The Whole You
by Wendy Humphris, ROHP
Food addictions can lead to obesity and complications such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, when people think about their health as it relates to food, they rarely think about sugar as being one of the core issues.
They think about sugar as an addiction even less.
If you are concerned about yourself or a family member, and know or suspect that sugar addiction may be at the core cause of these issues,
We’re going to go over some things to consider about what sugar addiction really is.
Brain versus Food
The first thing to know about sugar addiction is how the brain works on sugar. It truly becomes a battlefield of your brain versus food.
Eating sugar releases opioids and dopamine in our bodies. This is the link between added sugar and addictive behaviour.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key part of the “reward circuit” associated with addictive behaviour. When a certain behaviour causes an excess release of dopamine, you feel a pleasurable “high” that you are inclined to re-experience, and so repeat are more likely to repeat that behaviour.
As you repeat that behaviour more and more, your brain adjusts to release less dopamine. The only way to feel the same “high” as before is to repeat the behaviour in increasing amounts and frequency. This is known as substance misuse.
They say that sugar can be even more addicting than cocaine.
When sugar activates the opioid centers in our brain and affects the reward center, it can lead to compulsive behaviour, despite the negative consequences like weight gain, headaches, hormone imbalances, and more.” So essentially what I’m saying here is that its not your fault.
Every time we eat sweets, we are reinforcing those neuropathways, causing the brain to become increasingly hardwired to crave sugar, building up a tolerance like any other drug.
And it’s not like we can just walk away, go to rehab or cold turkey with food. We have to eat to survive and in the process attend birthday parties, go for coffee or drinks with your fiends, or on a date with your special someone…. Most food has some form of sugar in it.
Sugar can also 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 AND it may also add in a migraine or light headedness just for fun.
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. When all you wanted to do was get that extra little boost to get you through the day.
Sugar addiction causes an overstimulation of the system. It causes your body to have a reaction that makes you jumpy or anxious. This can, at first, be confused with just being excited or energetic. The problem is that you need to have more and more sugar to get that same reaction. This ties directly to the release of the dopamine, more than how your brain reacts to it. Your nerves, cells, and body system as a whole become used to the sugar and begin to crave it. It makes your body feel like the only way you can get the boost you need is through sugar. In this way, it is just like any other drug addiction, tricking your body into needing the chemical to keep going.
These are not all the signs and key points of sugar addiction. However, these are the most common and most noticeable.
The good news is…..They can also be easily reversed by lowering your sugar intake and noticing your sugar levels throughout the day.
Wendy Humphris, ROHP
I’m a holistic nutritionist and I transform health for a living.