Your Sweet Tooth Is Lying to You
Here at The Glow Paradise, we have grown fully antipathetic to any nutritional information source that chalks up different foods as good or bad, because we believe that in order to fully experience joy in nutrition, the better alternative is to shine the light on how these “villain” foods can nourish your body and soul alike, bringing you gratification and ultimately healing.
Sugar for example, is the new millennium’s bad guy. However before writing it off completely, it is best to get to know it a little bit, and that’s where you’ll find that sugar is actually more nuanced than that. It comes in various forms, and each one has a particular purpose in our organism. So we are here to tell you all about these various forms in the simplest way possible, because after all: information is the best weapon against fear and prejudice. Can you get addicted to sugar? How does such a thing even happen? Why am I constantly craving it? The answers, dear reader, are all here.
An Intro to Sugar: The 3 Main Kinds
Glucose: Also known as a simple carbohydrate, glucose is your body’s #1 energy source. It is what fuels your muscles and brain, and when consumed it’s either used immediately for power though being carried your cells with the help of insulin, or stored for later use.
Fructose: It is the main sugar compound found in fruit. The liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose, as opposed to glucose, which can be used in virtually every cell in your body for energy. It does not require the release of insulin.
Sucrose: When glucose is joined with fructose, it makes sucrose. It is abundant in sugar cane, beets, corn and other plants. When extracted and refined, sucrose makes table sugar.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the basics, you should know that nutritionists worldwide are still torn on whether you can get addicted to sugar or not. Some research says that sugar “addiction” is just a hard-to-break habit; other experts claim it to be very possible both behaviorally and chemically.
The truth is maybe the word “addiction” itself is a little bit extreme, especially when it’s comparable to drugs and alcohol. You can however get hooked on sugar on a biochemical level. The metabolizing of sugar is interconnected with the reward centers of your brain, and can elevate your dopamine levels, the feel-good hormone. But as time goes on those receptors start to tone it down a little, making you a slightly less sensitive to the effects of dopamine time after time. While it’s understandable to feel out of control around sugar, it just doesn’t have what it takes to be considered addictive per se. It is essential to clarify that pleasurable does not mean addictive. Yes, the same thing happens when you take addictive substances, but it can also happen with exercise.
To understand the psychology and physiology behind sugar cravings, one must tune into why you’re getting them in the first place.
To some extent, we are kind of hardwired to want sugar. Think about it: our primary fuel source is glucose after all, so our brains must have evolved to liking sweet foods. Just being aware of that may reduce the craving! Otherwise you may not have been eating enough, you may have eaten too much starch and not enough healthy fats or protein, you may have gone haywire on salty foods, or you just picked it up as a bad habit.
In any case, remember that food is medicine. If you are sick of constant sugar cravings, eating clean will be your best cure. It will ensure you’re always fully nourished, because sugar will always be the first thing your body craves when it’s deprived of nutrients. Not only that, but it will also balance your gut, which is a subject that we somehow always return to because it is above all at the epicenter of all your bodily functions running smoothly.
Finally, eating clean will retrain your taste buds and reset your relationship with food. You will break free of emotional eating and going all out on a tub of ice cream or endless candy bars, and will have instead modified your habits to more beneficial ones. Then, and only then will you reap the rewards of this sweet sweet victory.