The addiction most people don’t know they have

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Healthy Eating | Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 04:36 AM

reduce sugar consumptionsWe all have that guilty pleasure. Sometimes sweet treats are just too tempting to pass up! It’s okay to enjoy sugary treats in moderation, but if you can’t go a day without a sugary substance, you may be addicted.

Is sugar addictive?

You may not believe it, but sugar can be addictive. It’s just one reason why Americans continue to over consume the sweet stuff. But why are we so addicted? The answer is sugar triggers a response in our brain.

what is sugar addicitionWhen we consume sugar we feel good. This is because dopamine – the feel good neurotransmitter – is released. Dopamine is often associated with the reward center of the brain and also plays a response in those using cocaine or heroin.

Sugar consumption lends to feeling good, elevated, even excited and happy. Once we start, it’s hard to stop. We want to continue this feeling, so we reach for more sugary items. But when we continuously consume sugar and then stop, we can go into withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal can lead to cravings. Sugar becomes a catch-22. The cycle continues and we consume more and more sugar.

5 ways to test if you’re addicted to sugar

test if you are addcited to sugarBefore we offer helpful tips on how to cut down on sugar, let’s examine whether or not you have a sugar addiction. Here are five things to look for to help you determine if you’re addicted to sugar:

  1. You eat to satisfy a craving even if you aren’t hungry
  2. You become tired or sluggish after eating
  3. You eat to negate negative emotions
  4. It worries you to cut down on certain foods
  5. Your work or social life is affected due to food issues.

If any of these points resonate with you, you might have a sugar addiction. Of course before you can take action to reduce sugar, you need to recognize if you have a problem with it. Step one is acceptance. If you’re ready to tackle your sugar addiction, let’s look at ways to wean yourself off:

5 ways to cut down on sugar

causes of high blood pressureSugar consumption is linked to numerous health concerns including obesity and diabetes. Minimizing your consumption of sugar is essential to good health. Here are some ways that you can cut down on your sugar intake:

  • Cut down on the amount of sugar you add to food items such as coffee or tea. You’re in control of these so you can choose to leave it out.
  • Make sugar swaps. Instead of reaching for sugar use fruit, or honey, to naturally sweeten food items when cooking or baking.
  • Recognize sugar on the label. Sugar goes by many names including: sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, etc. Being aware of these names will help you pick healthier choices.
  • Stick with fruits.When you’re craving something sweet, stick with fruit instead of processed food. Fruit, too, can satisfy that sweet tooth.
  • Spice things up. There are a variety of different spices that can replace sugar and, in fact, make food taste better. Become familiar with different herbs and spices when cooking.

By following these tips you, too, can curb your sugar addiction. On the other hand, if you feel your sugar addiction is a result of emotional distress, seek out therapy to help you cope.

Sugar should be for added sweetness, not health problems. Be mindful of the amounts you are consuming and cut back when possible.

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