Sugar is a real problem. It’s not just the sweet taste you get from a cookie or the little bit of sugar in your tea. It’s also in nearly everything we eat, drink, and use on our skin. And it’s everywhere—it’s in the candies you eat after dinner, in your main meal like rice, yam, beans, etc., the shampoos and conditioners you use to wash your hair, and even in most of the things you put in your body. But why do so many of us gravitate toward extra servings of sugary foods? For starters, we love the way they taste. But there’s more to it than that. We also get a surge of pleasure from eating sugar, which is not unlike the high people feel when they use drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
Sugar can be so addictive that it activates the brain in much the same way as these hard-core substances. The more sugar you eat — and the more frequently you eat it — the more your brain’s reward center adapts to this high level of stimulation. As a result, you may find yourself craving sugar even more than you did at first; meanwhile, sugary foods begin to lose their appeal to those around you who don’t share your sweet tooth. That’s why cutting out added sugars can be tough: It means changing ingrained habits while dealing with withdrawal symptoms ranging from crankiness to headaches to fatigue and anxiety.
Sugar is one of the most addictive substances in our modern diet. It’s also one of the hardest to break from, but if you’re ready to reclaim your health and well-being, it’s time to get started!
Why Kick Against Sugar Addiction?
The problem with sugar addiction is that it affects everything in your life: your sleep habits, your energy levels, and even the way you think about things. Sugar is a drug—it’s not just empty calories; it has pharmacological effects on your body and mind!
It stimulates the release of opioids
Sugar stimulates the release of opioids (the same chemicals involved in drug addiction) and dopamine in your brain, which trigger those feel-good emotions. It makes you feel good, but it also makes you feel bad. Sugar is a stimulant, and it can cause your body to release dopamine—which can make you feel euphoric. But then that high wears off, and you crash. You get tired and irritable, your mood shifts downward, and you want more sugar to get back to that feeling of euphoria again.
It is closely linked to heart disease
The relationship between sugar and heart disease is becoming increasingly clear. Although a cardiovascular disease may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a sweet treat, there are several paths by which sugar can negatively impact your cardiovascular health. For example, sugar causes inflammation in the body and contributes to chronic inflammation, which is known to increase the risk of heart disease. In addition, excess sugar has been shown to increase triglyceride levels (blood fats), leading to atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries).
Sugar also increases uric acid levels in the blood—a substance that accelerates the hardening of arteries—as well as directly increasing circulating cholesterol levels.
Increases the risk of type 2 diabetes
Sugar intake has been linked with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes due in part to its ability to cause insulin resistance by stimulating the production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) and reducing the secretion of insulin from pancreatic beta cells.
Increases harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL)
LDL is the bad cholesterol that can build up in your arteries, wreaking havoc on your heart. If you’ve got high blood pressure, diabetes, or other health conditions, LDL is something you want to keep a close eye on.
The American Heart Association recommends keeping LDL under 100 mg/dL if you’re healthy and under 70 mg/dL if you have a history of heart disease (or are at risk for it).
When we eat too much sugar, our body releases more insulin than usual: Insulin helps cells absorb the glucose in our blood so that they can use it to create energy. But when there’s too much glucose around all the time (as with a regular diet high in refined carbohydrates), it causes a problem called insulin resistance: Our cells become unable to absorb sufficient amounts of glucose from the bloodstream—and instead store it as fat! This causes increased triglyceride levels as well as decreased HDL cholesterol (aka good cholesterol).
Increase in weight
Sugar can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, followed by a crash. This results in cravings for another “sugar high.” This leads to overeating and obesity.
It is not just about the calories that it contains but also about how it affects your brain’s chemistry. The more you eat it, the more your body becomes accustomed to it. Eventually, you will feel tired after meals without any sugar at all because your body has adapted to that amount of energy provided by food containing large amounts of sugar (like pastries). The result is weight gain when there’s no longer enough energy coming from foods with low glycemic indexes (i.e., complex carbohydrates).
In addition to its effect on your metabolism, too much fructose (the main form of sugar found in fruits) may change how your brain responds to food. Studies have shown that excess sugar consumption can lead to overeating, reduce the production of a hormone called leptin (which helps regulate appetite), and increase resistance to leptin’s signals—the body’s way of telling us that we’re full. All of this can lead to overeating, weight gain, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes; cardiovascular diseases; hypertension (high blood pressure); stroke; liver disease; gout (joint pain caused by uric acid buildup); gallstones; kidney stones; certain cancers such as breast cancer
Risk factors for other diseases
Excess fructose may also cause fatty liver disease and chronic kidney disease by overwhelming the liver with fructose and causing it to turn the fructose into fat that accumulates in the liver.
