Addiction to sweet is among the most insidious temptations. Rare lucky ones are capable of passing a pastry shop showcase with their chin raised high and give up a candy or two with tea. However, addiction to sweets doesn’t always take subtle forms of beautiful cupcakes or gourmet chocolate bars. At times, it turns into a true sugar binge without measure and analysis. How to escape from this captivity?
Craving for sweets
At the heart of the irresistible cravings for sweets lie the biochemical processes in your body. Sudden changes in blood glucose levels trigger the need for a new “dose” of sugar.
At the same time, your body shape is affected both by sugar itself as fast a carbohydrate and the “related products” of confectionary foods.
These include white flour and all kinds of fats found in creams, icings, and toppings. All together, they turn even the smallest cake into a calorie bomb, which has an instantaneous action.
Dependence on sweets: you can run, but you can not hide!
In recent decades, sugar addiction became a hot topic not only in everyday life, but also in science. Research data are truly frightening. Scientists are more and more often comparing sugar lovers with drug addicts. They warn everyone that sweets not only give momentary pleasure, but also cause dependence, and eventually ruin your health.
Meanwhile, the industrial history of barely accounts for more than two hundred years. Since sugar industry started developing, our diet became sweeter and sweeter.
- in the middle of the XIX century, an average European ate only two kg of pure sugar per year,
- at the beginning of the XX century, this figure increased to 17 kg per year,
by the first years of the new millennium this index was almost 40 kg per year per capita.
- Such a result, like craving for sweets as a kind of dependence, does not surprise anyone.
Todays free market offers many kinds of sugar that differ by both “family tree” and appearance.
The most commonly (and, apparently, quite deservedly) “demonized” is the refined white sugar that is most widely used both in the food industry and in home cooking.
In fact, white refined sugar is pure sucrose, which is a chemical element, purified by means of filters, made of burnt cattle bones. The process of white sugar production turns it into a sterile product from the standpoint of dietary benefits.
Results of uncontrolled sugar consumption
Negative influence of uncontrolled sugar consumption covers the following body systems and processes:
- immune system,
- intestinal microflora,
- condition of the teeth,
- effective absorption of important minerals.
Due to its ability to dissolve without a trace in various substances and to make food taste more appealing, refined sugar – secretly or openly – becomes the main ingredient in a variety of industrially produced food:
- dairy foods,
- fermented dairy products,
- meat products,
- offal products,
- semi-finished products.
Doctors attribute the modern “epidemic” of insulin resistance to the fact that our diet is saturated with fast carbohydrates, including sucrose in the first place.
Insulin resistance consequences for the body
This disorder leads to:
- various heart diseases
- type 2 diabetes.
Sadly, often the product sold as brown cane sugar, is the same refined sugar, simply covered with molasses, a by-product of sugar production. By itself, the molasses has many advantages, including a high content of copper. However, when it is a part of such “disguised” sugar, it brings tangible benefits only cunning sellers, who use “ecological” brown color to enhance product value.
The original unrefined cane sugar, gently refined or not subjected to industrial cleaning at all, apart from sucrose, contains a set of useful additions, such as:
However, its calorie content is as high as that of white. An uncontrolled consumption of “natural” sugar does not insure you of sweet addiction or of its sad consequences.
Sugar, are you the sweetest of them all?
Sucrose is a disaccharide, a simple carbohydrate. In just a few minutes, your body expertly breaks down sucrose into glucose and fructose that enter your bloodstream. Perhaps, everyone is familiar with this effect: you eat a small bonbon to cheer and “restart your brains”.
Our body runs on glucose. It is a trouble-free and, in general, an essential energy source. Your body ultimately gets glucose from all carbohydrates (carbs), including slow processing ones. However, simple carbs are called fast precisely because they cause an immediate increase in the level of blood sugar and a powerful insulin release.
The first recipient of glucose is your brain. Then, it “reaches” your muscles, kidneys, and other organs. Insulin helps glucose “merge” into cells, wherein the brain cells “burn” it immediately and obtain the necessary energy.
