We might joke that we’re addicted to sugar as we reach for yet another jelly bean, but a group of scientists is now saying we might be right.
A review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine argues that sugar is as addictive as cocaine.
Co-author of the paper and cardiovascular research scientist James J DiNicolantonio, told the Guardian that sugar is dangerously addictive: “In animals, it is actually more addictive than even cocaine, so sugar is pretty much probably the most consumed addictive substance around the world, and it is wreaking havoc on our health.”
While the scientific world squabbles over the truth of cocaine versus sugar, it’s difficult to dispute that, between rising childhood obesity levels and type 2 diabetes rates, we have a sugar problem.
But how can you fight your sugar cravings? Here are a few ways to cut your intake without going cold turkey…
1. Switch sugary breakfast cereals and granola for porridge oats topped with banana slices- and leave off the sprinkling of brown sugar.
2. Make your own pasta sauces. Jarred sauces can be really high in sugar, but a simple tin of chopped tomatoes, simmered with garlic and basil for 15 minutes on the hob, will do the same job, just cheaper, tastier and healthier.
3. Homemade soup is surprisingly easy to whip up and contains far less sugar than store-bought versions. All you need is some leftover veggies, a panful of stock, some fresh herbs and a hand mixer to whizz it together.
4. Swap out your usual bag of crisps for a handful of unsalted nuts, or some plain homemade popcorn.
5. Replace your milk chocolate bar with a square or two of bitter dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) – it’ll give you an iron boost and hit that sweet spot, without the major sugar rush.
6. Instead of reaching for the choccie biccies, try oat cakes or crackers with a square of cheese instead.
7. White bread can be full of sugar – pick up brown, wholemeal or granary for a healthier change.
8. 4pm slump? Reach for a piece of fruit or a slice of malt loaf rather than a wedge of cake.
9. Like sugar in your tea or coffee? Wean yourself off.
10. Fizzy drinks have no nutritional value and it’s not unusual for them to contain 13 teaspoons of sugar per can; opt for sugar-free versions or just go classic and stick with water (you can always jazz it up with a slice of lemon or cucumber).
11. Be sparing with the condiments – ketchup and barbecue sauces are laced with sugar.
12. Reserve dessert for special occasions and as weekend treats, rather than have one every day.
13. And if you have to have that takeout, order less sugar-laden dishes. For instance, replace your sweet and sour chicken balls with dumplings and steamed veg.