Q. I have seen your columns about alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, etc and the damage it does to the body. I don’t struggle with any of those. But the one that I seem to have no power over, is the drug, SUGAR. Don’t be fooled, it is a drug!!! What do I do? — Janice

Janice goes on to say, “I realize that I am addicted. I crave sugar!! I become so mentally obsessed that I cannot think of anything else. I will break speed limits to get home and make cookie dough and eat it until I am sick. It is like being drunk…….ON SUGAR. I am diaphoretic, nauseated, sometimes I vomit and I feel terrible the next day. I tell myself, I am not going to do that again.”
Lets look at How Sugar Affects Hunger and the Desire For More:
Sugar acts on the brain to encourage additional intake. Sugar dampens the suppression of the hormone Ghrelin, which signals hunger to the brain.
It also interferes with the normal transport and signaling of the hormone leptin, which helps to produce the feeling of satiety.
Lastly, it reduces the dopamine signaling in the brain’s reward center, thus decreasing the pleasure derived from the food and compelling the individual to consume more.
Sugar is comprised of glucose and fructose. Fructose is found in most processed foods and is more fat-producing than glucose. There is no biochemical process that requires dietary fructose. It is not a need-based food. It is a want-based food. Sugar makes food taste better and is a source of emotional satisfaction. Eating your Aunt Mary’s homemade chocolate chip cookies can bring happiness and calm.
The problem with this want-based food is that once it is found to be pleasurable, more will be ingested, just like any drug. But also as with any once pleasurable drug, it will turn on you and cause you much misery.
It is hard to adjust and moderate sugar but it can be done. The strong emotional connection must be analyzed. A 12 step program can be followed for any addiction. Pair that with therapy. Have a strong support system. Remember you don’t want a friend who drags you to the bakery any more than an alcoholic needs a friend who hangs out at a bar.

Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City

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