Is sugar addictive? … you decide.

So I had a look back at my last few posts and saw that I have never really spoken about why I wanted to reduce my and my family’s sugar intake. It’s fair to say that watching ‘That Sugar Film’ was the catalyst for my thinking, and it really made me look at what I was eating and what I was feeding my family. The books came next, and they were just as impactful as the film. It all seemed to make sense to me, and the benefits of reducing our sugar intake seemed to greatly outweigh the disadvantages.

The scariest part for me was the ‘A’ word – addiction.  I was a sugar addict. When I stopped and thought about what I had heard and read it seemed to make sense with the way I was feeling.  So often I felt that if I could have something sweet, I would feel like I would have more energy to continue my day – a quick pick me up.  And when I had that sweet treat so often I felt that it wasn’t enough, and I just want a bit more?  This behaviour  began to ring bells – I was an addict – a sugar addict!!

Sugar vs cocaine 

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(Image via dailyhealthpost)

There is a huge amount of research proving that sugar is addictive. David Gillespie, author of Sweet Poison  puts it simply: “sugar is a poison. He cites Princeton University research that showed sugar can be as addictive to lab rats as heroin or crack cocaine and that you can get hooked on sugar. Scientists have found that sugar is addictive and stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as cocaine or heroin.” The daily burn states just like those hard-core drugs, getting off sugar leads to withdrawal and cravings, requiring an actual detox process to wean off’.   I do like David Gillespie’s quote –

“The easiest way to see if you are addicted to sugar is to just stop it for 24 hours and see how you feel.

You’ll feel like crap.”

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So now that I am a confessed sugar addict I need to face this addiction with a plan.  Some of it has already begun with the cleaning out of the cupboard and fridge, replacing high sugary foods with sugar free substitutes, reading and more accurately examining ingredient lists on store bought foods, looking out for hidden sugars and being prepared to begin each day with a healthy sugar free breakfast. David Gillespie also recommends making sure you know when your vulnerable sugar craving times are and making  a plan to deal with them.

Gillespie also recommends going totally processed sugar free (no sucrose sugar), natural sugar in fruits and veggies are all fine and using rice malt syrup and dextrose are also fine.  I am starting to think that this may be the way to go. The more I take control of cooking from scratch the more I can see that this will be achievable. It will have some challenges I know, especially in Jakarta but I will see how I go – so ……  :-

As of March 5th I will be sugar free from processed foods.

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So what am I to expect during my “detox”?

I am hoping that it won’t be too hard as I have cut out most of the processed sugar in my diet but the first few weeks will be toughest I’m sure.

According to Sarah Wilson’s website “I quit Sugar” this is what I am in for as I go processed sugar free –

1. Okay, this seems easy enough.

At this stage, your body hasn’t alerted to the fact that you’re no longer pumping fructose into your system –  what cravings?

2. The cravings kick in.

Ohhhh, those cravings. Yep, fructose is one addictive beast and it won’t let go of you without a fight. Plus, the temptation will be everywhere. Eat some protein. The best is yet to come.

3. Headaches. Oh, the headaches.

But not before the headaches. Much like when you give up that other addictive vice, caffeine, headaches are a very commonly reported symptom of sugar withdrawal. Time to invest in some aromatherapy oils, and make sure to drink plenty of water (especially if soft drinks or juice were your main source of hydration beforehand).

4. You may feel some aches and pains.

Some people report aches and pains, or even flu-like symptoms, in the throes of withdrawal. One remedy we’d vouch for is a warm bath with Epsom salts, which studies have suggested may help flush out environmental toxins. But if you feel really out of sorts, check yourself out with a doctor.

5. Mood swings may be… less than pleasant.

At this point, your brain receptors are screaming: SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR. Between that and the headaches and the cravings, you may understandably have some gnarly mood swings. It’s helpful to have a solid support network around you during this stage, to help you remember why you started.

6. Some people even get “the shakes”.

Just like a Taylor Swift song, your body may need to “shake it off, shake it off”. Mild tremors are linked to stress and blood sugar drops, so try having a snack or herbal tea to see if that helps. And do see a doctor if you are worried.

7. But suddenly, you’ll come out the other side feeling better than ever.

It could be a few days or a few weeks, but you’ll suddenly “get” what everyone was talking about. You’ll feel brighter, clearer and better than ever, as each day without the white stuff gets easier. No more cravings, no more blood sugar roller coasters, no more sugar-related headaches or 3pm slumps.

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Here I go!

Feature image from – http://philmaffetone.com

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