ARE YOU A SUGAR ADDICT?
"Available evidence in humans shows that sugar and sweetness can induce reward and craving that are comparable in magnitude to those induced by addictive drugs.... Overall, this research has revealed that sugar and sweet reward can not only substitute to addictive drugs, like cocaine, but can even be more rewarding and attractive. At the neurobiological level, the neural substrates of sugar and sweet reward appear to be more robust than those of cocaine." From the abstract of the July 2013 issue of the medical journal, Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care
Google the term "SUGAR ADDICTION" and you'll get over six million hits (a couple of them might even be articles I wrote on the subject). Even though it is, an addiction; it is one of America's more "acceptable" addictions --- one that people who roll up their nose at drunks or drug addicts can engage in without any significant social scorn from their peers --- it is and addiction nonetheless. How do you know whether you are a sugar addict or not? Although a Sugar Addiction is not usually as blatantly ugly as other addictions are, just give it a little time and it will produce not only the classic psychological signs of the addict, it will also manifest a host of physical symptoms as well --- symptoms that reveal just how serious a problem this really is. Take the simple self-test below.
- TRYING TO HIDE YOUR ADDICTION: Although easy at first, this gets consistently more difficult because of the continual need for more of what you crave. This is the very nature of an addiction. No matter your drug-of-choice, it always takes "more" to experience any feelings of the 'high' (increased pleasure / reduced emotional negativity). Eventually, hiding the addiction becomes impossible.
- SUGAR STASHES: Remember the old TV shows where the town drunk would have partially-drunk whiskey bottles stashed in almost every conceivable place? Many sugar addicts do the same thing.
- EXCUSES / DENIAL: What's amazing is how similar these excuses and denials sound to the excuses and denials made by alcoholics or drug addicts. I personally know a person who became seriously addicted to prescription painkillers after a serious injury. Although the injury had healed and this person could have gotten off the meds, it took an inordinate amount of time and intervention. You should have heard the excuses.
- ANYTHING FOR A FIX: Do you start your day with sugar (HERE)? If you find yourself in bizarre situations trying to get your hands on sugar or carbs, you definitely have a problem. Just like those addicted to hard drugs, the sugar addict will do anything to get their fix. It is the focal point of their lives.
- CONTINUING DESPITE THE PERSISTENT DAMAGE IT IS DOING: As you have seen, this damage can be physical, psychological, or more likely, a combination of the two. Even though a person might realize it is destroying their health and relationships, they choose sugar anyway. It is frequently the single most powerful motivating factor in their life.
- PATHOLOGICAL CRAVINGS / FEAR OF GIVING UP SUGAR: Do you have health or social problems that affect school, work, or relationships because of the need to consume sugar and carbs, yet keep on doing so despite the negative consequences? Do you chase after sugar even though it is causing you physical or emotional pain? Is it the driving force in your life? Near the end of his month-long journey as captured in the documentary Super Size Me, a recently overweight Morgan Spurlock tells his video camera that the only time he feels good about himself now is when he is, "eating this crap". If you are using sugar /carbs to boost your mood (serotonin levels), or can't bear the thought of giving up the stuff (HERE), you probably have a sugar addiction. One more thing; if you feel DEPRESSED at the mere thought of going without sugar, it's a dead give away that you have an addiction.
- PLAYING THE SUBSTITUTION GAME: This could mean that you are substituting sugar substitutes for sugar (HERE). However, it could mean something far more insidious (HERE).
- ISSUES WITH WEIGHT: Although sugar addiction almost always leads to OBESITY, sometimes people think they are getting away with it because they are still skinny. This is simply because some people's over-taxed pancreases take longer to burn out than others. Be aware that even though you might be of a "normal" weight, too much sugar or starch has a tendency to create the SKINNY FAT EFFECT. Once people begin gaining the extra weight, the "FAT BUT FIT" excuse is an old standby.
- OTHER ADDICTIONS: This is particularly true of things like coffee, SMOKES, or alcohol (which itself is metabolized just like sugar). When the pancreas burns out due to Uncontrolled Blood Sugar (see next point) the ADRENAL GLANDS kick in to help the failing pancreas. Most sugar addicts will frequently want things that boost their Adrenal Response (caffeine, nicotine, sugar). Unfortunately, this is not helpful, and is a doorway to a whole host of other problems.
- UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR: Numerous people will tell me that they do not have a problem with blood sugar because they recently had their blood checked and it was normal (HERE). If they are consuming mass quantities of sugar on a regular basis, they are fooling themselves (HERE). Uncontrolled Blood Sugar is the number one health issue facing the American population today --- and it's not even close. The last point in this section will go into more detail.
- YOU ARE TIRED AND SLUGGISH AFTER YOU EAT: If you feel tired or sluggish after meals, you undoubtedly have REACTIVE HYPOGLYCEMIA. This is the BLOOD SUGAR low that comes "reactively" after the high. Low blood sugar and high blood sugar are two sides of the same coin that we call Diabetes.
- YOU HAVE TROUBLE CONCENTRATING: There are numerous studies touting the ill effects of sugar on cognitive function as well as dementia. In fact, ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE is now being called Type III Diabetes because its characteristic brain plaques result from Uncontrolled Blood Sugar.
- A COMPROMISED IMMUNE SYSTEM: You are constantly sick (HERE). The problem is, sugar and ANTIBIOTICS are a devastating combination (HERE), that leads to a wide variety of DYSBIOTIC HEALTH ISSUES, including Systemic (blood-borne) Yeast. The yeast itself requires sugar to survive and creates horrendous cravings in its attempt to take over your body. Besides Antibiotics, CORTICOSTEROIDS (a form of Innumo-suppressive drug) create sugar cravings as well.
