Candy, sweets, and treats are simple pleasures that act as a dessert, are for a celebration, or are part of holiday occasions. What’s a birthday without cake and ice cream?? Or even cupcakes?? What’s Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie?? What’s Valentine’s Day without chocolate?? What’s the break room at work without a few home baked goods?? Santa needs his cookies.
Think of how influential sugar has been in our lives. If we ate all our dinner, we got dessert. If we got good grades, maybe got to get an ice cream cone after school.
Most of us had cookies in our lunch box. Fruit juice and juice boxes are sugar loaded, not to mention all the many different types of cereals. The brain has associated sugar as a reward. When we have sugar, each time we are reinforcing the rewarding behavior. This pattern is not easy to break.
Sugar does give us a high. It is a simple carbohydrate that quickly turns into glucose in the bloodstream. The rush hits us right away after having a soda, candy bar, or other forms of table sugar.
The difference between these types of sugars and sugars found in fruits or dairy products, is that fruit and dairy items also contain protein and fiber that slowdown that quick hit of sugar. Our body obtains energy from glucose in the bloodstream that is transported to our cells.
This process is triggered by insulin production in the pancreas. When this takes place, blood sugar levels can drop, and this might make you feel weak or shaky. Now the body craves and wants more sugar to get that “high” feeling again. Hence you grab a candy bar or a treat for relief.
This is a daily cycle for some people, especially that 3pm pick me up you reach for to get through the rest of the day.
You might be thinking that you don’t crave candy bars or soda on a daily basis, but do you crave bagels, chips, or fries?? These carbohydrates contain starches that break down into simple sugars, which then make you have that “high” sensation. Pretzels, white rice, or even pasta can do this to you as well.
Nutritionists points towards today caloric intake being about 10% per day. Well, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, Americans are eating about 170 grams of sugar per day and the suggested amount for women is no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day and for men no more than 38 grams per day (9 teaspoons).
Many Americans start and finish their day with sugar either consciously or not with their coffee than salad dressing with dinner. In just one can of Coca Cola, there are 16 teaspoons of sugar, and this drink is almost apart of American culture. In a 20-ounce bottle of apple juice, there are 14.5 teaspoons of sugar.
There is good reason to let the sugar fix go. Diabetes is a major, major result of excess sugar in the body. 30 million Americans have diabetes and about 90-95% have type 2 (the type that can be managed by lifestyle change).
Ask yourself, when was the last time you had sugar?? Probably just earlier today. When was the last time you didn’t have sugar?? Sugar dependency is a real phenomenon because it activates the opiate receptors (the reward system).
Just like drugs and alcohol, the compulsion to have sugar can be a need, and a must that a person feels compelled to fulfill.
Eating sugar doesn’t make you a sugar addict, but there are certain signs that could indicate you actually are drawn to sugar more than you think. However, consider if you crave sugar to the point that it preoccupies your thoughts??
Do you feel guilty about the amount of sugar you do eat?? Do you use sugar to suppress stress or emotions?? Do you feel like you need more and more sugar to get that same “high” or enjoyment??
Being addicted to sugar has been associated with anxiety and depression. Your mood is affected by sugar because it interacts with your neurotransmitters. Having sugar increases serotonin levels, but this is only a temporary happy feeling.
Then when you don’t have sugar you feel depressed. Gaining weight, which is a result of excess sugar, is a contributing factor to anxiety. Being emotionally unstable with this up and down sugar cycle.
There are all different approaches to limiting or even eliminating sugar from your diet. Detoxes and cleanses are a trend. The truth is that focus on nutritious foods such as fruit that are still sweet.
Depriving or restricting yourself from anything, only makes you want to have it more and rebel. Don’t equate food of any type to your emotional well-being. Slowly have less and less over time, and nine times out of ten you actually won’t crave sugar like you once did.
This really does happen, it’s just the initial struggle of deficiency to let go. I’m sure you are sweet enough, so back off the sugar and watch your body respond with gratitude.