Overcome Sugar Addiction?

Do You Really Need to Overcome Sugar Addiction?

You have probably read all the articles about how sugar lights up pleasure centers in the brain just like heroin or cocaine and therefore it is as addicting as illegal drugs and should be avoided at all costs.  As you read these articles you start to think about your own behavior around sugar and you begin to believe what you read.   You try to restrict sugar intake or completely avoid it for a time and then the cravings become so strong you can no longer resist and you give in.  Maybe you need to overcome sugar addiction? or maybe not!

The cycle of trying to overcome sugar addiction continues on and on and on and you start to think you are an addict.  You feel that you need some kind of intervention and treatment protocol to help you overcome your sugar addiction.  I want to be a voice of reason, a voice of rational thought instead of a fear monger who promotes some kind of restrictive dietary regime!

If Sugar Lights Up Pleasure Centers in the Brain Doesn’t That Mean it is as Addicting as Cocaine?

In short, absolutely NOT!  There is a LONG list of things that light up pleasure centers in the brain or cause a dopamine release that we do not try to avoid like the plague:

  • Listening to music
  • Dancing
  • Kissing
  • Hugging
  • Exercise
  • Sex
  • Bananas are rich in dopamine
  • Sports
  • Reading
  • Surfing the internet
  • Liking something
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Eating

Maybe we should just stop all these behaviors because they stimulate pleasure centers in our brain and we certainly don’t want that…or do we?  We have a pleasure/reward system in our brain for a reason.  These reactions in our brain help us seek out things that will perpetuate survival.  Food stimulates pleasure centers in the brain because you NEED it to survive!

Did you know Mother’s Milk Contains addictive Caso-morphines that stimulate Pleasure centers in the brain?

The reason milk contains these casomorphines is to make eating pleasurable for baby to ensure consumption of adequate nutrition for survival.  The fact that mother’s milk has mildly addictive substances in it that stimulate pleasure centers in the brain does NOT mean babies should not drink mothers milk or they will become raging addicts!  

Obviously when we are speaking of illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine it is a totally different ball game.  These drugs hijack the body’s natural pleasure centers and overload the circuit board so to speak leading to TRUE addiction!  This is NOT the case for normal activities or foods, even processed foods.  

We Cannot Compare Sugar to Cocaine Addiction

 What is the clinical definition of Physical Addiction:  Physical dependence on a substance that results in an increased physical tolerance for the chemical substance with an accompanying strong experience of physical withdrawal symptoms when an individual stops using the chemical substance.  

Drug withdrawal symptoms:

  • Night sweats
  • Restlessness
  • Shakiness
  • Clammy Skin
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Aggitation
  • Delirium
  • Self-harm
  • Insomnia
  • Disorientation
  • Mental confusion
  • Dilated pupils……

Drug withdrawal is a physically painful and intense experience that does not in any way, shape or form resemble that of not eating sugar anymore!  Some individuals say that several hours after they eat sugar they feel a little lethargy or low energy, they may also state that when they eat sugar they feel jittery or unwell.  These symptoms are NOT the result of a drug like effect, they are the result of a mild level of insulin resistance.   Most people report feeling much BETTER when they reduce sugar intake which is never the case with an actual drug.


You have ‘Sugar’ in your Blood 24/7

It does not matter if you eat a diet with ZERO carbohydrates your body STILL has to maintain 70-100mg/dl of glucose in your blood at all times to prevent fainting, coma and even death!  Where does the blood glucose come from if you are on a low carb diet?  Skeletal muscle!  

The starvation mechanisms in your body jump into overdrive on a low carbohydrate diet to prevent you from dying in the face of inadequate primary fuel which is carbohydrate or glucose.  Your blood sugar levels remain constant no matter what…but muscle tissue is a finite resource and is NOT an ideal source for blood glucose.   White sugar consumption does the same thing as any other carbohydrate food you consume..it is broken down and provides glucose or sugar that in turn provides fuel for your body.   

Glucose or Sugar is NOT a foreign substance that your body doesn’t know what to do with!

The diet industry literally ran amok with the research showing that sugar stimulates pleasure centers in the brain like cocaine….what they forgot to tell you is….so does a laundry list of other foods and behaviors we eat or do everyday!    The diet industry jumps on every bandwagon possible to create a new diet plan, a new strategy a new book to profit off a multi-billion dollar industry.  The problem is, there is no sanity, no rational thought behind their rants….just fear mongering in the hopes of raking in another dollar!

If Sugar isn’t addicting….Why do I feel so addicted to it?

Researchers have actually found that rats only binged on sugar when it was intermittently available, when it was available all the time they did not binge or over eat on it.   There are two types of people when it comes to sugar:

  1. Those who can eat 1/2 cookie, feel satisfied and walk away.
  2. Those who start out thinking they will eat 1 cookie and end up eating 5.

What is the difference?  

  1. Those who can eat 1/2 a cookie and walk away are those who do NOT have a chronic past of dieting and restrictive eating.  They are not on the latest low carb, paleo, sugar free, diet craze.  They eat what they like, they eat normally and they do not restrict anything.  They don’t feel a need to binge on sugar because they can have it any time they want it.  There is no fear of deprivation, this is the last time I am going to eat this or I haven’t had sugar in 3 weeks and it tastes so good I can’t stop. 
  2. Those who can’t stop eating sugar are those who have a past of restrictive eating and dieting.  The ones who struggle the most are generally those who: 

a. have a chronic past of low carb dieting 

b. have a past of severe calorie restriction 

c. have a past of using cardio as a weight loss method 

 d. have an unhealthy relationship with food and a fear of sugar.

The research is crystal clear on this….the more you restrict the more likely you are to have episodes of binge eating.   When you stop restricting and dieting binge eating begins to lessen and your eating patterns return to normal. 

Sugar is NOT your problem…..Restrictive Eating is!

As soon as you stop the diet mentality and just start living your life, eating foods you love, your ‘addiction’ to sugar will magically subside.   I know you probably believe that if you let go of control you are going to eat cookies, donuts, brownies for every meal and become out of control.  That isn’t the case at all.  In fact, most people enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods and will choose them along with a small portion of enjoyable sugary foods.    There is no diet or self-mastery book, plan, or program out there that is going to make restriction work for you.  Heal your relationship with food and you will heal your addiction to sugar.



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