem.
There are many questions about the long term effects of artificial sweeteners, as well. If you must have something sugary, you would do better to reach for a natural snack like a piece of fruit instead of something laden with questionable chemicals such as a diet soda.
Do you really need sugar or will something else hit the spot? That is the question you need to ask whenever you feel that urge. It may take some self-counseling to beat your sugar addiction, but you will feel better once you do.