Do You Have a Sugar Addiction?

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Darn that sweet tooth.

As the stores start rolling out all that Valentine's Day loot, the urge for candy becomes like an itch you can't scratch.

But you're no fool.

You know that sugar rots your teeth and sends your blood sugar on one heck of a ride.

Still, humans needs sugar like a car needs gasoline. In fact, it's your body's preferred source of energy. So if sugar is necessary, why does it get such a bad rap?

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Sweet Sensations

Sugar comes into your body in the form of carbohydrates. That's right, say it with me: carbs = sugar. Any carbohydrate is a sugar, whether it's starchy vegetables, non-dairy milks, beans (even tofu and hummus), fruit or grains. It's no wonder carb-free diets seem restricting. You can't eat anything!

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Today we consume sugar that has little or no resemblance to a nutrient-rich, natural form. We've got GMOs, chemically-produced artificial sweeteners and highly-processed carbs, which rob the body of vitamins, minerals, fats and antioxidants. What happens when your body gets shocked with all this stuff? It tries its best to function, but it typically ends up running on short spurts of energy and eventually conks out. Hello, sugar crash.

How do you manage your sugar addiction? Consider these five tips to help curb your cravings and keep your energy stabilized:

1. Go natural. When consuming carbohydrates, choose organic, whole-food forms instead of highly-processed versions. You'll feed the body's sugar craving without risking a crash. An organic waffle (we love Nature's Path) with nut butter or dark chocolate with a high-cacao content are good options.

2. Read labels. Look for "plain" or "unsweetened" versions of your basic carbs (cereal, non-dairy milks, waffles) that you can dress up yourself. Cereal can pack as much sugar as a Twinkie, so be smart about what you're eating for breakfast.

3. Invest in high-quality sweeteners. When you use your own sweeteners, go for taste and nutrient density. Choose coconut palm sugar and nectar, molasses and organic cane sugar. They may be more expensive than the processed stuff, but you're worth it!

4. Choose spices over sauces. We consume so much added sugar in sauces. Try using spices during the preparation of food for added flavor that's naturally sugar-free. Be especially wary of salad dressings and tomato sauce - these suckers are often loaded with extra sugar (and salt).

5. Monitor your carbs. Take note of your carb count every time you eat, instead of aiming for a daily amount. At each eating occasion, try to stay within 15-30 grams. Fifteen grams is more ideal for less-active types or those looking to lose weight.

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