I am sure you have figured it out by now, but I am a full-fledged “sugarholic!” It is a constant battle and sometimes I just flat-out fall off the wagon. Do you know what I mean? My whole lifestyle is based on eating a clean, whole food, health lifestyle, but sometime it is hard, when I get sugar inside me, not to give in to that bar of chocolate that’s calling my name!
When you think of addiction, you might think about gambling, substances and alcohol, but there are many other addictions as well. One of them is sugar, which can actually be something you struggle with and not even realize it. Here are some things to know about sugar addiction.
Why Sugar Addiction is a Bad Thing
This one is totally on my radar. Having been a migraine sufferer since age 21, I finally came to realize what a negative effect sugar can have on my migraine patterns.
When you eat a large amount of sugar your brain reacts to that sugar. This can cause a number of reactions, including energy bursts. When this happens, your regulators are dulled over time. This means that you are not feeling the full effects of the sugar and what it is doing to your system. It also means that more and more sugar is needed overtime to get you the energy you need or the reaction you once had to the original amounts of sugar. When you do not have the amounts of sugar your body has now become used to, you end up with a migraine headache. If you already get headaches, you may notice a severe increase in these headaches and the headaches getting worse.
Hypertension is a severe danger with a sugar addiction. This danger refers to the increased amount of high blood pressure in the system. High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and circulation issues throughout the body. It can also cause your blood vessels to become smaller and narrower which affects your entire body and the blood flow through it. By reducing just a small amount of sugar, for example omitting sugary drinks, you can avoid this danger and reduce the risks.
These are the most common dangers. There are many other dangers to consider. If you feel that you or a family member has a sugar addiction, consider taking steps to remove or reduce sugar content in your daily diet and get your health back on track.
What Happens When You’re Addicted
Brain versus Food
The first thing to know about sugar addiction is how the brain works on sugar. It truly becomes a battle of your brain versus food. Sugar can cause your brain to have a large release of dopamine. Dopamine works with the regulators in your brain, and when large amounts are released these regulators are dulled. This means that it takes more and more sugar to get the same feeling as the first time. So, where as a small cupcake may have been enough for you, overtime it will take two or more to get the same feeling.
Sugar can give you a sense of having energy, like you would get from an energy shot or natural energy. The truth is, it is false energy. Sugar gives your body a rush that allows it to get a small boost. When this boost is gone, you have what is known as a sugar crash. This crash can leave you feeling tired or it can leave you feeling tired along with having a migraine or light headedness. This crash is hard to get over and, in some cases, can leave you with no alternative but to end your day and get some rest.
I so relate to this because for many years, I would think having something sweet along with some caffeine was keeping me going. It seems that way. But I have learned this definitely is not natural energy. I have seen both sides of the coin. When I eat a “clean” and healthy diet, I have sustainable natural energy that keeps me going all day long. It feels so much better than the boost you get from unnatural sources.
What You Can Do About it
The Stages of Quitting Sugar
When you read magazines and health reports online, you are given the picture that quitting sugar is a simple one step process. Just find or use an alternative and quitting can happen overnight. The truth with this is that there are actually stages of quitting sugar. You can not just drop it without side effects and backlash from your system. Here are the stages of quitting sugar, how to start them, and what to know about making each one work for you in your daily life.
Removing Known Sugars
The first step to quitting sugars is to remove all the known sugars in your diet. This means removing drinks, even diet drinks that contain sugars. You also want to remove sugars that are artificial. Both cause health risks and dangers. Remove processed foods that contain high sugar contents as well. By just removing known sugars from your diet you can reduce the amount of risks and sugars that are causing you health issues. This may seem like the simplest and easiest step, but honestly t can be the hardest step for some people and the hardest to make choices during.
The second step is the detoxing process. You need to do a cleanse that removes the buildup from your system. There is no precise amount of time the detox process can take. One day, three days, or up to a month may be necessary to remove the buildup in your system and reset your system. One of the ways to do this is a clean eating diet that gives you good food, solid nutrition, and vitamins. Once you go through this process you can move onto a healthy diet.
Tips For Getting Through Sugar Cravings
Sugar cravings are the hardest part of starting a healthy lifestyle. This is especially true if you are dealing with sugar addiction related to hidden sugar in foods or high levels of sugar in your daily diet. In fact, sugar cravings can lead to you going off your diet plan and to completely derail from your health goals. If you need to remove sugar from your diet and cut down on the sugar cravings, here are some tips to help you.
Have an Alternative
One of the easiest ways to get over or through sugar cravings is to have an alternative. You want something to grab instead of the bad choice, so that you can still get the sweet taste without the side effects. Some options are fruits, dried fruits, flavored powders for foods, and things like greek yogurt instead of ice cream. All of these options can be a suitable alternative for your normal sugar cravings. Remember, there are healthy choices like pure organic honey, cinnamon, and natural flavored powders.
Smell Instead of Tasting
Sometimes your brain needs to be near the sugar and that is enough. This plays into the idea of smelling the sugar instead of tasting the sugar. You can get sweet scented items, go to a bakery, or to a grocery store. Just smell the cupcakes, the sweets, and the chocolate. This can sometimes trigger something in your brain that stops the craving, and lets you move onto a better choice. In fact, often times the frostings that are used on cupcakes or cookies can be so overwhelmingly sweet that the smell stops the craving and makes you feel a bit ill just smelling the craving you are having.
By incorporating these tips and combining them into a plan, you can ensure that you are covered through any sugar cravings you have. You will also move towards healthier choices to replace sugars and help your body reach the goals you have set.
Lynne Wadsworth is a board-certified Health Coach. (AADP). She is the founder and owner of Holistic Health and Wellness and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She has taught 7 classes for OLLI in 2017 and 2018. Her Spring, 2019, course Healthy Aging with Natural Foods and Minimal Exercise meets in April at HCC The Regent. You can “sample” her expertise at her website https://holistic-healthandwellness.com.