Sugar addiction is complicated by the fact that sweetened foods are widely available. Unfortunately, refined sugars upset blood sugar levels, creating a jagged cycle of energy surge and crash. Individuals can develop a relationship with sugar that mirrors illegal drug addiction, according to addiction specialist Kathleen DesMaisons. By decreasing sugar intake, moving towards complex carbohydrates and eating moderately and mindfully, you can gain control of your emotions, behavior and your appearance.
About Blood Sugar
Refined sugar abruptly increases your blood sugar level, which triggers a release of insulin to process the sugar. Your blood sugar level drops abruptly, and you reach for another cookie. The supply can never meet demand, and you wind up feeling tired and irritable. Since most refined sweets offer little nutritional value and have larger health ramifications (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, tooth decay), eliminating them from your diet is a proactive way to support both your physical and emotional health.
About Sugar Addiction
Addiction is a state of substance dependency, where one experiences specific cravings and in absence of the substance, experiences a state of withdrawal. The limbic system, the part of the brain that modulates our emotions and behavior, is no longer reacting clearly. For instance, when we eat chocolate, notes the National Institute for Drug Abuse, we may feel a noteworthy amount of pleasure (via the limbic system), leading us to repeat the behavior. Unfortunately, repeating this action for the sake of pleasure and using this habit to cope with daily life can create a cycle of not only crashing blood sugar, but frustration.
Sugar Addiction and Anger
Individuals with addiction problems use substances, or behaviors, to modulate the stress of their lives. While a sweet taste may seem to improve an experience (via a quick sugar "high"), it does not change one's life circumstances. Individuals addressing their frustrations through sugary foods are caught in a vicious cycle. Without sufficient social networks and professional guidance, they may be unable to constructively vent and address their anger. They may then return to sugar as a comfort and protective habit, which maintains their erratic blood sugar levels and impaired judgment.
Sugar and Protein
Many Americans do not eat enough protein, which can lead to erratic energy levels, lack of clarity or fatigue. Protein takes longer to digest, providing a longer sensation of "fullness" and eliminating the need for a quick fix (i.e., sugar). Dr. DesMaisons recommends eating protein at breakfast, in order to eliminate this cycle at the beginning of the day. Learn to read nutritional labels for sugar content, keeping an eye on serving sizes. Swapping sweetened beverages for water will not only reduce calories but minimize exposure to the source of the addiction.
Anger Management Techniques
Coping with frustration through eating can never be fruitful. Begin to address stressors in your life directly, rather than wait until you feel overwhelmed by them. Seek out support networks in which you can confide your struggles and obtain personalized support, such as private counseling or support groups. Prevent sugar snacking and outright binge eating by scheduling your meals and keeping healthy snacks available. Do not skip meals. By maintaining a consistent energy level, you will remain productive and more in control of your emotions. Let friends and family know about your lifestyle changes, so they can support you in staying focused.