One more slice of cake… another donut…what can it hurt? Over and over again you find yourself reaching for 2nds or 3rds. Is this sugar addiction? What drives those sweet cravings that make you desperate for something sugary? Let’s look into this, without getting too scientific, to see what sugar addiction really is and if you are addicted.
What is sugar addiction
Study shows that foods with more sugar, foods that raise blood sugar even more than table sugar such as white flour, white potatoes and refined starch have what is called a high glycemic index, trigger a special region in the brain called the nucleus accumbens that is known to be “ground zero” for conventional addiction, such as gambling or drug abuse. Yes, in fact, scientists wonder if sugar is just as addictive as cocaine.
To find out for yourself if sugar addiction is real why not try a little experiment? Challenge yourself to go a whole day without eating any sugar! This might be trickier than you think… You cannot simply stop adding sugar to your coffee and tea and give up sweets, because sugar is in everything you eat.
That’s right, everything.
Just how addicted are you
Do you tick any of these boxes?
- You consume certain foods even if you are not hungry because of cravings.
- You worry about cutting down on certain foods.
- You feel sluggish or fatigued from overeating.
- 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.
- You need more and more of the foods you crave to experience any pleasure or reduce negative emotions.
Now not everyone will experience these symptoms. Some are addicted more than others. But others don’t even realize just how much sugar they actually consume in one day!
Maybe you don’t eat junk foods screaming sugar diabetes and obesity. Perhaps your diet is relatively clean, you eat normal foods that look pretty healthy, and you only take one teaspoon of sugar in your coffee. Sounds good…well, pretty good. But is it?
To find out, let’s take a look at all the things you eat and determine the sugar content.
Where is all this sugar
Let’s start with some math. On the back of the food package there is a label covered in words and numbers. Run your finger down the length of it (disregard the calories for now) and stop when you come to the word sugar. It should say a number of grams. 4 grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon.
Do your math, divide that number by 4, and picture weather or not you would like to eat however many teaspoons of sugar that is.
For example a can of coke has 40 grams of sugar. That’s 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Added sugars are found in thousands of common food and beverages found in most grocery stores, including “natural” and organic foods sold at health food stores. Most research suggests that for both genders and nearly all age groups, a combination of sugary non-alcoholic beverages (e.g., soft drinks and fruit-flavored drinks) and processed grain products (e.g., sweet bakery products) are where the highest percentage of hidden sugars are found.
Here is a list of everyday foods with high hidden sugar
- Cereals, including hot cereals like flavored oatmeal
- Packaged breads, including “whole grain” kinds
- Snack or granola bars
- “Lower calorie” drinks, including coffees, energy drinks, blended juices and teas
- Protein bars and meal replacements
- Sweetened yogurts and other dairy products (like flavored kefir, frozen yogurt, etc.)
- Frozen waffles or pancakes
- Bottled sauces, dressings, condiments and marinades (like tomato sauce, ketchup, relish or teriyaki, for example)
- Dried fruit and other fruit snacks
- Restaurant foods, where sugar is used in sauces, various desserts and dressings for extra flavor
What to do about it
1. Sub whole fruit for sweets. Don’t overdue it on natural sugars either, but have a couple servings each day to ease cravings.
2. Ditch artificial sweeteners. You’re not doing yourself any favors dragging it out. Besides, they’re super unhealthy.
3. Clean house. Get rid of all the bad food in the kitchen. Remove all temptation.
4. Create a backup plan. Make sure you have something on hand like a piece of fruit or a distraction. You probably are just bored, not hungry.
5. Manage your magnesium levels. Craving chocolate? You might just have magnesium deficiency.
Let us know how addicted to sugar you are and what you are going to do about it.