Sugar addiction is a subtle and insidious dependency that creeps up completely unnoticed. Unknowingly consumed in processed food or a seemingly harmless meal out, sugar is everywhere. In fact, the average American ingests 150 pounds of refined sugar a year — the equivalent of five tons throughout a lifetime. Don’t be fooled. Simply because sugar is a widespread, accepted substance, doesn’t mean it is anymore innocuous than morphine or heroin. It is just as addictive, if not more so. But there is hope. With a few dietary and lifestyle changes, sugar dependency can be tamed and healthy well-being restored.
The true cost
Back in 14th century London, sugar sold for two shillings a pound — about $50 in today’s market. It was rare and precious, used sparingly to flavor medicines and the occasional sweet. Health issues linked with sugar were sparse as well. With the staggering increase of sugar consumption, incidence of serious disease has spiked. Allergies, obesity, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, PMS, Chron’s disease, herpes, impotence and yeast infections are all induced by sugar.
And sugar is incredibly addictive. Professor Hoebel of Princeton University and his research team found that “sugar stimulates receptors to activate the same pathways that are stimulated directly by drugs such as heroin or morphine.”
Sugar acts like a misguided antidepressant too. It elevates the level of serotonin in the brain, lifting mood and depression. But it also triggers a sequence of blood sugar peaks and crashes — furthering the need for even more copious amounts of this granulated drug. Withdrawal symptoms include depression, irritability, headache, restlessness and nervousness. Painful symptoms can be minimized, if not completely eliminated, with a dash of knowledge and a plan for healing.
Soothing withdrawal symptoms
Dietary, lifestyle and emotional support is necessary to break sugar addiction and establish a healthy future. Not surprisingly, the first step in taming this dependency is to abstain from refined sugar. Reducing salt and dairy is also important since both cause the desire for sweets. Consuming small amounts of protein every few hours soothes cravings as well. Additionally, tea made from fennel, anise and licorice root is naturally sweet and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Chromium picolinate is helpful too.
Tending the liver, kidneys and adrenals is vital to kicking the sugar habit. Apples, artichokes, beets, burdock root, daikon radish, green leafy vegetables and sweet potatoes are good choices for clearing the liver. Black soybeans nourish taxed adrenals and kidneys while trace minerals found in sea vegetables sustain the endocrine system. To further encourage comfortable detoxification, supportive lifestyle practices are essential.
Subduing sugar blues in a balanced way
Louise Hay, author of Heal Your Body, believes that addictions are rooted in “running from the self” and fear. Positive affirmations, prayer and visualization contribute to a foundation of self-love and balance. Art therapy builds self-esteem while breathwork eases stress. Exercise boosts mood-lifting endorphins and enkephalin. Specific yoga poses like the fish, plow, shoulder stand and locust help to clear the liver — a crucial aspect of healing any addiction. Keeping a food journal, slowing down, and savoring the natural sweetness of food and life supports equilibrium as well.
Breaking sugar addiction is a worthwhile pursuit. Brigitte Mars, author of Addiction Free Naturally, observes: “You’ll feel energized, alert and healthier, and you will no longer suffer from sugar cravings. Eating less sugar will improve your physical and emotional health. And the more you improve the condition of your body and mind, the less sugar you will crave.”
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