The sugar buzz is incomparable… Be it in a chocolate, a cup of tea, desserts or even just in its natural form. Many people are self confessed sugar addicts and can’t do without sugar in their lives. The questions one needs to ask are, “just how addictive is sugar”? Whether we are talking of something sweet after every meal or sugar in any form, what happens if we stop that sugar intake? How much is too much and essentially where does one draw the line before we attach the term addict to them. Sugar becomes addictive because it has an effect on our brain and its emotions. Sweet consumption leads to an increase in the release of opioids, (kind of a neurotransmitter) which is similar to a high of drugs. Now it is believed that some folks are prone to addiction and if the need to have sweets sets in then the person goes to a great length to consume large quantities of sweets/ chocolates/ sweet drinks etc.
According to some studies stress plays a large part in sugar addiction, as people tend to use it as a comfort food. Some statistics show that in some countries, sugar consumption has reached 150 pounds (approx. 72kg’s) per person in a year. People who crave sugar will go to any length to devour sugar, even when its present in a thing like tooth paste. Children are said to be most at risk as they are fed sweets without care, be it fizzy drinks, chocolates, sugar cubes (yes that too!).
Just like having too much of anything has side effects; naturally sugar too has such effects.
- Restlessness: When sugar is consumed it gives a rush because it raises the insulin level and then eventually crashes it. Due to which a person may be will high and low in quick successions.
- Palpitations: Due to the same highs and lows a person may feel a low sinking feeling.
- Gum and teeth troubles: Sugar tends to make the Ph levels of the saliva very acidic; as a result the bacterial growth is high.
- Calcium loss: Calcium in the bones is reduced due to sugar consumption, as a result the bones become weak.
- Weight gain: Sugar is high on calories so naturally there will be weight gain, this could lead to depression and mood swings.
- Nutritional deficiency: White table sugar has no Vitamins or minerals what so ever. If the calories coming are mainly from sugar there are bound to be some deficiencies.
There are a few things that can be done to break the sugar addiction.
- Positive substitution is the key, do not stop sugar but instead substitute it by healthier sweet foods like prunes, figs, honey, raisins, sweet fruits and natural juices.
- Eat small frequent meals to keep the blood sugar even keeled. Avoid fluctuations which trigger cravings.
- Remove all trigger foods from your house like chocolates, cookies, chewing gums and instead replace by healthy foods.
- Do not reward children by foods (Chocolates, biscuits etc) because it leads to a pattern of lifelong self reward behavior; instead a pat or a hug is far healthier.
- In the case of severe addictions, sign up for a healthy nutritional program.
- Recognize the routine and identify when and how you go for the sugar “fix”.
- Patience is the key, as it takes time to change/modify habits.
- Many studies have suggested magnesium deficiency to cause sugar cravings, ensure supplementation by a calcium + magnesium nutrient.
- Short term sugar addiction is seen in menopause, pregnancy and smokers who give up smoking or people who give up alcohol.
It is best to enjoy all things in life but in moderation. This will see one having a balanced life and yet not denying yourself the good things, sugar being a part of that!