Sugar addiction can be an emotional, physical or psychological dependency. Sugar does stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine which both produce feelings of calm and happiness in the same way that recreational drugs and alcohol do. For this reason, it is easy to become dependent on the happy feelings associated with a sugar rush, and you can become resistant to the effects and have to eat more sugar to get the same high. As a result, knowing how to overcome sugar addiction will be much more difficult.
Eating too much sugar has a number of negative effects on your body, and the cycle of high and crash is very bad mentally and emotionally. So if you find yourself reaching for a sugar hit in time of stress, it may be time to take steps.
Sugar is in all kinds of food, many of them unexpected. An average American ate 132 pounds of sugar in 2010, half of which comes from drinks including fruit juice and sports drinks as well as fizzy pop. The rest is in obvious things like cakes and cookies, and from more surprising sources like yogurts and breakfast cereals. The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends that you limit your daily intake of sugar to about 6 teaspoons, which is less than the amount in a standard can of soda; about what you get in a glazed donut.
Dangerous Effects of Excess Sugar
Sugar has many potential health risks; these are a few of them -
- causes obesity if consumed in large amounts
- linked with the onset of diabetes, as is obesity
- Rotting of the teeth over time if you don’t brush them properly
- Thought to be a cause of irritable bowel syndrome
- Has been linked to heart disease and high blood pressure
- also thought to affect migraines, osteoporosis, gout and eyesight
You may be developing a dependency on sugar if you get feelings of irritability, fatigue or headaches when you go without sugar for any amount of time. You also may have an emotional dependency if you rely on a sugar rush to lift your mood in times of sadness, stress or boredom, and the more you take the more you crave it and the more you will need to consume to feel the benefits. If you recognize these habits in your behavior then it is time to make some changes.
There are many forms of sugar addition, and understanding yours will make it easier to beat it. The most extreme form is a daily binger. They are probably overweight and maybe already diabetic, and feel utterly unable to control their sugar intake. Some sugar addicts seek a hit when they are lacking in energy; and the energy rush from the sugar leads to a low which makes them crave more sugar and they get into a cycle of highs and lows.
However your sugar addiction or dependency manifests itself, you can beat it. There are plenty of places to get help and support regarding how to overcome sugar addiction.
How to Overcome Sugar Addiction – Take it one step at a time
- Seek out hidden sugars and eliminate them from your diet. There are sugars in many foods that you would not expect, and they often hide under other names. Maltose, Molasses, sucrose, barley malt, cane juice, dextran, dextrose, malt, maltose and a whole load of other ingredients are actually sugars. If you can identify them and cut down on these, you will be taking the first step towards reducing your sugar intake and having a healthier lifestyle, as well as feeling better and more balanced. Read the labels on foods before you buy them and have a purge of all the sugary foods in your cupboards so that they are not easily on hand. Naturally sweet foods like fruit can stay. They do contain sugars but are also beneficial with plenty of fiber and vitamins so you can eat these as an alternative sugar hit. Aim to cut out the added sugars in processed foods rather than the naturally occurring ones and you’ll be reducing your intake by more than enough.
- Shop smart to keep you on the right track. Once you have learnt which foods to avoid, and which ones are full of goodness, you will find shopping easier. Replace sugary cereals with whole grain ones and use fruit as a sweetener, and opt for natural snacks rather than processed bars. Granola bars may pretend to be healthy, but check the labels and most contain a whole load of added sugar. Snack on nuts, raisins and sliced veg dipped in hummus or another whole food dip. Try to drink water which is calorie free rather than juices as they contain sugar but not the fiber and other good stuff in whole fruits. Flavor your water with a squeeze of fruit or a mint leaf or tow if you like.
- Replace the sugar in your life with a healthy alternative. You can tell if you are having a craving or if you are actually hungry by imagining eating a healthy snack. If this sounds appealing then you are hungry, so go on and eat. If it does not hit the spot, then you are craving sugar so distract yourself. Exercise is a great alternative as the endorphins released as you work out produce a similar feeling to a sugar high. But if it is a bit too much to start exercise at the same time as quitting sugar then anything will do. Read a good book, have a bubble bath, or meet up with some friends.
Once you have managed to reduce your sugar intake and learn how to overcome sugar addiction, the benefits will be obvious. Your mood will level out and you will have more energy and start to lose weight simply by eating differently. If you have a little relapse every now and again, don’t worry. Just climb back on the sugar free horse and carry on. Eventually the cravings will stop and you won’t know what you ever saw in those sugary snacks.