Imagine, a little girl is who barely 11…
She is feeling anxious and alone, and then one day she meets The Sugar Dragon, who takes her to his Sweet Factory- a delicious fantasy that promises to comfort her and fulfil all her emotional needs.
She floats on a smooth, chocolate cloud, imagining exactly how delicious and comforting it’s going to be: candy flowers with cream tops, gobstopers that last forever and the most delicious, delectable candy berries…
And suddenly all her troubles disappear.
The Sugar Dragon becomes her friend and constant companion, consuming her every thought. It soon becomes an addictive cycle where the pursuit of the “white powder” takes over much of her life and she becomes a prisoner of her own mind stuck a vicious cycle of blame, guilt, regret, self-loathing and isolation.
That little girl was me – everybody has their poison, mine was sugar.
That was until I slayed the Sugar Dragon by starving it and came out the other side in control of the choices I made when it came to my diet and health.
Just like any other stimulants, such as caffeine, cigarettes or drugs, it is very possible that you can be addicted to sugar. I was for many years…
Let’s dive in and explore the reasons why and what you can do about it to take control.
For some women, consuming sweets also become a physical way to stuff down emotional frustrations and anger. If you’re an emotional eater, you probably eat to deal with intolerable emotions as well as using food as a reward when you’re happy.
Your unfavourable beliefs about sweets is entrenched from a young age. As a child, you may have been rewarded with sweets for being “good,” or to soothe you when you were hurt or upset.
Sweet trigger the release of serotonin, the feel-good hormone, but only temporarily. As an adult, you may unconsciously repeat this cycle during times of high stress, by rewarding yourself with comfort food that’s filled with sugar and simple carbs.
This can lead to guilt, and start a cycle of sugar addiction.
The Sweet Danger of Sugar
Sugar has a bittersweet reputation when it comes to health
But sugar can have significant consequences for your health, your metabolism and your wellbeing.
I have listed below some of the ways that sugar can ruin your health that are well documented in medical journals and other scientific publications.
- Sugar can suppress your immune system and impair your defences against infectious disease.
- Sugar can cause a decrease in your insulin sensitivity thereby causing an abnormally high insulin levels and eventually diabetes.
- Sugar can increase your systolic blood pressure and cause high blood pressure in obese people.
- Sugar can interfere with your absorption of protein.
- Sugar upsets the mineral relationships in the body and produce a significant rise in triglycerides
- Diets high in sugar increase free radicals and oxidative stress.
- Sugar can contribute to autoimmune diseases such as: arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis.
- Sugar contributes to obesity
- The rapid absorption of sugar promotes excessive food intake in obese subjects.
- Sugar is addictive.
And there are many, many more…I could write a whole article about the many ways sugar ruins your health.
Sugar: The Bitter Truth
Being addicted to sugar is a biological disorder, driven by hormones and neurotransmitters that fuel sugar and carb cravings leading to uncontrolled overeating.
It’s the reason at least 60% of Australian women are overweight or obese , that’s 3 in 5 females with the numbers rising rapidly.
In fact, animal studies have shown that refined sugar is more addictive than cocaine, heroin or morphine. An animal will choose an Oreo over morphine. Why? This cookie has the perfect combination of sugar and fat to hijack the brain’s reward centre.
When you consume sugar, it acts the same way in your brain as substances like heroin and cocaine. Once it hits your system it triggers the production of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is known as the “feel good” hormone. It gives you a sense of wellness and makes you feel good. This reaction is also the reason that people can become addicted to a substance.
The fact is sugar is highly addictive!
Are Your Riding the Sugar Dragon?
If you tick “Yes” to more than three of the below statements , you may be riding the sugar dragon.
- You say that you can give up sugar at any time while eating a doughnut.
- You need an afternoon pick me up and its always something sweet
- You need dessert after` dinner or you’ll go crazy
- You would rather eat pastries then have a proper meal
- You continue eating large amounts of sugar even though you have health problems
- You reach out for something sweet whenever you feel stressed, angry or any emotion including celebrating with sugar
Believe me, you are definitely not alone.
Sugar and Mood Connection
Do you ever say to yourself – “ Today I will live in the moment.Unless its unleasant and I cant stand it , in which case I will eat a cupcake .”
Sweet treats trigger the release of serotonin, the feel-good hormone, but only temporarily.
Comfort and Pleasure.
Sugar impacts your body and emotions, and at times, this can give comfort, relief, or relaxed feelings.
Studies show that eating sugar leads to the production of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which activates reward and pleasure centres in the brain and causes a sense of pleasure and comfort.
Think about a time you ate too many cupcakes or maybe over-indulged in too many slices of toast.
All carbohydrates convert to sugar in your body, including those cup-cakes.
Chances are, you felt good for a little bit and all your troubles disappeared. But after a few hours, you may have felt tired, disappointed, guilty and a bit mentally foggy, or even a little anxious or unhappy.
Initially, sugar satisfies the craving centres in the brain, increases your blood pressure and heart rate, and can give you the feeling of comfort and an energy surge.
The problem is that the ‘sugar-roller coaster’ keeps going up and then crashing down. And the more you consume, the harder you fall.
Even though you know that sugar negatively impacts your mood, you oddly crave more of those foods that leave you feeling bad. In fact, research shows that sugar can be more addictive than cocaine.
Now, that feels so frustrating…
Sweet cravings are probably the most frequent craving my clients report to me.
When I ask them about what is going on in their lives, they usually say that they barely have any time to do what they’d like to do. Their life has evaporated into their daily grind, and all that energy for play and fun has been dried up and put into responsibility.
They have stopped taking care of their emotional needs and are eating their feelings with the Sugar Dragon.
