Here's the thing about sugar. Did you know that it helps to fuel your brain and red blood cells? That reason alone is why, automatically coming to the ultimate conclusion that sugar is the devil, is not a totally accurate one. According to many health experts, we need somewhere around 6 teaspoons of sugar a day while men require about 9. Problem is, an average cup of juice can give you all of the sugar you need for the day and let's be honest—many of us are well over tripling that amount, just with our breakfast alone. In fact, I actually read that most of us consume somewhere around 20 teaspoons of sugar on a daily basis. This is why, many health experts believe, that sugar addiction is at an all-time high; that it's an epidemic.
Thing is, because sugar is so much a part of our lives (remember carbs turns into sugar once we digest 'em), how can you know if you're someone who simply has a "taste" for sugar or you're someone who is a full-on addict? That is actually what we're gonna touch on today—some pretty telling signs that you've low-key got a sugar addiction, quite possibly without even noticing it.
8 Signs You Have A Sugar Addiction
You Have Constant Cravings
One sign that a sugar addiction may be a very real issue in your life is, you never seem to be able to get enough of it. I mean, no matter how much candy, juice and carbs (more on that in a sec), you consume, you can always take in more.
The reason why this happens is because, when you binge on sugar, that actually causes your blood sugar levels to tank because the insulin in your body will push the sugar into your cells in order to prevent sugar-related damage. And when your sugar levels are low, you end up wanting to eat more of it as a direct result.
Kinda crazy, isn't it?
You Can Never Get Enough Carbs
Carbs are a vital energy source; there's no doubt about that. But when you eat them, your digestive system actually converts that food into glucose, which is sugar. Unfortunately, because carbs typically don't have enough fiber or protein in them, your body is unable to slow down how quickly carbs are able to turn into sugar and, without protein and fibrous foods, you can find yourself craving carbs all the time (which basically means you're craving sugar all of the time). By the way, foods that are high in carbs that work against you include cereal, desserts, canned fruits, chips, bread and fast food. High carb foods that are actually good for you include quinoa, oats, bananas, sweet potatoes, blueberries and apples.
Your Energy Levels (and Moods) Are a Roller Coaster Ride
While caffeine is sho 'nuf a stimulant (a drug, in fact, because it is something that stimulates your nervous system), I once read that sugar is a "false energizer" because, right after it gives you a surge of energy, it can cause you to lose it just as fast. Not only that but because sugar can also have your blood sugar levels all over the place, it can give you some pretty nasty mood swings as well. So, if "roller coaster" would be a good word to describe how you feel most of the time, that's another indication that you just might have a sugar addiction.
Whenever You Don’t Eat “It”, You Feel It
Whenever someone tells me that they don't have a caffeine addiction but then turn right around and say that the reason why they need 2-3 cups of coffee in the morning is because they will have a killer headache if they don't, I'm often like, "Umm…yeah. That means you've got an addiction going on." The same thing applies to sugar. If when you try and go a few days without it, you notice that you're feeling extremely drained, nauseated, you've got muscle discomfort, headaches or even that you can't sleep much or well—all of this points to your body going through mild withdrawal symptoms.
This is why, if you are trying to consume less sugar, it's best to wean off of it slowly. It's also a good idea to keep in mind that the withdrawal symptoms usually don't kick in until 24-48 hours after you step away from sugar (some people say they actually do feel anything until they're two weeks in) and typically last between 2-14 days.
You’re Bloated Often
It's pretty common for us to get a little bloated, right around our period. That's because, when our progesterone and estrogen levels shift, leading into our menstrual flow, our body's cells start to retain both salt and water.
Well, did you know that something else that can trigger bloating, pretty much right after you eat, is sugar? That's because sugar has a way of disturbing the balance of our digestive tract once it ferments into our system. As a result, sugar is able to feed the bacteria in our digestive system which can cause bloating (and eventually yeast infections too).
Plus, 80 percent of our immune system is in our gut, so that's just one more reason to limit your sugar intake.
When You Miss a Meal, It’s a BIG Deal
While it's definitely a good idea to eat three square meals a day (because it can help to give you the energy that you need while preventing you from overeating or binge-eating unhealthy foods), our bodies are actually designed to be able to go hours without feeling like we're gonna die (or kill someone) if we don't eat something. Problem is, when you're a sugar addict, you feel like you need to be eating something all the time; especially salty foods which is a heads up that your body isn't receiving all of the nutrients that it needs.
Again, you need to eat a good breakfast, lunch and dinner. But if you happen to miss one of those meals and it's got you literally climbing the walls, well—you already know what I'm about to say. Right?
You’re Suddenly Packing on Body Fat
Here's something that you may or may not know. Were you aware of the fact that your body stores up energy in its fatty tissue? And here's the thing—since it takes fatty tissue a significant amount of time to break down into energy, that's why eating sugary foods creates bulges where you may not want them to be (this is also why it's so much easier to put on weight than it is to lose it). Not only that, but sugar also gets stored into your muscles in the form of glucose too. Until your body feels like you need to use that stored up energy, it will keep it in the form of fat—whether you like it or not.
One more. Some of you might remember when a huge news story broke that sitting all day, for months at a time, had become "the new smoking" when it comes to what it does to our health. The reason why is because a sedentary lifestyle affects out posture, blood circulation and breathing—and all of that can result in major health issues up the pike. Well, to that, if you haven't been moving about (or exercising before or after work), you know that you've been consistently getting no less than six hours a night and still, no matter what, you feel worn out 90 percent of the time, this could also be a sign that you're a sugar addict. When your system is reliant on large amounts of sugar in order to give you the energy that you need, if you're not consuming it, your energy levels drop which makes you want to go to sleep.
How To Curb Your Sugar Addiction
So, what if you happen to see yourself in any of the signs of sugar addiction that I just shared? First, as I briefly already mentioned, going cold turkey isn't smart. Since you've still got to earn a living—and going through sugar withdrawals can make you moody as hell—it really is best to ease off a little bit at a time.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Don't put extra sugar into or onto your food.
- Have only 1-2 glasses of un-water drinks a day (the rest of the time, drink water only).
- Go totally without fast food.
- If candy is your thing, get some dark chocolate that is made up of at least 65 percent cocoa.
- When you crave sweets, opt for protein instead (it will help to curb the desire). Some good protein snacks include peanut butter, coconut, unsweetened Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, tuna, pumpkin seeds and almonds.
- Read food labels before making a purchase (because remember, you need less than 25 grams a day).
- Have a slice/piece of something sweet rather than several.
Having a sugar addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. However, the reason why it's so important to take this seriously is because, too much sugar increases your chances of having heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, experiencing breakouts, becoming depressed and, of course, gaining weight.
A little sugar is cool. Just make sure not to overdo it, OK? Being addicted to anything is problematic, so choose your foods (and drinks) wisely.
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