As we all gear up for our Halloween candy fix, it’s easy to think of sugar as a harmless indulgence. After all, how can something as cute and sweet as a gummy gear be as scary as its flesh-and-blood counterpart? How can something as delicious and comforting as a peanut butter cup make us pay so dearly for loving it? Like it or not, sugar addiction is a very real thing, and it can lead to serious long-term health problems. Data from Harvard University, as well as countless other sources links sugar to a wide range health risks, including high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There’s also a growing body of research that draws parallels between sugar and opioid addiction.
Sugar Addiction and the Brain
If you’re unconvinced that sugar addiction is real, consider its affects on brain chemistry. As with elicit drug addiction, sugar addiction is fueled by huge surges of dopamine that stimulate the rewards center of brain. Over time, the body starts to crave it more and more to the point where sugar can take over the diet, increasing obesity and corresponding health issues. It can also create serious dental problems, concentration issues and dramatic shifts in your mood. Even a single instance of elevated glucose in the bloodstream can be harmful to the brain, resulting in slowed cognitive function and deficits in memory and attention. While these effects are not necessarily permanent, they can still create serious damage.
What Are the Signs of Sugar Addiction?
- Intense Cravings
- Withdrawal Symptoms (Headache, Nausea, Dry Mouth, Etc.)
- Extreme Changes in Mood
- Depression Symptoms
- Lightheadedness or Dizziness
- Eating More and More Sugar Instead of Healthy Foods
Talk to your doctor if you’ve been experiencing these symptoms and come up with a diet. They can help you develop a healthy, customized meal plan.
Ways to Overcome Sugar Addiction
- Cut Down on Carbohydrates
- Drink More Water or Seltzer
- Stay Physically Active
- Eat Fruits Instead of Candy
- Choose Unsweetened Snacks
Sugar has become a staple of the American diet, but you you can still avoid addiction by consuming it in moderation to stay healthy and decrease your risk of cravings. While sugar addiction is often overlooked, and as much as we tend to laugh it off, it can create legitimate psychological effects that can actually increase self-medication and relapse from alcohol and drugs. If you or your loved one need help, call Recovery Unplugged today.