Are You Addicted To Sugar Or Foods High In Carbohydrates?
It is normal to get sugar cravings every now and then. However, if you find that you cannot go more than a few hours before reaching for a sweet treat and have trouble controlling how much sweet food you eat, then it could be a sign that you’re addicted to sugar. When we consume sugar, it activates the reward centre of the brain to secrete dopamine which makes us feel happy, stimulated, and satisfied. The brain begins to see sugar as a reward and makes you crave it. Research has shown that in some people, sugar can be as addictive as cocaine.
Features of sugar addiction
- Finding yourself binging on sugar when you’re feeling down or tired
- Getting unpleasant symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, shakiness, sweating, foggy brain, intense sugar cravings or low energy levels if you haven’t had sugar for more than 6 hours
- Constantly craving sweet treats even when not hungry
- Replacing proper meals like meat and vegetables with sugary foods like cakes, desserts, and pastries
If you answered yes to these questions, you could have a sugar addiction which needs to be overcome. Sugar addiction is a common problem among our patients. They know sugar is bad for their health but feel powerless to stay away from it.
When glucose (sugar) enters the bloodstream, it is used as an immediate energy source. Excess glucose is transported into muscle and liver cells and stored as glycogen for later use. When glycogen stores are full, the excess glucose is stored as fat. Yes, that’s right; sugar can quickly make you fat! This might make you rethink all those ‘low-fat’ products that are packed with sugar.
Refined sugars, also referred to as simple carbohydrates, are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and cause a surge in blood glucose levels. Large amounts of insulin are secreted by the pancreas to lower the blood glucose levels and this can occur rapidly. You then crave another hit of sugar and the cycle continues a rollercoaster of surging and plummeting blood glucose levels. Complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds do not have this effect on blood glucose as they are slowly absorbed.
Regular excessive intake of refined sugars can lead to insulin resistance. This is where the cells become less sensitive to the effect of insulin and more and more insulin is required to bring down blood glucose levels. Insulin resistance puts you at risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and inflammation and is often characterised by excess weight around the abdomen and fatty liver.
There are many different strategies to combat your sugar addiction. Initially, begin to educate yourself by reading food and drink labels and start to cut down on your sugar intake. Think of this as stage one. Be on the lookout for corn syrup, glucose, dextrose, sucrose and maltose as these are all forms of fattening sugar. Look at the nutritional panel to work out the amount of sugar per serving that the product contains. Drinks such as iced tea, iced coffee and fruit juice are healthy right? Think again. Most of these products contain loads of sugar! Most of your favourite condiments also contain sugar. After you have familiarized yourself with sugar-containing products and have reduced your sugar consumption, it is time to cut it out completely to allow your body to combat the addiction.
Research has shown that reducing or eliminating sugar can significantly improve obesity, fatty liver and type 2 diabetes in only 2 weeks. These findings come from a study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. We all know sugar is not good for us, but it’s so hard to stop eating it because it tastes so good. What if you knew the health benefits of quitting sugar begin after only 2 weeks? Would that motivate you to get rid of it from your diet?
Sugar can feel addictive and you may feel dreadful in the first few days of quitting it, as your body detoxifies. However, it’s worth it, because your metabolism will normalise and you should feel significantly better physically and emotionally after the first week.
Strategies to help reduce sugar cravings
- Increase protein and fiber throughout the day
They digest slowly and help to stabilise blood sugar levels and keep you fuller for longer. Increase your intake of nuts, seeds, full-fat cheese, full-fat unflavoured Greek yogurt, eggs, poultry, fish, red meat, quinoa and vegetables. Include these types of foods with every meal and snack. We recommend you consume 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight daily.
- Consume protein snacks if your blood sugar drops and you feel unwell
Good snacks include eggs, hummus, tahini or peanut/nut butter and vegetable sticks, guacamole, nuts and seeds, cheese, Greek yogurt with berries, protein shakes such as Synd X extreme high protein shake, and chia pudding. Do not snack unnecessarily. If you are suddenly struck with strong cravings for something you know you should not be eating, it really helps to have a healthy alternative on hand. Having a healthy snack in the mid-afternoon may prevent you from eating the whole kitchen when you return home in the evening.
