Are you currently reading this article and eating a sneaky bit of chocolate at your desk? It must be that inescapable afternoon slump or perhaps it’s your annoying ‘sweet tooth’ wreaking havoc again? Let’s not dismiss the obvious- you might have an underlying ‘sugar addiction’.
This is not sugar discrimination, with me suggesting you empty the entire contents of your kitchen to rid yourself of sugar, nor am I not getting paid to promote fruit and vegetables (Farmers don’t have the budget!)
The biological fact is we all need sugar, just not the stuff in the little sachets. Every time you eat carbohydrates they’re broken down by your body into glucose molecules. Our body takes glucose from our bloodstream and moves it into our body’s cells for energy via the hormone insulin. Glucose is the number one fuel used to power our brain and our bodies. Unlike our liver, our brain neurons cannot store an energy source and requires a regular and healthy source of it from our diet. …But let’s be honest, cake and chocolate have never been healthy (although they might be regular). We have all probably consumed too much sugar at one point in time, causing our blood sugar levels to spike and then crash; leaving us tired and looking for our next ‘sugar fix’.
It can be hard to undo habitual behaviours though, especially ones learnt from a very young age; allowing your brain to see sugar as a reward stimulates this on-going ‘sugar wars’. You might say that you’re not addicted to sugar… but let’s look at and consider some possible signs.
Sugar Addiction: Signs & Symptoms:
- Constantly craving sugary things, even when you’re not hungry?
- A cycle of feeling low in mood/ tired and then perked up by a sugary snack?
- Regular ‘binges’ on sweet things? Or do have a constant supply in your cupboards?
- Do you regularly eat white breads, crackers, pasta, long grain rice, sugary cereals or cereal bars?
- Maybe you have a specific health problem related to eating sugar, but you keep eating it anyways?
- How many days can you go without sugar? Only a day? Be honest…
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this could be wake-up call to the way you view or select your next meal, at least in regards to sugar. If not, maybe the media can persuade you about the pitfalls of sugar.
Some current articles from this year that you might find worth reading include:
- How addictive is sugar?
- Q&A: How much sugar should we eat?
- Sugar tax may be necessary, England’s chief medical officer says
- WHO: Daily sugar intake ‘should be halved’
- Sweet tooth linked to heart attacks
- Sugar warning for ‘healthy’ soft drinks
- Cases of diabetes increase to more than 3.2m
- Call to banish fruit juice from recommended 5 a day
Additionally a U.S. programme ‘FED UP’ which started out as a film is gaining increased interest; it tackles the problems of the food industry and proactively gets people think about reducing their sugar intakes, highlighting the ‘56 names of sugar’ that lurk in our foods and drinks!
It’s obvious that the sugar industry isn’t making it easy for us, with ample ways of enabling our love affair with sugar. Not only is it widely and readily available, they insist on giving us ‘options’, yes options, ( i.e.) ten flavours or new and improved flavours of every product.
But let’s face it, sugar doesn’t improve our lives or give us a reason to live- it just makes us fat, tired, highly-strung and perhaps sour-faced from the spiralling reality that it can’t sustain our happiness long term!
So why do we do it? We all know the horrible cliché, ‘a moment on the lips and a lifetime on the hips’, but this topic resonates deeper for us than those tongue in cheek rationalisations of why we should be monitoring our sugar intake.
Sugar is sometimes compared to as a ‘drug’; it’s not surprising as a great deal of us share physical, emotional and mental dependencies on it.
Could this be make or break? What are we going to do to make realistic changes to turn this situation around? I’ll be filling you in on’ 5 simple steps to cut sugar out of your Diet and why you’ll be happier for it’ in an upcoming article. So watch this space!
Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below if you have recently made positive dietary changes in fighting your sugar war or have any thoughts on this topic.
Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Denis Vrublevski on Flickr