When you’re depressed, you cope with sugar. When life calls for a celebrate, you celebrate with dessert (aka sugar). Sugar has become the quick fix to deal with all of our feelings and problems. This is because sugar stimulates the "feel-good" chemicals serotonin and dopamine in our brain. The problem is that sugar is highly addictive, as dramatic falls or spikes in our blood sugar affect the part of our brain controlling impulse. This leads to impulsive binging, irritability, and cravings for unhealthy sugary foods.
Research has shown that sugar is an addictive toxin. Today, the average sugar intake in North America is roughly 22-24 teaspoons per day, which is four times the amount that the World Health Organization suggests is healthy. This excess sugar contributes to a laundry list of health conditions including diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
One of the most noticeable and rapid effects of sugar is weight gain. When we eat refined sugar, our bodies break it down into glucose and fructose. Fructose not only activates processes in your body that make you store fat, but the high supply of glucose exceeds our energy demand, which again becomes stored as fat by the liver.
Why do we crave sugar?
Sugar addictions can be triggered by several underlying causes and can signify the presence of an existing health problem or condition. Some of these potential underlying causes include:
Adrenal overload or tiredness – Because your body can convert sugar into energy so quickly, eating sugar gives your body a fast and temporary boost of energy. Often when we crave sweets we really just need fuel.
Hormones – Women experiencing menopause as well as those who experience PMS, often crave sweets before menstruation. This is because hormonal fluctuations can trigger strong cravings for quick energy provided by sweets.
Depression and anxiety – Many people seek sugary foods when they experience certain emotions and develop an emotional connection with sweets. Sugar makes you ‘feel good’ temporarily before it causes you to crash, and consequently crave more.
Candida – Candida is a yeast that grows in your intestines due to an imbalance in gut flora. Candida feeds off sugar which causes you to crave refined carbohydrates and refined sugars. This in turn causes ‘bad’ bacteria overgrowth which causes several digestive problems.
Taste – The simple fact is sugar tastes good. People enjoy eating it because the truth is, it’s delicious.
So how do you kick refined sugar to the curb?