HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE
Health at Every Size - these are the buzz words around the internet these days. Are you healthy? Do you want to be healthier?
What is health? The World Health Organization defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Being healthier doesn't mean losing weight. To you it might mean:
- eating better (such as reducing processed foods)
- exercising/moving more
- stopping smoking
- working on that depression
We are very happy to announce that we have a Registered Dietician on staff who will be writing our Health At Every Size series as well as answering a reader's question each month. You can read about Shari's philosophy and experience on our staff page. If you have a question for Shari, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: This advice is not intended to be a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical, health or nutritional advice.
Addicted to Sugar?
Giving in to your sweet tooth once in a while is perfectly normal, healthy and highly recommended. But when you just need a Kit Kat at 3pm and you'll kill for a soda a few hours later, then your body could be telling you there's an issue. It's not that you didn't get the memo that the sugary stuff is sweet poison but you just can't resist it.
Does that mean you lack will power or you're morally weak? Does that make you a glutton? Nope: sugar is biologically addictive but you probably already knew that deep down. In this article, I'll cover three of the most common causes of sugar addiction.
The 3 most common causes of sugar addiction
- The Standard American Diet
Adhering to the Western diet is enough to turn you into a sugar junkie no thanks to its diversity in refined products and other foodstuffs (from main meals to side dishes) loaded with stealth sugars like high fructose corn syrup.
Research suggests that regular consumption of sugar laden foods and drinks can cause people to build up a tolerance to sugar (yeah, akin to drug addicts)! What this implies is that the more sugar you eat (intentionally or not), the less satisfied you'll be. Result: you'll indulge in more sugar-rich foods in an (unconscious) ?? attempt to experience the original euphoric feeling?
- Chronic exhaustion
We are a nation that's chronically sleep deprived - no news flash here. But did you know that a single night of inadequate sleep can trigger sugar cravings?
You're probably thinking that I'm exaggerating but here's what scientists discovered:
- Brain scans of young adults who lacked sleep revealed increased activity in the brain's mesolimbic pathway which is driven by dopamine, the neurotransmitter (brain chemical) which controls positive feelings, cravings and addiction. This could cause sugar cravings to flare up - a persistent state of sleep deprivation would eventually lead to addictive behavior.
- Functional magnetic resonance imaging tests showed that insufficient sleep can make unhealthy foods, especially sweet ones, appear more salient and rewarding. The researchers found that people who were sleep deprived were more likely to succumb to sugary foods compared to those who slept enough.
- Insufficient sleep may also increase a person's propensity to seek out sugary and fatty foods as a reward.
- Only one restless night is enough to stress out your body and induce a state of insulin resistance by increasing your blood levels of cortisol. This hormone plays a key role in normal human physiology but when the levels go haywire; one of the consequences is that the 'feel-good' neurotransmitter serotonin takes a dive. That's when the sugar cravings surface.
- So called diet foods
Have you joined the sugar-free crowd? Then you're definitely doing yourself more harm than good. I won't elaborate on the dangers of artificial sweeteners except that they spark your appetite and amplify carbohydrate and sugar cravings. Studies suggest that the sweeteners do not trigger the production of dopamine - since your brain doesn't 'receive' its reward, its need for sugar remains and translates into cravings.
Even low fat foods can worsen your sugar addiction. That's because manufacturers usually load these products with sugar to camouflage their cardboard-like taste!
None of the above applies to you?
Adrenal fatigue, yeast infections, thyroid disorders, hormonal imbalances or mineral deficiencies could indirectly cause sugar cravings.
In the next article, I'll share tips about how to overcome sugar cravings. In the meantime, do share what you do to control the sugar monkey.
Submitted by: Shari
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