Sugar During Recovery
11/16/18: AddictionThe sober lifestyle is fantastic! Living a sober life reaps a wide range of benefits that many others can’t say they have. When you think of addiction, you would typically think of alcoholism, substance abuse, etc. However, there is another substance addiction that people hesitate to put it in the same group. Many Americans have developed a serious dependency on sugar; you could go as far as to say they’ve developed an addiction. Sugar has many harmful qualities and some that are very similar to other harmful substances (drugs & alcohol).
Sugar Causes Similar Effects To Alcohol/DrugsWhen you ingest sugar in your body, it causes a similar high you get from alcohol/drugs. When you ingest alcohol or drugs, your body sends a message to your brain to release dopamine and boost serotonin, which causes you to feel a sense of euphoria, pleasure, and overall happiness. The exact same thing happens when we have any sugar. The more sugar you have, the happier and more euphoric you feel. This feeling can be easily craved and can quickly become addictive. Just like alcohol/drugs, sugar can take control of your mood and cause addiction if abused. Addiction can come in many forms, but the temporary rush is not worth the future battles you will have with yourself.
Transference of AddictionSomeone that struggles with addiction is subject to temptation and dependency, and sugar can do the exact same thing to a person. Becoming reliant on sugar to make you feel happy can have some extremely negative effects. Having a substance that provides some form of refuge from everyday life can be harmful. Abruptly stopping (or at least minimizing) your use of sugar may sound easy, but it can be extremely difficult. Sugar is extremely addictive and can cause some issues if given up. Just like alcohol/substance withdrawal, sugar withdrawal can cause sickness, headaches, irritation, and many other problems. Not only can sugar cause withdrawal symptoms, but a heavy sugar intake can lead to other issues like diabetes, strokes, heart disease, and even cancer. Heavier intakes mean a greater need for increased levels of dopamine and serotonin. This means you’ll start to feel as though you need more sugar to feel happy. Sugar addiction can start off in ways that you thought weren’t harmful, here are a few examples:
- Eating cookies after a long day at work.
- After a fight with your significant other, you eat chocolate/ice cream to feel better.
- Drinking soda to get a caffeine rush or adding extra sweetener to your coffee drinks.
Companies Hide Sugars To Feed Your Addiction & Boost ProfitsSugar can pretty much be found in most foods, even if they’re not sweet foods. Pasta, crackers, rice, and potatoes are carbohydrates that the body converts to sugar during the digestive process. Fruits have vitamins and minerals that the body converts into fructose which is a sugar. Just because sugar can be found in these foods, doesn’t mean you need to cut them out, just monitor your daily sugar intake. According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, the average American has about 22 tbsp. of sugar every day (76.7 lbs. a year). Another thing one needs to consider when monitoring their sugar intake is the sugars that companies hide in their foods. Companies will often put words like ‘syrup’, ‘fructose’, or ‘flavor’ on their products as sugar alternatives. These are just words to mislead you into thinking there’s less sugar in a product than there actually is.
Change Your DietIf you have an addiction, it is essential that you practice abstinence. When it comes to substance abuse addiction, abstinence is most important since substances can cause serious health issues. However, when it comes to sugar, you don’t need to practice abstinence necessarily. It is good to monitor your usage of sugar, but you can still have it in your diet. Incorporate healthier choices in your diet and minimize the amount of sugar you take in every day. Adopting a well-rounded healthy lifestyle includes making positive choices that support emotional and physical wellbeing. If you are unsure on how to start a new healthier diet to avoid heavy sugar intake, use these tips/tricks to eliminate your cravings for sugar:
- Incorporate more protein in your diet (chicken, lean cuts of meat, low-fat dairy, turkey, tofu, and fish)
- Exercise regularly
- Stop eating processed foods (white rice, white sugar, white flour, white pasta)
- Incorporate more healthy fats in your diet (Nuts, avocados, coconut or olive oils)
- No more processed meats (salami, bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon)
- Make sure you read labels and nutritional guides before buying foods and make sure to get the healthier options
- Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
- And of course, stay away from fast food
4 Ways To Avoid Sugar
- Be Prepared: Bring a healthier snack anywhere you go to control any sugar cravings, like fruits or nuts.
- Drink More Water: Drinking water is a great way to control any craving you have and it can keep you hydrated in the process. You could also snack on veggies like cucumbers, celery, etc. which can help keep you hydrated.
- Avoid Getting Bored: Just like any addiction, boredom can result in a relapse. When you are stuck with your own thoughts, you can easily get tempted. Take up hobbies, exercise, or do whatever it is that helps you avoid temptations.
- Sleep More: If you stay up past dinner time, chances are you’ll have a craving for something sweet late at night. Instead of staying up late, go to bed before you can even get the craving for a late night snack.
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