Develop a craving for sugar, go through with it, feel guilty about it, repeat…
Are you stuck in a constant cycle such as the one above, and feel helpless to do anything about it? If so, you’re not the only one.
According to a study1, in the US alone, diabetes cost the government a whopping $174 billion in 2007. The study also predicts the percentage of the US population affected by diabetes to increase from 14% in 2010 to 28% in 2050 based on current trends.
So, clearly, sugar addiction is a problem not just for the current generation but also for the future generation.
What causes sugar addiction?
Sugar is just plain energy. From a survival point of view, it is the best nutrient we can consume. Naturally occurring sugars are actually pretty healthy for us.
For example, fruits have sugar in them but also have lots of healthy nutrients such as fibre, anti-oxidants, etc. Yet, we don’t feel a craving for fruits. Why is that?
The answer to that question brings us to refined sugar. And refined sugar is the culprit. Foods such as candy and ice cream not only have more volume of sugar compared to fruits but also have too much glucose (as opposed to fructose) which causes an insulin spike. Not to mention they have zero of the healthy nutrients that fruits have.
Studies have shown sugar to have similar effect on the brain2 as drugs do, in that they release dopamine (a feel-good hormone) in the brain whenever we consume it -- which explains why we are addicted to it.
How to Take Charge of Your Addiction
The good news is that unless you are trying to survive on a remote island, the problem (and hence, the fix) is internal -- i.e. you take charge of your mind, you take charge of your addiction.
The bad news is that it takes patience and hard work. The worse your addiction, the longer it takes and the harder you’ll have to work. Listed below are some steps you can take to start controlling your addiction.
1. It’s not about discipline and will power
The biggest mistake people make when trying to control their sugar addiction is to chastise themselves for being undisciplined. This is usually followed by a resolution to go to the gym and follow a strict diet.
Your sugar problem is likely due to a deeper problem within you that is expressing itself in the form of sugar addiction. In many cases, it’s due to a feeling of a lack of self-worth. Without solving this deeper problem, no matter how organized or disciplined you are, it will come back to haunt you.
2. Stop being ashamed and feeling guilty
When you talk to yourself, talk like you would talk to a child. How would a child react if you shouted at him for a mistake? He would probably behave even worse and would only aggravate the problem. Why? Because it’s a defense mechanism used when people feel less worthy.
The same way, you feel less worthy when you shout at yourself. The solution is to gently remind yourself to not repeat your mistake.
3. Progressively build a habit
Another mistake is to suddenly make rapid changes in a bid to change your lifestyle. It’s usually better to accept your problems for now and focus on building a slower, steadier, progressive habit.
Drink 6 cans of soda every day? Start drinking 5 every day this week, then 4 and so on.
4. Emotional health and stress
It shouldn’t be surprising at this point to know that sugar addiction is directly associated with poorer emotional health3. If you find you are stressed out, figure out other healthier ways to reduce it such as yoga and meditation. Using sugar to compensate for these problems is a recipe for disaster.
Remember how I said eating sugar leads to the release of dopamine, which is what keeps us addicted to it? Well, there are other healthier habits that also release dopamine.
Regular exercise, getting up early, being out in nature, having sex, etc. -- all also release the feel-good hormones in our brains. That explains why some people love yoga so much and can’t live without it. DoYouYoga readers can attest to that!
So, go ahead, use the tips above and take charge of your sugar addiction!