Exploring The Highs and Lows of Sugar Addiction
At one time I had a full blown sugar addiction. I couldn’t stop eating it, had no control around it, and it gave me a high each and every time I ate it. That high ended in self-hate, disappointment and guilt every time. And of course then I would swear that I would never go back to it. And then what would I do the next day when the debilitating cravings came back? I would go back to it again. And again….and again…and each time I did I hated myself more for all the stress I was putting on my body.
But it really was my drug. And before I really embarked on my journey to both discover and overcome my sugar/food addiction I thought I was just broken and had no will power, which was definitely not the case.
After the temporary high was over, sugar left me bloated and puffy, 50 pounds heavier, tired, dehydrated and EVEN MORE HUNGRY!. It would also leave me feeling temporarily depressed, angry, sad and fully emotional.
My low point was the day I had finished binging on a large quantity of foods including sugar and felt awful. I threw out the rest and promised that would be it. It was when I had an ounce of room in me that I decided I had room for another cookie so I went to my kitchen garbage can and dug through to find the cookies and ate another one. I then sat on the floor and started to cry as I had realized I just dug through a garbage can to eat sugar. It really made me realize how addicted and out of control I was.
If you are curious about what a binge would look like for me you can view the video so see how much I used to eat on here: https://youtu.be/nynctuB24f0
Once I decided that I didn’t want to live a life stuck in a food jail from hell, I decided to start doing something about it.
What I Learned
The first thing I did was start reading and researching about sugar. My findings blew me away. I started to read articles that compared sugar being as addictive as or more addictive than hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. This SHOCKED me. But also didn’t surprise me because the high I was always seeking seemed unstoppable until I gave in, which of course was part of the addiction.
I also learned how refined sugars negatively impacted the stomach, my blood sugar, liver, fed my candida problems (yeast imbalance), and also fueled exhausted and adrenal fatigue (all of which I struggled with at the time.) Not only was it fueling and throwing my body out of balance physically, I was gaining weight so easily. And of course further reading led to the explanation of how sugar impacts the mood and can leave us feeling low without it.
I started to not feel so crazy, and realized that this wasn’t just about will power, it was so much deeper than that.
And I think it’s important to share this because I KNOW for a fact that there are probably millions of people if not more out there dealing with and struggling with mild emotional eating reliance on sugar to full blown food addictions where one feels powerless against it.
For those who are addicted or can’t stay away, it’s not just as easy as saying no, it goes so much deeper than that, so if you are one of the people who can have a small amount of sugar and move on with your day, you are one of the lucky ones! I am now at that point, but it took time and patience and practice to get there. As well as really learning the practice of mindful eating. I still keep refined sugars at a minimum as I don’t believe they serve much purpose to our health and in fact create the opposite if we consume more than moderate amounts.
How Sugar Behaves In The Body
Eating things like refined sugars, especially combined with fatty and salty foods can take over the part of the brain that is similar to that of a reward center. This contributes to similar changes in the brain like the reactions of a drug addict or alcoholic.
The neurotransmitter dopamine is produced to give us that “pleasure” or “high” feeling as we start to consume the sugar, and by the end of the consumption we have come off the high and normally don’t feel good anymore. After time, in order to achieve the same kind of high, we must eat more sugar so the dopamine production continues to give us what we seek. So then goes the vicious cycle of eating more, increasing our appetite levels and fueling even bigger cravings. At this point it can seem unstoppable.
After we’ve experienced the high that sugar hits the stomach and can be absorbed into the blood stream quite quickly. Of course everything we eat has to filter through the liver and whatever the liver cannot use at the time gets stored. Then we see spikes and drops in blood sugar, more cortisol production may occur (which is the stress hormone) and we end up going from a potentially energy rush to an energy crash quickly.
We can then start to feel bloating, discomfort, pain, inflammation (puffiness or pain throughout the body), excess gas, dehydration, weight-gain and much more. Everyone of course has a unique body and may respond differently, and I’ve seen a variety of symptoms as I work with people to help them overcome their sugar and food addictions.