Cells of other internal organs act in one of the following ways:
- either convert the glucose received into glycogen (short stocks, which, if necessary, are spent the first with a deficit of external energy revenues),
- break the glucose, spending it for current cells processes.
If there is too much glucose, cell doesn’t have any tasks to grow, repair and convert, while glycogen depots are full, and the glucose is transformed to fat.
Unstoppable craving for sweets is also caused by the rapid assimilation of sucrose. The sharp increase in blood sugar concentration and insulin release that evacuates sugar from the bloodstream cause the effect of “carbohydrate starvation”.
- Everything was digested too quickly, I need more!
At the same time, unfortunately, the human body is not evolutionarily adapted to a large dose of simple carbohydrates and is bot capable of understanding that it doesn’t need any new energy at all. New “bright flashes” of sugar in your blood lead to new bouts of “sugar hunger”, and a vicious circle forms. The first step to sugar addiction is made…
If the body is unable to regulate safe levels of glucose inflow, it would seem that brain should help him. Yet the brain is clouded.
Sugar consumption activates in it the beta-endorphin receptors and dopamine system of the pleasure center.
- Some researchers argue that the brain behaves similarly in the use of opiates.
Sugar acts both at the level of biochemistry, due to its real properties, and at the level of taste. Starting from the very neonatal period, people associate the sweetness of milk with most enjoyable, saturating, relaxing and comforting emotions.
In late 2013, the Department of Health in Amsterdam, the Netherlands capital, made an unexpected initiative to place on sugar-containing products, labels like those that smokers see today on cigarette packs.
According to Dutch officials, sugar is the most dangerous substance on the planet, and it is the responsibility of the state to help its citizens recover and think about the harm to health. The Amsterdam innovators also plan to introduce a state excise tax on sugar in the food production industry.
They believe that this measure is economically justified, because the food manufacturers know that sugar inflames the appetite and add more sucrose in their products to make people eat more!
However, according to scientists, craving for sweets, with all its versatility, ultimately depends on individual inclinations. Like any addiction, addiction to sweets has a risk group, which primarily includes people sensitive to sugar, who are more responsive to acute reduction of blood glucose levels.
This state is often conditioned genetically, and is not a sign of food laxity or weak will.
Those of us, who have sugar sensitivity, are characterized by mood swings, caused by a decrease in the level of:
- anti-stress beta-endorphin,
- “pleasure hormone” serotonin.
Thirst for fast carbohydrates, especially sweets, in such cases is attributed to an unconscious desire of your body “to get what it wants” by raising the level of “pleasant hormones” through sugar.
Sugar addiction for people with sugar sensitivity turns into a real danger.
Their self-esteem, performance and mood start depending directly on a timely eaten chocolate bar, which serves as a short pleasure bridge between two abysses of despair.
However, large amounts of sugar in sugar sensitivity is exactly the thing that should be avoided. People with such condition should choose slowly digesting foods with a low glycemic index that can level blood glucose level and maintain it in a stable condition throughout the day.
Physical activity will help you maintain the “dose” of endorphins and serotonin.
You have to start taking measures at the first suspicion. Otherwise, people with acute sensitivity to blood sugar level will be firmly put on the “candy needle”, and will show all the signs of psychological and physical dependence on sweets.
Craving for sweets goes night hunting
Many things were written about the insidious mechanism through which the sugar addiction subordinates not only our secret dreams, but our metabolism as well.
The paradox lies in the fact that we are well aware of the harm that sugar brings us.
This is one of the reasons why we overestimate the pleasure of meeting it. We are waiting for the imaginary mental relaxation that will come after we “charge” ourselves with candies or cake.
This attitude is painfully familiar to those who are in a constant struggle with excess weight and keep trying to strictly limit the composition of their nutrition or its caloric value. Sweet treats in this situation become a kind of a super-idea, a symbol of a life worth living.
“Right now I will stuff my stomach with something tasty, and then spend two weeks eating just rice and water”. Unfortunately, this way of thinking often becomes a standard trap, because the “last times” follow one after another.
