Sugar in Your Food: Yes, it’s Addictive

Sugar in Your Food: Yes, it’s Addictive

The thing about sugar is that it’s more than tasty - it's addictive. For those who are already struggling with an addictive brain, sugar can be even more problematic. The good news is that treatment for sugar addiction available. 

Did you know that sugar is the most popular ingredient added to foods in the United States? It’s found in obvious foods like cakes and cookies, but it’s also hidden in things like ketchup, barbecue sauce, crackers, cured meats, and peanut butter. Most people are very surprised to learn how much sugar they consume each day without realizing it. 

To avoid replacing one addiction for another, it's important to understand how addictive sugar is and why it's important to follow an anti-inflammatory diet.

Why is Sugar Addictive? 

Sugar activates the brain’s reward system. This is what makes sweet foods highly desirable and why you might feel yourself craving them at times. Specifically, sugar affects the mesolimbic dopamine system, which releases dopamine and makes you feel good. Once this system is activated, it longs for these feelings again. 

According to the DSM, there are a number of problems that arise from addiction, such as continuing to use drugs despite negative consequences. Regular consumption of sugar can lead to problems that are similar to addiction. For example, people may continue to eat sugar even though they have high blood pressure or obesity. And, some people who try to quit eating sugar have severe cravings. 

Aside from being addictive, sugar has other negative effects on the body: 

  • Raises the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers 
  • Causes inflammation
  • Contributes to weight gain and obesity
  • Packs excess calories into foods  
  • Leads to tooth decay 
  • Interferes with a healthy diet
  • Creates sugar cravings 
  • Decreases energy levels 

Tips for Eating Less Sugar 

Based on the research we have, we do know that sugar has addictive qualities. However, not everyone becomes addicted to sugar. Some people are able to cut sweet foods out of their diet with no withdrawal effects. That said, we suggest that people in recovery limit their sugar intake, as they are more vulnerable to the addictive properties of sugar. 

Here are some ways to cut back on sugar and promote a healthier mind, body, and recovery. 

  • Know your limits. The average American should only get 10% of their calories from sugar or 13.3 teaspoons. Talk to your nutritionist about what is right for you. 
  • Read labels. There are many names for sugar, such as glucose, fructose, corn syrup, honey, etc. Get familiar with these names so that you can recognize sugar in the products you eat.
  • Eat more fruits. If you have a natural sweet tooth, learn to satisfy these cravings with sugars from natural foods like bananas, apples, and grapes. The more you do this, the more satisfied your body will be from these foods. 

When starting treatment for sugar addiction at Awakenings Treatment Center, you will have access to a nutritionist. We believe that healthy eating is the backbone of a successful recovery program. You need the right nutrients to be strong and healthy, so why wouldn't you need them for recovery? To learn more about our treatment programs for substance abuse, mental health, and eating disorders, contact us today.