Your body is powered by sugar. Sugar is the energy your cells use to operate. So, in a very real sense, sugar is life. But, your body strives for and needs homeostasis, which is a balance of water, salt, nutrients and sugar. Too much of any of those things can cause serious biological problems. Your brain is wired to crave sugar. In our not so distant past, we got our sweet from fruits for the most part. The fiber and nutrients in the fruits slowed down the digestive process so out bodies were not flooded with sweetness in one rush.
The fiber also makes us feel full, so we can only get so much into our bodies through eating fruit. In the last century, refined sugars have made their way from the occasional cake or muffin into nearly every food we consume. Anything other than raw fruits, veggies, and meat can have added sugar that you wouldn’t even expect. So how do you know you are addicted to sugar?
Here are 8 signs that you might have a sugar addiction:
1. Sweet Tooth
Someone with a “sweet tooth” craves sugar because their bodies have become physically addicted to sugar. Eating sugar stimulates the pleasure center of the brain and stimulates similar changes in the brain as addictive drugs. Binge, Withdrawal, Craving and Behavioral Sensitization are terms used with both sugar and drug addiction.
If you find yourself bingeing on sweet foods uncontrollably, then you might have a bit of an addiction. You get a high from ingesting large amounts of sugar. Unfortunately, like any addiction, you need larger and larger amounts in order to get the same high.
If you are prone to sudden crashes of energy where you suddenly feel exhausted for no reason, then you might be suffering from a crash. This happens when your body reacts to large amounts by producing large amounts of insulin in order to metabolize the sugar in your blood. Because of this, a sudden ramp-up of insulin production will get the sugar out of your blood quickly, leaving a sudden sugar deficiency. This sudden drop can leave the body feeling exhausted, as there is no sweetness left to power it.
Let’s say you decide to give it up cold turkey for your New Year’s Resolution, and a few days later you have a giant headache and feel like crap. You may be suffering from withdrawals. Your body and your brain have become so used to a constant influx of refined sugar from sugary drinks, candy bars, and fast food that when you cut those out your diet, the body freaks out.
5. You love starchy foods
You love starchy foods like french fries, potato chips, pasta and bread. Starches are quickly converted to sugar in the body, but don’t have enough fiber or protein to slow down the breakdown of starches into sugar. Without good foods like veggies and foods with lots of fiber, starches can cause surges and crashes.
6. Body fat
The body stores excess energy within the body as fatty tissue. This fatty tissue takes a long time to break down in order to provide energy for the body. Your body also stores sugar in your muscles as glucose. That muscle glucose is like your hall closet – it is easy to get to, but doesn’t hold very much stuff. Your fat reserves, on the other hand, are like a storage unit – it takes some time and effort to get anything out of it, but can hold a lot of stuff. If you have more sugar in your system than your body can use immediately, then that excess energy will get stored as fat.
7. Mood swings
Sugar rushes and crashes can cause swings in mood as your blood sugar level changes. If you need a constant drip of sweetness into your system in order to keep your mood stable, then you might be addicted.
8. Tired for no reason
If you have been out in the yard working hard or at the gym, then you have a reason to be tired. If you are tired and sleepy and you haven’t been doing anything other than loafing on the couch, then you might have an addiction. Your body is used to large amounts of sugar for its energy, and without that fix, you feel exhausted for no good reason.
How do you kick the habit?
Make small changes in your diet. Eliminate that pastry you have every morning and have an apple instead. Eat more veggies, since the fiber from vegetables will make you feel fuller for longer. Eat cereals and breads without added sugar; you will have to check the label by trying to keep the grams of sugars as low as possible. Eat more protein such as beans and legumes, as this will help stabilize your blood sugar levels. Also, drink more water and exercise more. Water will make you feel full, and exercise will make you feel better by releasing endorphins into your system. Don’t make drastic changes, or they won’t stick. Make small changes over time, and they can have a huge impact.