I like to think I’m not addicted to sugar; but lately, I am less convinced of this fact as I have inadvertently been opening the fridge late at night looking for that sweet “something.” With all the holiday parties and gay happy meetings, I’ve mindlessly consumed more than my fair share of crackers, cookies and eggnog. Can you relate?
Here’s my question: is this uncontrollable reflex to reach for one more cookie, another slice of bread or even a bit of extra sugar-laden dressing an indication of my weakness or is it a powerful hardwired brain response- independent of gluttony?
Research indicates that the consumption of sugar triggers a region in the brain called the nucleus accumbens, the same region that is involved in any conventional addiction, such as gambling or drug abuse. The region is conveniently nicknamed “the pleasure center” and has already been proven to be activated by just a mere image of sugar.
A recent new study took on the more difficult task of proving the biology of a sugar “addiction.” The randomized, blinded, crossover study used the most rigorous research design to conclude that regardless of taste, color, texture and appearance, our brains respond to foods laced with sugar quite differently than to foods with a lower sugar content. The study also indicates foods that spike blood sugar are biologically addictive and light up the nucleus accumbens like a Christmas tree.
While we can’t change the fact that sugar is the core ingredient used by the food industry and 80 percent of the 600,000 processed foods in the marketplace have hidden added sugar, we can tune into the way sugar affects us. If we recognize the hold it has on our lives it will be far easier to methodically untangle it’s grip.
Bottom line is this: It’s time to stop blaming yourself. Instead, ask yourself these 5 questions.
Do I continue to eat, even when I’m not hungry?
Do I reward myself with a certain type of food?
Do I feel sluggish within 2 hours of eating?
Is my mood directly related to certain foods I consume throughout the day?
Am I battling excess weight, poor memory and concentration, skin issues or anxiety?
Just as we have support groups that protect people from alcohol, tobacco and illegal drug abuse, sugar cleansing support is also available. Click here to receive all the tools, tips and practical ways that you can use to identify and free yourself from any of the addictive qualities of sugar for good. I designed this sugar cleanse for myself when I started recognizing the effect it was having on my swim career, my mood and my energy. Every task, tool and guideline is intended to gently free you from the biology of a sugar addiction while also building wholesome habits. Come join! I’d love your company as I start the New Year off with a sugar free bang.