The world is composed of many different kinds of people. And, some of us have developed both good and bad habits along the way. This article speaks to those who have one particular addiction, that of sugar.
One Packet or Two?
First, what is an addiction? An addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable, but the continued use of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities. Moreover, users may not be aware that their behavior can cause problems either for themselves or for others.
What’s more, Merriam-Webster defines addiction as, the quality or state of being addicted; the compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal. Finally, it is said to be the persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful. Now on to a more sweet topic, sugar.
They say you are what you eat. We just love sugary snacks, namely chocolate, cakes, ice cream and any other confection that will tickle our taste buds. Sugar solely is not the problem, the problem, however, lies in the amount we consume on a regular basis.
Keeping the Finger-Pointing to a Minimum
It may not totally be your fault that you can’t seem to shake your ‘sweet tooth;’ the amount of sugar we crave has been strategically placed in our hands by the food industry, our personal food choices and our early family experiences, too. Yes, Grandma’s peach cobbler recipe that has been handed-down from generation-to-generation, may have aided in your appetite for sugar. Rehearsing the popular song by Mary Poppins, “A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down,” probably didn’t help either. But, just as our delicate palates have been conditioned to need sugar, they can be conditioned to crave it less and less.
A Plausible Explanation
It’s believed by some, that your brain is the boss of your whole entire body. Sugar has some very adverse affects on the brain, in that it fuels every cell. Also, when you overload on sugary foods, it has the propensity to alter the parts of the brain that control how much you actually do eat and can put you at risk for diabetes, prediabetes or obesity, even.
Switching gears, many do not like the presence of or mere mention of rats. Nonetheless, it is necessary to briefly discuss them and how findings in rats directly correspond to sugar levels. In lab studies, rats that binged on sugar had brain changes similar to those of getting off drugs. In humans, just viewing pictures of milkshakes triggered brain effects like those seen in drug addicts. These effects were strongest in women, whose answers showed they were more hooked on eating, than men.
Whether by teaspoon or tablespoon, most Americans eat a total of 19 teaspoons or more of added sugar on a daily basis. What does this equate to? That adds up to roughly 285 calories, a number that health experts say is too high. Statistics also show that Americans consume nearly 100 pounds of sugar and sweeteners each year or almost 30 teaspoons a day. Women should consume no more than six teaspoons a day, which equals 100 calories. Men, on the other hand should get a maximum of nine teaspoons or 150 calories per day.
Ever wonder why you get such a rush from eating sugary snacks? The answer is quite simple. As a matter of fact, the sugar in it, called a simple carbohydrate, is quickly turned into glucose in your bloodstream. Your blood sugar levels in turn spike. Simple carbs also are found in dairy products, fruits and veggies. But, these have fiber and protein that slow the spiking process; candy, syrup, soda and table sugar don’t.
What about when you are in a sugar slump? Your body needs to move glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells for energy. In order to do this, your pancreas makes insulin, a hormone. As a result, your blood sugar level may plummet, suddenly. Low blood sugar levels leave you feeling dizzy, shaky and, therefore, causes you to search for more sweets to regain that sugar “high.”
Buyer beware, sometimes sugar is cleverly disguised on food labels by manufacturers. It can be listed in a number of different ways, including:
- Agave nectar;
- Brown rice syrup;
- High-fructose corn syrup;
- Malt syrup;
- Evaporated cane juice;
While you are in search of healthier options, bear in mind that packages that list any form of sugar in the first few ingredients or those that contain more than four total grams of sugar undoubtedly will add up to unwanted calories.
You don’t have to part ways with sugar altogether, you just have to become more conscious of how much you actually do eat. Seeing a nutritionist may not be such a bad idea on this front, if you need help with curbing your sugar intake.
Remember this: If you repeatedly eat a food, your affinity toward it will increase, even if you didn’t like that food upon first chewing it. How did we become so into sugar in the first place? We’ve created too much of an appetite for it.
More Taste, Less Sugar
Like any other addiction, sugar addiction can be overcome, with time. When it comes to sugar, you can consider cutting out one sweet food from your diet each week. For example, pass on dessert after your dinnertime meal. Or, for breakfast, you can slowly reduce the amount of sugar you put in your cereal or coffee. You just have to figure out creative ways to swap your favorite sugary snack for a much healthier option.