For years, medical research has been linking sugar with obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other serious diseases. However, despite America’s love affair with sugar, the average person does not think of sugar as addictive.
When we think of an addiction, our minds immediately wander to substances such as alcohol and drugs that are regulated by the government. Nevertheless, a recent segment on 60 Minutes called “Is Sugar Toxic?” discusses the detrimental physical and mental effects of eating too much sugar. The segment also brings awareness to the public that sugar may be addictive.
When you have an addiction, the pleasure center in your brain responds to the addictive substance. However, as your body adjusts to the substance, your pleasure center builds up a tolerance so you must intake more of the substance to receive that pleasurable feeling. Similar to a drug addict that craves an increased dosage of drugs, many people with eating disorders crave sugary foods with more frequency as their bodies build up a tolerance to the sugar.
When people have an addiction, they suffer withdrawal symptoms when their bodies do not receive the substance it craves. Years ago, a study was conducted that indicated rats that were given sugar and later deprived of it suffered from anxiety. Eric Stice’s recent research suggests that humans can be addicted to sugar. 60 Minutes showed how Stice administered sugary drinks to humans and observedd that the brain released a chemical called dopamine when the brain registered pleasure from the sugar.
One of the qualities of an addiction is that the body suffers withdrawal symptoms when it does not get the substance it desires. If you constantly crave sugar, it may be affecting your emotional and physical health. If you are struggling to reduce sugar from your diet, and you are experiencing unexplained moodiness, anxiety, and other mental stress, you may be suffering from a sugar addiction.
I have been counseling patients with eating disorders and addictions for more than a decade. If you live in the Philadelphia area, I can help you control your eating disorder or sugar addiction.