Do you have a sweet tooth? I know I do and while this may make losing weight a bit more difficult, does it do any real harm? Well is seems sugar is more potent than you might think. Sugar is a mood altering and highly addictive substance that can cause any number of problems and ailments from mood disorders to restless legs.

Now, it’s important to draw the distinction between added sugars and naturally occurring sugars in foods like fruits and vegetables. These foods contain vitamins, fibre, and other micronutrients. It’s added sugar that is the problem as they add calories, but no added nutrients. Added sugar is the main ingredient in candy / sweets and is in many processed foods and drinks, such as soft drinks and baked goods.

And American Chef, Tom Colicchio, agrees. He said, “This is what people don’t understand: obesity is a symptom of poverty. It’s not a lifestyle choice where people are just eating and not exercising. It’s because kids – and this is the problem with school lunch right now – are getting sugar, fat, empty calories – lots of calories – but no nutrition”.

With modern processed foods, sugar is basically everywhere. These days rather than chilli chicken you have sweet chilli chicken. Instead of pickles you have sweet pickles. At least with these the product description is giving you a clue. Surprising foods like bread, yogurt, breakfast cereal, soups, dressings and sauces can have added sugar and sometimes in alarming amounts. One pet hate of mine is yogurt. It’s often advertised as fat free, which is true, but it is often packed with sugar.

We probably all realise that the food we eat, or not eat, can change our mood and emotions. If you are hungry you may feel angry or grumpy. When your stomach is full you may feel content and perhaps sleepy. But, consuming large amounts of sugar triggers chemical imbalances in the brain. These imbalances can cause depression and increase the long term risk of developing other mental health disorders in some people.

The human body is not used to consuming such large amounts of sugar. A study in 2007 found that the brain’s sweet receptors are not adapted to high levels of sugar. This intense sweetness stimulates the brain’s reward centre and may be more pleasurable than cocaine, even in people with a drug addiction. Put simply, the high from sugar is stronger than one from cocaine. This means it’s very easy to become addicted to sugar. Frankly, your self-control is no match for sugar’s strength.

So, cutting the amount of sugar you consume is a good idea. The first thing to do is to look at how much sugar there is in the food you eat and try low sugar alternatives. Rather than drinking soda or juice drinks, try water instead. If you are cooking or baking then try alternatives to sugar such as cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, vanilla, ginger or lemon. There are also sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners such as Stevia or Canderel. Although in some cases these can cause an upset stomach, so experiment before you use in significant amounts.

If you are struggling with sugar addiction, to lose weight or breaking other habits and routines then Hypnotherapy can help. Contact me for more information.

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