How To Overcome An Addiction To Sugar
A Powerful Presence
Sugar is that yummy substance that leaves us happy and craving more of the same. It has a powerful effect on us; some say it’s more addictive than cocaine. Sugar drives an increase in feel-good hormones such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine to circulate around your nervous system, leaving you on a high. Sugar also activates the reward centre in your brain, drawing you back on a regular basis for the next hit of gratification. It feels like a safe and satisfying option to feel great, and cravings ensure you keep going back for more.
Sugar is the ingredient that can be found in almost all foods today; a whopping 80% of all foods in America have added sugar. It’s cleverly disguised by manufacturers with confusing and unfamiliar names on food labels, so you’re often completely unaware of its presence. Yet you’ll find some version of sugar in most foods, from tinned vegetables to wholegrain bread. It’s become increasingly difficult to exclude sugar from our diets. Even products labelled as, ‘sugar-free,’ contain sweeteners as a replacement.
The Dangerous Nature Of Sugar
Sugar has been shown to have a lethal effect on our physical and mental health. The types of sugar added to our food are almost always highly processed. Our bodies cannot process the sugar efficiently in this manufactured form, and our health deteriorates as a result.
A strong statistical correlation has been found between sugar consumption and obesity. Children seem to be particularly susceptible to its effects; consuming one sugary drink a day has been shown to increase a child’s risk of obesity by as much as 60%.
Eating any form of sugar in large quantities is believed to cause obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease. The toll on our physical health and the stress to our nervous systems can have a knock-on effect to our mental wellbeing too. Our confidence plummets, self-esteem dwindles, and with hormones rising and falling unpredictably, we find ourselves emotionally unstable.
The 3 Step Approach To Overcome An Addiction To Sugar
It’s clear sugar is a dangerous substance that’s far too easy to come by. Addiction is subtle yet serious, as those who become reliant upon sugar suffer serious health risks without noticing the culprit.
Overcoming an addiction to sugar therefore requires a three-pronged approach:
Identity – Withdraw – Abstain.
It’s necessary to first identify the addiction and its effects on our physical and mental health. Without acknowledging there is an addiction to sugar, it’s impossible to respond and recover.
With guidance and support from a professional mentor, it’s possible to take steps to withdraw from sugar. This needs to be carefully planned and implemented, so you’re properly supported through this difficult transition.
Finally, it’s critical that abstinence from sugar is maintained. This is a lifelong change, not a quick fix. As soon as sugar is reintroduced into your diet, the downward spiral into addiction can take on a strength of its own, leaving you back where you started.
With the right support, you can overcome an addiction to sugar. You must be committed to your recovery, and implement the following strategies for the best chance to achieve your goal:
With the assistance of your mentor or coach set about creating your recovery plan. Outline your ultimate goal, and what you would like to achieve. Be elaborate with the details: how would you like to feel, look, behave? Imagine yourself at the end of your recovery journey; take the time to indulge in what it will be like to achieve your goals. This level of detail will motivate and inspire you from the beginning. You’ll have a clear idea about what you hope to achieve and why. This will provide encouragement throughout your recovery, and enable you to stay focused when change becomes difficult. A plan also helps you stay on target as it enables you to clearly visualise not only where you’re going, but how.
A reliable support system is vital to your recovery. Without the right people to walk alongside you as you take the steps to improve your health, you’re more likely to give up. You need people you can rely on when you lose motivation and can’t remember your why. When you don’t want to get up early to make a nutritious breakfast, or say no to drinks on a Friday night. Your support system should provide you with people who will stand beside you and hold you accountable. They will have your best interests at heart, and not be afraid to tell you what you may not want to hear. Identify people you can trust to look out for you, rather than enable your bad habits.
Set up the safest environment for you to succeed. Consider this your first step of self-care; remove all temptations from your home environments such as takeaway menus or sugar-rich foods. Share your new knowledge and intentions with other members of your household, so they’re informed about how best to support and assist you. Introduce space into your environment to cook and sleep well: only stock your cupboards and fridge with nutrient-dense wholefoods, switch screens off an hour before bedtime, create a sanctuary within your home to meditate or journal. Schedule time in your routine to get outdoors; slow down and appreciate natural wonders whilst you enjoy feel-good hormones from exercise and natural beauty.
Give yourself the best chance to overcome sugar addiction by respecting your body and taking care of your physical and mental health. Sugar wreaks havoc on our systems that will have lifelong detrimental effects unless we pay attention and make the necessary changes for lifelong resilient health. Contact a professional food coach today to make your plan, establish your support system, and create the safest environment for your lasting success.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Bunmi Aboaba is a Recovery Coach specialising in Food Addiction, helping clients to achieve a healthy relationship with food to meet long-term health goals. Dr. Bunmi’s work covers the full spectrum of disordered eating, including overeating, compulsive eating, emotional eating, addicted eating, and other associated patterns. Dr. Bunmi is also creator of the first Certified Food Addiction Certification to support nutritionists, personal trainers, dieticians, and clinicians to help their clients achieve long-lasting results.