Since sugar is hidden within so much of what we eat, our brains have actually become hard-wired to crave it. Without us even knowing. Doesn’t that sound crazy, being addicted to a drug without even knowing it?
For many people, that is exactly the case. Here’s how sugar addiction works:
Sugar addiction works in the same way that any addiction (such as addictions to hard drugs, alcohol, and gambling) works — it interferes with the our dopamine receptors. There are theories that our brains think that sugar is so important because of a very outdated survival mechanism from our hunter-gathering days.
Thousands of years ago, when we would find sugary foods, like honey, it was very rare. So, this scarcity triggered our brains to want as much of it as possible in order to store fat for the upcoming winter. Sugar produces massive amounts of dopamine to make sure that you do this. Today, however, our out-of-touch brains still think that sugar is rare, when, in fact, it is the healthy, non-sugary food is what is rare.
Along with a dopamine rush, we are gifted with another reward: energy. While this boost in energy is noticeable, it is fleeting, and soon after the energy rush, we experience a sugar crash.
Sugar works in a rude way — the more sugar you consume, the more your dopamine receptors become desensitized to it’s effects. This means that, in order to get that same dopamine and energy rush, you must eat even more sugar. This is how the addiction cycle is created — the same way any addiction cycle is created.
Now, how do we stop it?
1.) Ditch it all together. Yes, go cold turkey. Go on a sugar detox. Eliminate all refined sugar from your diet.
2.) Satisfy cravings naturally. If you get a sweet tooth, go for whole fruits. Make simple snacks like strawberries covered in dark chocolate. Steer clear of dried fruit, as that often has added sugars. Make sure to read labels.
3.) Load up on nutrition. Eat real, whole foods such as fruits and veggies, legumes, nuts, healthy meats, and seeds.
4.) Stay hydrated. Our body will sometimes confuse thirst for hunger. Drink plenty of water. This will also help flush toxins from the body.
5.) Get plenty of rest and reduce stress. Stress creates a fight or flight response and will make our bodies crave more. This is why people stress eat. Use some calming techniques, such as meditation to keep yourself grounded.
6.) Exercise. Physical activity creates a natural dopamine boost. When the cravings are really bad, escape them by taking a hike or working out.
Need more help cutting out sugar? Join one of my detox programs. To learn more about them or find out when the next one is scheduled, click here to contact me.
In Good Health,