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Sugar Addiction – Is It All In My Head?

Sugar Addiction – Is It All in My Head?

By Julia Aimers

Have you ever wondered why you don’t crave a good hearty bowl of brussel sprouts? But boy a creamy chocolate bar after lunch, now we’re talking craving! (Image source: Psychology Today)

In the first article about quitting added sugar I mentioned that after two weeks without sugar my sweet cravings pretty much stopped and my appetite seemed supressed. After meals I used to surf for delectable sugar treats, likewise during that afternoon lull in energy. Being an exercise physiologist and triathlete who is perpetually curious about how our body works, I was really starting to wonder if this concept of sugar addiction was all in my head.

I took to the research and seemingly sugar addiction does all start in the head. There are numerous brain scan images online comparing drug and sugar addiction. You can see on these images how the brain lights up in a similar way when anticipating cocaine as well as sugar.

According to one research paper on the Evidence For Sugar Addiction (1), “sugar releases opioids and dopamine and thus might be expected to have addictive potential”. It goes on to say “Effects (of sugar) are similar in magnitude as those produced by drugs of abuse such as cocaine and morphine” Wow!! Bring on the Brussels sprouts!

My next investigation: why, after giving up sugar, is my appetite supressed and why do I feel more satisfied after eating? Into my office walks Dr. Robert Lustig (figuratively), the man who believes sugar is poison. His Sugar: The Bitter Truth lecture on YouTube is very passionate and informative but be forewarned there is plenty of biochemistry to listen to. If you would like the Coles notes version of his research, there are loads of articles to surf through online and he has also written a book called Fat Chance.

Dr. Lustig builds a strong case to prove that 1) after eating fructose our brain still thinks that we’re hungry and 2) the signal that the brain gives us to tell us that we’re full gets shut down on fructose. His beliefs are definitely in keeping with what’s been going on with my appetite and the general feeling of satiety after meals. I guess the sugar addiction thing is all in my head! And that my friends is the Sugar Coated Truth.

In the coming weeks I will be exploring the effects too much added sugar has on the body, how athletes can supplement without high fructose corn syrup, the risks of artificial sweeteners, and sugar in alcohol.

Julia Aimers – Coach
juliaJulia Aimers (BA Rec Admin, Certified Exercise Physiologist) is a NCCP Level 1 Triathlon Coach and Level 2 Technical Road Cycling coach. She has completed her Swim Coaching course and is an Ottawa, Ontario based coach who uses the Total Immersion ™ approach to swimming. To read more about Julia please visit her website: http://www.pbest.ca/team-coach/

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