Addiction is a condition in which the person has uncontrollable desire to take a substance or engage in an activity, which will make the person feel good, despite knowing that it may lead to adverse effects.
Moderation in everything including consuming a little sugar without going overboard has long been recommended as a way to stay healthy. Too much sugar consumption would increase a risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, ADHD (especially in children), infectious diseases (such as colds and flu), and nonalcoholic fatty liver syndrome.
Why is sugar so addicting?
Sugar is addicting because you have a dopamine response to it. The present of sugar in the blood cause the release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter in your brain that makes you feel good. So by consuming even a small amount of sugar, your brain produces a soothing and calming dopamine response.
A study conducted by Eric Stice, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at the Oregon Research Institute showed that sugar activates the same brain regions that are activated when a person consumes drugs like cocaine. He also found that heavy users of sugar develop tolerance meaning they need more and more sugar to get the same dopamine response and feel the same effect.
Sugar activates the opiate receptors in your brain and affects the reward center, which leads to compulsive behavior, despite the negative consequences like weight gain, headaches, hormone imbalances, and more. One study has shown that if given a choice, rats will choose sugar over cocaine in lab settings because the reward is greater that is the “high” is more pleasurable.
Proof – sugar dependency
A study conducted by Nicole Avena, Ph.D., a psychologist at Princeton University that demonstrated under certain circumstances rats can become sugar dependent. The rats under study have met two of the three elements of addiction in that they have demonstrated a behavioral pattern of increased intake and then showed signs of withdrawal. The research finding is convincing that sugar has an addictive quality.
In some situation, sugar addicts are said to substitute one addiction for the other substances to keep their opiate receptors stimulated. They switch drugs for food addiction that are mostly sugar, gluten, or dairy.
You do not necessarily have to consume sugar for years to develop an addiction because you can get hooked on sugar rather quickly. Over a few weeks, you could have cravings for sugar increase, which would lead to different fluctuating blood sugar, consequently, fluctuating energy as well as mood levels.
As far as emotional issues are concerned, sugar affects people differently. Fluctuating levels of both insulin and sugar, which usually go together, always results in getting jittery and anxious. Some people get depressed.
End sugar addiction
It is said sugar withdrawal effects will normally occur for days or weeks, which will be so worth it in the end. Adopt the following tips with a positive mindset by focusing the end result; end sugar addiction that would help you getting a healthier life.
- Avoid processed foods and ultra-processed foods made of or containing processed carbohydrates, including white flour, polished rice, soda, or any foods high in sugar as they create a vicious cycle spurred on by addiction
- Plan your meals for the day or upcoming week as by already knowing what you are going to eat can help eliminate the factor of spontaneity and uncertainty.
- Avoid getting extremely hungry as hunger is one of the biggest reasons why people experience cravings. Eat regularly and have healthy snacks such as nuts, pulses, and fruits close at hand. By avoiding long periods of hunger, you will be able to prevent the craving from showing up at all.
- Many people are said to confuse thirst with hunger or food cravings. If you feel a sudden urge for a specific food that especially occurs in between meals, try drinking a large glass of water, and in a few minutes, you may find that the craving fades away.
- When you feel a craving, do something to shift your mind onto something else, for instance, by taking a brisk walk or a shower. A change in environment and thought may help stop the craving.
- Taking more protein, fibrous vegetables, and healthy fats would help reduce your appetite as well as make you feel full and satisfied much longer (glucose is released slower and longer), both of which keep you from overeating and keep your blood sugar stable.
- Eat mindfully as it helps you develop awareness of your eating habits, hunger, emotions, cravings and physical sensations. It also helps you distinguish between cravings and actual physical hunger as well as helps you choose your response, instead of acting impulsively.
- Raise the levels of the happiness hormone, serotonin through exercise, sex, sleep, and a healthy diet as higher serotonin levels lead to fewer cravings for sweet-tasting foods.
- Use stevia in your drink in place of table sugar. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar and has zero calories. 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon can also be used as a sugar substitute in beverages.
- Probiotic-rich fermented foods and drinks such as young coconut kefir and cultured vegetables can most effectively reduce sugar cravings.
- Emotional stress such as depression and anxiety can induce or aggravate cravings. Adaptogenic herbs such as Siberian Ginseng, Gotu Kola, or Yin Yang Huo can help your body to cope with stress, harmonize many types of hormones and help your brain to relax.
- Your appetite is largely affected by hormones that fluctuate throughout the day. People who experience sleep deprivation are prone to hormonal fluctuations, which can lead to poor appetite regulation and strong cravings. So, get enough sleep every day.
- Never ever go to grocery stores hungry as they are probably the worst places to be when you are hungry or have cravings. So, shop only when you have recently eaten may be the best way to avoid buying unnecessary and unhealthiest foods.