The Hidden Dangers of Sugar and How to Reduce Sugar Addiction
High levels of sugar are present in processed foods such as sweets, chocolate, biscuits, fizzy drinks. It is a well-known fact that too much sugar can cause various health problems. Those who have a high sugar diet are more at risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and as sugar is an incredibly addictive substance, it can prove difficult to eradicate it from your diet.
Sugar Triggers the Same Response as Cocaine
Research has shown that sugar can be up to eight times more addictive than some class A drugs. Your body builds up a tolerance to sugar, so the more sugary foods you eat, the more sugar you will need to eat to get the same boost. This cycle mimics processes of drug and alcohol addiction. Those addicted to sugar are prone to turn towards sugar and carbohydrate rich foods in relation to both positive and negative emotions. Some people might use sugary foods to comfort them when they are feeling low, or to reward themselves for something positive. When sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine makes us feel good and causes us to seek out the source of pleasure to continue feeling good; so those with a high sugar diet will continue to choose sugary foods. Low dopamine activity is often present in individuals who are prone to addiction. By the time you have finished eating a sugary food, your dopamine levels will have fallen, causing a mini-withdrawal. This can trigger cravings for more sugar, and cause you to reach for more sugary snacks in order to get the dopamine hit. The biological signals which would normally control hunger and fullness get overwhelmed by dopamine, causing you to reach for sugary foods regardless of whether or not you are full.
Ways to Reduce Dependency on Sugar
Sugar addicts often feel withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to limit their intake, such as headaches, dizziness, low mood, and lack of energy. To begin taking steps to reduce your sugar consumption and treat addiction, it is important to understand the different types of sugars which are used in foods. Artificial sweeteners may feel like a reasonable alternative to sugar, however these substances can trigger the same response, sparking sugar cravings and making it more difficult to avoid the temptation of sugary foods.
Even savoury foods can contain unhealthy levels of sugar, so it is important to read the labels on pre-packaged foods. Avoid processed foods which contain highly refined sugars, and choose fresh produce wherever possible to cut down your sugar intake. There are plenty of alternatives to refined sugar to enjoy with meals such as raisins, dates, bananas and sweet potatoes, which add a sweet taste without excesses of refined sugar. As you begin to change your diet, your body will adapt to lower levels of sugar, and you will find that you no longer have the cravings and desires for the same sweet treats you had before.
Sugar addiction can cause weight gain, diabetes and heart disease. As a fully qualified naturopath and hypnotherapist, I can help you conquer sugar addiction, help you begin to make healthier choices and so reduce your risk of developing health problems. If you would like to cut down on your sugar intake and lead a healthier lifestyle, please contact me to see how I can help.