Some people describe it like a prison, always keeping them chained to unrelenting cravings that fill them with pangs of guilt and fatigue.
Surprisingly, I’m not talking about alcohol or any kind of drug. I’m talking about addiction to sugar—something that is affecting more and more individuals today.
In this post we’ll look at how to stop sugar addiction once and for all.
Larger studies haven’t been done yet to determine exactly how often addiction to sugar affects adults, but recent research showed that about 8% of women aged 45 to 64 could meet the full criteria for food addiction. (1)
This gives us some indication of just how many people are struggling with food addictions of some sort, but it doesn’t begin to zero in on the plight the many people who suffer from relapsing bouts of sugar cravings that don’t go away and persist for days at a time.
Most people’s first reaction to realizing they have a sugar addiction is guilt, because they feel like there’s no reason they should be constantly turning to processed sweets when they’re smart, knowledgeable or motivated to stay healthy.
The simple, unavoidable truth is that it can happen to anyone. This affects everyone with a body.
In this article, I’m going to discuss the ins and outs of sugar’s effect on the body. And in case you’re wondering why sugar is such a problematic thing, read this first.
Is It Really an Addiction?
Most people who hear about others with an addiction to sugar may think the solution is as simple as just stopping consumption of sugar. Herein lies the problem: those struggling with sugar will go through bouts of restrictive eating, only to find that their longing for sugar comes back with a vengeance.
This on-sugar-off-sugar cycle turns into an emotional rollercoaster in which a person loses connection with their behaviors and constantly feels guilty, thinking that they’re just not motivated enough.
Now some people may just have extra hunger that occasionally creeps up and causes them to eat more than usual on certain days. This can be from extra activity, lack of sleep, not drinking enough water or lacking sufficient fiber in the diet.
Here are some warning signs to look for to help determine if the behavior constitutes an actual addiction to sugar…
WARNING Signs of an Addiction to Sugar
- Always thinking about ways to incorporate sugar into meals and snacks.
- Lacking satisfaction with meals that aren’t sweet.
- Being constantly influenced to eat specific foods or specific packaged products that have sugar.
- Eating just one sugary food causes a loss of eating control often leading to bingeing.
- Having “waves” of sugar cravings that last longer than a day or stretch into several days.
- Continually using sugary foods to cope with feeling depressed, lonely or isolated.
- Not finding enjoyment in usual activities such as being social, exercising, sex, or entertainment when they don’t include sugar.
Do You Have a Sugar Addiction? Take the Test
Yale University has actually created a preliminary assessment tool called the Yale Food Addiction Scale to help determine how addictive one’s food (or sugar) behaviors may be. You can find the test here, and score it here.
So yes, sugar addiction is very real and it has crept into many people’s diets and lives.
If some of this is sounding familiar, you may find that it’s not sugar specifically that has you hooked—cakes, candies, and cookies may not do it for you, but maybe you “can’t live” without breads, bagels, cereal or pasta.
If you’ve ever uttered those words, I hate to break it to you, you may be flirting with a serious addiction to sugar.
The key thing to remember is that these foods are one and the same, because starchy foods like these can be just as addictive—if not more so—than pure sugar.
[Related: How to Stop Sugar Cravings]
When it comes to the glycemic index, white flour products like bagels, baguettes or pasta can have a blood sugar response that is very similar to that of pure glucose. (2)
You must understand that processed foods are a very well-funded and researched business. The foods you see on the shelves are designed to attract and hook you. From the colors of the box to the flavors of the products, these “foods” are engineered to be hyper-palatable items.
Food manufacturers know that treats which trigger the largest dopamine response in the brain will cause the greatest consumption and sell the best. This is often done by creating foods with several types of sweeteners and/or combining sweet foods with high amounts of fat or salt for further addictive properties.
Unfortunately, some of these super-designed foods not only detract from our diet, but may also sap your ability to feel great in normally enjoyable moments of fun (socializing, entertainment, having sex, etc.) (3) This is when cravings turn from bad to worse, and sugar addiction symptoms begin to interfere with our normal lives and feelings of pleasure.
How to Break Your Addiction to Sugar: Do’s and Don’ts
Do: Keep a consistent daily intake of all pleasurable foods that are free of sugar (your personal favorite combinations of healthy and delicious).
Don’t: Rely on sweetness for pleasure in meals aside from just a very seldom treat.
Don’t: Turn to ANY food in moments of gloom or despair.
Don’t: Keep super sweet desserts at home to pave the way to temptations.
Do: Reach out for additional help from a friend or counselor when needed.
Don’t: Subject yourself to guilt and assume you just need to be more motivated or that finding support for eating behaviors is immature.
By following these guidelines, you’ll essentially be putting yourself through a sugar addiction detox, which is just what you need.
As the days roll by, you’ll be shocked at how your sugar cravings subside, leaving you able to find satisfaction without tending to your sweet tooth.
Give it a shot; not only will you be healthier, you’ll also be free!
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Whether you’re looking to lose weight, have more energy, or get a better handle on your diet, getting rid of those crippling cravings (especially sugar) is a must.
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