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The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Are you Addicted to Sugar?

Are you Addicted to Sugar?

Did you know sugar may be addictive? The fact that the average American consumes more than 150 pounds of sugar every year should certainly be a red flag. While research continues on the subject, a number of studies suggest refined sugars affect the brain in ways very similar to alcohol and drugs such as heroin and cocaine, producing an initial “high” upon consumption and resulting in dependency. Over time, greater quantities are needed to achieve the same sugar high. And attempts to eliminate sugar from the diet may result in withdrawal symptoms and cravings. So if you feel frustrated, thinking you simply lack discipline or willpower to turn down that triple fudge brownie, there may indeed be a physiological reason behind your sweet tooth’s constant demand for more sugar.

Refined sugar contains zero nutrients. The white crystalline table sugar we are so fond of is not a natural substance and is nearly impossible to digest. When you eat sugar laden foods, your body is forced to steal essential vitamins and minerals from other parts of the body in its attempt to process what is actually a toxin. As little as two teaspoons of sugar can throw your entire body out of balance. As a result, you are much more likely to suffer obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, auto-immune disease, depression, and a variety of other illnesses.

As with other addictive substances, a sugar habit can be challenging to overcome. If you are struggling with a never ending desire for sweets, it may be time to check yourself into “sugar rehab.”

Try these tips for helping overcome sugar addiction.

  • Admit you have a problem. As with any addiction, you must acknowledge the problem before you can become intentional about overcoming it. Giving yourself three to seven consecutive sugar-free days will let your body detoxify and allow the cravings for sweets to subside. Stay focused on the goal — living a healthier life and feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  • Know what you’re eating. Sugar is hidden in almost all processed foods, not just cakes and cookies. Read labels when you shop, avoiding items containing sugary ingredients such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, and sorbitol. Buy fresh foods as often as possible.
  • Include protein with every meal. Protein keeps blood sugar levels stable. It also helps you feel full longer, decreasing your tendency to want to snack.
  • Replace a bad habit with a good habit. Instead of reaching for the candy dish, indulge yourself with a naturally sweet piece of fruit. Keeping healthy snacks readily available will make it easier to make the right choices.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners. Like refined sugar, these are not natural and have been linked to serious health problems.
  • Brush your teeth immediately following meals. A minty-fresh mouth will help discourage the urge to snack on sugary sweets in between meals.
  • Bring healthy finger foods to parties. Providing healthy alternatives will help you and other health conscious guests say no to sweet temptation.
  • Exercise. A regular fitness routine helps reduce sugar cravings while maintaining a healthy body.
  • Kick the habit with a friend, and keep each other accountable. Surround yourself with people who will support, encourage, and even join you in your quest for a sugar-free lifestyle.

15 comments

1 Jessica Canfield { 11.04.14 at 10:13 am }

Fruits and vegetables don’t have to be more expensive than junk food. If you buy in season apples and oranges are 99 cents at my grocery in Southwest Virgina. I used to make my own snacks when my kids were little, and I need tonget back to it. You can take shred carrots, crushed pinapple and an apple shredded or chopped finely and sweetened with raw honey and make morning glory muffins, they are very good and healthful for you. You CAN eat more healthfully on a limited budget you just have to spend more time in the store and thinking about what you can make. The library is a great place to get low cal, low sugar/fat recipes. Also the internet. My daughter is 17 and I pack her lunch every school day. She gets a sandwich egge salad, peanutbutrer and honey or leftnover meat from the night before, a yogurt, a piece of fruit and crackers or pretzels most days. I am hearing a lot about money in other posts so if. People could spend less in other parts of their life they would have more for healthful food.

2 Raymond Trower { 11.02.14 at 6:30 pm }

I have tried to eat healthy, cutting out sugars and most processed meats, but living on a fixed income buying healthy foods isn’t always an option. When I do my shopping I begin in the produce isle. after one look at the high prices, and I head straight for the dollar section, and we all know what that means.

3 Lisa { 11.02.14 at 6:16 pm }

I have never smoked, I don’t drink, but Imdo Love sugar. I don’t even like soda either. I drink water all day. I also have never needed to diet as I could always eat anything I wanted and never gained weight. Well turning fifty has changed that and know I need to lose 10 lbs but cutting out or back on my sugar and candy mostly chocolate is almost impossible, I can’t exercise do to a back issue. I can’t afford to buy fruits and other healthy foods as they cost so much more that the market sets u up to fail. You have little money you can buy more junk food than you can healthy food. Well I may try again and see how I do. It is super hard and I am just so glad I never took up smoking or drinking.

