Integrative Health Blog

Are You Suffering from Sugar Addiction?

Posted by admin on Thu, Apr 12, 2012

Eve Colantoni CHC

If you’ve tried to kick the sugar habit and failed, you could be facing a larger problem than you may have realized; you may be facing an actual addiction.  Sadly, sugar addiction is greatly misunderstood by most people; parents, teachers, even doctors and the medical community at large. In this article, you’ll learn why sugar is so addictive, how to tell if you’ve become addicted, and what steps you can take to break away from the grips of sugar addiction.

describe the image“Sugar and spice and everything nice!” The old saying takes us back to happy memories from childhood, but not all that we remember nostalgically is necessarily good for us.  In fact, one of the problems with sugar is that since it’s always been a part of our lives, from birthday parties, to holidays like Valentine’s day or Halloween, we think consuming it is all very normal.  A little in moderation never hurt anyone, right?  Well, when you see the history of sugar, and how it’s become woven into the fabric of our lives, and what it’s actually doing to your body, you may think differently.

Long before you or I were ever born, the first sugar refinery in the United Sates was constructed in 1689.  Many historians have now documented that much of the slave trade was initiated to find free labor to grow and harvest the plants from which sugar is derived; sugar cane or sugar beets.  In my opinion, it makes the scar that slavery left on humanity even deeper knowing that much of the atrocity was committed in the name of producing a drug that would further enslave us--sugar.

Back in those colonial times, sugar immediately became popular, however its use was not nearly as widespread as it is today.  In those early days, most people consumed a reasonable amount of around 4 pounds per person per year.  Today, it’s estimated that some Americans eat as much as 150 pounds per year.  This increase would mean little if we were dealing with a food substance that did little to effect our bodies.  However, in the case of sugar, nothing could be further from the truth.

These days, we’re beginning to realize that not only is sugar not the harmless substance we once thought it was, but conversely could be one of the largest culprits behind the healthcare crisis America in now facing. 

Sugar has now been linked to a myriad of chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, ADHD, even depression and anxiety.  With this new understanding of how bad sugar really is for us, you may ask, then why do we keep going back for more?

What most people do not understand is that food has the ability to shift our biochemistry.  In the case of sugar, it actually has the ability to interfere with our brain chemistry, which is why it can be so addictive.

Our natural, body-produced pain killers are referred to as endogenous opioids. When these chemicals come in contact with certain receptor sites, we experience what is thought of as a ‘reward’ as the body experiences pleasure from the interaction.

Researchers have now proven that sugar can stimulate the release of our endogenous opiates. When the receptor sites are continuously filled, and we feel a sense of pleasure, we become conditioned to seek this out, no matter how harmful the substance may be to us. 

In the meantime, while we are repeatedly stimulating the release of these natural chemicals, our body can begin to build up a tolerance, so more and more of the same substance becomes needed to get the same effect. And like any addictive substance, the moment we try to stop using it, we can experience withdrawal symptoms including headaches, extreme cravings, and unusual fatigue.

If you’ve tried to give up sugar, experienced any of these withdrawal symptoms, but still wound up giving into your cravings and going back to eating it, there’s a good chance you’re facing an addiction problem.That said, certain measures can be taken to ease the transition, and to get you off the white stuff and on to a healthier way of life.

So what can you do if you know you’re addicted? On a foundational level, you must re-educate yourself, including your taste buds, to seek out and to learn to appreciate the flavor of real foods. This means foods which do not come from a box, a can or a jar.  Foods without barcodes. Real food as opposed to processed foods which are filled with added sugars, flavor enhancers and chemicals which trick our bodies away from wanting real foods.

Next, certain amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, can be used supplementally to rebalance your brain chemistry. It’s important to make sure that only quality supplements are used, meaning don’t buy them from you local pharmacy, but rather from a reputable health food store, or get them from a natural health practitioner.

Moreover, as with any addiction, when we realize that at our core, we are stronger than any chemical reaction taking place in our bodies, we can call upon the deep essence of who we really are to create powerful changes in our lives. If you know you are facing an addiction to sugar, know that you have the power to overcome it, but also do not need to go it alone.



Topics: addiction, holistic nutrition, integrative health, candida/yeast, sugar