The most addictive, endorsed, and least regulated drug in our world today isn’t tobacco; nor is it alcohol or any other drug you may presume… It’s sugar.
You read that right. Sugar addiction is an ever-growing, extremely deadly epidemic that is largely hidden (in plain sight) from the public eye. Studies show that sugar can be more addictive than drugs like cocaine.
Many of us are aware of the raging health detriments of eating sugar, but are we as aware of how addicted we may be to such a common-place, nearly unavoidable substance? There are shocking amounts of sugar hidden in practically everything the average person eats.
Sugar is sneaky.
Having said that, not all sugars are created equal. There are different types of sugar, with varying levels of toxicity; you can read more about the different types here. What we are most concerned about in this article is the processed, refined sugar, sugar that is added to food — not natural sugars (like those found in fruit).
To get to the bottom of this sticky, sugary mess, we must answer some very important questions:
- How does sugar addiction work?
- How to break sugar addiction?
We mustn’t waste time. . .
How Does Sugar Addiction Work?
Since sugar is hidden within so much of what we eat, our brains have actually become hard-wired to crave it… Without us even knowing. Doesn’t that sound crazy, being addicted to a drug without even knowing it?
For most of us, that is exactly the case. Here’s how sugar addiction works:
Sugar addiction works in the same way that any addiction (such as addictions to hard drugs, alcohol, and gambling) works — it fiddles around with the our dopamine receptors. Dopamine is considered the ‘happy’ chemical of your brain. If you can recall ever eating cake, this makes sense.
In her talk at Mindvalley’s A-Fest, top hypnotherapist, Marisa Peer, explains how our brains think that sugar is so important because of a very outdated survival mechanism from our hunter-gathering days.
Thousands of years ago, when we would find sugary foods, like honey, it was very rare. So, this scarcity triggered our brains to want as much of it as possible in order to store fat for the upcoming winter.
Our brains are hard-wired to make you remember where sugar is and go back for more.
— Marisa Peer
Sugar produces massive amounts of dopamine to make sure that you do this.
Today, however, our out-of-touch brains still think that sugar is rare… When actually, now, healthy, non-sugary food is what is rare.
After our brains receive this ever-so-pleasing dopamine rush, we are gifted yet another ever-so-pleasing reward: energy. While this boost in energy is grand and exciting, it is fleeting.
Soon after the energy rush, we experience the infamous sugar crash. This crash is what then turns us into what health expert, Eric Edmeades, calls sugar-hungry zombies. While in this zombie-like state, we begin sluggishly ravaging for our next fix.
Sugar works in a rude way — the more sugar you consume, the more your dopamine receptors become desensitized to it’s effects. This means that, in order to get that same dopamine and energy rush, you must eat even more sugar.
This is how the addiction cycle is created — the same way any addiction cycle is created.
Now, how do we stop it?
How to Break Sugar Addiction
When it comes to learning how to break sugar addiction, there are many different approaches one can take. Everyone is different, so here are some tips on how to break sugar addiction to test and find out what works best for you.
What’s important to note before you start your journey, however, is that it’s going to be easier than you think. While it may seem tough at first, persevere — your body, mind, and soul will most definitely thank you.
1. Ditch sugar, altogether
In other words, go ‘cold turkey.’ This means eliminating all refined and even artificial sugars (which are just as bad for you, if not worse) from your diet. While this may sound like an unruly feat, it’s easier done than said — especially if you go on a sugar detox. Many people will find that after the first 3-4 days, their cravings for sugar begin to plummet.
2. Satisfy your sugar craving naturally
When learning how to break sugar addiction, it is much easier to just replace bad sugars with good ones. There are many delicious, nutritious, and natural options for satisfying your craving, such as fruit, honey and royal jelly, and sativa. By switching to these natural sugars when your sweet tooth comes knocking, your body will be feel a zillion times better.
3. Load up on nutrition
This means to eat real food. When your body actually has the nutrients it needs, it doesn’t feel hungry. It’s actually nutritionally satisfied, unlike when it is loaded with sugar.
By eating real food, we mean getting closer to nature — the fewer humans have messed with the food, the better. Real, whole foods are fruits and veggies, legumes, nuts, healthy meats (if it’s in your excitement), and seeds.
A good rule of thumb is that if it comes pre-packaged, don’t eat it.
According to health expert Dr. Mark Hyman, you can greatly help to fight a sugar addiction by supplementing your diet. Here are the top vitamins and supplements he recommends:
- Vitamin D — When your vitamin D levels are low, your appetite is triggered (perhaps this is because your brain thinks that winter is coming). By either getting a bit more sunshine or just taking a vitamin supplement, your overall food cravings can be reduced greatly.
- Omega-3s — Omega 3 helps with mood, insulin control, brain cell function, and inflammation, all of which can work together to help ease your sugar addiction. Omega 3’s can be found in foods such as fish and flaxseed or can be supplemented in pill form.
- 5-HTP, glutamine, tyrosine, collagen protein — All of these supplements directly reduce cravings.
- Chromium and Glucomannan fiber — These both help to balance blood sugar and reduce the spikes in insulin that encourage sugar cravings.
5. Stay hydrated
Many times, when your brain thinks it wants sugar, it’s actually just dehydrated and wanting water. You can add lemon and stevia to your water if you’d like a little bit of sweetness.
Staying really hydrated also helps you to feel full, which will also reduce your cravings. As well, drinking loads of water will help your body to flush out all of the toxic sugars, giving you a clean slate to start your detox from.
6. Get plenty of rest and reduce stress
Stress and eating sugary junk food tend to go hand-in-hand.
As well, studies show that we tend to be much hungrier (and stressed) when we are sleep-deprived.
To alleviate these problems, it is very important that we get adequate sleep and work to keep our stress levels low. We can greatly reduce stress by delving into stress relieving activities like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or dancing in your room to Paul Simon.
7. Replace your addiction
So, our brains are seeking that dopamine rush, right? Well, have you ever felt that wonderful feeling of giving someone a compliment? How about that wonderful feeling of appreciation? These actions produce dopamine in our brain, as well.
We can choose our route of addiction!
8. Teach your brain that sugar isn’t scarce
Most of our love of sugar comes from that (far) out-dated survival idea that sugar is scarce. For this, when learning how to break sugar addiction, it is important to lovingly re-teach and affirm your brain that sugar is abundant and that we are now living in a completely different world.
There’s a permanent way to overcome sugar addiction and transcend into overall, full-bodied health. Mindvalley’s free 7-day Quest program, 7 Days To Breaking Up With Sugar, is scientifically designed to help condition your mind to choose health so that your new habits stick quickly and for life. Test it out and see for yourself.
Do you have any other tips on how to break sugar addiction? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Please share with us in the comment section below.