SUGAR ADDICTION AND HOW TO BREAK FREE
Yes, sugar is sweet and sometimes irresistible. However, there are cases where sugar becomes just a little too sweet and a little too irresistible. When you get to that point where there is a constant longing for sugar even when your body is not really in need of it, you have a sugar addiction problem.
It may not really seem like a problem at first, but do you know that sugar can become an addictive substance just like cocaine and heroin can, and the terrible thing is that sugar addiction may go on for a long time unnoticed until it begins to wreak havoc on your body.
In this article, we will be examining sugar cravings and addiction, its effect on the human body and how to overcome it.
As addictive as cocaine
This may seem farfetched and absurd, but that sweet white thing, or whatever color it may be, has the same addictive properties as cocaine does.
Research carried out in 2007 on a group of rats with sweetened water and cocaine showed them to be drawn to the sweet water more than to the cocaine. This goes to prove that sugar may wield a more powerful force than cocaine if one becomes addicted to it.
Over time, your brain gets accustomed to the feeling of sugar evokes. This sugar rush comes in the form of the sweetened coffee you take every morning, the ice cream you eat after every meal, the white bread you cannot start your day without.
Over time, the ingestion of sugar in large quantities will stimulate the continual creation of dopamine, that feel good hormone that is produced when one takes hard drugs. The brain becomes accustomed to this and can no longer say no to sugar because it wants to sustain that good feeling for as long as possible.
This is when sugar becomes an addiction and proves difficult to stop. Someone who experiences continuous sugar cravings will show similar signs of withdrawal like people addicted to hard drugs. This means discomfort, anxiety, irritability, and even depression, and these withdrawal symptoms are only alleviated when he or she has some more sugar.
Thus, begins a cycle from hell.
Sugar craving versus sugar addiction
All of us have sugar cravings from time to time, just like it is normal for us to crave for certain food once in a while. This becomes a problem only when those cravings are too intermittent and too hard to control or stop. This is when sugar cravings transform into sugar addiction. When this happens, it is difficult to stop eating sugar, and sugar addiction leads to bouts of anxiety, depression, irritability, and other withdrawal symptoms. This constitutes danger to the mental well being of the sugar addict.
Effects of sugar addiction
Diabetes: Sugar addiction may lead to diabetes if not curbed in time. The frequent intake of excess sugar in sugary foods, drinks, and processed foods may lead to a spike in blood sugar level in the body than what the insulin produced can provide for. Thus, the insulin becomes ineffective in managing the blood sugar level, a major precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Unwanted fat: Sugar addiction can also lead to too much fat in the body. This is because excess sugar is usually stored as fat in the body. This can lead to obesity, and could also lead to heart diseases and consequently death.
Energy drain: When the brain senses that the sugar level in the body is high, there is usually a spike in energy. However, this spike is fleeting and will wear out soon enough. This leads to energy drain during such periods and the sugar eater will seek even more sugar to get the energy level up.
Curbing sugar addiction
The bad effects of sugar addiction can be prevented if adequate care is taken to curb the cravings. These are simple tips for curbing and curing your sugar addiction:
Do a food swap: It is not easy to just stop taking sugar without recourse to a substitute. This is why it is advisable that you replace all the sugary, junk foods and drinks that you currently take with healthier choices that are also sweet. One of these substitutes is fruits, as it contains sugar but along with other nutrients in the right amount that is quite beneficial to our wellbeing. For example, you can switch that candy bar for a bowl of sliced up carrots or an avocado pear. You can also search online on how to make and combine these fruits in yummy recipes. This would help keep the bad sugar away and still keep you full.
Clear out your pantry: Even if you find a substitute, you can still be tempted to go back to those sweet pleasures. To avoid such a relapse, cleanse your kitchen, cupboards, and pantry from any sugary food or drink.
Read labels: Always look out for processed foods with labels that suggest excess sugar and avoid them. Here’s a little secret: sweet things not outrightly named sugar can also be dangerous. This applies to artificial sweeteners which can do as much damage and cause sugar addictions. Food labels can also contain sugar but under different names. Some of these names are evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, malt syrup, pancake syrup, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrates, corn sweetener etc. Watch out for such and keep them away from you. By doing this, you will prevent relapsing back to your addictive ways.
Avoid stress, sleep well and drink a lot of water: Lack of adequate sleep, dehydration, and stress can cause cravings and make them stronger. You would do well to make sure you get enough sleep and also avoid stress overload. Find time to relax and relieve yourself once in a while. Furthermore, drink water constantly. Go for at least 8 glasses a day, advisably more, and this would lessen the cravings. Reach for a bottle of water instead of a soda.
Exercise: Physical activity also helps us deal with cravings, as it releases endorphins which improves mood and leaves you feeling better post-exercise. What more, exercise will keep your heart strong and beating for longer.