Many suffer in silence with their addiction to various foods, one in particular; sugar. Indeed, there continues to be a lack of awareness of sugar as a form of addiction, despite the scientific research that exists. Several studies for instance, have shown that sugar can cause an opiate-like response in the brain, crossing the blood brain barrier and hitting our reward pleasure centre. This is perpetuated by a diet high in sugar, which can cause blood sugar fluctuations and thus increased sugar cravings. Imagine for a minute you've just eaten your morning breakfast bagel. At the beginning you may feel an energy boost. Yet, internally this high amount of sugar in the blood, causes the body to release insulin resulting in an energy "crash", or state of "hyperglycemia". This is when cravings tend to set in, as the body calls on us to search for the quickest form of energy, which typically includes sugary, carbohydrate dense foods: cookies, bread, candies and cakes! Although there may be more going on unique to your physiology that can contribute to sugar cravings, the take home message here, is that it isn't all in your head. That it is not all about "will power" and that you are not alone.
Important to note are the emotional effects that our body's response to sugar can cause as well which can perpetuate feelings of shame, increased cravings and addiction to sugar. For instance, when in a state of hypoglycemia, associated symptoms also include;
Next time you are feeling anxious or low, ask yourself what have I eaten today? Have I skipped a meal? Is there a blood sugar imbalance at play? Supporting your body with nutrient dense, whole foods while reducing sugar intake, can help make choice more manageable as your cravings decrease and your mood elevates. The following healthy foods help make this happen:
Making the change to reduce sugar can often bring up emotions. Some have noted actually going through a "grieving" process when cutting out sugary foods that were no longer serve them. Having support as you journey through this is essential and receiving guidance from a counselor that understands the food-mood connection can assist in working through the patterns and stories that often go hand in hand with our physical attachment to the foods that we eat.
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