Fructose is a type of sugar that is found in fruit, honey, and corn syrup. It is metabolized by the liver, which can cause it to become fatty. Excess fructose may also cause fatty liver disease and chronic kidney disease by overwhelming the liver with fructose and causing it to turn the fructose into fat that accumulates in the liver.
Now you know the dangers of eating too much sugar and how to avoid being addicted. There are many good alternatives available for those who crave something sweet. Finding a healthier alternative is about finding the right balance of natural sugars that will keep you from craving sugary foods again.
How Much Sugar Do You Need?
How much sugar is too much sugar? That depends on your body makeup, genetics, and lifestyle. It’s also a matter of what’s “normal” for you based on how you’ve eaten in the past—your relationship with food may be different from mine or anyone else’s.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the average “American” adult consumes no more than 10 percent of their daily calories from added sugars. You can think of the recommendations as a daily limit per person. This is based on the average adult consuming about 2,000 calories per day.
Added sugars, such as table sugar, honey and syrups, shouldn’t make up more than 5% of the energy you get from food and drink each day.NHS
Going back to our example above: if your body is craving sugar because it needs energy and not because you have an addiction to it, then it would make sense that you’d want to fill up on foods that are high in glucose or fructose—those are our bodies’ preferred sources of energy. Foods with high levels of these sugars include fruits (especially dried fruits), grains, honey, and maple syrup; starchy vegetables like potatoes; cereal; cookies; cakes; ice cream…the list goes on!
Keep in mind though that “high sugar” doesn’t automatically mean “healthy.” Many processed foods contain added sugars like corn syrup or brown rice syrup which may be surprising since they aren’t considered sweet tasting at all!
How to stop addiction to sugary foods
Breaking free from a sugar addiction takes time and patience—but don’t give up! You can do this!
If you want to kick your sugar addiction for good, start by setting a few guidelines for yourself, here are some tips:
- The first step to kicking your sugar addiction is to avoid sugar altogether. This could be difficult, especially if you are used to eating a lot of sweets. But try eating less and less sugar until it becomes easy for you and then cut back even more until you can do without it completely. Stop eating refined sugars and stick with whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This will help reduce your overall intake of processed sugars and carbohydrates which can lead to weight gain over time.
- Cut back slowly: If you’ve been eating a lot of sugar, it’s best to start cutting back gradually so your body has time to adjust its expectations and cravings. Try cutting out just one serving of something sugary each day until you’re ready to let go completely—it might take weeks or even months before your body gets used to having less sugar in its system.
- Eat healthy foods instead of sugary ones. Use cinnamon or lemon juice as substitutes for sugar in recipes instead of regular table salt or pepper when cooking at home; they will add flavor but not extra calories! Do not eat processed foods because they have a lot of added sugars in them that will make your body crave them even more than natural foods would otherwise do so on their own accord (if there were any). Read food labels before buying anything containing “natural flavors,” which means there’s no way to tell what kind and how much artificial sweeteners are included in those products!
- Make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet—it will keep you feeling full longer than simple carbs like sugar does, which means fewer cravings later on. Eat more protein-rich foods such as lean beef, chicken breast, or fish at every meal to curb cravings for sweets after meals have been digested. Protein helps stabilize blood sugar levels which means fewer cravings for sweets later on down the line!
- Try to identify what triggers your cravings for sweets—are they after meals, while driving, or waiting at the doctor’s office? Maybe they happen when you’re stressed out, or feeling down on yourself? Once you know what triggers your cravings, think about ways that you might be able to manage those feelings without going straight for the candy bar (or whatever else it is that gets you reaching for sweets). For example: if stress makes me want sweets, maybe I could try yoga or meditation instead! Or if boredom makes me crave sweets, maybe I could read a book or go outside for a walk instead!
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day; try adding lemon slices or cucumbers into your water bottle so it tastes better! Water helps flush out toxins from your body while keeping you hydrated so you don’t feel thirsty all day long (which makes us crave more sugar). Don’t forget to drink water before meals as well!
- Get creative with fruits and vegetables: If you’re used to eating dessert every night after dinner, try replacing those desserts with fruit or vegetable dishes instead—they’ll still satisfy those sweet tooth cravings. This will give your body what it needs while reducing cravings for sugary foods.
Sugar addiction is a real thing. It’s not just a bad idea to eat too much sugar—it’s hard to stop. But there are plenty of reasons why you should—like your health, your weight, and your energy levels.
Avoid sugary drinks and eat a healthy diet. Eat more fruit and vegetables, eat less processed foods, and cut down on sugary foods, such as sweets and chocolate, which can be highly addictive to some people.
If you do not reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, then you may find it very difficult to break free from addiction; although this does not apply to everyone as some people can cut out sugar completely without problems at all!