Sugar is one of the most discussed substances, in the case of food addictions, along with salt and fat. We have all heard that sweets are not good – not just for our silhouette, but also for our health. However, how many of us can say no to a slice of cake or a piece of chocolate?
In the following part, we will learn more about what the addiction to sweets is and how it manifests itself. We will also find out a series of recommendations for a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
What is Sugar?
When we say sugar, we do not simply refer to candies and desserts, but to all kinds of sugars. They describe a class of molecules called carbohydrates found in many foods and beverages. Glucose, fructose (in fruits), sucrose, maltose, lactose (milk, yogurt, kefir, cheese), dextrose and starch are all types of sugars. Similarly, syrup of any kind, fruit juice, brown sugar, molasses and honey are sugars as well.
Sugars are added today in most supermarket foods, and it’s important to understand how they affect the brain. Even tomato juice, yoghurt, dehydrated fruits or flavoured water have sugar.
What is sugar dependence?
Long time ago, food was just a necessity. However, today we consume impressive amounts of food, often just to feel good and be happy. Over time, eating itself has become a pleasant activity, some sort of a reward.
We can define food dependence as the inability to control a certain behavior, despite the familiar physical or psychological consequences. Like drugs, sugar triggers the production of endorphin in the brain (the molecule of happiness – dopamine and serotonin), which gives a sense of instant enjoyment. Thus, repetitive consumption of sweets, develops in time, at the cerebral level, an association between foods high in sugar and our general well-being.
When we are accustomed to eating sugar in one form or another, day by day, it will be very difficult for us to give up. Giving up sugar means we will experience symptoms such as anxiety, anger and even depression.
How can we limit sugar consumption?
First of all, it is important to respect the main meals of the day. Otherwise, hunger and lust can make us succumb to sweets and processed foods.
At the same time, we must give up the consumption of processed and refined foods, including fruit juices and jams. Even if they do not contain added sugar, they are not healthy. They are concentrated in calories and have a high content of sugars, without the added fiber, vitamins and minerals, which are found in whole fruits.
That does not mean we should give up fruits and vegetables. On the contrary, it is preferable to eat unprocessed vegetables at each meal, along with a consistent source of protein, such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Fruit consumption is recommended either at breakfast or 2-3 hours after a meal to avoid bloating and digestion.