I know what it’s like to feel addicted to sugar. The constant thoughts about where your next sweet fix is coming from. The energy highs and lows. Daily mood swings. Incessant cravings. And withdrawal symptoms, like headaches, if you try to stop.
I spent about 20 years of my life feeling like this and most of my clients tell me this is how they feel.
Many studies have now proven, sugar is in fact an addictive substance, similar to illegal drugs.
One study, done on rats who were offered a choice between sugar water and cocaine, saw 94 per cent of the rats choose sugar. Even the cocaine addicted rats, switched to sugar once it was an option.
Sugar essentially takes over the chemistry in your brain producing changes that are similar to what takes place in the brains of those using drugs or alcohol.
Basically, what happens is sugar stimulates the pleasure centre in your brain. When you eat sugar, it triggers the release of dopamine and you experience those good feelings and pleasurable sensations.
But the more and more sugar you eat, the more desensitized the brain gets to it, and you can develop a tolerance. In order to keep getting those same pleasurable feelings, you need to eat more and more. This is how the cycle of cravings and withdrawals happen and you become addicted.
The good news is, you can break this addictive cycle. And here’s how you do it:
Go cold turkey.
Yup. I know it sounds extreme, but just like other drugs and addictive substances, trying to wean yourself off it slowly is a painful, frustrating and hopeless process.
It’s best to decide on a date, clean out your pantry and remove all sugars and starchy foods at once for a period of time.
Otherwise, you aren’t really going to notice much of a difference, you won’t truly break the addictive cycle, and it’ll take much longer for your body to repair and heal.
Here are the categories of sugary and starchy foods you need to eliminate to truly break your sugar addiction:
1. Candy, soda, and processed junk food.
2. Baked goods
3. Bread, pasta and grains
Some people can break the cycle within a couple weeks. Others could take between two and three months.
But it’s so worth it, when your energy starts to come back, your moods balance out, the cravings are gone and you feel in control of your relationship with sweets.
And, more good news, once you’ve broken your sugar addiction, your body will likely be able to handle some sugar in moderation. This means saving sugar for special occasions, using better quality or sugar alternatives, and learning to make home made treats where you can control the ingredients and amount of sweeteners.
How does that sound? Do you think it’s worth trying?
If you’re at the end of your rope with sugar and want it out of your system for good, join me this April and May for my eight week Sugar Shift. You’ll receive all the support, expertise, tools and resources to quit sugar cold turkey and find the freedom and clarity to live with healthy ease around food. Enrolment is now open.
* This post was originally published in the Herald Community on March 23, 2015.