“Sweet binges” are not only a serious psychological trauma (you lose confidence in yourself, your strength), but also disrupt the functioning of pancreas, stomach, and liver. The alternation of “sweet charges” and fasting leads to metabolic disorders and, ultimately, weight gain, despite a formally meager diet.
What to do? The answer is to work on yourself and look at the problem soberly, as soon as the sugar fog shatters. Every person has the strength to identify the main causes of failures, their trigger, and learn to separate physiological hunger from the emotional one.
Yet, self-deprecation and self-punishment are a taboo. After you figure out your habits and lifestyle, you have to seek an individual way to avoid dangerous situations.
And first of all is to calm down and focus on searching and living pleasant experiences. Rich emotional life that is not limited to evening mental “chewing” of job stress and family grievances, magically extinguishes the seemingly urgent need for cookies with frosting. A simple favorite medicine can deal with it even better, and it’s called sleep!
Lack of sleep is a direct path to excess weight.
It was reliably discovered by the Canadian scientist Meir Kryger. The conclusion of his study that covered 40 thousand people of different genders aged 32 to 49, is unequivocal: you need to sleep at least 7, or even 9, hours a day.
Systematic “shortage” of sleep causes hormonal disorders, which you won’t be able to cope with only by dietary measures.
Traditional evening gluttony with sweets at the end of the working day plays a significant part. Sugar activates the brain and the physical processes, which is very unfortunate, when the healthy schedule invites you to go to sleep.
If you rarely go to bed before midnight, it means that you catch the production of the hormone ghrelin in the waking state. The problem lies in the fact that this period coincides with the decreased production of the hormone leptin.
By themselves, these processes are physiological.
However, it is assumed that they take place while the “host” of the body is asleep. Ghrelin increases appetite, and leptin reduces it. If you have a full night’s sleep, the hormonal processes go through the stages of natural adjustment in 8-9 hours.
In the morning, people are able to have breakfast and consciously build their day accordingly.
However, if the level of ghrelin began to grow, and you are still sitting in front of a computer or are watching TV, you pose yourself to a real threat of developing a fierce desire to attack the kitchen drawers and chew something delicious.
The second peak of sugar addiction blow comes in ”night dwellers” by 3-4 in the night. It is time for insulin level increase, which results, respectively, in a drop of blood sugar levels, and a new attack of irresistible cravings for sweets. Fighting the “eternal hormonal call” in the night is a truly difficult task.
So, the advice is simple:
you want to get rid of cravings for sweets – … sleep them away!
7 Steps Towards Getting Rid Of Sugar Addiction
In addition to the psychological work on yourself and control over your stress and rest, the following tricks will help you to successfully fight cravings for sweets.
Add protein sources to your nutrition.
Its satiating power and slow digestion help coping with bouts of hunger and the desire to grab something sweet.
You will get particular benefit from:
- farm meat and poultry (grown in a free environment and not stuffed with hormones)
- fish that was caught in natural eco-friendly waters.
Do not forget vegetable proteins. Beans and nuts are a non-toxic, easily digestible resource of them.
Consult an endocrinologist and a gynecologist
Compulsive craving for sweets may be one of the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction or candida infection.
Ask your physician’s permission to take B vitamins.
They help the nervous system to withstand the daily stress of city life.
Namely stress often triggers cravings for sweets, including due to the fact that it promotes an inadequate production of cortisol hormone, which is responsible for fat deposits and harmful food cravings.
Sugar substitute will not help fight sugar addiction.
Studies have shown that they, on the contrary, increase the desire to reach for a nice bit of goods.
Pamper yourself with dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa).
This will help you not to fall into the frustration, caused by the rejection of favorite goodies.
Many nutritionists recognize the benefit of this delicacy. Its rich flavor allows you to enjoy, while the cocoa protein allows you to satiate even with a small amount of it. Its antioxidant properties are beneficial for your health.
The natural sweet treat carob is another healthy alternative to harmful sweets and does not contain substances that contribute to dependence.
To get rid of sugar addiction – do not buy sweets!
