I’ve been asked by several people about the impact of sugar addiction and the possible ways for overcoming it.
The dilema of food addiction
Food addiction is especially difficult to fight because unlike drug addiction, you can’t simply stop eating, regardless of your willpower. This means that a person addicted to highly sweetened foods needs to figure out a way to continue eating without indulging in their favorite foods. This is a bit like telling an alcoholic they can only drink beer but not liquer, or telling a cocaine addict they can only smoke a little bit of crack every day…
My sugar addiction story
While there is very little research that I’m aware of regarding food addiction, I can share with you my story.
I’ve always been a huge fan of sugar. I love chocolate, soda, and ice-cream, and anything else that is loaded with sugar.
The soda habit I made myself quit a few years ago when I was trying to lose some weight and had started working out. I was very determined and when I realized just how many calories are in each can of soda, I told myself that I needed to reduce how much of it I drank. At the time, I would easily have 3-4 cans per day, and while I wasn’t able to completely cut soda out, I went down to 1 or less every day pretty quickly. My trick at the time was to remind myself that all that work I just did at the gym would easily be erased by having a single can of coke (my weakness).
Still, I was eating a lot of other stuff that was pretty bad for me, mostly without even realizing it.
It was only last year, possibly because of reading the article I’d talked about in my post about sugar addiction that I started really looking at what I was eating. It didn’t hurt that my girlfriend at the time was a health nut. I’d heard about the evils of High fructose corn syrup (HFC) before, but after reading the research, I realized that the stuff is perfectly engineered to make my body crave more and more sugar.
I’d already kicked drug use years ago; I wasn’t about to let sugar control me now…
When I started reading the labels of products, I was amazed. HFC is in almost everything!!! I was discovering that the bread I was eating, some of the deli meets I was putting on it, and nearly every drink I was having included the stuff. Without ever realizing, and with the wonderful help of the food manufacturing sector, I had become essentially dependent on this stuff. There is research that indicates that the make-up of HFC, which is a bit different than that of natural sugars, may contribute to obesity and cardiovascular disease. This evidence is not conclusive as of yet, but again, there’s also research that foods loaded with sweeteners in general can cause consumption patterns very similar to addiction.
My addiction advice
Thankfully, the are products who don’t contain HFC, and I’ve been doing my best over the last year to replace my old food choices with those.
Just to be clear, I still consume more sugar that I probably should. However, I feel that by removing this highly sweetened chemical from my diet, I am essentially allowing my body to now process the more natural sugars I’m consuming. In the long run, I’m hoping that this switch will work to reduce my overall dependence on sugar.
So, my advice, given the fact that we all need to continue eating:
Don’t try to remove sugar from your diet, especially because the artifical sweeteners have themselves been shown to produce consumption patterns that are unhealthy (at least in animals for now). Instead, start becoming aware of what you are putting in your body and reducing the consumption of sugar that way.
Most natural unprocessed sugar products have lower sucrose and fructose concentrations simply because they are not as heavily processed to remove impurities. Switching at least some of your consumption to these types of sugar will reduce at least some of your sugar intake without leaving you feeling like you had to make any major changes.
Goals are good as well. If you’re eating like I used to, you put 2-3 spoons of sugar in your coffee every morning; try reducing the amount of sugar you’re adding to foods by a small percentage (like 10-15%). Such a reduction won’t massively alter the taste of your foods but will get you on your way…
Question of the day:
Would you like to share your story of overcoming, or struggling with, addiction to sugary foods?
I’m sure all the readers will benefit from hearing others’ stories.