I LOVE sugary foods!!! Mostly ice cream... that is my kryptonite!
Sugar can be addicting... it increases dopamine levels in the brain similar to drugs like heroine. A study reported that “rats with intermittent access to food and a sugar solution can show both a constellation of behaviors and parallel brain changes that are characteristic of rats that voluntarily self-administer addictive drugs. In the aggregate, this is evidence that sugar can be addictive.”
Aside from saying that sugar can actually be addicting, it is the way sugar is consumed that can also be a factor in addiction. Mostly that intermittent consumption (several times daily) plays a roll in sugars addictiveness. They also showed that after periods of abstinence, the use of sugar increased after it was reintroduced, and that the longer the period of abstinence the greater the increase usage. I found this part to be particularly pertinent to all those people who diet and then as soon as they reach their goal, they go right back to eating the way the used to, and not only gain back their weight but gain even more than they lost in the first place!
I know from personal experience that this feeling of wanting even MORE sugar once I cheat on my diet is very real. I often binge on sugary foods after I haven't had them for a while. When I completed my Whole30 the first time, I went back to eating poorly after my first slice of bread! I got up to eating ice cream (or shakes, etc) 2-3 time per day!! I feel not only depressed about my poor eating habits, but I feel tired and just slightly ill on a continual basis from eating these bad foods. Also, when I feel hungry, I have such a drop on my sugar levels that I can't even think clearly, and I am so grouchy until I can get something to eat, that I want to chew someones arm off!
When I was on the Whole30 plan, I began to feel much better, and less hungry all the time. I also didn't feel the same driving need for food when meal time rolled around. Even my family noticed the difference in my mood and my behavior... when I WAS hungry I WASN'T chewing anyone's arm off. Caveman even commented about the difference. That alone was all the motivation I needed. I needed to find a way to live without processed sugars forever. Like an alcoholic must forgot all booze, or as in my case again, a smoker can't have even one cigarette without spiraling back to a pack a day...
For those of you that don't know, Whole30 is a meal plan designed similarly to Paleo but even more restrictive. It emphasizes protein, fat and fruits and vegetable consumption while eliminating white carbs such as sugar, white potatoes, and grains. There are other food restrictions, but not much. It claims to reset your sugar cravings, etc. All I know is I felt better on it, but when my 30 days were up, I hadn't' really lost my sugar "addiction". So a few more months went by with me eating junk food before I decided that 30 days wasn't' going to be enough and I need to make a complete life change if I was going to stay healthy and happy.
I have since made a conscious decision to maintain a paleo lifestyle. I managed for about a month with great results in my energy and my mood-swings. I am now in a lull after my trip to Mexico at the end of May, but I know the only way to beat this thing is to get right back in. Today is going to be a good day...
Some of my favorite Paleo Blogs:
Wellness Mama (Grain Free)