CHOCOHOLICS, AND SUGAR JUNKIES, HERE IS HELP.
When we eat sweets, sugar is absorbed rapidly into the blood stream. Our pancreas then responds by shooting a blast of insulin. The insulin drives the sugar into the cells where the cells burn what they can use.
Whatever they can’t use at the moment is stored as fat. Within a short time our pancreas gets the sugar cleaned up. The hypothalamus recognizes that a drop in sugar has occurred and signals for the appetite to return with a vengeance. This causes us to crave more and starts the cycle all over again.
At the same time these sugars are also acting much like hard drugs in one special way. They cause the brain to release endorphin's, or natural opioids. These neurotransmitters are a natural morphine. They go right to the pleasure center of the brain and give a small burst of euphoria.
The problem is the rate at which sugar is absorbed. If the substance, in this case sugar, is absorbed quickly, the rush is more intense. If it is absorbed more slowly, the good feeling is more prolonged and moderate. Drug addicts do what they can to make their rush as intense as possible-creating a high risk of overdose. We love sugar because it is absorbed quickly causing a bigger rush than foods that are absorbed more slowly.
The good news is that the amounts and intensity of the natural morphine created by your body is much milder than the stuff that is manufactured and concentrated by medical professionals to manage the pain of extreme trauma from surgery and from bad injuries, or by illegal drug dealers to achieve maximum addiction. The bad news is these are, in fact, addictions and behave in much the same way. While there are some exceptions, most can be managed using some basic principles. (Incidentally, these are some of the same principles that apply to much more severe addiction.)
First, replace sugar with whole or natural foods that are processed much slower by the body. For example, an apple, while containing a fair amount of sugar, is also filled with fiber, and the fructose (sugar) is locked into cells that take a while for the body to break down to get to the sugar. If you eat whole fruit instead of a food with processed, concentrated sugar, the sugar will be processed much more gradually, thus moderating the euphoric feeling and avoiding the rush and sharp insulin-appetite swings. Avoid foods containing processed sugar and replace them with whole, natural foods that will take more time for your body to process.
Second, our sugar addiction is a real problem for most of us, especially as we first try to attack it. We need some help in the form of a trainer or counselor and group to hold us accountable and keep us motivated. Most of us need to have a system that can work as a scaffolding and enable us to replace bad habits and compulsions with healthier ways of behaving and thinking.
Third, a huge part of the problem is our culture, which surrounds us with these foods to which we are addicted. Other sugar addicts, many of whom we dearly love, push sweets upon us, often as an expression of love. This can be tough! Imagine an alcoholic trying to recover while working in a bar. While this can be done, it is much easier if we work to educate others in our lives so they aren't constantly sabotaging our efforts, especially as we are just beginning to try to make changes.
This posting would not be complete without also noting that there is little difference between sugared sweets and other finely processed foods such as pastas and breads. These are absorbed instantly and act almost exactly the same as sugar once they get into your blood stream. That’s why we crave breads, rolls, and pastas pretty much the same as sweets. The solutions are the same. Replace anything made with fine ground flour with more coarsely ground grains and other substitutes, which take much longer for the body to break down and are thus absorbed much more slowly.
There. Now you know what’s going on with your sugar cravings. If you go to work using the 75% strategy or gorilla diet and eat less refined sugar replacing it with whole fruits and complex carbohydrates, using a trainer or counselor if you need one, educating those around you, you can get your cravings and your life under control.
January 26, 2016