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  • Writer's pictureLeanne Varley

Stop sugar and enjoy it

Sugar Addiction

"The emerging epidemic"

An addiction is the ongoing compulsive behaviour to ingest or use a substance which gives temporal pleasure. The behaviour can so consume an individual that it disrupts family, work and social relationships. Among these substances are food, nicotine and recreational drugs. This behaviour also extends to compulsive activities such as sex, gambling and some sporting activities. To understand addictions one has to appreciate the brain substance connection.

The Effects of Addictive Food on the Brain

You might have, at some time or the other, experienced cravings for sugary food, albeit a fleeting urge. Cravings are strong and sometimes this overwhelming urge can be triggered by the aroma, a visual advertisement or jingle. There are university studies which establish that sugary food ads on the electronic media can cause children to crave for certain foods. Based on these findings some countries have placed a ban on advertising junk foods to children. What has triggered such a drastic action is the scientific evidence that foods high in fat and sugar can be addictive in much the same way as recreational drugs. Your brain

sees sugar as a reward and this consciously or unconsciously makes you want more of it. The area of the brain that is stimulated is the

pleasure centre”. The pleasure centre in turn releases pleasure chemicals which cause one to feel good and crave for the next bite. It has been suggested that over-stimulation of the

pleasure centre in the brain tends to deteriorate the brain function. There are those individuals who have developed a bizarre craving for sugary food and consume excessive amounts daily. Intense therapy has been successful in normalising these individuals

relationship with food.

Sugar addiction

A food addiction that is a growing concern is sugar addiction or cravings. It has been demonstrated that the more sugary foods we eat or drink the greater the craving. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate which means it is quickly converted to glucose and released in the blood stream. This causes a spike in the blood sugar level. Examples of sugary foods include table sugar, chocolate, candy, cake, pastry, sodas and. sweetened drinks.

Signs of sugar addiction

  • Cravings for sugary foods

  • Inability to control the quantity you consume

Adverse health effects of high sugar intake include:

  • Dental caries

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

Tips to break the sugar cravings

  1. Gradually reduce use of table sugar

  2. Weekly eliminate a sugary food you normally crave

  3. Pass on dessert after meals

  4. Substitute fresh, frozen or processed fruits for sugary treats

  5. Drink more water

  6. Increase portions of vegetables and low sugar fruits

  7. Eat a balanced diet which includes protein. Protein has a slower digestion making you feel full for longer. Examples include eggs, lean meats, fish, chicken, low fat milk and yogurt, nuts, peas, beans and seeds.

  8. Engage in physical exercise

Women should limit sugar intake to 6 teaspoons daily. For men the recommended amount is 9 teaspoons.

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