are we addicted to sugar

We Love Our Sugar! But Are We Addicted To It?

A good friend shared a saying that goes like this: “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels!”

I’ve discovered through the years that for many, many people, sugar tastes better than skinny feels. It’s like an addiction.

Cassie Bjork, RD. LD, founder of Healthy Simple Life writes that, “Sugar activates the opiate receptors in our brain and affects the reward center, which leads to compulsive behavior, despite the negative consequences like weight gain, headaches, hormone imbalance and more.”

Bjork continues that “studies suggest that every time we eat sugar we reinforce those neuropathways, causing the brain to become increasingly hardwired to crave sugar, building up a tolerance like other drugs.”

The issue that is currently being debated and studied is:

Are we addicted to sugar? If so, is that necessarily a bad thing? Sugar is food.

Most would agree that caffeine is addictive. Using it can cause some negative consequences. I was waking up with a headache until my doctor advised me to cut back on coffee. I did and the headaches went away.

In their article, “Sugar Addiction: Is it Real?” DiNocolantionio and associates describe how sugar behaves like addictive drugs of abuse. They explain that, “consuming sugar produces effects similar to that of cocaine, altering mood, possibly through its ability to induce reward and pleasure, leading to the seeking out of sugar.”

I’m not 100% convinced of the addictive nature of sugar. Ahmed in “Sugar Addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit,” expresses a different view. They conclude that, “The solid evidence for the food-drug analogy is scant and most of it is based on poorly validated inter-subjective comparisons and evaluations by people with drug addiction who are clearly not representative of the general population currently exposed to foods high in sugar.”

What’s a person to think? Is sugar addictive?

Maybe the answer is: It resembles an addiction.

  • We crave sugar.
  • Despite the problems that we experience such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease, we continue to over consume sugar.
  • We binge on sugar and rarely satiate on it.
  • At the expense of nutritious food, we spend money on sugar.
  • We would absolutely be aghast if someone required us to stop eating it for 30 days.

Let’s be clear: Sugar is not a drug!!!

My biggest concern is this:

Much like cigarettes and nicotine addiction, the negative consequences are delayed, sometimes for several years, even decades. Rarely does a person smoke or consume sugar and immediately experience punishment or negative consequences. We smoke and/or consume sugar and we feel better.

It’s not until years and years of overconsumption that we experience the negative side effects like obesity, and the other related diseases.

I overheard another friend warning some young teens about eating too many sweets with the saying, “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips!” Thankfully, that’s not true, but it feels true. It can take a long time to get unwanted weight off.

It’s not easy to cut back or cut out “added sugar” from our diets. I get it. We love our sugar.

I don’t think we’ve become “addicted” to sugar. But I do think that sugar is, because of its availability and appetizing flavor, difficult to resist.  And it can become a destructive master, wreaking havoc on our bodies for many years to come.


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