One of the most dangerous eating disorders today is not just bulimia or anorexia, but sugar addiction.
How can you become addicted to sugar? Simple sugars like sucrose increase blood sugar levels very quickly after you consume them. This sudden increase is followed by the secretion of large amounts of insulin from the pancreas.
Insulin transports blood sugar into the cells, causing blood sugar to drop quickly. When this occurs, the sudden drop in blood sugar will signal specialized cells from the gut to stimulate your brain’s hunger center; this makes you crave sugar and want to eat more of it.
The problem is, over time, you are no longer satisfied with two to three cookies—you end up eating 12 or more! This is because of the blood sugar fluctuations that you feel after you eat simple sugars.
Sugar quickly becomes addictive because of the levels of neurochemicals known as dopamine and serotonin in your brain.
These chemicals stimulate certain addiction and pleasure centers of the brain, which make you feel better after you eat sugar. The withdrawal effects caused from sugar avoidance are partially caused from this neurochemical phenomenon.
Beat Your Sugar Addiction By Following Tips
1. Eat frequently:
Consuming small but frequent meals will keep your blood sugar regulated and prevent the spikes of high and low blood sugar which cause addictive eating patterns. I recommend eating every three hours to control blood sugar, sugar cravings, and energy levels.
2. Eat protein at every meal:
Eating protein at every meal will prevent the large insulin spikes which cause the rebound of lower blood sugar, and will allow your blood sugar to regulate itself much better.
3. Eat healthy fats:
Consuming healthy fats from oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, and olive oil will make you feel fuller, keep your blood sugar regulated for longer periods of time, and will also improve insulin sensitivity.
4. Eat the good carbohydrates:
Substituting your bad carbohydrates (like breads, pasta, white rice, candy, pastry, baked goods, muffins, and donuts) for good carbohydrates (such as legumes, whole grains, sweet potato, vegetables, and whole fruit) will keep your blood sugar regulated, make you feel fuller, and control the sugar cravings.
5. Don’t cut calories:
There is no need to eat less food if you have a simple sugar addiction. If you start to decrease your food intake, this may trigger hunger centers in your brain again, which can influence binge eating behaviors.
I do not recommend this approach to managing sugar addiction. If you eat enough of the right foods on a regular basis, there will be fewer signals of hunger and craving and less compulsion to eat simple sugars.
Ahmed, S.H., et al., “Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit,” Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. July 2013; 16(4): 434-9.
Fortuna, J.L., “The obesity epidemic and food addiction: clinical similarities to drug dependence,” J Psychoactive Drugs. January – March 2012; 44(1): 56-63.