Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sugar is an Addiction

Andy and I were discussing this topic this morning and looking back on my own personal experiences, I can't believe this isn't true. I'm pretty sure it's been proven scientifically that the same part of the brain activates when eating sugar or food as opposed to intaking drugs or alcohol. Of course I'm too lazy to look that up right now, but I think I heard that a while ago (maybe a couple years ago). It's an interesting thought and anyone who has food cravings will tell you they believe it. Anyone who says that people should just stop being fat are just ignorant.

Let me elaborate with some life experience...

Ever since I started P90X I had to go cold turkey on the sweets. I knew that my eating got me into this mess and in order to lose weight and regain my health I needed a diet makeover. The food massacre easily peaked over Christmas vacation when there was a plethora of sweets including 2 packs of 2 half pound Reese's. The first week of P90X was HELL to say the least. Not only was I hungry all the time because of my reduced calorie diet, but I was craving sweets like you wouldn't believe.

Another example was just after Halloween. I had been eating Reese's pretty much every day for about 2 weeks (don't think Reese's is the trend here). When I finally had eaten all the candy leftover from Halloween (and there were no more candy sales) I literally would have cravings so intense I would do almost anything for some sweets. It felt like I needed a fix. I've never done drugs or anything like that, but these cravings were so strong that I instantly knew what a drug addict was going through.

Let's fast forward and go back into the P90X era. I've had sweets VERY sparingly since starting my diet. Now I'm not going to lie, I've had tastes and bites occassionally (maybe the average is the equivalent of an oreo cookie once a week size and calorie wise). Every single time I eat something sweet, the flood gates burst open. I instantly get this insatiable craving to eat everything sweet in sight. EVERYTHING. It's completely uncontrollable and each time I have to fight with pretty much everything I have. If that's not an addiction, then I don't know what is.

Andy and I were talking about this very thing. We also discussed how sugar from fruit doesn't even compare. I don't know what it is, but fruits aren't nearly as satisfying as processed carbs. An example, I can easily eat 8 candies (or more) for well over 1000 calories (or at least I used to before my stomach shrunk to the size of a peanut), but I have never been able to eat more than two apples consecutively. Or any other fruit for that matter. I love fruit too. Not only can I not eat that much fruit, but I also don't receive the same level of satisfaction from eating fruit. Chocolate on the other hand gives me pleasure like nobody's business. Maybe that is the answer right there. It's all about the pleasure and the brain's need to have it.

So after the conversation with Andy and my own thinking (on top of actual research), it is obvious to me and hopefully to you that you can be addicted to food and sugar is particularly addicting. For some reason, natural sugars don't appease the brain's need for a fix and that can only be attained through calorie intense foods. I also propose that eating is the worst kind of addiction (as discussed by Andy). Not only do we need food for sustenance and for enjoyment, but kicking the habit is especially hard because the foods we eat have been ingrained in us since birth. What our mothers ate, so did we (in the womb), and they fed us after birth. We haven't had control of what we ate until later in life and by then it is too late. I know it was for me.

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