Updated: 2019, Aug 2

The Science Behind Sugar Addiction (And How to Stop It)

Sugar addiction is real, but it doesn’t have to ruin your health. Read this article to know how to quit sugar addiction.
sugar addiction
The truth about sugar addiction & what you can do about it. Shutterstock Images

Do you think you are hooked on sugar?

Do you find yourself craving a sweet treat whenever you are stressed or right after a meal?

You might be a sugar addict without realizing it.

If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that supermarket shelves are filled with relatively cheap and highly palatable foods and beverages that are loaded with sugar[1].

In today’s guide, we are going to dive deeper into the topic of sugar addiction.

We’ll cover the following:

  • The causes of sugar addiction
  • Symptoms of sugar addiction
  • Sugar addiction in comparison with drug addiction
  • How being addicted to sugar affects your body
  • Ways to fight sugar cravings

Keep reading to learn more.

What Causes Sugar Addiction?

The truth is that most people love sweet foods.

Who doesn’t?

But what isn’t right is when you become emotionally and psychologically dependent on them.

Here are the common reasons why sugar addiction happens.

1. You are eating too many carbohydrates.

Foods that are loaded with carbohydrates increase your cravings.

The reason behind these intense and repetitive cravings is that carbohydrates trigger the release of hormones that make you feel good, such as serotonin and other endorphins.

This explains why so many people overindulge in carbohydrates when exposed to stress to make themselves feel better[2].

2. You might have nutrient deficiencies.

If you often experiment with various restrictive diets, you might be deficient in a nutrient.

Deficiencies in chromium, magnesium, and zinc can trigger sugar cravings since these nutrients play a role in glucose metabolism.

Have yourself checked by a doctor who will order tests to check for any deficiency.

3. You have developed the habit of eating too much sugar.

The fact that we live in a world where sugar is widely available is one reason why we’ve incorporated sugary foods into our daily eating pattern.

Maybe by 10:00 am each day, you grab a soda or an energy bar to satisfy your taste buds before the next meal.

Perhaps 3:00 pm is your perfect hour for enjoying a cup of hot chocolate.

Sugar Addiction Symptoms

Sugar Addiction

You crave sugar, lose control, and eat more than you planned is a sure sign of addiction. Shutterstock Images

How can you tell that you are truly addicted to sugar?

You’ll be surprised by these sugar addiction symptoms:

  • One serving isn’t enough – You originally planned to have one piece of candy or one slice of cake. But after you’ve finished the whole thing, you realize that you want more.
  • You binge until you feel unwell – No amount of sugar is enough until you start to feel dizzy, tired, sleepy, or get headaches. Even if you already realize that too much sugar causes these bad symptoms, you binge anyway.
  • You crave for simple carbohydrates – Simple carbohydrates are quickly broken down by your body and therefore raise your blood sugar levels much faster. Simple carbohydrates are often found in “comfort foods” such as bread, cereals, ice cream, and condiments.

Comparison Between Sugar Addiction and Drug Addiction

A growing number of studies now suggest that sugar can be as addictive as cocaine, and should, therefore, be considered an “addictive substance.”

Animal data shows that sugar consumption has effects that are similar to drugs of abuse.

These effects include craving, bingeing, tolerance, and withdrawal[3].

In a 2009 study that discussed the behavioral and neurochemical effects of sugar addiction involving rats, data revealed that removing sugary foods for 24 hours led to signs of opiate withdrawal.

Researchers have also observed that an increase in extracellular dopamine, which is common in drug addiction, also happens with intermittent sugar access[4].

Effects of Sugar Addiction on Your Body

Now that you know the reason behind sugar addiction and its similarity in relation to drug addiction, we’re going to explore its negative consequences on your body:

1. Obesity

Overconsumption of sugar increases your insulin levels.

Insulin is a hormone that inhibits the breakdown of fat.

That said, insulin stimulates your fat cells to absorb glucose.

Another way that sugar addiction makes you prone to obesity is that you tend to consume excess calories.

One hundred grams of sugar contains 387 calories.

2. Type 2 Diabetes

Sugar addiction can lead to Type 2 Diabetes by making you less sensitive to insulin.

The more you eat sugar, the more likely you are to become overweight or obese.

Being overweight or obese are risk factors of insulin resistance.

3. Certain types of cancer

While needing further research, a 2013 study revealed that an increase in glycemic index (how foods affect your blood sugar levels) is positively associated with the risk of cancers such as prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, and pancreatic cancer[5].

4 Ways to Stop Sugar Addiction

ways to stop sugar addiction

Decrease your sugar consumption little by little. Shutterstock Images

Are you ready to quit sugar once and for all?

In this section, let’s dive into the simple ways you can overcome sugar addiction and achieve better health:

1. Be wary of foods that are labeled fat-free or low-fat.

Foods that are advertised as low in fat or having no fat at all tend to contain more sugar.

Extra sugar gets added into these foods to make them tastier and appealing.

2. Don’t go cold turkey.

You might feel extremely motivated to quit all your sweet treats and beverages right now, but that is the last thing you should do.

The best way to battle sugar cravings is to decrease your sugar consumption little by little.

That way, your journey to a better self becomes more manageable and less stressful!

Perhaps you can start right now by replacing soda with a glass of cold water every meal.

Instead of snacking on bagels, you can snack on nuts and seeds instead.

3. Reduce your stress.

Stress can increase your blood sugar and insulin levels and will lead to you to think of comfort foods.

Make sure that you manage your stress healthily, get proper sleep at night, try relaxation techniques, and engage in light and stimulating exercise.

4. Use a natural sweetener instead.

Stevia is a non-nutritive sweetener and a healthy alternative to table sugar.

It comes from a plant that is primarily grown in Brazil.

What’s great about stevia is that it regulates your blood glucose, aids in weight control, contains zero calories, and helps reduce and prevent obesity[6].

Read NextThe 10 Best Foods To Control Diabetes

Final Thoughts

Sugar addiction is a problem that many people face.

By understanding the science behind it and practical solutions to overcome it, you’ll be able to achieve your health goals.

Author

Tiffany Yamut, RN

Tiffany is a Registered Nurse and Professional Writer/Founder at Writing With Joy. Her knowledge about health and passion for writin

Advertisement

Related Posts

View All