I think that someone should open an ice-cream shop with flavours like “don’t be sad” and “you deserve better “-just kidding…lol
Here are 5 Simple Tips to help you overcome sugar addiction and generally feel in control.
There are so many more that I could give you but let’s kick off with these for now so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Tip #1 – Get Good Sleep
Our sleeping patterns can make or break our eating habits and have a direct impact on our moods.
Multiple current scientific studies suggest that you will be likely to react emotionally rather than choose a deliberate response to emotional situations.
So, if your goal is to stop the sugar addiction, meaning not reaching for chocolate when you are feeling tired or down, a good night’s will ensure you make much better decisions.
Read here to discover more about the benefits of good sleep and some tips for better sleep.
Tip #2 – Self- awareness
Having the awareness that sugar is really a problem for you is the first step to breaking the addiction!
When indulging in something sweet – eat mindfully and pay attention
Then, when you’re done, continue to pay attention.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel satisfied, or do you need more of anything sweet you can get your hands on?
- Did eating this increase your cravings?
- Do you feel more out of control after your careful indulgence?
First, pay attention every time you eat a sweet treat or carby confection, or any less-healthy fare you’d personally label “comfort food.”
You’ll find that some sweets will trigger cravings for more of sugar laden foods.
These individual triggers are different for everyone, but I bet if you think about what sweet or carb foods set you off wanting more you can name a few.
For me it’s things like bread and any baked goods containing sugar.
If you start paying attention when you indulge, you’ll be in a far better position to identify these culprits right then and there.
Tip #3 – Make Deliberate Decisions
When it comes down to taming or slaying your sugar dragon, I suggest making conscious, deliberate decisions when it comes to the food you eat.
When you eat slow down, be mindful and enjoy!
Everything I eat will be the product of a conscious, deliberate decision.
Try and follow these steps:
When you are presented with an opportunity to eat some ting sweet try to follow these steps
- Before reaching out for it and putting it in your mouth really quickly, stop and pause for 30 seconds.
- Take a few deep breaths
- Make a conscious, deliberate decisionand ask yourself is my decision to eat this for emotional reasons or do I just want to enjoy this treat and eat it slowly and savour it?
I guarantee that by doing this you’ll pass on most opportunities—it may not be worth the having to fight the cravings for more sugar afterwards.
Or maybe you are feeling so good and clean eating healthy that’s it not worth the few seconds of pleasure and hours of pain to follow.
If you do choose to indulge, eat slowly and mindfully, no distractions and no guilt afterwards.
Tip #4 – Eat Fresh Fruit
Fruits are naturally sweet, rich in flavour, offer a variety of nutrients and antioxidants and fibre and water to fill you up.
Start with adding a serving of fruit to every meal, and you may find yourself craving less sugar.
Many studies have proved that fruits were found to have anti-obesity effects
including improved satiety, reduction of sugar cravings, and positive effects on hunger and satiety hormones.
Start with having 1 to 2 servings of fruit a day, and you may find yourself craving less sugar.
Tip #5- Fill Up on Healthy Foods
The key is figuring out which healthy, whole-food satisfy you. In the Mood for Some Nutrients?
Dietary improvements can help moderate several common mental or emotional states.
- Eat fresh, whole foods and cut out the processed stuff
- Include protein at every meal (protein helps to build neurotransmitters)
- Add healthy fats to your diet, see below for suggestions
- 1 tbs. coconut oil:The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut oil will be absorbed quickly into your bloodstream, and this often stems sugar cravings.
- 1 tbs. of melted butter It helps you feel satisfied with a vitamin-rich dose of fat.
- 1 handful Brazil nuts.Brazil nuts are high in selenium, an element that reduces cravings for sweets.
Remember next time you’re fuelling your body, don’t forget that you’re also feeding your brain.
Increase mood-boosting foods.
Good mood foods are nutrient-dense and stabilize blood sugar levels to optimize your mood. Among these mood-boosting foods include:
- Wild-caught fish: The omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) optimise mood levels and lower inflammation and protein stabilizes blood sugar.
- Non-starchy vegetables and low-sugar fruit: These nutrient-dense foods include mood stabilising nutrients such as thiamine (vitamin B1), iron, and folate and can boost your mood
- Multivitamin: Insufficient amounts of certain vitamins and minerals can impact your mood. A quality multivitamin creates the nutrient foundation you might not be getting from food.
So, What Does This All Mean to You?
The key message here is sugar is addictive. And in my experience, certain body types are more sensitive to sugar than others.
You can tell if this is you because when you eat sugary foods or high carb meals:
- You crave sugar and/or carbs for the rest of the day
- You can’t stop thinking about food all day
- You find it hard to stop eating
- It’s harder to regulate your emotions and maintain emotional balance.
I know this first-hand experience, because I had an intimate relationship with the sugar dragon.
I have to manage my carb and sugar intake carefully, in fact I stay away from all sugar except for fruit, which I am also mindful with not too have too much.
If I don’t I gain weight easily, can’t focus, experience severe energy rollercoasters and my mood is really affected.
Your take away, is to learn how certain sweets and foods affect you so that you can take control of your eating, so you can switch off cravings and get rid of your sugar addiction.
But with an understanding of your trigger foods and a mindful approach to eating for your metabolic type, you can conquer sugar cravings once and for all
That’s why the Downsize Me Program includes a component on understanding and working with your metabolic type using a mindful approach – this is must-know stuff that will allow you to take control of your eating for good.
Please comment below, I would love to hear your story.❤️❤️
🍓Food & Mood 😃 Coach
BSc (Biomed), Cert IV (PT), Wellness Coach (Level 3))
I coach busy women to put down their fork and pick up their life.
If you want to eat well consistently and lose weight effortlessly book free 30-minute-coaching session with me and I’ll show you how to add years to your life and live those years to the fullest, looking amazing and feeling confident!
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