As consumers of roughly 160 pounds of sugar per person annually, according to recent reports, we need to be asking what the cost of our consumption is on our bodies and our health. Whether it’s the sugar in what we eat or drink, and this includes the lattes, juices, sodas, and some alcoholic beverages-we owe it to ourselves to understand that sugar is making us fat and disrupting our body organs. Another more subtle but equally detrimental effect is sugar’s action on the brain.[
What is ‘addiction’ anyway? Addiction is a condition in which an individual has a dysfunctional relationship with a substance. For example, in the case of sugar addiction, sugar may be used to reward and/or relax a person. That is a dysfunctional relationship because reward and relaxation are not the intended purposes of a food item. With an addiction of any kind, the individual is unable to stop the behavior, regardless of consequences, and in fact seeks the target substance out on an ever-increasing basis.
So how do you know if you’re addicted to sugar? Do you crave sweets? Would you like to avoid sweets but find that you can’t? Have you made a decision to avoid foods with sugar in the past but found yourself unable to follow through? Do you ever over-indulge in a sweet item to the point of embarrassment or nausea? Do you hide evidence of your “crime”? Does your mood or energy level change if you consume sugar? Does your mood or energy level change when sugar wears off? Do you find yourself obsessing about a food item? If you answered ‘yes’ to even a few of these questions, you probably are indeed addicted to sugar.
Why should you take sugar addiction seriously? Well, you already know you have a weight problem, right? Addiction to sugar may be at the very core of your problem. Obesity alone should be enough motivation to “lose the sugar habit” but if it’s not, how about diabetes? Cardiovascular disease? Possibly cancer? Hyperactivity? Depression? Tooth decay?
We’ll talk more about sugar addiction next time. Until then, you have two assignments,Consume absolutely no sugar-containing foods for one day,Keep a journal of how you feel and what you struggle with throughout that day and the next two days.The solution to any problem begins with the identification of the problem! Let’s determine for sure that sugar addiction is a problem for you…and then, let’s deal with it.This isn’t (really) a rant about sugar because let’s face it you’ve heard it all before. You are well aware that too much sugar makes you fat and has ominous links to type 2 diabetes. You know the facts, so I’m not going to patronise you with a concoction of sensationalist stats. There is one question I need to ask though, it’s nothing special, but it is important ‘are you addicted to sugar?’ Take a minute, think about it. Addiction is when you cannot control a behaviour or action, can you control how much sugar you eat?
If you have ever heard the term “sugar blues,” all you need to know is that your blood sugar and your health will rise and fall like the Roman Empire if you eat like a king when it comes to sugar. Sugar’s effect inside our bloodstream is even more straightforward: when we eat or drink sugar our blood sugar goes up, our insulin goes up, and we throw that metabolic switch that says store body fat. Meanwhile, as we get fatter we continue to overtax the pancreas and develop insulin sensitivity, which leads into diabetes. The picture being painted is not so pretty, is it?
Thirdly sugar is toxic; by now you are probably beginning to see the bigger picture. Sugar is addictive and like any addictive substance it is toxic. The reaction mightn’t be as obvious as what comes with a cocaine overdose, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of “it’s only sugar”, overtime excess sugar consumption is deadly. Teeth decay, diabetes, bad skin, nutrient deficiencies, obesity all come hand in hand with sugar addiction.
If sugar is addictive who are the pushers? Stop reading now if you are worried about the answer.It’s you, it’s your partner, it’s the kids, it’s the food industry – it’s anyone who feeds your sugar habit.Everyone who knows you, who knows that you are overweight or struggling with type 2 diabetes is responsible for helping you to keep away from sugar rather than feed your habit.A drug addict is locked in a room, an alcoholic goes to a clinic, yet a sugar addict cannot avoid their addictive substance. This lack of industry support, lack of societal support is not to be underestimated. It takes a very strong reserve to kick a sugar habit.
The Cold-Turkey Approach: This approach is recommended for anyone who is tired of feeling tired and sluggish, and who feels that they have sufficient willpower and drive to eliminate as much sugar as possible from their daily diet, all at once.When you take the cold turkey approach, you clear your home, your car, and your office of any foods that contain excessive amounts of sugar. You restrict your sugar intake without restricting your caloric intake – this way, you feed your body well as you go through the withdrawal process. Most people who try this approach feel intense cravings at first, which gradually decrease as hours and days pass.
Fulfil your life. It’s difficult to give up something you love without replacing it with something else. Sugar is a crutch for many people, if you give it up, focus on something else that will cheer you up whether that is exercise or watching your favourite soap.Naturally sweeten up. Berries, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg will sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.Eat 3 meals per day. Eat little and often. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.Get support. Tell your family and friends that you are off sugar, so when they call around they aren’t weighed down with cakes and biscuits.