Is A Sugar Addiction As Powerful As Cocaine Addiction
I think wed all agree that cocaine is a very addictive substance. So how does sugar addication compare?
Consuming sugar sparks your nucleus accumbens , the area of the brain often referred to as the reward centre. When your nucleus accumbens is stimulated, it releases dopamine, and you begin to feel very good very quickly.
The more sugar your food contains, the more dopamine is released, and the bigger high you experience. But…
Just like cocaine and other addictive drugs, over time your brain requires more sugar in order to generate the same high. Your dopamine receptors become less sensitive to the presence of sugar, and your addiction to sugar grows stronger.
Some people even experience physiological changes within the brain when they eat sugary or highly refined foods . Their brains change and the sugar addiction gets stronger.
It is important to realize that sugar addiction is NOT just an emotional reliance on sweets and refined foods. If you cant resist sugar, dont be too hard on yourself. It has nothing to do with your willpower, or your desire to change your body has adapted to depend on sugar and, just like a cocaine addict experiences tremendous withdrawal symptoms if she were to cut out cocaine, removing sugar from your diet can feel impossible.
This can sound very depressing, but dont worry because there IS hope.There is a sugar addiction cure!
The Anatomy Of An Addiction
What makes something an addiction, rather than something you just like?
An addiction is something you keep doing even though it has destructive effects on you. The habit has tied into your brains reward mechanism, through positive reinforcement, so that you feel the need to keep doing the habit even when you know you should stop.
An example might be someone who smokes even though its making him sick, or someone who shops even when shes deeply in debt. Food addictions are common, ranging from a minor addiction to coffee to a major addiction that might cause obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more.
How do we get addicted to food? It starts out simply you might eat something because its tasty and makes you feel good. And then when you are feeling down or stressed out perhaps, you turn to the food to feel better . Next time the bad feeling comes up, you do it again, because last time you did feel better after eating the food. Through repetition, each time you get the bad feeling, you start to get a strong urge to eat the food so strong, you cant resist, even if youre on a diet.
This can happen with a bunch of negative feelings stress, loneliness, boredom, sadness, anger, mourning a loss, the discomfort of travel, the discomfort of awkward social situations, and so on. Each of these might be tied to one type of food, or several.
Plan Times To Indulge
Completely ignoring cravings can have negative consequences, so it may be a good idea to plan times to eat otherwise restricted foods. This may look like a cheat day or an after-work treat, depending on a personâs dietary needs.
Sticking to a restrictive diet and ignoring cravings may be easier if a person has a planned indulgence to look forward to.
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Breaking The Food Addiction
If food addictions are real, how difficult is it to break them? Clinical psychologist Douglas Lisle, PhD, says that at the TrueNorth Health Center in Rohnert Park, Calif., where he is director of research, patients have had the most success through “therapeutic fasting” — in essence, rebooting the “hard drive” in their brain through a period of water-only fasting in a medically supervised setting, followed by the introduction of a diet emphasizing fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. .
But if your stomach is already growling at the mere thought of a total fast, try making a complete break just from the foods you crave — a process that Barnard says works much better than trying to eat them in moderation. He argues that staying completely away from a food item for three weeks often resolves the problem. “At the end of three weeks, your tastes will have changed,” he says. “You won’t want the food as much anymore.”
When you get rid of the sugar or chocolate from your diet “cold turkey,” don’t expect any of the withdrawal symptoms that are often associated with other addictions. “Occasionally, a person does say to me, ‘When I stop consuming sugar, I feel lethargic and depressed,'” says Barnard, an adjunct associate professor of medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine. “But withdrawal symptoms are not essential to the definition of a food addiction.”
How To Detox From Sugar
Overcoming sugar addiction is part physical and part psychological. Id say the psychological element is the most difficult, and in order to move beyond it you must change your subconscious feelings about food. Lets take a look at how you can take care of your body and mind during your sugar detox.
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Ways To Beat Your Food Addiction
And nix your stress-eating for good
Its an all-too-common scenario: You wake up in the morning swearing todays the day when youll eat clean, nourish yourself with a healthy breakfast at home, and pass up the glistening bakery goodies that tempt you every day. You make it to work without incident and then stress hitsany kind of stress, from a new project deadline to a caustic remark from your boss. A little while later, you find yourself with pastries in hand, wolfing down sugary anesthetics and wanting more. When you finally pop out of your food trance, and the reality of what youve done begins to settle in, the ensuing feelings of shame and guilt stoke your stress levels more and youre already plotting your next food fix. You wonder: Why do I keep caving to these cravings? Wheres my discipline and willpower?