Avoid low-fat products
Often, to improve their flavor, manufacturers add banal sugar, and this, as we already know, is a vicious circle. Sugar leads to even more sugar.
Give me a pill to eliminate cravings for sweets, and make sure it’s a delicious pill!
Of course, the use of medications, including dietary supplements, is a measure to overcome the cravings for sweets, which must be approached with extreme caution. Yet, first of all, there are cases when drug therapy becomes the last hope, and secondly, information is never superfluous.
The main thing is not to take any medicines or supplements without informing your doctor! Be sure to have a full-time consultation. You have to agree on purpose, dosage and make sure there are no side effects or hypersensitivity.
- For a long time, chromium-based drugs have been used for the “treatment” of cravings for sweets.
This chemical element in its pure form is a metal of bluish color. Yet, its compounds are characterized by a truly creative ability to change color (in fact, it got its name thanks to this quality – “chroma” means “color” in Greek).
Chromium is a biogenic substance, i.e. it is part of tissues of various wildlife representatives. In pure form, chromium is toxic and its hexavalent compounds are carcinogenic. However, the human body is constantly in need of microscopic income of this mineral.
It is important for blood-forming, fat-carbs metabolism and protein digestion.
Chrome and sugar in the human body are connected with an inversely proportional relationship.
The use of sweet “washes out” chromium, while it, in turn, suppresses cravings for sweets.
Products that contain chromium:
- Beef liver
- Seafood (especially shrimp)
- Sea fish (tuna, capelin, mackerel, salmon, catfish)
- Freshwater fish (carp, common carp, crucian carp)
- Duck meat
- Pearl barley
Chromium picolinate has a bright scarlet color due to the fact that the metal it includes is oxidized by picolinic acid, which, according to biochemists, simplifies the process of chromium assimilation by the human body.
- This substance is often prescribed to reduce cravings for sweets.
Two large scientific studies, held in the beginning 2000’s in the US, showed that chromium picolinate is able to physiologically reduce cravings for sweet and fatty foods. Curiously, even the pharmacologists don’t exactly know the specific effect of the drug, when you take it to eliminate the attack of sugar addiction.
It is assumed that the trivalent chromium in its composition affects the process of glucose utilization by insulin and elevates the quality of proteins digestion, which allows suppressing the need to “grab a candy”.
Another drug that is used as a medical “crutch” in sugar addiction, is especially well-known to athletes and those who, unfortunately, have to comply with a special diet for gastritis. L-glutamine (glutamine) is a multifunctional amino acid, naturally contained in animal and vegetable proteins.
The therapeutic effect of glutamine was recognized about 40 years ago. All this time, the drug was successfully used as an adjunct in the treatment of the gastrointestinal tract diseases due to its talent to reduce inflammation and accelerate healing of a wide variety of injuries.
Gradually, during clinical practice, other useful properties of amino acids were discovered, including quite unexpected ones. Glutamine was successfully tested and started to be used for the treatment of alcohol dependence and the elimination of alcoholism consequences.
At the heart of its action, as the researchers believed, is the ability to transform into gamma-aminobutyric acid. It is a substance that naturally pacifies the brain and nervous tension, and thus relieves the attack of an irresistible desire to consume the forbidden fruit.
This mechanism has inspired medics to try glutamine in the “sweet case”, and the result was immediate:
the amino acid acted in a calming way over the cell, eager to eat something sweet.
Foods that contain glutamine are:
- chicken and geese,
- cottage cheese,
The benefits of glutamine in getting rid of cravings for sweets is increased by its ability to stabilize the muscle tissue and cleanse the excretory organs of fat-processing products. In addition, pure glutamine is a capacious source of available energy from non-carbohydrate sources.
This amino acid is involved in the formation of the key neurotransmitters, helping the brain and nervous system to fix in a harmonious position relative to the excitation and relaxation. You can say that glutamine teaches your body, exhausted and disordered by stress and sugar addiction, to function again as it should, biochemically helping to take a useful and proper decision about the need to get rid of sugar addiction.