Does sugar addiction exist? If we look at the basic definition of addiction, it certainly makes sense. Per Psychology Today:
Addiction is a condition in which a person uses a substance or engages in a behavior that has such powerfully rewarding effects that they are compelled to keep using it, despite negative consequences.
But in the world of science, the idea of sugar addiction is controversial.
Some research suggests that sugar addiction does exist, and that addictive substances (including sugar) and behaviors intensely activate the same brain pathways of reward, many of which involve the neurotransmitter dopamine. And even more importantly: a heck of alot of people seem to struggle to control their sugar intake.
Guest blogger Nicole Allen covers addiction issues for the web, and today she’s talking about sugar addiction:
by guest blogger Nicole Allen
Do you think you are addicted to sugar? Addiction can show up in all kinds of different ways, but sugar addiction is one of the most common. Studies have even shown that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. Let that one sink in. You might think that you only indulge in cookies and candy every once in a while, but did you know that sugar sneaks into many processed foods?
If you are addicted to sugar:
- You crave sugar constantly, especially when you feel fatigued or get that 3 p.m. slump. You might also crave carbohydrates like bread or pasta. (Your body turns these foods into sugar.)
- You binge on sugary foods. You just want to have one piece of chocolate, but don’t have the willpower to stop yourself from eating the whole bar.
- You eat sugary foods until you feel ill.
- You eat sugary foods foods even when you don’t really crave them. They are just part of your everyday diet.
- You can’t say no when someone offers something sugary.
If this is you, you might be wondering how to kick this habit for good. Studies show just how bad sugar is for you. Eating too much sugary food products won’t just make you fat, it will make you sick. Eating too much sugar has been linked to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, increased risk of anxiety, depression, and even cancer.
How can you kick your sugar habit? Here are some things to start doing today:
- First, eliminate all sugary beverages. Stop drinking soda/pop, iced tea, sports drinks, sweetened coffee drinks, etc. Switch to water or sparkling water (add fruit to add flavor!). You can also drink unsweetened tea or coffee.
- Next, clean out your pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Get rid of anything with unnecessary sugars. Check the labels if you are unsure. Think chips, cookies, granola bars, cereal, ice creams, sherbets, and most other processed foods.
- Reduce simple carbs. Think bagels, white bread, white pasta, crackers and other foods that contain white flour Check the labels of everything.
- Fill your home with healthy foods. Eat lots of protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Fruits can help with sugar withdrawals because they are a naturally occurring sugar.
At first, you may experience sugar withdrawals: headaches, nausea, irritability, fatigue. Keep in mind these symptoms should only last about a week after you truly quit sugar. Keep it up and see how you feel! Once you detox, successfully replacing sugary foods with healthy ones, you should start to feel great. If you need help, see a doctor or a nutritionist to help you with this difficult transition.
Lastly, keep in mind that when you do inevitably cheat or have a slice of cake, it may taste sickeningly sweet or even make you ill. Give yourself a break now and again to taste something sweet, but remember not to binge or you may get sick.
Readers: Do you think sugar addiction is real? Do you feel that you are addicted to sugars? Have you ever tried a sugar detox? Share your experience!
About the author:
Nicole Allen is a freelance writer and educator based in the United States. She believes that her writing is an extension of her career as a tutor since they both encourage learning and discussing new things. Her degrees in creative writing, education, and psychology help her understand her target audience and how to reach them in creative and educational ways. She has written about fitness and health, substance abuse and treatment, personal finance and economics, parenting, relationships, higher education, careers, travel, and many other topics, sometimes in the same piece. When she isn’t writing, you might find Nicole running, hiking, and swimming. She has participated in several 10K races and hopes to compete in a marathon one day. A longtime volunteer at animal shelters, Nicole is a passionate supporter of organizations that help animals. She also enjoys spending time with the dogs and cats in her life and spoiling them rotten.
Here are links to more work by Nicole: