If you asked me whilst I was demolishing a packet of hobnobs, I would say yes. I would also say I was addicted to salt as I finish my 2nd packets of salt and vinegar.
The fact is there is no equivocal evidence to support the claims that sugar is addictive. Some even claiming that it is 8 times more addictive than cocaine. This does make me chuckle as imagine sugar dealers charging $250 a small packet of the white stuff!
There is one study that the some “experts” refer to that they say proves we are addicted to sugar and that is a study on rats, it’s a study with so many flaws. Also, we are not rats! Study link is here if you are interested https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1931610/
However, we cannot deny how we feel when we eat a food that may be high in sugar. We want more and we can’t stop. Just think about this though, is it the sugar or are we just looking for something to blame? Would you sit there with a plate full of table sugar and enjoy it, I’m thinking no. It’s the food itself, it may have sugar but it’s also is ultra-processed with added fats, sugars, additives and is made to be as delicious as possible. That’s why we love crisps too right?
We also need to consider why we feel it is addictive. It does have similarities in regards to the feelings we get. Such as the release of dopamine when we eat these foods, basically making us feel happy even if it is on a temporary basis. So based on the evidence I would say that no we are not addicted to sugar we just really like deliciously tasting food.
What can we do stop eating so much sugar?
Just to be clear, I am referring to added sugar (table sugar) here not the sugar that is naturally in fruit or some vegetable for example.
Added sugar foods are usually very highly processed and provide very little if any nutritional value what so ever. Fruit and some veg are highly nutritious foods and also provide us fibre, this would outweigh any negative effect that is claimed fruit sugars may have.
Some tips to get rid of some of that sugar are:
Ditch the soda drinks and energy drinks – switch to the diet version (if you are thinking sweeteners are more harmful for weight gain please read this study, seems the jury is still out). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5868411/
Get rid of fruit juices – you get zero fibre from them and all the calories. They don’t fill you up either so what’s the point!
Ban the booze – no benefits, full of sugar and all sort of other crap, even if its just until you get to your goal.
Avoid sugar loaded sauces – BBQ, ketchup, sweet and sour. You can make healthier versions of these, just google!
Breakfast cereals – even if they claim to be healthy, they are probably not. Experiment with you own granolas and overnight oats, they are super easy.
Eat whole foods when you can – its not sexy I know but cooking from scratch is the best way to know what you are eating. Avoid pre-packaged if you can.
Don’t go for low fat foods – they usually have added sugars in to make them taste better
Snacks – if you can’t stop thinking about them chockie biccies in the cupboard just don’t buy them. I buy them for the kids I hear you say, they don’t need them either.
These tips are very easy to implement, even if you made one change per week it would be a huge difference to your health and waistline if that’s the problem.
Low sugar products as a guide are 5g of sugars per 100g.
Why should I cut back on sugar?
I love sugar as much as the next person, maybe even more but we all know that too much of something is never a good thing.
I mentioned before about all sugars not being the same. In fact, our body loves sugar (glucose) as it’s the preferred source of fuel and fuel for our brain. Something we need to unlearn is that all sugar is bad sugar. Its just not the case. We are taking about added sugars here in terms of health.
Here’s why you should cut back on added sugars for your overall health.
Weight gain – the obvious one. Now you don’t just eat sugar and the pounds pile on. You still need to be eating more than your body burns (energy surplus) however we do know we over consume these high sugar processed foods so they certainly help get us to that surplus.
Increased risk of heart disease – high blood pressure https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712514/
Increased risk of getting diabetes type 2 – through obesity. Prolonged high levels of sugar can lead to becoming resistant to insulin, leading to diabetes https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166864/
Increased risk of depression – there are clinical reasons why but from personal experience how many times have we eaten crap and felt like crap? I personal feel great after consuming healthy nourishing foods.
It ages us – enough said!
Our teeth – we all know sugar is bad for our teeth
Its an energy drainer – it perks us up very temporary then we come crashing down. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4551584/
If you feel you consume way too much sugar and it is affecting your health, I suggest making small changes slowly to help form new habits. Make one change per week. We don’t need to do extremes; they are unrealistic and work for very few people in the long term and our aim is our long-term health right?
I hope this helps x