You don’t always see the word “sugar” on a food label. It sometimes goes by another name, like one of these:
Watch out for items that list any form of sugar in the first few ingredients, or have more than 4 total grams of sugar.
Sugar can hide in foods where you least expect it. Although they don’t seem sweet, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and pasta sauce can have loads of sugar.
So can reduced-fat salad dressings, bread, baked beans, and some flavored coffees.
Get in the habit of reading labels. Filter out high-sugar foods before they hit your shopping cart.
That could make it harder to control your weight. The problem is, some experts say, that artificial sweeteners don’t help you break your taste for sweets.
Your body’s hormonal response to sweet flavors is hardwired, whether nourishment is coming or not.
Research shows that sugar in all its forms ratchets up your risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It may even increase your risk for some cancers, too.
Sugar addiction is no joke. Brains are capable of rewiring themselves to crave sugar. And when you try to quit, you can end up with an array of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
“Sugar addiction is a measurable, physiological phenomenon many people suffer from,” says Ken Berry, MD, author of Lies My Doctor Told Me. “Sugar addiction makes it very difficult for many people to make the dietary improvements needed to improve their health.”
Some studies have suggested that sugar is as addictive as cocaine.
Similar to other compulsions or behavioral addictions, sugar addiction is a special risk for people with depression, anxiety, and stress.
Carb-rich sugary foods are go-to choices for an energy boost when fatigued.
Since sugar releases endorphins that combine with other chemicals in the body, a resulting energy surge is often you’re dragging.
You may crave sugar to balance irritability, emotional lows, and other conditions.
Once you reach this point, control over dietary choices and habits is more challenging and frustrating. It’s not a matter of willpower. Your brain’s been hijacked by addiction!
Do you hide your sugar habit?
Some people with a sugar addiction may recognize they’re eating too much sugar but they still can’t stop. In guilt and shame, they hide it and eat it in secrecy or only when alone.
Who hides broccoli in their dresser drawer?
If you hide sweets, or sneak to eat them, you might have a sugar addiction..
Making excuses or making deals with yourself concerning sweets and desserts is a definite sign of sugar addiction.
Do you need more and more to satisfy cravings?
As with many addictive behaviors or substances, your tolerance to sweets may build over time.
“A sign of sugar addiction is the need for more to satisfy the craving,” says Erin Akey FNC, KNS, a nutritionist and chef. “At first, one scoop of ice cream does the trick, but as you become more addicted you need more and more to get a fix.”
This is due to the down regulation of your dopamine receptors in your brain. You’ve over-stimulated them with too much sugar and they reduce down their response signals. That’s why you need to more to just feel neutral. That is is a hallmark of addiction.
Do you eat sugar even when you’re not hungry?
Stuffed after a big meal but you still have room for a big slice of cake?
“The number one sign you have an addiction is that you’re turning to sugar when you’re not physically hungry,” says Lisa Rachel Snyder, intuitive eating coach and founder of the Beautiful Badass Method.
Do you experience unremitting sugar cravings?
“After a sugar binge, your blood sugar will fall because insulin pushes that sugar into the cells to prevent sugar damage,” explains Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a health, diet and nutrition expert and author of Hormone Balance, The Magnesium Miracle and The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Women’s Health. “That fall causes low blood sugar and more cravings.”
Do you crave salty foods?
“Cravings for salty foods are one sign that your body is not getting the nutrition that it needs.
This is surprisingly common among those who are addicted to sugary foods, as these people are often deficient in key nutrients,” says Lisa Richards, a nutritionist and creator of the Candida Diet. “If you find yourself regularly eating sugary snacks, you’re probably not eating enough of the healthy proteins and fats that your body needs”
Cravings for salty and savory foods are one way that your body might be telling you to take a break from the sugar and eat something more nutritious.
“The inverse is true too,” she adds. “If you eat too much salty food, you might find yourself craving sugary foods or simple carbohydrates.
Do you try to cut back or quit and have withdrawal symptoms?
Sugar addiction can be both a behavioral and chemical addiction.
When you quit or interrupt your normal schedule, your body may show signs of distress or withdrawal.
Some of the most common sugar addiction symptoms may include headaches, lethargy or feeling tired, cravings, muscle pain, nausea, bloating and even insomnia.
In most cases, these symptoms intensify after 24 hours.
Don’t try to go cold turkey. Cut back a little at a time.
Do you use sugar to soothe your emotional state.
If you’re craving something sweet after a break-up, sad movie or a bad day, you could be headed toward sugar addiction.
When you use sugar as a means to cope with life stressors, boredom or other psychological issues such as depression or anxiety, notice how you are not allowing yourself to feel your feelings. You’re trying to numb them instead.
But without processing your emotional life by allowing all emotions, you set up a cycle of raging emotions and raging cravings.
Do you know the dangers of consuming sugar but eat it anyway?
It’s a bad sign if you eat sugar and junk food compulsively, even though you realize the negative consequences.
If you’re making special late night trips to pick up a pint of ice cream, it’s a clear sign your need for sugar is spinning out of control.
Do you have feelings of guilt and shame about eating sugar?
Feelings of guilt about eating any food may be a sign of an eating disorder.
If you feel shame about your sugar habit, you may want to discuss this with your doctor or a therapist.
Watch for these silent signs that you could have an eating disorder.