- Use natural sweeteners
Such as Stevia or Nature Sweet Sugar Substitute to tantalize your taste buds without spiking blood sugar and insulin levels. Nature Sweet contains sugar alcohols (polyols) which occur in many fruits and vegetables. Polyols are sweet like sugar but are different in the sense that they do not cause an increase in blood sugar, cravings or binge eating. They are suitable for those with diabetes, insulin resistance and those trying to lose weight. Sugar alcohols do not contain any alcohol despite their name. Nature Sweet Sugar Substitute can be used in cooking and added to any food or beverage.
- Distract yourself
When you are having intense cravings for sugar, do anything you can to distract yourself from reaching for that chocolate bar. Drink a herbal tea, go for a walk, call a friend, put some music on or have a shower. Just don’t give in!
- Eat three meals each day
The meals should be comprised of adequate protein and healthy fats. These are what help to keep you feeling satiated. If you are not hungry keep the meal size small. It is important to take the time to eat and enjoy 3 meals a day. Nibbling all day is not the route to losing weight. You will probably end up eating too much in the end and feel overly full by the evening. You might need to add a little more fat than usual to your meals for the next few days as healthy fats are wonderful for reducing sugar cravings. Adding salt also helps. Examples of healthy fats to include in your diet are olive oil, avocados, coconut oil, oily fish, whole eggs, ghee, nuts and seeds and the fat from grass-fed meat. Examples of good protein sources are seafood, poultry, whole eggs and red meat. Synd-X Slimming Protein Powder is a specialized shake for weight loss and is extremely high in protein (from whey, taurine and glutamine) and extremely low in carbohydrates. Synd X powder tastes great mixed in diluted coconut cream and can kill hunger cravings for carbohydrates.
- It is very important to stay well hydrated
Sugar and carbohydrates increase the production of hunger hormones; therefore, you are likely to feel more hungry than usual for the next few days. Drinking water or herbal teas helps to reduce hunger. Squeezing a little lemon or lime juice into the water and adding a little sea salt and Magnesium powder can help greatly to fight off sugar cravings. The acid in citrus isn’t brilliant for your tooth enamel, so you may want to drink through a straw to minimise contact of the acid with your teeth.
Many people think they have a “healthy diet” but in reality, they are overweight because they consume too much carbohydrate and not enough protein and healthy fats. It is not uncommon for an overweight person to obtain 60 to 80% of their daily calories from carbohydrate. Your liver will turn excess carbohydrates into fat which is sent out to the body where it is stored under the skin and inside and around organs in the abdomen and chest. The fat can build up in the neck and around the parotid glands in front of the ears. Fat inside and around internal organs is considered the dangerous type of fat.
Bad gut bugs or candida can increase sugar addiction
Having too many bad bugs in your intestines (gut) can drive sugar cravings. Both small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and candida overgrowth in your gut can make you feel tired, irritable and give you a foggy head. It can also cause intense cravings for sugar and high carbohydrate foods. It is a catch 22 – eating sugar promotes the growth of intestinal yeast and having too much yeast in your gut makes you crave sugar. Candida is a type of yeast that is naturally present in everyone’s digestive tract; however, candida levels can get out of control. Because it is a yeast, it needs sugar to grow. Treating candida overgrowth can be tough because many different foods we eat are eventually digested into sugar and can potentially feed this yeast. Symptoms of excess candida in the digestive tract include digestive discomfort (gas, bloating, irritable bowel), fatigue, sugar cravings, vaginal yeast infections, itchy skin, rashes, moodiness, poor concentration, and food and chemical sensitivities. BactoClear natural antibiotic capsules can help to overcome candida and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). For more information on SIBO download my free eBook titled “Ultimate Gut Health“.
When we avoid high carbohydrate foods, we starve the candida and bad bacteria and they rapidly reduce in numbers which greatly reduces cravings for sugar.