- DIMINISHED LIBIDO: Whether male or female, if you don't have the desire to have sex, you are likely dealing with a blood sugar issues (HERE and HERE). If you would trade sex for a handful of bon bons, you have a sugar addiction.
- HORMONAL ISSUES --- PARTICULARLY PCOS: Listen to what Dr Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of "Beat Sugar Addiction Now" said on the June 10, 2010 episode of ABC's 6:00 news, "hormonal fluctuations in women entering menopause can cause anxiety, depression, and insulin resistance that can also lead to sugar addictions". Although he is correct, this is a chicken 'egg thing, meaning the opposite is true as well. For more on PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome --- the #1 female problem in America today --- go HERE).
- INCREASED ACIDITY: If you are fighting diseases of acidity (although there are many, the two that most immediately come to mind are CANCER and OSTEOPOROSIS), it would not be a stretch to wonder if you have a sugar addiction. Get some litmus paper at the corner drug store and test your pH.
- ALL SICKNESS AND DISEASE: AUTOIMMUNITY, INFLAMMATORY ILLNESS, and almost every single health issue you care to mention (see the bullet point above on Uncontrolled Blood Sugar) have similar starting points. If you would rather ignore this than click on the links, you are likely addicted to sugar / carbs.
HOW TO CONQUER YOUR SUGAR ADDICTION
- STOP MAKING EXCUSES AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR HEALTH AND YOUR LIFE ---- ADMIT YOU ARE AN ADDICT AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT: As is the case with all sorts of problems, the first thing you have to do is identify it as such. As long as you stay in denial, nothing will get accomplished.
- LEARN THE MANY WAYS THAT SUGAR HIDES: Simply learn to read food labels. Oh, and be aware that you might even have a GLUTOMORPHIN ADDICTION as well. Even though you have never heard of this, it is far more common (and scary) than imagined.
- DON'T BRING CRAP IN YOUR HOUSE, CAR, OR WORKPLACE: This is a no-brainer folks. If you are stashing junk food in strategic places, you will fail in your endeavor to kick your addiction. You have to stay away from the stuff. Period. Unfortunately, 'church' is all too often a dangerous place for the sugar addict.
- GET YOURSELF AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER: Most of us benefit from someone to help hold our fingers to the fire. Although it can be done (HERE), most persons will have a rough go of it when kicking an addiction alone. HERE is how I have gone about this in the past.
- EXERCISE THE RIGHT WAY: Although there about a jillion ways to exercise, if you want the straight scoop on getting the most benefit out of the shortest amount of time, go HERE.
- ABSTAIN FROM SUGAR AND HIGH GLYCEMIC INDEX CARBOHYDRATES: Listen folks. I already know you are going to call me a harsh, hard-hearted SOB for saying this, but truthfully; I don't really care. When we addicts get down to the point where the rubber meets the road, there's only one way to lick an addiction (this is largely true for any addiction). You have to go Cold Turkey! If you will simply eliminate the sugar, carbs, and artificial sweeteners from your life, your cravings will dramatically subside, and eventually go away (usually within a matter of weeks). How has that whole "I'll just cut back a bit" thing been working for you so far? That's right. It doesn't. In fact, it constantly re-starts and feeds your cravings. If you are addicted to narcotics or alcohol you can’t simply just 'cut down' a bit. By cutting out all forms of sugar (starch, bread, pasta, OJ, fruit --- yeah, for many people fruit is one of those "substitutions" we dealt with earlier ---- artificial sweeteners, and almost anything that is processed), you actually allow your brain's chemistry to recalibrate itself. If you think you can 'dabble' with sugar / carbs and still kick the habit, you are fooling yourself.
- CHANGE YOUR DIET AND CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR BY EATING SMALL PROTEIN-BASED MEALS MORE OFTEN: For Pete's sake; it's practically 2014. Can we get over the FEAR OF DIETARY FAT thing already? Follow the advice on this bullet point and watch your cravings fly out the window. And as far as what sort of diet you need to be eating? You must do something that controls blood sugar! Although there are a ton of these out there, I recommend PALEO for the reasons listed in the posts you will find if you click on the link.
- START YOUR DAY THE RIGHT WAY: We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Start living it (HERE)!
- USE A GREENS PRODUCT: There are many of these out there. We use THIS ONE . Not necessarily because it's the best product on the market, but because it is a good product that does not taste like pond scum. These products are valuable for helping solve sugar / carb cravings, while providing some solid nutrition in the process.
- DON'T BE AFRAID TO EAT BIG: When FRED & DIANE HARMON recently returned to our home, she treated us all to an authentic, home-cooked, multi-course, Thai meal. It involved fresh ingredients, freshly ground herbs and spices (yes, she brought her own mortar and pestle), some lean meat, and copious amounts of fresh vegetables. You could literally gorge yourself on foods like this at every meal --- and still LOSE WEIGHT. Until you resolve the calorie myth, you will have problems dealing with sugar / carb addictions.
- NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS: This is where everyone wants to go first. Hey, it's the way our medically-propagandized brains work. It also happens to one of the biggest FAILED PROMISES of modern medicine. However, there is one supplement I recommend for helping you successfully accomplishing this endeavor. PGFO. Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil (not the junk from Mal Wart or the health food store) is excellent for helping with DEPRESSION, ADHD / ANXIETY, INFLAMMATION, LEAKY GUT SYNDROME, symptoms of SYMPATHETIC DOMINANCE, FIBROMYALGIA, UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR, AUTOIMMUNITY, as well as most ENDOCRINE and HORMONAL ISSUES. But please listen to me for a moment. As well as various supplements can work for some people, there is no substitute for a good diet. Read and follow the Paleo Posts above, and you will succeed in your quest to kick the sugar habit!