Do you know why you crave sugar at the sight of your favorite dessert? Have you ever wondered why you experience sugar cravings even when you aren’t hungry? The answer is simple: Sugar. Is. Addictive. And this addiction is more serious than you think.
Why Is Sugar Addiction an Issue?
Sugar in moderation is not harmful; however, it is easy to go overboard. Sugar addiction is the emotional or psychological dependence on sugary foods and is a severe cause of concern. Eating and drinking too many added sugars can contribute to various health problems such as weight gain and obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Unless you’re cautious about watching what you eat, you’re more likely consuming more sugar than recommended. As per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025, Americans should keep their added sugar intake to less than 10% of their total daily calories. For example, in a 1,500 calorie diet, no more than 150 calories should come from added sugars.
To live healthier, longer lives, one needs to make better food choices and stay active.
How Do People Develop A Sugar Addiction?
Consuming sugar can create a short-term energy hike in the body. Some studies suggest that sugar is as addictive as Cocaine. Sugar fuels every cell in the brain. Sugar causes dopamine release in the brain, making you see sugar as a reward and keep wanting more. By eating a lot of sugar, you reinforce that reward, making it difficult to break the habit.
The addictive qualities of sugar can bring long-term health risks like obesity and diabetes. Sugar addiction is particularly riskier for people with low moods, anxiety, and stress.
Sugar releases endorphins in the body resulting in a surge of energy. People who suffer from enduring tiredness may reach for high-carb sugary foods for a quick boost. Once a person psychologically connects sugar as a source to derive energy, they may become inadvertently dependent on it. People may start to crave sugar to offset irritability, emotional lows, and other conditions.
Sugar Addiction And Binge Eating
A particularly challenging aspect of sugar addiction is binge eating. The more you eat, the more you crave. Binge eating refers to eating too much and too rapidly followed by feelings of guilt and shame. Sugary foods and complex carbs like starches create mood-regulating and self-medicating effects of binge eating. Remember that food, especially sugar, is a short-term fix for emotional conditions.
Sugar Addiction And Anxiety
Anxiety and sugar cravings go hand in hand. Eating disorders like binge eating or anorexia occur for underlying reasons. Often, the person suffering from such conditions struggles for psychological and emotional reasons. Anxiety releases the stress hormone cortisol in the body and suppresses appetite in some people. On the other hand, stress may also cause people to overindulge in sugar consumption. Despite sugar initially releasing serotonin levels in the brain, sugar can worsen anxiety as sugar lows create fatigue and depression.
Sugar Addiction And Alcohol
A recent study confirmed that dopamine receptors in the brain light up when sugar is consumed, similar to receptors lighting up in the brain of someone who abuses alcohol. Alchohol-dependent individuals generally experience sugar cravings and sugar withdrawals.
When you’re trying to eliminate sugar from your diet, you may find yourself experiencing withdrawal symptoms like irritability, mood swings, and low energy. Since many struggling with sugar addiction indulge in binge eating, withdrawal and cravings can be intense. This causes many to go back to eating sugary foods. If you find it impossible to quit sugar, try making dietary swaps where you exchange unhealthy sweets for healthier options to regain control.
How to Fix a Sugar Addiction?
- The best way to fix a sugar addiction is to eat regularly and on time. Eat three full meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. When you don’t eat regularly, your blood sugar levels may drop, making you feel hungry, lethargic, and more likely to crave sweet, sugary snacks. Keep sugary snacks out of your house and office.
- Choose whole foods instead of refined ones. Whole foods contain lesser or no processed sugars in them. It is best to consume food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables.
- A breakfast that is full of carbs and sugary or starchy foods is terrible since you’ll have cravings all day. Eating a good breakfast is important to prevent sugar cravings. To start your day off right, have a breakfast that consists of protein, fat, and phytonutrients. Breakfast smoothies are ideal for this. Try to incorporate protein with each meal to help manage your blood sugar levels. But do make sure they are healthy sources of each.
- Adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
- Stay active. Exercise, dance, or go out for a walk. Doing physical activities you enjoy will help reduce stress, boost your energy and decrease your need for a sugar lift.
- Get enough sleep. When we are tired, we often use sugar to fuel our body with quick energy to counteract the exhaustion.
- Be open to exploring the emotional issues around your sugar addiction. Our sugar cravings are often more for an emotional need that isn’t being met. Consider therapy.
- Learn to read labels. Although you should choose to eat as few foods as possible that have labels, start educating yourself about what you’re putting into your body. The longer the list of ingredients, the more likely sugar is to be present. Check the grams of sugar, and choose products with the least sugar per serving.
- Familiarize yourself with sugar terminology. Identify that these are sweeteners: Corn syrup, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, molasses, turbinado sugar, and brown sugar.
- Sugar can come in various disguises. Remember that most of the “complex” carbs we consume like bread, bagels, and pasta are usually highly refined and act just like sugars in the body and should be avoided.
- Drink lots of water. Keeping yourself hydrated can help with sugar cravings. Because sometimes, what we perceive as a food craving is actually thirst.
- Choose a healthy option like having a piece of fruit to satisfy a sweet craving.
Feelings of guilt about eating any food may signify an eating disorder. If you want to quit your sugar addiction for good, discuss this with our doctor and nutritionists at DrNewMed. Remember, you can break the sugar habit. Doing a detox doesn’t mean you never eat another pie. But it does give you control over your cravings — and your health. To know more, book a consultation today.