We’re all guilty of indulging in sweet treats now and then.
But what happens when we take it too far?
This article explains how you can become addicted to sugar and the signs to look out for.
Let’s take a closer look…
What Is Sugar Addiction?
In fact, studies show that it can be just as serious as drug addiction. (1)
Eating sugar and taking drugs both activate the reward center of the brain which raises dopamine levels.
This creates a pleasurable “high” which makes you want to keep doing it.
Every time you eat sugar, you reinforce neuropathways, which causes the brain to become hardwired to crave sugar and build up a tolerance.
This is when the habit starts to turn into an addiction.
To make matters worse, eating excess sugar can lead to serious health conditions like diabetes, obesity and cancer. (2)
Keep reading to find out more…
7 Major Signs You’re Addicted To Sugar
Here are the seven most common signs of sugar addiction:
Poor skin health
Hiding your sugar habit
Eating sugar when you’re not hungry
1. Withdrawal Symptoms
It’s normal to experience some sugar cravings when you cut down on sugar.
However, just like an alcoholic giving up alcohol, the withdrawal symptoms for a sugar addict are much worse.
If you’re used to eating lots of sugar, the sudden withdrawal distresses the body as blood sugar levels plummet.
This can lead to symptoms like:
If you experience any of these withdrawal symptoms, it’s a clear sign that you’re addicted to sugar.
But don’t worry…
Even though these withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant, they’re only temporary.
Over time, your body adapts to receiving less sugar, so the intensity of your symptoms and cravings reduce.
On average, symptoms last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
2. Sugar Cravings
Research shows that your brain can rewire itself to crave sugar. (3)
Once this happens, it can be difficult to resist sugary temptations.
Usually, sugar cravings are worse between meals as the blood sugar drops and you start to lose energy.
When you eat, the body releases insulin: the hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels.
The more sugar you eat, the more insulin is released.
Ultimately, too much insulin can cause your blood sugar to drop below healthy levels. As a result, you start to crave foods that will lift your blood sugar back up.
And so the sugar roller coaster goes…
Just like many addictive substances, you start to build up a tolerance.
At first, one slice of cake is enough, but as you become addicted you need to eat more to satisfy your cravings.
Over time, this can promote insulin resistance, damage the pancreas, and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Other factors that contribute to sugar cravings include:
Hoarding sweet treats is never a good sign either. If you find yourself buying buckets of candy every day, your need for sugar could be spinning out of control.
3. Salt Cravings
Surprisingly enough, salt cravings can be a sign that you’re eating too much sugar.
Sugar is classified as an “empty nutrient” which means that it provides calories but no nutritional value.
Therefore, you become deficient in healthy proteins and fats, which can cause you to crave salty foods like:
However, these highly refined starches are broken down into simple sugars and cause the same energy spike and crash that sugar does.
Research shows that too much salt can affect your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease. (4)
4. Poor Skin Health
Believe it or not, sugar plays a huge role in your skin health.
When there’s too much sugar in the bloodstream, it attaches to proteins and forms new molecules called Advanced Glycation End Products,(AGEs). This process is called glycation.
The more that glycation occurs, the faster your skin ages.
Glycation weakens skin proteins, like collagen and elastin, which are responsible for keeping the skin firm and supple.
A recent study found that people with higher blood sugar levels looked older than those with lower levels. (5)
Signs of aging include:
Dull skin tone
To make matters worse, sugar can also increase sebum secretion and trigger acne.
A recent study found that acne is lower in rural and non-industrialized areas than in Western populations, suggesting that a high sugar Western diet may play a role in acne. (6)
If you have bad skin it could be a sign that you’re eating too much sugar.
5. Constant Fatigue
When blood sugar levels drop, a sugar addict’s first thought is to reach for something sugary.
But contrary to popular belief, sugar can make you feel more tired than awake.
This is because eating sugar reduces the activity of orexin: a peptide that keeps you feeling awake.
Plus, high sugar foods lack nutrients and don’t provide any real energy.
Instead, your blood sugar spikes and crashes quickly.
This causes your body to expel more energy than it takes in, leaving you tired and cranky.
If you feel like you don’t have enough energy to complete your daily chores and are constantly fatigued, it could be a sign of sugar addiction.
6. Hiding Your Sugar Habit
You know you shouldn’t be eating so much sugar, but you can’t cut back, so you start to hide it and make excuses.
Some examples of this include:
Eating sugary snacks when everyone has gone to bed
Binging on sweet food when no one is around
Sneaking extra portions when no one is looking
“Treating” yourself at the weekend
However, hiding something is a sign of shame. It triggers a fear response that makes you feel defensive and unable to make positive changes.
Unfortunately, feelings of shame can have a negative impact on your mental health and lead to low self-esteem and depression. (7)
If you find yourself lying about how much sugar you eat, it could be a sign of sugar addiction.
7. Eating Sugar When You’re Not Hungry
Turning to sugar when you’re not physically hungry is a clear sign of sugar addiction.
You may have just eaten a filling meal, but you’d never dream of skipping dessert.
Your brain is wired to end with something sweet, and it automatically triggers sugar cravings.
To make matters worse, food digestion consumes energy, so your sugar cravings grow even stronger.
Research shows that negative moods can also trigger sugar cravings, like: (8)
Try and tune into your cravings to determine whether it’s true hunger, emotional eating, or habit.
How To Cut Down On Sugar
If you’re addicted to sugar, cutting down may seem overwhelming at first, but over time you can train your taste buds to enjoy things that aren’t as sweet.
Here are five key tips to help you cut down on sugar:
1. Eat More Protein
Protein helps to balance blood sugar levels and reduce withdrawal symptoms. (9)
This is because protein digests slowly, which helps you feel full and keeps sugar cravings at bay.
The best proteins include:
Try to eat at least 25% protein with every meal.
2. Eat More Healthy Fats
Your body can burn sugar or fat for energy.
If you eat less sugar and more fat, your body will start burning the fat.
This helps kick your sugar addiction and promotes weight loss.
Some great healthy fat options include:
Also, fat takes longer to digest than other foods which keep you feeling full longer.
3. Eat More Fiber
Dietary fiber provides energy without raising your blood sugar.
This keeps your blood sugar levels steady and helps reduce sugar withdrawal symptoms.
Good sources of fiber include:
Fiber also keeps you full as it moves through the body undigested, which can help kick sugar cravings.
4. Eat More Probiotic Foods
Probiotic foods are full of good bacteria which can help fight off candida: a fungal infection made worse by sugar.
These foods are generally more sour tasting which can stimulate your taste buds and distract you from sugar cravings.
Research shows that it could also regulate blood sugar levels and reduce appetite. (10)
The top probiotic foods include:
Apple cider vinegar
Aim for a few servings per week to give your gut a boost and minimize sugar cravings.
5. Drink More Water
Your sugar craving may be a sign of dehydration.
When you don’t drink enough water, it reduces the overall fluid in the body and can leave you feeling fatigued.
As a result, you may start to crave sugar for an energy boost.
So the next time you feel tired, try drinking a glass of water instead of turning to sugary snacks. Chances are, you could just be thirsty.
If you have any more questions about being addicted to sugar, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers.
We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.