Hey friends. #HelloDecember –it has arrived! Holidays are here. And fitness has been kicked up a notch, right?!
Well, apparently we’re not crazy. Sort of.
Is It Really A Sugar Addiction ?
Wikipedia says “Sugar addiction is a perceived difficulty controlling intake of sweet foods or beverages. Although the term itself is not generally used to refer to any scientific construct, mounting evidence suggests that under certain conditions, consumption of sweets or sugar may indeed become addiction-like.”
Well, well. This agrees with what I’ve learned in my studies, personal experiences, and client work! It is true that there are lots of scientific studies that have looked at the issue, but because of the complex nature of the question and confounding factors involved, it is really hard to prove a causal relationship here. And the physiological scientific backing does not totally support the theory either (addiction-like instead of “addiction”).
Unscrambled : it is not yet proven that sugar is addicting but some evidence shows a possible tendency to be so. As for a physiological reason, it is not addictive per say.
Sugar Addiction Defined
We are what we consume. Literally. Our skin, our hair, our nail, our muscle, and our fat cells all come from what we put into our bodies. Normally our bodies crave a wide variety of foods (most especially whole foods), but if said body is exposed to outside influences that are unnatural and even sort-of addictive, this can wreak havoc on the body’s systems and the body might become so used to said outside influences that it starts to crave/want/need the substance.
It begins in the brain and will affect all systems of the body. This is how drugs work. Drugs can make us feel good; they are pleasurable But they can be super addictive because of the receptors used by these drugs.
Sugar is used in the brain as a substrate (glucose), for energy. Without sugar we’d all be brain dead (aka dead). So sugar (aka glucose when broken down) is a needful thing. So why is it so hard to stop sometimes?!
Well, sugar makes us feel good, that much is agreed upon. However, sugar can also be a dangerous thing if consumed in large quantities. Sugary foods also seem to be almost habit forming which may further complicate the problem (and the answers).
Foods With Sugar -The Culprit
Here’s the kicker : sugar in of itself may not physiologically be cause for addiction, but the taste of foods with loads of sugar in it, the memories, the emotions, and the social experiences surrounding those foods may actually be the strongest links to addiction and habit-forming tendencies.
So we’re all right. Sugary foods can be addictive because of what sugar is found in (yummy tasty foods), what it is associated with (parties! celebrations! holidays! friends!), memories or traditions we’ve experienced it with (birthdays! family parties! vacation!), or emotions we’ve felt it with (sadness! happiness! pity! excitement! boredom!).
Sugar is not strongly linked with death (it’s opposite!–our brains are fueled by sugar), however, large amounts of sugar too quickly and too often can deaden and weaken many systems in the body which MAY then lead to higher morbidity rates, or even eventual death.
Sugar is not deadly or addictive by itself. We, by our actions, fuel the sugar addiction (or somewhat addictive behaviors). That is RIGHT. It is up to each of us to be conscious of what we’re putting into our bodies.
Sugar Addiction Reigned In
Eat the cookie, yes! Enjoy the fro yo, heck yes! And down some holiday cookies, totally! BUT, eating several of each in short periods of time (and often enough) can end up being dangerous and addictive and further fuel other unhealthy behaviors such as eating binges, emotional eating episodes, and/or other disordered eating habits.
It just goes back to what I totally believe in : Moderation in ALL things, including (and especially) desserts.
I like chocolate, I love caramel, and I am obsessed with fro yo, but I do not eat them every day. Nor do I eat them in large quantities. For me this is key to reigning in any possible addictive behaviors that have to do with desserts and sugar Plus, the less I eat them, the less I crave them. BUT the flip side is also true: if I don’t have ANY, the more I crave ’em! Denying our brains the sugar it needs is never a good thing. TRUST me (been there, done that).
A huge thank you to my notes from grad school, my incredibly smart dad (he is a brain surgeon and holds a PhD in neuroanatomy!!), you all for help in writing this post! If you are interested in going back to school, there are some great online universities to check out!
- I am grateful for being sore–it is humbling
- I am very thankful for a little sister who makes me smile every.single.day.
- I am super grateful for a warm bed!
What have been YOUR experiences with sugar and sugary foods?? I want to hear YOU–what do YOU think on all this research?? What are YOU thankful for today??
P.s. MORE to come on sugar cravings in the next week or so!