Tired and sluggish after eating? Trouble concentrating?  Need a mid-day snack or sweet beverage to get you through your day?

You could be dangerously addicted to sugar. 

The pleasure centers of the brain are directly linked to eating sugary and processed foods.  More studies are coming out showing a greater neurological high from intense sweetness than by the drug cocaine.  Dopamine links sugar and cocaine in your brain into very similar drugs.

Withdrawal from sweets had similar findings, which point to sugar causing the same neurological symptoms as those of removing nicotine, morphine and alcohol.  Sugar and drugs are more than ever before getting linked in the same category as intense addiction for the body.

“You get this intense release of dopamine upon acute ingestion of sugar. After you chronically consume it, those dopamine receptors start becoming down-regulated — there’s less of them, and they’re less responsive… that can lead to ADHD-like symptoms … but it can also lead to a mild state of depression because we know that dopamine is that reward neurotransmitter.”  -James DiNicolantonio, Cardiovascular Research Scientist at St. Luke’s Mid-America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo.

Sugar is easy to obtain, readily available all hours of the night and day, cheap, and comes in many different vehicles. We reward children from the time they are young with sugar from a trip to the doctor’s office to a cookie as a reward for good behavior, we mark it’s presence as a necessary part of celebrations, and we give it to ourselves as a reward even as adults.  It is deeply ingrained into our culture and our way of life.

The 2015 Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee just released new recommendations to limit added sugars to 10 percent of daily calories. Right now, Americans are eating more sugar than ever before — on average, about 160 pounds a year.

According to some studies, almost 70 % of Americans are overweight or one in two Americans has pre-diabities or Type 2 diabetes.

It’s time for a sugar detox. Addictive food substances are everywhere, in our schools, in our marketing and in our food industry. 

I realize it’s incredibly overwhelming. Where is the best place to focus?  Here are ten tips to help you take steps towards a clearer, healthier and happier you – you’re sweet enough already!

  1. Simply begin by simply observing your eating habits throughout the week.  Keep a food diary and track the types of sugars you are consuming, but also when.  Is it mostly during the mid-day slump? In your specialty coffee on the way to work? Or in front of the TV while relaxing before bed?  Once you begin to understand your triggers and patterns, the more power you have to insert different types of eating habits, or to plan around them.
  2. Insert a regular schedule to begin reducing your sugar intake.  Begin with breakfast; make sure to regularly eat every morning and sure to include protein to your meals.  Continue on with eating small, healthy meals throughout the day.
  3. Eat regularly, which calms the body.  A schedule will help curb desperate cravings often times.
  4. Drink more water and less sugary drinks.  This can be a no-brainer, but dehydration is often overlooked as a part of appetite and cravings.
  5. Insure you’re getting 7+ hours of sleep a night. You are less able to resist a sugary treat when you don’t get as much rest.  A study in 2013 pointed to circadian sleep cycles linking back to whether or not you crave sugar late at night.
  6. The stronger your foundation in the beginning, the better chance you have at staying away from it in the future.
  7. Try not to replace sugar with artificial sugar, which may affect the way you lose weight.
  8. Remove any tempting treats from within reach.  If it’s in accessible spaces like your office drawer or cabinet at home, get rid of the temptation and replace them with  healthy snacks. This is one of the bigger recommendations, and easily overlooked.  Challenge yourself to truly change your environment.
  9. Chew gum – studies show it could reduce cravings in the afternoon for those that chewed gum for at least three hours in the afternoon.
  10. No more fat free products. They typically add high fructose corn syrup and have more grams of sugar per serving.

Now we’d love to hear from you.  How have you lessened your sugar intake?  What methods worked well for you? Share with the community below!