Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to resist sugary treats? Or why sweet foods can make you feel so safe and comforted? Maybe because they’re designed to feel that way. Chemical reactions in our brains and bodies condition us to rely on that feeling. Sugar and snack foods can seem impossible to resist, but it’s not your fault. These “foods” are engineered to be addicting and have the same effect on your brain as hard drugs. Fortunately, you can break that pattern and be free from sugar addiction with some simple, effective tips below.
Food addiction comes from survival instincts
Before you blame yourself for your midnight cookie habit, remember that in the beginning, we were foragers, and our Sweet translated to safety and bitter or sour tastes could mean danger, unripe, or poisonous foods.
Sugar releases happy hormones in your brain
Our brains release dopamine when we eat, which is the brain’s reward system. Triggered by those survival instincts of “food equals good”. But when we eat sugar, we get a big rush of dopamine AND opioids released in our brain (which is the same chemical in hard drugs like heroin or oxy) but not on such a large scale. That’s why when we’re sad we often go for the ice cream that will make us feel better and give us a dopamine hit. In a lab study on rats, their eating was restricted for 12 hours a day, and for the other 12h, they were given a sugar solution and lab chow. Scientists monitored the effects on their brains and they found that the sugar access changed the opioid systems in their brains. Not only did they become wired for sugar addiction, but also became more prone to drug addiction that stimulated the same neural pathways.
What constitutes addiction?
The word “addiction” implies psychological dependence and compulsive behaviors that can be harmful and uncontrollable. There are cycles of addictive patterns that can be categorized as bingeing, withdrawal, craving, and sensitization.
“Bingeing” is defined as the escalation of intake of certain foods, often following a period of restriction or abstinence. For example, after following a strict diet for a while you feel like you deserve a break and binge on a box of cookies, chocolate, and ice cream. With that huge influx of dopamine, the brain has to actually remove dopamine regulators to keep itself in balance. The more intake, the more tolerance one can develop for those foods, resulting in an increasing need for more and more to achieve the same feeling. You find you’re not satisfied with just one cookie or one piece of chocolate, you need more and more to feel the same euphoria.
Withdrawal can happen when the substance is no longer available, and in the case of the rats, they became aggressive and depressed. We’ve all felt the effects of intense sugar cravings and feeling like you need to have it. We can even experience uncomfortable physical effects after a few days, like headaches or lethargy.
Sensitization happens when the addictive substance is administered so much that we come to rely on it. This is so easy in our modern society where sugar is hidden in nearly everything. The scary part is, once you become sensitized to one drug, it’s so easy to fall into addiction patterns with other drugs that stimulate the same neural pathways.
So how do we break the pattern?
Fortunately, all is not lost. If you’re ready to kick your sugar habit, it’s actually a lot simpler than it may seem. After just 10 days of quitting cold turkey, your body can effectively detox and you’ll start to feel a lot better. Speaking from experience, your skin starts to glow, your mind becomes a lot calmer and sharper, and your sleep and eating patterns can improve. The first few days can be tough, often with headaches, tiredness, and intense cravings. But don’t worry, there are tips below to get you through the process!
The biggest challenge is making it through the first ten days without any traces of the addictive substance, so that means reading every label in the grocery store for sneaky added sugars. It’s also wise to avoid prepared foods or restaurants that may add extra sugar because we don’t know what added ingredients or energy are present in the food.
Go straight to the subconscious
I’ve detoxed from sugar a few times, and along the way, I picked up a few helpful tips and tricks. It can feel difficult and almost impossible in the beginning, but after a few days the detox symptoms subside and you can start to feel the benefits of living free from this addictive substance. Here are some tools I use to ease the process along:
Research has proven how effective sound healing and frequencies are for trauma, PTSD and delving into the subconscious . Based on the principle that everything in this universe is vibration, the atoms in our body can vibrate in tune to the frequencies we listen to or are surrounded by. This is a healing frequency specially designed for detoxing from sugar addiction and can help lessen the detox effects and subconsciously release cravings. These frequencies are tried and true, completely loving and safe.
This is a hypnosis video I’ve used for healing sugar addiction and is extremely effective. It’s very helpful to go straight to the subconscious mind because our subconscious controls the majority of our behaviors whether we realize it or not. You can listen to this during the day or at night while sleeping, and it’s most effective if used consistently over a period of at least two weeks. The link is here below:
Even if you’re cutting off processed sugar, you can still have fruit to satisfy the sweet cravings. Eating whole foods, especially foods high in omega-3s (such as nuts or fish) can encourage neuroplasticity to allow your brain to rewire itself. You also may find that your taste buds become more sensitive over time and you can appreciate the rich flavors and natural sweetness in whole foods.
Getting exercise while detoxing can also be very beneficial. Releasing toxins through sweat or just moving your body can instantly release endorphins and dopamine. This can also help with some of the emotional symptoms of detox, such as anxiety or depression.
- Do your own research
One of the most important steps for change is to fully understand why you’re doing it. If your mind still needs proof and understanding that sugar is bad for you, seek that knowledge yourself. There’s so much evidence proving that sugar is an addicting, toxic substance, and I encourage you to delve deep into that rabbit hole to solidify your understanding. Not to mention the treatment of farmers and workers who manufacture sugarcane is appalling. If you want to learn more about that and other chilling aspects of the sugar industry, check out Rotten on Netflix, where they have an episode all about processed sugar.
With that being said, go easy on yourself in this process. It can be a big change to let go of sugar, but one that will ultimately improve the health of your mind, body, and soul. Releasing shame or guilt around eating is also important because food can mask our feelings and give us an immediate feeling of comfort. Try to inquire and understand from an emotional side what you’re really looking for when you reach for sweets to satisfy your cravings.