Sugar Addiction

Like many other addictions, sugar addiction may affect you in ways you haven't thought of including withdrawal symptoms. This article helps define sugar addiction and the health effects of a high sugar diet. Keep reading for tips on overcoming a sugar addiction.

Most people don’t think of their cravings for sweets as a sugar addiction. However, there is a growing body of evidence that shows that sugar intake can have an addiction-like effect on the body. While sugar addiction still lacks scientific consensus, it different laboratory results show that sugar can activate opioid receptors in the brain, as well as some studies showing that in some cases sugar can act as a drug, with effects being walled off with the help of a morphine blocker. These findings, along with observations that sugar dependence can in some cases follow the same path outlined for drugs of abuse in the DSM IV.

As a result of the growing interest in the idea of a sugar addiction, words that are often used to denote conditions related to other addictions are used. It appears that your body can build up a tolerance for sugar, meaning that more is needed in order to get the same effects, as well as possibly develop a dependence on sugar, so that it is needed to function properly. In some people who are used to high amounts of sugar in their diet, suddenly stop can result in headaches, moodiness, fatigue and other symptoms normally associated with some types of withdrawal.

Health effects of a high sugar diet

A sugar addiction goes beyond just satisfying an occasional craving for sweets. Such a sugar addiction is often characterized by daily intake of sugar and other refined carbohydrates. It is worth noting that many starchy white carbohydrates - white bread, white rice and white potatoes - have the same effect on the body as refined sugar. So it is more than just staying away from sweets; it is about being aware of the effect these types of carbs can have on your health.

There are definite health effects related to high sugar intake. Cardiovascular problems, diabetes and cancer can all be caused by high amounts of sugar in the diet. Additionally, obesity can be a problem. Many people don’t realize that just because something is “low fat” doesn’t mean it can’t cause fat down the road. Any calories in sugar foods that don’t get burned off eventually turn into fat and are stored in the body. It is important to note that most sugary foods are, in fact, high in calories. This means that you still have calories to burn off, and when you don’t it can result in weight gain, and the attendant problems.

Another issue is that sugary and starchy foods are not very nutritionally dense. When you eat these foods instead of other foods, you will find that you are hungry again shortly after eating. You may not have burned off the calories, but you are not full anymore. Another issue is that when you eat foods with low nutrient content, like many high sugar, high starch foods, you are depriving your body of many of the vitamins and minerals that it needs. These deficiencies can sometimes lead to their own problems. A sugar addiction can result in a number of health problems.

Overcoming a sugar addiction

Because of the nature of a high sugar intake diet, it can be difficult to get over the cravings. However, it is important to your health to try to reduce your sugar intake. Here are some tips for cutting back on your intake of refined sugars and starchy foods in an attempt to overcome a sugar addiction:

  • Consider natural alternatives to refined sugar: Honey and applesauce can be used as natural sweeteners for a number of recipes and also as toppings. Be careful though; try to get natural honey and applesauce, avoiding products that have sugar added to them. Look for unsweetened or organic products. Another option is stevia, a sweet herb that can be used in coffee or on cereal.
  • Eat fruit: The natural sugars in fruit are less damaging to the body than the refined sugar that we see in our food. Against, avoid sweetened fruits, and stay away from dried fruits that often have sugar added to make them more palatable. Learn to enjoy the natural flavors of foods that are naturally sweet.
  • Go brown with your carbohydrates: Instead of eating white rice, bread or potatoes, try the brown versions. Whole wheat and whole grain breads can be quite delicious, as can brown rice. Try sweet potatoes and red potatoes instead of white potatoes. These foods are also more filling and satisfying.
  • Stay away from artificial sweeteners: These come with their own host of possible health problems, and it is a good idea to keep away from foods that contain them. Additionally, they keep you accustomed to the false taste of refined sugar, and can hamper you in your efforts to develop a taste for more natural sugars.
  • Stopping drinking your calories: Instead of juice, soda and sweetened sports drinks, enjoy water. You can lightly flavor it with lemon or some other flavoring, but the super sweet flavors can hamper efforts, and can add to your weight.
  • Be aware of what’s in your food: You’d be surprised how much refined sugar is in our food. Dressings, sauces, condiments and more all have sugar. Choose organic varieties, or learn to make your own, sans the sugar.

In the end, it is possible to reduce your sugar intake and your body’s need for refined sugars. And it’s healthier, too.

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