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It's a fact that we simply don't eat as well as we should. This is a combination of the ease at which poor nutritional foods can be purchased, and the fact that several low cost options use high-fructose corn syrup (liquid sugar) to make their food taste good. This has led to an epidemic of "sugar addiction" in our culture, which is fuelling the exponential growth in obesity in the United States and other industrialized countries of the world.
What is Sugar Addiction?
When we think about sugar, addiction doesn't normally come to mind. After all, how can you become addicted to something that occurs naturally? The truth is, sugar stimulates the same parts of the brain as hard-core drugs like cocaine. While the stimulation isn't as great, fMRI studies in mice have determined that it is there and that consistent use can lead to a tolerance being built up. This means that the need for sugar will increase over time. According to an article in Psychology Today, "Nora Volkow, M.D., a psychiatrist at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, has done similar research using brain imaging techniques to show similarities between the brains of people who are obese and people who abuse drugs and alcohol."
Effects on Health
When a body consumes more sugar than the body needs it leads to the excess being converted into body fat. The consistent need for more and more sugar leads to an exponential growth in the amount of fat in the body, leading to obesity and eventually morbid obesity. This creates a high risk for type 2 diabetes, gallstones, heart disease, and incontinence. This makes it not only a contributor to uncomfortable health conditions, but also makes it a leading preventable cause of death worldwide.
How to Stop Sugar Addiction
Knowing that sugar addiction is real, and that its effects can be deadly, makes it highly desirable to reduce or eliminate this addiction. The key to successfully weaning yourself from your sugar addiction is to do so slowly. Trying to quit sugar "cold turkey" can lead to some serious issues, including severe debilitating headaches, fatigue and general malaise, frequent and violent mood changes, a sense of loss, depression and physical body aches.
Creating a food diary is a good way to slowly eliminate sugar from your diet. This allows you to have a physical record of your sugar intake and lets you maintain active involvement in the process. Another good option is to pick up a self-help book on the subject. This will offer you encouragement to keep going day in and day out. Like alcohol addiction, one is always a sugar addict and always in recovery. Having the account of someone else who has been through it is almost as good as having a live support group. Speaking of support groups, food addiction groups are another good option for helping you eliminate a sugar addiction.
One of the more holistic approaches involves addiction replacement. In this case, you replace your addiction to sugar with something healthier, like exercise or an active hobby like outdoor photography. Every time you start to crave that sugar kick, get out there and get your body moving. This will increase the metabolism of your current fat stores and allow your craving to be satisfied by the sugars already present in your body.