SHAPING UP: The dangers of sugar addiction

Sugar in food and soft drinks can cause obesity and diabetes.
Sugar in food and soft drinks can cause obesity and diabetes.

I’ve started watching a new TV series this week ... Lucky Man.

It stars James Nesbitt as a detective with a gambling addiction. I’m totally hooked on it at the moment.

Roasted squash, olive, avocado and rocket salad.

Roasted squash, olive, avocado and rocket salad.

Anyway, that’s what I want to talk to you about today, addiction. Not a gambling addiction, but sugar addiction.

It’s a very serious problem for a lot of people.

Apart from making you put weight on, there are lots of other bad side effects of too much sugar.

It can contribute towards diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, tooth decay, bad skin, headaches, fatigue and lots of other things.

How do you know if you’re addicted to sugar? And how can you overcome it?

1. You eat sugary foods past the point you intended

Have you ever eaten something and only intended to have one piece? But once you finish the first piece you think, “I want more. That wasn’t enough”.

Before you know it, you’ve consumed 10 pieces and you still want more. Like a morning-after hangover, you have feelings of regret immediately afterward.

Ask yourself: Why do I actually want this chocolate? Is it to enjoy one piece of chocolate? Or is it because your co-worker just snapped at you?

If you find that your intention for having the chocolate is to soothe yourself, it might be best to step away from your desk and go for a 10-minute walk outside the office instead.

2. You crave simple carbohydrates

Your sugar addiction often gets worse because your body craves simple carbohydrates. After consuming them they turn into sugar very quickly and can feed your body’s addiction to sugar.

Pastries, white bread, pasta and white rice, are the most popular simple carbohydrates that sugar addicts will crave.

Start adding more vegetables to your diet like beetroot, sweet potatoes, and carrots. The addition of these types of vegetables will help curb your cravings because of the naturally occurring sugar.

3. You eat sugary foods even when you don’t really want to

Has this ever happened to you? You see a chocolate bar and you take a moment and ask yourself if you really want it and you say no. Ten minutes pass. The chocolate bar is calling your name.

You’re salivating but you know it’s not a good idea to eat it. You start rationalising why it would be okay to eat it. You tell yourself you ate healthy today and you’ll skip dessert for the next two days. So you go for it and tell yourself it will only be this one time.

It’s a good idea to always have fresh fruit on hand so you can combat these cravings when they come on.

4. You eat sugary foods until you don’t feel well

Have you ever eaten so many cookies that you experienced one or more of the following symptoms: headache, gas, bloated, fuzzy thinking, fatigue, or sleepiness? If so, those are symptoms of a sugar hangover.

If you’re a sugar addict, you probably do this a few times a week if not every day. You know that bingeing on sugar will make you feel this way but you do it anyway. The short-term benefit of eating the cake, cookie, or chocolate is worth the unpleasant aftereffects to you.

Try making an agreement with yourself not to keep sugary foods in the house, and when you’re at a restaurant order only one dessert and fully enjoy it. The act of eating dessert in public often creates accountability.

If you identify with some, if not all of the signs of sugar addiction, you aren’t alone. The good news is you can beat it! The first step is awareness, then you have to those four tips into practice.


HIIT can combat sugar cravings

Another way to help combat your sugar cravings is to complete a HIIT workout.

After you’ve worked hard you’re less likely to go and stuff your face.

Give this quick workout a go.

The aim is to complete 11 minutes of work.

You have to map out your mobile phone number and perform 45-second efforts for each digit of your phone number. Rest for 15 seconds between each exercise.











For example, if your mobile number is 07874 337770, your workout will look like this:

45 seconds SQUAT JACKS

15 seconds rest

45 seconds PRESS UPS

15 seconds rest

45 seconds STAR JUMPS

15 seconds rest

45 seconds PRESS UPS

15 seconds rest

45 seconds HILL CLIMBS

15 seconds rest


15 seconds rest


15 seconds rest

45 seconds PRESS UPS

15 seconds rest

45 seconds PRESS UPS

15 seconds rest

45 seconds PRESS UPS

15 seconds rest

45 seconds SQUAT JACKS

60 seconds rest

Perform a second round, but map out your date of birth using eight digits. For example 09-01-1983.

Watch a demo of my boot camp members performing this workout on Friday morning at www.eastcoast-fitness.com/blog


Roasted squash, olive, avocado and rocket salad

This recipe is full of vegetables and good fats, which makes it a perfect meal to help reduce sugar cravings.

Serves 4

1 large butternut squash (about 1kg) olive oil

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs, such as herbes de Provence

2 bags of rocket (about 150g)

1 mug pitted olives (180g)

2 avocados

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon tamari

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 200°C (fan 180°C).

Peel the butternut squash, then slice it into small bite-sized pieces.

Place the pieces into a baking tray and drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper, plus the paprika and dried herbs, mixing everything well to ensure it’s all seasoned.

Bake the squash for about 40 minutes. Once it’s nice and soft, leave it to one side to cool.

For the dressing:

Make the dressing by mixing all the ingredients together with a little salt and pepper, to taste.

Mix the rocket with the dressing and olives, before cutting the avocados into small pieces and add them to the salad with the squash once its cool.


Book an appointment so you’re held accountable. Whether that’s a gym class, a personal training session or a workout with a friend. If you have an appointment booked in with someone else you’re more likely to follow through with your intentions.

If you don’t have an appointment, it’s too easy to talk yourself out of it, “Oh, I’m too tired this morning, I’ll go tonight after work”.

Then after work you tell yourself, “I’m too tired now, I’ll go for a run tomorrow”.

And the cycle continues. Book in an appointment with someone and you’re much more likely to stick to it.


Your Trainer: Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award-winning personal trainer based in Seaham. The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year. Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012. For personal training, boot camps, small group training and online programmes email graham@eastcoast-fitness.com or visit www.eastcoast-fitness.com