Sitting in the car with a box of donughts in hand, fresh from the bakery of the drive through can be one of the most rewarding and exhilarating feelings in the world. They smell so good, and taste even better. But eating one just isn’t enough. You have 2 and maybe 3. Then you set them down and come back a few hours later because they are in the house. You finish the box. You feel sick, unhappy, depressed even. Now you are craving more Sugar products. What happened? Here are 7 ways in which sugar is as addictive as hardcore drugs like heroin and cocaine.
- Chemically, sugar pings the brain just like cocaine. That means it affects your reward and pleasure systems just like an addictive hardcore drug. Your brain literally doesn’t know the difference. It just knows it likes it and wants more and more and more. So you think about it, obsess over it. You crave it, just like drugs. AND you are not happy until you have it. Then you feel guilty, remorseful, sad, angry, upset, just like drugs. The cycle – the vicious cycle- has begun.
- When you do not have sugar you feel sick. You get a headache, you feel tired, lethargic, depressed. You don’t want to work out, go out, or do much. Your head pounds. You are detoxing, just like with heroin. Sure you may not be vomiting and have the sweats and the chills but you are definitely coming off of the drug sugar. Your body craves it, wants it. You think, just a little and I will feel better, just to rid myself of this headache. Then a little becomes a lot. Just like with drugs.
- You obsess when you do not have sugar. You think about candy, cake, cookies, ice cream. Your thoughts during the day revolve around when you can go to the vending machine for the snickers bar, the can of soda or the handful of chocolate you have on your desk. You want it and you want it often. Denying yourself of it only makes the obsessive thoughts and racing thoughts get louder, just like with cocaine.
- You plan your entire day around when you can have it. You might drive home from work the long way just to go through the drive through and get an ice cream or a latte. You plan events that involve dessert or gatherings where sugar is present. You may offer to bring the cake to the party, so you can be sure there is dessert available. This is similar to the way a drug addict plans their route to go by the dealer’s house and ‘just happens to be in the neighborhood’ when they want to buy heroin or cocaine.
- You swear you are going to ‘go off sugar’ and you are not going to touch it again. Just like getting a white chip, it sounds good now, after you had 6 doughnuts and feel sick. But once you are not full and sick of the sweets you rethink that decision and say ‘just one more cookie, one more candy, one more lollipop then I swear I won’t touch it’. The same thing happens when we decide to get sober, we make a pact, we set forth the rules and then, inevitably we relapse and start all over. Sugar is no different. We crave it, we want it. Sugar is both chemically and emotionally just as addictive as drugs. AND it is in everything.
- You try everything to get your mind of sugar, to no avail. You drink tea, chew on a straw, buy a lotto ticket, smoke a cigarette, anything. But it creeps in, just like drugs, you are emotionally and now physically addicted. You cant stop the inner chatter or the physical detox. It is annoying, it is painful and it can be stopped with just one candy bar. It is legal you think, and then you rationalize. “It is legal, it is not that bad, you can’t make me quit this too, everyone has sugar, I am not that fat so what is the issue?” and on and on and on. You talk yourself right into the sugar snack. Game on, the cycle continues.
- You tie your emotions to the eating process. You may trade drugs for sugar or be a true food addict where you feel depressed while binging on snacks. You eat over the sink, you hide snacks in your desk, purse, car, even pockets. You don’t want others to know your ‘dirty little secret’. At meals you eat small portions in front of others but as soon as you leave you stop and buy the ice cream to take home and eat. Just like a drug addict, you won’t want anyone to know. You are embarrassed.
Unlike drugs that you not need to survive, you do need to eat and sugar seems to be in everything. Going to the grocery store, restaurant or even snack bar is a problem. We all know that there is sugar in cake, cookies, candy and ice cream but how about pasta sauce? Or yogurt? Tons of sugar! Sugar is beyond just as addictive as drugs and as a nation we are creating a whole new breed of addict with a legal substance.
So what can you do? All hope is not lost. Start with a realistic version of what you want to accomplish. Do you want to cut back on your sugar consumption or quit altogether? Start a food journal and track your moods and foods, notice when you crave the sweets. Stay full, use nuts, berries, bananas and other fruits to curb the sweet tooth. If you are full and had a sweet piece of fruit, you are less likely to reach for cake, candy, cookies and more. The less sugar you eat the better you will feel. As you begin to detox from the sugar, if you go back you will notice it is sweeter and less palatable.
If you need a food addiction coach for added accountability and to hold your hand the through the process we are here! The first two weeks are uncomfortable just like a drug detox, but after that it becomes easier.