4 Mary { 11.02.14 at 6:14 pm }

Sugar is truly addictive. Visit: http://www.oa.org/newcomers/is-oa-for-you/ to see if overeaters anonymous is for you

5 Linda Weese { 11.02.14 at 6:06 pm }

I do not eat any more processed food. My doctor gave me some bad news and since then I am changing every thing. I’m exercising more eating right stopped smoking. Now you tell me about sugar. Yes I know I am addicted to sugar. The amount you suggested might be more for me. I have sugar in coffee, tea, some fruits oh boy I’m getting away from that too.

6 kellie hunt { 01.17.12 at 8:49 am }

Easier said than done.There is sugar (mostly hfcs) in everything,Even toothpaste has a sweetening agent.It wouldn’t be do bad,but we consume soo much of it.When I was a kid I got half a 16 oz pop a day.That was it.And it still had real sugar in it then.You got dessert with supper.Only sweet thing all day.A lot of times it was fruit and whipped cream.We are just flooded with it..They may be feeding the masses,but they are killing them in the process.

7 Tonya { 01.30.11 at 11:38 pm }

Great article! SO true! I think sugar is very possibly our greatest health enemy today. Like someone else said, we are definitely enabled by the food AND drug industry. Just look at how much money these people are making off of us. Sugar causes so many health problems with obesity and diabetes being the front runners. It is a very hard habit to break but it all starts with a made up mind, and I think that’s the biggest obstacle, and lots of determination. Replace any small amounts with stevia and larger amounts with raw honey or agave nectar, which can all be found at health food stores. It CAN be done! And remember that it takes 21 days to change a habit.

8 Shari { 01.30.11 at 9:39 pm }

I am a recovering alcoholic and can not believe the sugar I craved when I made up my mind not to drink alcohol ever again. I ate a ton of it. Cutting back on the sugar is getting easier now that I don’t crave alcohol. So strange the similarities. Sober 10 years now, and life is good.

9 Linda { 01.30.11 at 10:33 am }

Tammy, I love your final paragraph……how true when we think back over the years as to how the so-called experts have yanked us up and down, ’round and ’round……we, as a people, are seldom satisfied with what we do and who we are due to the very same reason – I listen to Me, mostly – sounds like You’re my kinda gal!! Rock On ~

10 Tammy { 01.27.11 at 12:40 pm }

I drink tea with 4 and a half overflowing teasoons of sugar per cup all day long! (at least 12 cups) I have been doing so for over 30 years. (not to mention all the sweet snacks I consume every day) I am maybe 5 lbs “overweight” according to the governments BMI system. I do NOT work out or “excercise” other than housework. I am completely healthy – can outrun my teen neices! (and I’ve smoked for over 30 years as well!!)
Am I addicted to sugar? Yeah, ok, I’ll agree to that. Is sugar ‘poisoning’ me? Pffff, I think NOT!
Talk about governmental brainwashing!!!
Stop believing everything you read!
WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE ~ oh, that’s right, it’s not healthy for you either.
Don’t eat butter, it’ll clog your arteries – eat margerine… oh wait, margerine is a few molecules away from being PLASTIC!!! Don’t eat eggs – colesterol… oh wait, you should eat eggs, they are good for you. Don’t eat chocolate – oh wait, chocolate is actually good for you. Don’t drink alcohol – oh wait, a glas of wine is good for you. Don’t eat meat… eat meat… don’t drink milk… drink milk…. etc …
You only live once – enjoy yourself.

11 Whitney { 01.27.11 at 8:34 am }

SO much easier said than done. Sugar withdrawl is incredibly nasty. I’ve tried numerous times to detox from sugar and I get enraged. I’m like Colleen and soda is my thing. I can’t do without it. My diet otherwise is almost pristine (90% vegan). The soda is keeping me above 200lbs but it’s also keeping me from murdering someone. Ha.

12 Colleen { 01.26.11 at 11:09 am }

The article is very informative, unfortunatley I know I am a sugar addict and have read similar articles on the subject. But my will power is 0. I try and try but sugary drinks (Soda) are my downfall. I drink a 12 pack of soda every 2 day’s. I have tried several times to quit but I can’t seem to succeed.

13 Linda { 01.26.11 at 10:18 am }

This is a great article because it defines sugar as a toxin. It couldn’t be clearer: if you care at all for your health, don’t eat poison!

14 D { 01.26.11 at 9:34 am }

As a self-diagnosed sugaraholic, part of the frustration in kicking the habit imho is that we are enabled and encouraged to become junkies by the pushers in the billions of $ pre-packaged food industry.

15 FoodMagick { 01.25.11 at 10:49 am }

Eating more whole, natural, unprocessed foods–with no sugar added–and using fruit to satisfy the sweet tooth are the best ways to avoid sugars. Eating more protein ultimately causes additional damage to the body. Healthy fats actually help stabilize blood sugar better, we just need to be sure and use them only in very small quantities.

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