Overcoming Sugar Addiction
So when one wants to start to explore how to overcome this it is something that is going to take some time. And that is actually not a bad thing. When we bring in patience and allow ourselves to take the time that it is going to take to overcome something like this, we are more likely to overcome it for good, for the rest of our lives as it’s a lifestyle transformation. No more diets, fads, quick fixes, restrictive cleanses or anything like that. It’s about slowly weaning off of the refined sugars while learning why we are so drawn to it in the first place. This takes building awareness, and is something I am doing with my clients all of the time.
Be prepared as you wean off that you may go through sugar withdrawal symptoms. Heightened cravings, sweats, chills, flu-like symptoms, headaches, low energy, mood swings and bloating, just to name a few. I am not sharing this to deter you, I am sharing this so that you are aware, as some people will start this expecting to feel better immediately, and then when these symptoms start, they panic and think there is something wrong and that cutting out sugar is making them feel worse so they must need it. This isn’t the case, it’s again the withdrawal and out body is detoxing the sugar and other potential refined ingredients out of our body. It gets a bit worse before it gets better. But let me tell you once you get over the hump, which may be a day or 5 or a week depending on how long you’ve been consuming and how much – it’s worth it.
The next thing it so start to explore alternative natural sweeteners that are not going to hit your blood sugar and brain chemistry like refined sugar. There are some favorites I have that I would love to share about as well as a few food products they are found in. All of which you can grab locally at Amaranth Natural Foods, and if you are not local, most of these are available in the natural isles of grocery stores or your natural food stores!
As I say always, everything in moderation including these. I think it’s important we include a variety of whole foods for our daily fuel and choose products including these sweeteners for enjoyment and to replace the sugar-laden products.
Is a natural sweetener from the monk fruit. It has zero calories and is used to sweeten foods and recipes again 100% naturally. It is also a digestive aid. My favorite product that monk fruit is used in are the Julian Bakery Protein Bars found at Amaranth.
Is a natural sweetener derived from the Stevia leaf plant. I prefer the green powder as it’s just the leaf dried and blended into a powder. 1 tsp of Stevia is the equivalent to a cup of sugar so you don’t need much of it in baking or whatever you choose to add it into. Some people mention an aftertaste, I don’t see it, but again we all have different taste buds. My favorite product that Stevia is used in are the Zevia brand pop products.
Is a sugar alcohol used as a natural sweetener. It does not spike the blood sugar along with the monk fruit and stevia. My favorite products are Pur gum and mints as well as the Zevia brand pop products.
Derived from a fruit that is dried and blended into a powder, lucuma has a maple caramel flavor and is lower on the glycemic index. I love adding it to puddings, chocolate recipes and anything with coconut. You can find it at most of your local health food stores including Amaranth Natural Foods.
Is a brown granulated sugar that I’ve used to replace white sugar for any baking or cooking that calls for granulated sugar. It has a high nutrient value and is lower on the glycemic level, so again is a great replacement for your white, brown and golden sugars.
Get In Touch
If you can relate and have been struggling to quit sugar and seem to have tried everything and had nothing work then I encourage you to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your 30 minute complimentary consultation via Skype, phone or Facetime to explore your struggles with food, sugar, emotional eating and anything else that may come along with it. Freedom and overcoming these struggles is fully possible and if I could do it so can you.
Also be sure to check out my website at www.amberapproved.ca and the many recipes and other amazing pieces of content I have to support your health journey.
Emotional Eating, Hormone & Digestive Expert
CEO Amber Approved Inc.
Episode 106: Why We Diet Through The Holidays, Restriction & Weight Gain Fears, Navigating A Healthy Holiday Food Season
Episode 105 Building Awareness of Feeding Your Health, Why Regularly Feeding Your Health Is Important & Identifying Self-Care That Creates Body Freedom
Amber Approved Holiday Gift Guide 2017
Egg Nog Smoothie