Whilst we may not think of sugar as a drug (It’s not classed as one) however, It has the same effects on the brain as opioid. Yup, drugs! Strong drugs , the ‘proper’ ones like heroin and cocaine….
Ok, you’re thinking I’m being over-dramatic, right?
I’m really not, I always say that willpower will get you through your biggest leaps with your weight loss, but sometimes your will power and addiction to sugar leads to a losing battle.
But, why do we need to fight?
Because our brains are craving sugary foods (sounds like an addiction to me!)
Our bodies are the same as when we were cavemen, we’re hard-wired to survive.
To do that we need to eat, eat whatever we can get our hands on. Back then it was naturally sourced sugars and fats that are slowly released into the body, and the brain, after eating.
Leaving us satisfied, but back then we were eating high doses of vegetables, pulses and proteins. All low slow digesting foods, nothing coated in fat or sugar, but regardless of what it is that we’re eating we get a dose of a hormone called ‘Dopamine’, it’s released into the brain to say
“God, that was good. Well done for eating.. here, have a sticker!”
So what happens when we eat sugar and highly processed foods?
Well, they’re full of refined sugars, and fats. Things that are calorie dense (What our cavemen bodies love) so we get a rush of dopamine to reward us for eating foods that will ‘help us survive’. Again and again..and again we go back and eat it, we become addicted to the reward system of sugary foods, the ones that give us the biggest rush.
Worse still, is that the dopamine doesn’t just go to the reward part of the brain..not when you’re eating such processed foods, you get an overload of dopamine and it spills out into the addiction side of the brain (called the Nucleus accumbens)
Instead of addiction though, we call them “cravings” you know, to lessen the blow.
Doesn’t sound quite right does it? But think about it in terms of how much you ‘crave’ or are in need of sugar.
During your day how often do you reach for the sugary foods, whether healthy or not. Breakfast; fruit juices, teas, coffees. Sugary cereals, fruits and yoghurts (yep, yoghurt has sugar in too) Drinks throughout the day and snacks; biscuits, breakfast bars,even sugary veggies!
The list really goes on and when you’re having a bad day, you’ll snack. Not because you’re weak-willed but because you’re drugged. You’re so used to getting the release of ‘the happy drug’ that when you feel low you need a new whack of it.
Worse still!!! You get used to it. Sugars effect on you lessens over time and you end up needing more sugar to get the same effects. So instead of feeling better after one sugar, you have two or a chocolate bar..or a both! The bad news just keeps coming..
So, don’t feel bad for snacking or feel ‘weak’ for giving in.. just educate yourself on better options of ingesting sugar to get your fix. (I have a banana in the morning and evening and a sugary decaf mid-day)
I think I’m much more addicted to sugar than I let on to be honest with you..but that’s another story for the other blog “My addiction to sugary foods” (I’m giving up Chocolate to raise money for British Heart)