Do you finish a meal and find yourself searching for a sweet treat to top it off? Is it hard for you to pass the bakery or the coffee shop on the way to work?
Millions of people in America suffer from what is known as sugar addiction, although they probably don’t even know it. With larger amounts of sugar being added to all sorts of foods, the food manufacturing business is doing its part in keeping us “high” on the sweet stuff.
The amount of sugar you consume has been conditioned by the food industry, family experiences and your food choices. Like any addiction, it is possible to break free from the deadly grip of sugar. Once free, many people stay clear of sugar completely and feel better than they have in years.
Sugar Fix and Brain Chemicals
Laboratory rats provided access to a sugary drink demonstrated typical addictive behaviors. This included bingeing when sugar was available and displaying signs of withdrawal when it was removed. These signs included depression, anxiety and irritability.
Sugary substances do indeed behaviorally act like addictive narcotics. Drug seeking behavior causes an an increase in dopamine production in the brain before the drug is actually consumed… even the thought of the reward is pleasurable.
Rats addicted to sugar have been found to have a similar release of dopamine. Sugar feasting also causes changes in the availability of dopamine receptors in the brain so that the next “fix” will require more sugar for the same effect.
Conceivably, if one Twinkie has always been your standard, it can easily increase to two or three or even a whole box!
Sugar consumption also acts like opiates – the pleasurable chemicals released in our brain after vigorous exercise, orgasm and drugs that are derivatives of the poppy, such as opium.
Although consuming a box of your favorite cookies may not have the same impact as using opium – the cycle of addiction is very similar. The more you consume, the more you need.
Breaking the Fix
For some people, breaking free from sugar is one of the hardest things they have ever had to do. If this is you, here five tips to help you end your sordid love affair with sugar.
Understand your sugar triggers – We all have them, what makes you go for the sugar. This could be stress, hunger, boredom etc… Keep a food diary and make a note of when you crave sugar.
Eat nutrient dense food – Fill your body with whole food, rich in healthy fats and organic fruits and vegetables. A well-nourished body craves less sugar than one that is nutrient deprived.
Start your day with a savory breakfast– A hearty breakfast that contains healthy saturated fat will help keep the sugar cravings at bay. Choose an omelet or a bowl of oatmeal with real butter or cream over a dry cereal or a bagel.
Go on a sugar fast – Commit to at least five days without any sugar at all. Read your labels carefully, many foods are loaded with sugar. Although this will not be easy, your body will thank you.
Do not use artificial sweeteners – Many people have the wrong impression that artificial sweeteners will help them end their craving for sugar. In fact, these make it harder to quit and only encourages you to eat sugar-laden foods. If you need something sweetened, use coconut crystals, raw stevia or raw honey (in moderation).
-The Alternative Daily