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February 12, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Shockingly Sweet: The Addictive Properties of Sugar

By Claire Franklin More Blogs by This Author

People today – and I include myself in what I’m about to say – wear their dependencies and addictions like badges. I see shirts that joke about “chocoholics” and hats that say “I need another beer.” These are, of course, intended to be humorous, but they seem to somehow diminish the fact that addictions are real (and in some cases, painful). This is also the case for those addicted to sugar.

Sugar Shock

Described as America’s biggest public health crisis, cravings for sweets pump 150 to 175 pounds of sugar per person per year into the veins of the elderly, middle-aged, and young alike. Sugar is a substance that speeds along the same brain pathways as heroin and morphine, and Robert Lustig of the University of California, San Francisco, suggested in February 2012 that sugar is similarly addictive and toxic. It can:

  • poison the liver
  • cause metabolic syndrome
  • increase risk of heart disease,
  • increase risk of stroke
  • increase risk of diabetes
  • suppress dopamine
  • cause us to crave more sugar

In fact, despite what some organizations (ahem - American Beverage and Sugar Associations) may say, considering all these risks, in Lustig's opinion sugar should be regulated like a drug. Like a drug, when people who normally eat a sugar heavy diet experience physical and mental withdrawl symptoms when  they attempt to cut back.


The good news is this habit can be kicked. Dr. Oz suggests you take 200 mcg of chromium polynicotinate at the start of any meal to prevent sugar surges that often cause you to reach for sweets later. Another of his recommendations is to add fruit to your meals to trick your taste buds into thinking they’re getting sweets. You can add a spoonful of natural cranberry jam to a turkey sandwich or cut up pineapple and add it to grilled chicken.

Pineapple Chicken

Fight Sugar Cravings

1. Gradually Cut Down Sugar in Coffee.

2. Dilute Soda and Juice with Carbonated or Plain Water

3.  Swap Junk for Nutritious Foods.

4. Cut Down on Bread.

5. Make a Desert and Every Other Day Thing.

The idea is to slowly and methodically reduce the amount of sugar or sweetener in the foods you eat. As you reduce, you’ll crave fewer sweets. And last, but not least, you should exercise daily to help usher sugar out of your bloodstream and produce good-vibe brain chemicals that are naturally released.


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1 Comment

  • Great article Claire - thanks for the encouragement and a way to help ourselves cut down on sugar! Even thought I find it hard to believe we eat "150 to 175 pounds of sugar per person per year into the veins" I know I consume too much!

    The 40-days of Lent start tomorrow maybe this is a good time to practice some of the tips you mention. Thanks!

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