This is your brain addicted to food.
Thats right. Addicted. You might tell yourself, “Im not addicted to food I just love a good sweet now and then.” Well, Im here to tell you that food addiction is real it affects more people than you know, and manufacturers actually design food products so that they are as addicting as possible. Yes, that perfect combination of salty, sweet, and savory was created to make sure you keep reaching for more. Thats why I wrote The Hunger Fix, because I want to change the game that is rigged against you.
Here are six ways to beat food addiction:
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Reframe: Being The Strong One
I found this reframe to be working very well when it comes to food:
Im going to live to 100 years because I want to stay with my loved ones as long as possible and dont want them to grieve my death.
This reframe has three building blockswith one generation associated with each block.
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Forgiveness Brings Food Freedom
During recovering from food addiction, there will be times you mess up.
When those times happen, accept Gods forgiveness.
You will slip up and eat foods that arent on your plan. You will cave and eat the sugar, chips, or junk food. You will binge when you swore you would never do it again.
Because of Jesus, you walk as a forgiven and free child of God. You are not in bondage to sin and darkness. You are a child of the light.
Rather than expecting perfection of yourself, each time you fall down repent and get back on track immediately.
Make Preparations Before You Quit
Having a plan of action helps you avoid the usual pitfalls. Make sure to spend some time on these three steps before you actually quit and you will not only prevent many potential relapses but also make it more likely you always get back on track if they happen.
Write down the pros and cons
First, you need to know why youre quitting. Make a list of pros and cons and put it on your fridge. The pros might include things like: Ill lose weight, Ill be healthier, Ill have more energy, Ill be able to enjoy sports again. The cons might be something like: I will really miss my favourite treats. I will need to explain my new food choices to people. I wont be able to participate in some traditional meals. You have to make sure the pros outweigh the cons in your mind before you proceed.
Get rid of trigger foods
You know exactly the foods that make you overeat. Its time to write them down and put them on a blacklist of foods that can never enter your household. If you have any at home throw them away on the day you quit. The temptation of having them nearby would be too much to handle.
Make a list of things to eat instead
Now youre ready to quit cold turkey and never look back. There are a few lifestyle habits that could help you become more resilient to cravings and temptation. And its also important to address the underlying cause of addiction. Both of those topics will be the focus of the rest of this series.
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Four Stages Of Breaking A Food Addiction
Nowhere do the four stages of food addiction come into play more powerfully than they do when you resist changing a habit relating to the foods with which you self-medicate. For most of us those foods are the instant, and easily available – bread, beverage, dessert, or alcohol. For others they are the fatty foods, and plenty of them. You might choose huge portions of steak, hamburger, and French fries, enormous bowls of salad with globs of dressing. Perhaps chunks of cheese appear as a part of your daily food consumption.
Whether it is a basket of bread, a huge salad, or a box of cookies, your body takes so much extra time to slog through the extra food more food than youre able to burn that it cannot easily process it. The body wears itself out. You get tired.
Calories are units of energy. After eating your meal you want to feel energized, not tired.
Eating more than you need causes you to feel as if you are in a drugged state. This altered state, zones out the brain, and helps you to escape from feelings.
First Steps In Overcoming Food Addiction
A few things can help prepare for giving up junk foods and make the transition easier:
- Trigger foods. Write down a list of the foods that cause cravings and/or binges. These are the trigger foods to avoid completely.
- Fast food places. Make a list of fast food places that serve healthy foods and note their healthy options. This may prevent a relapse when hungry and not in the mood to cook.
- What to eat. Think about what foods to eat preferably healthy foods that are liked and already eaten regularly.
- Pros and cons. Consider making several copies of the pro-and-con list. Keep a copy in the kitchen, glove compartment, and purse or wallet.
Additionally, dont go on a diet. Put weight loss on hold for at least 13 months.
Overcoming food addiction is difficult enough. Adding hunger and restrictions to the mix is likely to make things harder.
After taking these preparatory steps, set a date in the near future like the coming weekend from which point onward the addictive trigger foods wont be touched again.
To overcome food addiction, its important to plan. Make a list of trigger foods and know what is going to be eaten instead.
