We’ve all had those 3 a.m. cravings — scouring the cabinets and refrigerator for anything sweet: forgotten Halloween candy, the last scoop of ice-cream in the carton, a hit off whip cream can. The desire to satiate a sweet tooth can be so intense you might wonder — is sugar addictive?
Turns out you aren’t crazy. Sugar is addictive and affects our brains much the same way as cocaine or heroin. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, foods that spike blood sugar create similarly addictive cravings. In fact, it’s very common to go through a period of sugar withdrawal, leading to irritability, sleeplessness, and intense cravings.
Symptoms of Sugar Addiction
Symptoms of sugar addiction are subtle and vary according to each individual. Intense cravings for sweet food and drinks, such as soda, could be a sign that your brain is addicted. And diet soda doesn’t get you off the hook. Artificial sweeteners are estimated to be about 600 times sweeter than regular table sugar and has similar effects on your brain chemistry and diet. Cravings for foods that are high in carbs such as pasta or bread can be another sign because of the high amounts of glucose that helps break sugars down.
Eating the foods you crave to achieve pleasure or reduce negative emotions could also be an indication of addiction. If you find yourself making up excuses why it’s okay to consume a particularly craved food, perhaps to a level of obsession, you might consider help in managing the addiction.
What You Can Do
Fruit has a more natural sugar known as fructose. It metabolizes differently but can sometimes satisfy similar cravings. It is still possible to have too much of a good thing, however. You should probably limit fruit intake to several times a day. Too much fruit can cause an increase in belly fat. Certain fruits like grapes or cherries actually contain a high amount of sugar.
It may be a good idea to clean the fridge, cupboards and pantry of any foods high in sugar. Be mindful about your grocery list. If it’s not in the house, those 3 a.m. binges won’t even be an option.
If you find yourself craving chocolate, you might consider talking to your doctor about your magnesium levels. You can improve your magnesium intake by eating magnesium-rich dark leafy greens, tofu, legumes and nuts.
Talk to Your Cincinnati Dentist
A big part of our work is reaching out and learning about our patients lifestyles. We love getting to know you because it makes our work more personal. But it also helps us learn about you and what lifestyle improvements can be made to make you and your family healthier. Be honest with us about your diet, sugar cravings and sweet intake. We can suggest dietary changes, brushing techniques, and other preventative measures that help.
Eating less sugar generally leads to weight loss, more energy, and fewer cavities. You’ll look better and feel better. You’ve got this!