Show compassion for us Sugar Addicts!

This is NO JOKE. The war on sugar is going on all around us – and I am one of the warriors. But in all this effort to build awareness of hidden sugars in most processed foods and the threat of getting fat, destroying brain function and a whole host of serious long term debilitating diseases, we run the risk of forgetting that we are also dealing with addictions. As such, the anti sugar campaign is not simply a short term issue of a series of separate battles, but an ongoing investment of hard work and perseverance, based on understanding and mutual support in the long term.

Cartoon of mice getting high on eating Oreo cookies

Perhaps sugar addiction isn’t that bad…

Spare a thought for these mice……Life is fine for them whilst they have access to the Oreo cookies they are being fed on in this experiment. They will die from liver failure or other disease and grow obese in the process, but they are happy while they are eating Oreos and have unlimited access to them. When the scientists remove the Oreos, they will be acutely unhappy, because their brains will remember the happy feelings and delicious taste of these cookies for ever and will tell their bodies they need them for survival and to become happy again.

The same happens to many of us when we stop eating sugary foods. For most adults who give up sugar, the addiction will always be there, even if we do manage to change our taste buds and habits, over time, so that we eventually become happy to eat more healthily and avoid sweets. And that is the key to staying motivated: We need to understand that it is possible to change our sweet habits and actually learn, over a relatively short space of time and with perseverance, to enjoy, for example, unsweetened cream and very dark chocolate. It simply becomes a different, but equally enjoyable taste and a non-addictive experience, compared with what the sugar has done to our brains in the past.

And that is important for friends and family to be aware of. It is hard work to stop being an alcoholic and hard work to stop smoking. It is also hard work to stop eating sugar, if you have reached the addictive stages that many of us have, through lack of information and understanding of its addictive effects, from when we were younger. In fact, even when we have managed to stop, we need support from those around us to not offer temptations or make us feel obliged to accept gifts of chocolates, sweets or special ‘favourite’ cakes made for us by loving partners, friends and family. The reason is quite simple: Give us the ‘taste’ for sweets again and we run the risk of wanting more. Our brains remember the feel-good rush from sugar and will be quick to persuade our tastebuds to seek out the sweet tastes again.

For those who recognise themselves in this description, at any stage of the process, I want to encourage you to feel proud and strong for achieving what you have achieved in your fight to reduce the amount of sugar you eat. And please don’t ever give up. But, at the same time, it may help you to acknowledge your addiction to sugar instead of trying to convince yourself that you are cured (or on the way to be cured). Please don’t think you will never lapse back to the days when you could not only eat one piece of chocolate but needed to finish the packet…….. before you headed for the biscuit tin.

If you can accept that this is an addiction that remains in your brain, possibly for the rest of your life, then you are forearmed and can be more aware of the risks. You may be fine with one or two (dark) chocolates, but be aware that one or two can lead to three, four, or more, and it quickly guides you to the slippery slide that takes you back to where you were.

Picture of woman kicking cakes and chocolates in to touch

So, be brave and strong and tell those around you that you don’t want the temptations. Just as people with Coeliac disease will tell you that they cannot eat gluten and people with allergies will tell their host that they will not eat certain foods, be prepared to tell your partner, family and friends what your limits are, so you help them to understand and support you the way they will surely want to do.

I write a lot about the importance of reducing or ideally giving up our sugar consumption. And I talk about it enough to bore probably even my closest friends. But if you have found this useful, would like help with your challenges or would like to debate the subject further based on your own experiences, please contact me via the contact form, or other contact details on this website.

6 Comments On “Show compassion for us Sugar Addicts!”

  1. Your "sweet" friend

    OMG !!!! I just ordered two boxes of my favourite cote d’or BOUCHEES !! for Ray to bring home :(:(:( …. I CANCEL MY ORDER …. We need to start acting now !!
    You are absolutely true …. it is an addiction like any other and present in all corners all of the time. We have to be aware and do also our best to educate our children, our grandchildren from early days onwards.
    Thanks for the information. Very much needed awareness !

    • Thank you for your comment. I have to agree. It is better to act decisively when we have the willpower and presence of mind to make such decisions, rather than allowing ourselves the ‘just this once’, too often. The good thing is that the more times we manage to resist, the more ammunition we have in our arsenal to fight the temptations for the future. And whats’ more – we develop new tastes that can be rewarding for both brain and body in the long run. Mine is nuts……Watch out for my next blog on going nuts! x

  2. This piece is so relevant to my sugar needs.
    The piece really helps me though as it is really making me think before I indulge and after 2 weeks I am on my way to hitting the 28g of sugar intake a day. Not quite there yet but I now think ” how much sugar…..”

    • You did it Stewart!! Well done and keep it up. You will just feel better and stronger….. and whatever you do, don’t let the odd ‘failure’ demoralise you……Take it as a learning experience and move on in the direction you were heading! Thank you very much for your comment. Heidi

  3. Just a follow up on my sugar addiction. Your guidance as part of the nutritional programme you laid out for me on sugar intake has had amazing results.Following your guidance to aim for 28g of sugar a day it has had I believe a direct affect on my cholesterol and BMI. It was hard the first two weeks to cut down on the sugar but now I seem to not only not have a craving for sugar after about 5 weeks but I recently had a health check and my cholesterol is down from a stubborn 5.5 to 4.2. It hasn’t been that low for over 10 years. Also my BMI is down to 20 where it has been stuck at 25 for about the same length of time. Thank you!

    • Stewart I am so pleased. But it is you who has done the had work. Well done!! I would love to say that it is done now and you can relax and enjoy a bit from time to time….. But sadly, my own experience, and that of others who have been as addicted as I have, is that because it is an addiction, we so very easily get the taste for it again and the slippery slope is there. The positive side of the equation is that having done it you know it is possible and you know how much better you feel. So, stick at it and develop the new healthier habits and get your kicks from less sweet treats! Thank you so much for commenting on this article. I am sure this will be of value for many who are embarking on the same journey, or beginning to think about it. Heidi

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