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Ways To Stop Food Addiction
The best way to break old, destructive patterns is to create new habits. I have found structured programs that teach new ways of eating can be extremely helpful when trying to stop food addiction and learn new habits.
There are two programs that I recommend for learning new habits around food in a structured way. Keep in mind that there are many programs that can work. Im most familiar with the ones in this post and have seen how they helped me personally as well as many other people.
The bottom line is you need to swap the old habits for new ones. Consume whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods where you minimize or eliminate sugar and eat high-quality protein, healthy fats and unprocessed carbohydrates.
Getting Healthy Was Never About The Number On The Scale It Was About Healing The Part Of Me That Didnt Think I Was Worthy Or Enough
Now at this point, what I know to be true is that while it started as an innocent coping mechanism, it did become an addiction.
I learned that white, processed sugar has addictive qualities in it similar to that of heroin and cocaine and that I absolutely had to cut it out of my diet to break the addiction while I took on the task of healing myself from the inside out.
Sugar qualifies as an addictive substance for two reasons:
1. Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more.
2. Suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.
I began to see the correlation between my intake of wheat and processed sugar, and the affect it had on my blood sugar levels and end result of nightly binges.
I filled the space in my heart that didnt believe I was perfect just the way I am with things that heal: adventures and traveling, supportive friendships, love for myself, running, sunshine, learning and personal growth, reading, meditation, love for others, animals, laughter, being close to the water, love for the world, self-expression, creative projects, gratitude, green juices, and morning and nightly rituals that keep me focused and grounded.
It was about connecting with my inner voice and strength so that I could shine the light that was buried deep inside, so that my outer beauty would reflect the always present inner beauty.
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Is It Worth It In The Long Term
Visualizing the long-term consequences of snacking or otherwise indulging can help some people to curb cravings.
These consequences may include:
- health risks
- feeling reduced levels of energy and happiness throughout the day
This exercise can also help a person to see the big picture and remember why they are dieting or trying to restrict their intake of certain foods.
Stress can play a role in hunger cravings, and long-term stressors can cause some people to crave foods that are sugary or more calorie-dense.
Finding ways to reduce stress may help to eliminate cravings.
Simple means of reducing stress, such as taking regular breaks from work, or even taking a few deep breaths, can help the body to refocus and calm the mind.
It may also help to try mindful stress-relieving practices, such as:
- breathing exercises
Tips In Overcoming Food Addiction
For food addiction recovery, it will take a lot of willpower and sacrifice to overcome it. It may take weeks or months, but you have to believe in yourself to overcome this. Everybody has different food cravings, and breaking food addiction is going to be different for everybody. But here are some tips you can start with:
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Matrix Intensive Outpatient Treatment For People With Stimulant Use Disorders: Counselor’s Family Education Manual W/cd
This comprehensive kit provides substance use disorder treatment professionals with a year-long intensive outpatient treatment model. Professionals can use this model when treating clients who are dependent on stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamine and cocaine. Access family education sessions and handouts.
Would I Eat A Piece Of Fruit
This exercise is called the fruit test. If a person cannot tell whether they are really hungry or just craving a sugary sweet, asking themselves whether they would eat a piece of whole fruit can help.
If the answer is yes, the body is likely hungry, and if the answer is no, a person may be having a craving.
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Ways To Break Free From Junk Food Addiction
Eating less junk food is one of the hardest things to do especially around the holidays when everywhere you look you see a bowl of candy, a plate of cookies or some cheesy, carb-filled appetizer. Even if you promise to stay strong, more often than not, you give in to temptation.
But giving up junk food isnt difficult because you lack willpower. Its difficult because
Once you start eating junk food daily, youre hooked. In fact, your body reacts to junk food the same way it does to addictive substances like alcohol, cocaine and tobacco. It goes through a cycle of binging, craving and withdrawal. But breaking the cycle is so important and not just to maintain a healthy weight either
It may sound crazy, but even if you dont have diabetes, junk food causes wastes and fluids to accumulate in your blood, tricking your kidneys into behaving as if you had full-fledged diabetes. And eventually, that can make you quite sick.
So how do you break the cycle?
It wont be easy, but certain techniques can help you break free from junk food addiction. Once you succeed, youll no longer be a slave to your food cravings. And youll feel and look better too. Here are six tips that can help you: