What makes our body crave sugar?
My love-hate relationship with food began as a child and it’s shocking to know that children’s sugar intake today is higher than when I was a little girl. Though shopping for food is one of my favorite things to do I must admit it is hard work. I say this because it’s become a challenge to find foods with no added sugar. The amount of sugar that is added to most of the manufactured food is mind-blowing.
According to the World Health Organization: Free sugars* contribute to the overall energy density of diets and higher intakes of free sugars threaten the nutrient quality of the diet by providing significant energy without specific nutrients, leading to unhealthy weight gain and increased risk of obesity and various NCDs, particularly dental caries which is the most prevalent NCD globally.
* Free sugars include monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices, and fruit juice concentrates.
In my opinion, the food industry is failing us big time and so is the government for allowing it.
We are not in control.
We all are a product of the golden years of Madison Avenue’s Mad Men. Corporations, advertising agencies, along with government policies, are all working against us. They are leveraging an advantage to milk consumers out of our hard-earned money by selling foods designed to make us sick. Meanwhile, insurance companies are also profiting when they treat us for illnesses caused by unhealthy foods. We are now a nation of sickos.
Seventy percent of adult Americans are overweight and one in two suffers from a food-related disease such as:
Suppressed immune systems
Elevated blood sugar
A higher increase in cancers
What is causing us to be ill?
We are a nation eating foods designed in laboratories. Our taste buds are craving higher sugar levels of food found in processed foods, and we adore treats made with refined white starchy flours.
The problem arises as we mindlessly eat processed foods and drinks containing high sugar contents. When we eat excess amounts of sugar, our brains react to it by craving more because it makes us feel good. And who doesn’t want to feel good? Processed laboratory made starchy foods are also sweetened, to taste better, along with fatty foods. Otherwise, we wouldn’t eat them; it’s that simple. Manufactured food doesn’t taste good, so they add sugar!
The Chemical change.
When we eat these highly processed sugary foods, our bodies react by raising our glycemic index which triggers the pleasure center of the brain with dopamine. This rush of dopamine in the brain heightens a feel-good sensation which leads to cravings and future addiction if the environment and circumstances are right. From what I understand, addictions occur if the conditions are right. For example, if you are feeling sad and you have a strong recollection of eating a bowl of ice cream as a child, and it made you feel happy, your brain associates happiness with ice cream. Therefore you will seek out to eat ice cream when you are feeling sad and before you know it the container is empty.
The Ad Man made me do it.
Lay’s potato chip ad campaign, “betcha can’t just eat just one”, was convincing and accurate. By contrast, you’ve never heard of “Eat one head of broccoli and you’ll be begging for more.” Why? Because as a child I’m sure your parents struggled to get you to eat your broccoli, so chances are it will never become an addiction. Your brain doesn’t associate broccoli with happiness.
Why can’t I say no to unhealthy foods?
The way I’ve chosen to live my life is simple; it’s a battlefield. My life is centered around saying no to bad foods, Why is that? I don’t trust the food industry or government to look out for my best interest. I need to be my own advocate.
Let me share with you how I see it. Big business (food industry, the one percent) and their thousands of employees are working subtly against me. These multi-million dollar corporations spend millions of dollars to promote their products of sugary foods because they are cheap to manufacture and can be sold to us at a significant profit. They get a high profit at the expense of my health.
The more we eat highly processed foods containing high sugar or consume sugary drinks our brains are involuntarily being trained to associate these feel-good foods with the happy reward. No wonder the food industry is churning out new products to keep us hooked and wanting more. Our neighborhood dealer? The supermarket! The truth is we can’t live without food. Which is why I choose to shop more mindfully when I buy from the local supermarket.
I read the labels carefully (and avoid) the following:
Corn syrup solids
Fruit juice concentrate
So what is my answer regarding reducing added sugar in my family’s diet?
Simply put, home cooked, unprocessed real food.
I make a commitment to slow down and cook healthy meals. Yeah, it’s work, but we’re worth it.
Sugar addiction is a huge problem. I want you to know that you are not alone. I hope that you will think about the foods you eat and become more mindful about not only what you eat, but more importantly, why are you eating it. Break down the triggers for choosing the sugar-laden foods you eat.
Need help? Here are 30 Easy Ways to Stop Eating Sugar.
Identifying our triggers for sugar.
One thing that has helped me eliminate added sugar from my diet is to identify my triggers. Ask yourself why you are selecting fast ready-made foods. Is it because you are feeling tired and overwhelmed? Consider creating a mood chart to track and identify the reason you crave a particular food. I’ll be honest, it isn’t an easy fight against the temptations of the food industry but the fight is worth your time and improved health.
The psychology of foods cravings.
The psychology behind sugar addictions is eye-opening. I now know that when I am tired, overworked, and feeling low, I reach out for a quick pick me up that fills my craving and gives a quick high. I seek out and instinctively reach for my comfort foods. A couple of questions I always ask myself before reaching for a sugary snack is ‘Why am I seeking to remove myself from discomfort?’ and ‘What are my triggers?’
I discovered that life is made up of plenty of discomfort moments. It seems as though there is no escaping the fact that life is hard. As a society, we tend to want to live a stress-free life and look for comfort foods like sugar. How can we have a stress free life though when we are overworked? By who? Big business!
Look for the promises of a stress-free life the next time your watching TV. It’s incredible how the ads are manipulating us to think we can not be happy without some sort of indulgence. Why is that I wonder? It’s ok to feel discomfort. We are not children needing to be coddled at all times.
The purpose of this Journal entry.
My concern in writing this journal entry is not to come across as if I’m preaching. I want to open a discussion on how our vulnerable addictive personalities have been sabotaged leaving us in a state of discomfort with ourselves.
All I can do is write about it and share my opinion. Perhaps someone else is faced with the same spiraling anxieties brought on by food choices and can relate to this journal entry.
Feel free to contact me if you feel this journal entry has been helpful or even if I’m out of line. I find the topic of excess sugar so fascinating and would love to hear your thoughts.
Wishing you all a happy day filled with more love and less sugar!