Whether you’re feeling stressed, blue, anxious or angry, what’s the first thing you reach for? Considering Americans eat 3 pounds of sugar a week, I’m guessing its sugar in chocolate, candy, cookies, cakes… you know best what satisfies the urge.
But what makes it so addictive? Even just a taste of sugar makes your taste buds activate the part of the brain that shouts, “I Want More!” That’s because the sweet receptors on your tongue send a message to the reward centers of the brain to produce dopamine, which makes us feel pleasure and satisfaction.
When the dopamine is released, your tension eases and you feel better. That’s why so many women want sugar to change how they feel. Unfortunately, the benefit is short-lived and the pattern becomes addictive.
We seem to want more and more sugar to feel good. (For a more in-depth answer to why we crave sugar, carbohydrates and alcohol, as well as what you can do about that frustrating urge to splurge, watch for my new ebook, Cravings! It’s coming out early October 2015).
Corporate food companies take advantage of our wiring to create foods with a “bliss point” or “mouth feel” that keeps us hooked on the stuff. And artificial sweeteners are even worse. They have chemicals that can make us hungrier and cause both diabetes and cancer.
Even the new chemicals they are using to replace aspartame, called sucralose (saccharin) and acesulfame potassium, alter the amount and quality of the beneficial bacteria living in the gut by 50% or more, leading to weight gain and obesity.
They can also trigger higher blood glucose (sugar) levels and limit the absorption of medications for cancer and heart disease, making them less effective.
As for the second chemical, acesulfame potassium, it contains methylene chloride, which is a carcinogen. Long-term exposure to it has been linked to visual disturbances, headaches, depression, liver problems, nausea, mental confusion, kidney effects and cancer in people.
To sum it up, we all get cravings and there are no harmless processed substitutes. If it sounds like it has lots of chemicals in it, don’t eat it. If you want to try a healthier way to satisfy your sweet tooth, fruit, sweet vegetables, honey or maple syrup can help. You might also like Pecan Pie (a Medjoul date stuffed with a pecan) until you get the sweet cravings under control.
It’s perfectly understandable if you need some help combating Big Food’s affects on your body. Feel free to schedule a convenient time to talk about it at no charge.