Breaking the Sugar Addiction
Sugar is a powerful enemy to the health of so many Americans these days. So much of our cheap, convenient, processed food supply is loaded with sugar. I read a statistic the other day that stated – 60% of the food in a big grocery chain type store have little to no nutritional value and basically have just inflammation to offer your body! Yikes!!! Not only does sugar come in many different forms, it’s also incredibly addictive and there begins the vicious cycle!
What Makes Sugar so Addictive?
Eating sugar is a habit! These habits can be broken with practice! There is a memory part of our brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus helps us to remember the taste of sweet and plays a role in reward-seeking behavior, which keeps us looking for more sugar! Another part of our brain called the caudate nucleus, is where habits are formed. So, if you typically eat chocolate after lunch, this will soon turn into a habit. Then, you will continue to look for sugar sweets at this time. I find many of my patients that come to me for medical weight loss have specific foods at specific times of the day that they crave.
- Our body links sugar consumption with “feel good” hormones. When we consume sugar, we boost the production of serotonin, which is the main mood and appetite neurotransmitter. This results in that happy feeling when you have sugar, and your brain wants you to be happy so you will begin to crave these foods.
- You need to consume enough non-carbohydrate macronutrients. Protein, fiber, and fat slow the release of sugar in your blood, which can help maintain your energy level without highs and lows. I suggest all of my patients have lots of vegetables throughout the day as snacks.
- Eating too many carbs. Cravings for sweets often occurs when insulin levels are high. Insulin levels elevate after a big carbohydrate hit.
- Drink Water! It’s very common for people to crave sugar when they’re actually dehydrated and in need of a nice big glass of water. This is because a lack of water makes it more difficult for your body to metabolize glycogen (aka glucose your body uses for energy). So your body craves sugar for a quick boost of energy when it really just needs water. Recent research also shows that the signal for thirst is often replaced with the signal for hunger.