The above picture shows 12 teaspoons of sugar, which is about 60g. This is also the average amount of sugar that an average Singaporean consumes on a daily basis (MOH,2018)! Sugar has always been a big part of our daily lives, in the food that all of us eat, there are inevitably some amounts of sugar in them. Have you wondered why you like sweet stuff? Why are our tongues always craving to have something sweet on them? Well, just read on and you’ll find out in a bit!
Have you heard of dopamine? Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which is also known as the ‘feels good’ or ‘happiness’ hormone which transmits signals to your brain and interacts with it to send you signals for the ‘shiok’ feeling that you get when you consume sugar!
Our body has always been programmed since past times to adapt to look for food with higher calories with the basic instinct of survival, which has caused sugary foods to play an important role in our lives. However, in Singapore today, we all know that sugar is not essential for survival, where there are alternative sources of fuel for our body! In fact, large amounts of sugar are hugely detrimental to our bodies instead, with diabetes as one of the rising problems in our society! People mistakenly think that eating fats makes the body fat, but the truth is that extra sugar is stored as fats in body !
The cycle between dopamine and sugar is such that every time we experience a form of negative emotion or have the notion to want a reward, we will think of sugar as one of the main source. For example: ‘Wow today sure was tough, I should get something sweet to reward myself’. We will subconsciously give ourselves a reason to consume sweet stuff due to the dopamine that is released in our brain.
Whenever we consume sugar, dopamine is released and our blood sugar level spikes. Insulin in our body then brings the sugar level in our blood down, which will result in our body craving again for more sugar, as we want to have the dopamine released to give ourselves a ‘high’ or ‘happiness’. This is the addiction to sugar, which is similar to how nicotine feels for smokers.
Dopamine has fewer receptors to bind to, which means every time we eat sugar, the ‘high’ feeling is diminished, in which would cause us to binge and eat EVEN MORE sugar to get the effect that we indirectly crave for. Due to this cycle of crave and consuming more and more sugar, it leads to many adverse health effects on the body such as obesity, cavity issues as well as metabolic issues!
So, it comes down to the main question,
‘HOW DO WE STOP THIS ADDICTION’?
1) Start by getting rid of the sweet taste – For those people that are addicted to it, slight consumption of sugar can cause bulimia nervosa (Over-eating). When addicted, there is a high chance that a nutritional imbalance will occur due to high consumption of sugar. Start slowly by cutting down on sweet snacks and condiments, and exchanging refined carbs for complex carbs!
Also – should you be wanting to try any form of diet, the ketogenic diet, LCHF diet or even intermittent fasting will be vastly useful for you!
2) Releasing your stress – Stress is one of the biggest reasons for the increased consumption of sugar, in which the more stress you feel, you will eventually crave for more sugar. People who are stressed generally have low levels of dopamine and serotonin, which will cause your body to crave for sugar in order to increase the levels of dopamine to make you feel ‘happy’.
Try to find a healthy way of releasing stress instead of craving on sugars, such as exercising, having a hobby or even just playing some music to calm yourself and have a peaceful mind! Exercising has a very good effect for relaxing the mind and keeping your body healthy, which is arguably one of the best ways to reduce your sugar cravings! Exercising is my personal favorite way of feeling ‘high’ instead of craving on sugars!
3) Have a clear goal in mind – The most important thing to do is to have a clear goal in mind and have the determination to clear the addiction of sugar and helping your body to be healthier. There are many ways that can be recommended to help you curb sugar levels and help you to become healthier, but it all boils down to your own determination and hard will to get it going!