If You Think You Have a Sugar Addiction, Read This.
If you are addicted to sugar and highly processed foods, your body will block yourself from losing the weight you want.
How to know if your sugar and carbohydrate cravings are getting the best of you?
Here are some basic questions to ask yourself:
- Do you consume certain foods even if you are not hungry because of cravings?
- Do you worry about cutting down on certain foods?
- Do you (often) feel sluggish or fatigued from overeating?
- Do you have health or social problems (affecting school or work) because of food issues and yet keep eating the way you do despite negative consequences?
- Do you need more and more of the foods you crave to experience any pleasure or reduce negative emotions?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may have a sugar or carbohydrate ‘addiction.’
By recognizing your strong link to sugar and carbohydrates, you can make steps to rid yourself from your attachment to these foods.
You will not be completely successful on your long-term weight loss goals unless you break the bond between sugar and your body.
What is a sugar addiction?
When you think of the term addiction,your thoughts might be: cigarettes, alcohol, drugs.
Sugar, refined sugars, white flour and highly processed foods, like conventional addictions, trigger the same brain response in the nucleus accumbens (the main center of the brain) as addiction triggers. Scientists published a study in June 2013 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that showed when study participants ate or drank high glycemic foods (high sugar foods) the area of the brain that linked to addiction was ‘lit up’ or reacted to a positive trigger.
From the study’s conclusion: “Compared with an isocaloric low-GI meal, a high-GI meal decreased plasma glucose, increased hunger, and selectively stimulated brain regions associated with reward and craving in the late postprandial period, which is a time with special significance to eating behavior at the next meal.”
(In lay person’s language, this means that a higher sugared meal lowered the body’s blood sugar levels, increased the person’s hunger and triggered the area in the brain known for cravings, after the meal is finished).
Our body’s biological response to sugar intake plays a role in weight and physical body changes
To make matters worse, when we eat high amounts of concentrated sugar and highly processed foods containing refined sugar, this stirs the same biological response that is seen in times of food shortages. Our body increases insulin production and increases belly fat. Dr. Hyman explains it best here,
“These deadly white powders (sugar) are quickly absorbed into our bodies, which are biologically programmed for food shortages, not today’s abundance. That’s why that load of sugar, carbs and calories gets stored, fat-banking, if you will, for a starvation period that never happens.
As a result, insulin levels spike, which causes a domino effect that includes storing more belly fat, lowering your good cholesterol but boosting the bad stuff that causes heart disease, and a reduction in hormone levels that can affect sex drive, cause depression and even trigger acne flareups and other skin problems. Yet you also feel hungrier and crave more sugar and carbs, which make these symptoms worse.”
How to control your sugar addictions
I have compiled a list of ways that you can control (and hopefully be free from) your sugar addictions and cravings.
Credits to “Sugar Addiction Escape Plan”, and “Carrots and Cake: How I Beat My Sugar Addiction” for most of these tips. For more information on what the scientific experts write on sugar addiction, you can read “NPR’s Is Sugar Addictive?”
- Keep your blood sugar stable, (this is especially true if you have Type II diabetes).
- Eat more real food (this is the real basis of how the French and Italians keep their weight stable. If you want to read the weight loss series, you can start with the first article here, “French and Italian Weight Loss Methods: Time”
- Treat your first two weeks off of sugar and highly processed foods like you were in detox. You will feel the effects of this sugar withdrawal, but your cravings will diminish if you follow the other tips on this list.
- Understand that you have a real sugar addiction and the biological reasons why you must stay away from sugar. (This will help you to stay motivated).
- Ask for a supportive environment (my daughter asks me to hide the sugar foods in the house that she craves: Nutella, milk chocolate, chocolate cookies). Ask your family and friends to be supportive of your no sugar goals.
- Avoid substituting fake and artificial sweeteners with those sugared foods you crave. These sweeteners are usually in processed foods, and the goal is to stop that craving that starts with a sensation of sweetness on your tongue.
- If you give in to your carbohydrate cravings, just get back on the wagon and start over again.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get enough sleep (lack of sleep is linked with sugar, fat and carbohydrate cravings).
- Exercise (Here is how to sneak in more exercise into your busy schedule, part of the latest weight loss article on fitness that you can read here).
- Slow down and find sweetness in other ways.
- Surround yourself with other sweet, but healthier options, like fruit.
- Avoid trigger environments or be prepared: such as at work and at parties.
And lastly, I add a link to an article that has an excellent idea, (perfect for those who have very strong sugar cravings and find it difficult to get rid of sugar completely). Read what Sarah Wilson eats to control her sugar ‘addiction’:
Why so many diets fail: that unknown addiction called Sugar.
Sugar addiction. The large availability of cheap processed foods with hidden sugars. White flour and white potato cravings. Carbohydrate addiction.
Don’t know where or how to look at hidden sugars in your foods? Look on your food labels (note that sugar types often end in ‘ose’-such as sucrose, fructose, lactose, maltose).
For other sugar additives see list here (credits from Kick Your Sugar Habit for this full list):
- brown sugar
- cane sugar
- corn syrup
- corn sugar
- fruit juice concentrate
- high fructose corn syrup
- molasses sucrose
- raw sugar
- turbinado sugar
I knew that I couldn’t help you succeed in your weight loss goals if I didn’t present this important aspect of food cravings and sugar addiction with this weight loss plan.
By not being able to control what you eat because the need for sugar is too high, this is one of the reasons that some will fail at long-term weight loss. If you feel that you have over-whelming cravings that you cannot control, consider the “how to control our sugar addiction” tips above that may help you and click on the links in this article. These are links to blogs and professionals that give advice on sugar addiction.
In keeping with the blog series theme of weight loss methods learned from French and Italians, there are two areas that these cultures support in helping with sugar cravings: eating real food and drinking water as a substitute for sugary drinks. Check the other articles in the series for more inspiration (here is one on French and Italian Weight Loss Culture) and one excellent one by Dr. Hyman on his “10 Day Detox Diet” book.
Weight Loss Methods. Stay Motivated!
Do you feel motivated or I don’t know if I can do this? You can! Why wait for tomorrow? Every step counts, as long as you are moving forward. One key to stay motivated is to eliminate those factors that will stop you from weight loss success. Such as sugar addiction.
If you need more information on anything in this article, you can also contact me with any questions at: email@example.com.
If you are looking for one to one counseling via Skype or telephone, I also counsel private clients. Contact me and I can send you a list of my services.
Hope you enjoyed this article on sugar addiction. I would greatly appreciate you sharing this article to those who may benefit from the information. If you would like to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and article updates (then you won’t miss the next article in the series) why not subscribe with us? By joining you can download a free 13-page E-report on “How to Eat Like the French Without a Food Snob Attitude.”
I wish you success in your weight loss goals.