Sugar On The Brain

There is a curious mental phenomena, a “peculiar mental twist” as The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous puts it, when it comes to alcoholism. It is nearly impossible for an alcoholic, a true alcoholic, to have just one drink. Due to the physical allergy nature of alcoholism, when an alcoholic takes that first drink, their body (and their mind) responds through craving. Not only does the body and mind crave alcohol, it obsesses. The reason alcoholism is so curious is because there are clearly millions of people who can stop drinking when they want to. If they want to have one drink, they can have just one drink. If they happen to have more than just one drink, they are capable of stopping themselves at some point, even if it gets bad. An alcoholic is unable to control their drinking. In fact, in The Big Book, they define an alcoholic by asking them realize the delusion that they can drink like other people “has to be smashed”.

Science has been yearning to discover what it is that differentiates the alcoholic brain from the non-alcoholic brain. Some blame genetics and predisposition while others blame peer pressure and mental illness. Either way, alcoholism simply happens to some and doesn’t happen to others. The same seems to be true with how the brain and body responds to sugar. Sugar and addiction are getting coupled up. Numerous studies are indicating that the brain responds to sugar in a very similar manner to addictive substances like drugs and alcohol.

One scientist in particular things addiction to sugar has more to do with biochemistry than will. Similarly, the industry as a whole has agreed that addiction is a disease of the body and mind, a public health crisis of mental illness, more than it is a matter of will. Monica Dus, reports NPR, “believes a diet in high sugar actually changes the brain, so it no longer does a good job of knowing how many calories the body is taking in.” Overtime, the brain makes consistent incremental changes which leads to the inability to eat just one cupcake or piece of candy.

Addiction and alcoholism are the result of incremental brain changes in which the brain is no longer able to produce it’s own dopamine or source of pleasure. Additionally, other systems in the brain change like areas where control or limitation is regulated.

Treating sugar like a substance which is harmful to the brain is more than dietary. For people in recovery it is important to support the brain from repeating addictive behaviors. Enlightened Solutions offers nutritional and dietary support including a sugar free diet and weekly lessons on cooking. A certified dual diagnosis treatment center, Enlightened provides recovery for addiction, alcoholism, and co-occurring mental health disorders. Call us today for more information, 833-801-5483.


Going Sugar Free is Easy

Going sugar free is easy, though sometimes easier said than done. Sugar is a major part of the American diet, popping up in the most unsuspecting places. With various names as disguises, sugar can appear in almost any food. In fact, read the nutrition label on most grocery store bought processed foods and find sugar or a similar ingredient. Sugar, Cane Juice, Fructose, Dextrose, High Fructose Corn Syrup...it is all the same thing. For years American culture has largely ignored the blanketed presence of sugar. Recent documentaries like  Fed Up, That Sugar Film, and Sugar Coated reveal the “dark” side of sugar.

Sugar is addicting.

Scientific research has proven that sugar is not only highly addicting but acts identically to cocaine once it enters the bloodstream. Sugar changes the way our bodies and brains act on their own, as well as interact with each other. Too much sugar is known to lead to poor dental health. Sugar can cause a wide array of health problems, largely because sugar damages the immune system.

Choosing to go sugar free is no easy choice.

The experience of taking sugar out of the diet is similar to detoxing from drugs like cocaine. There are mood swings, irritability, changes in appetite, and even obsessive cravings for sugar. Overtime, the symptoms of sugar withdrawal lessen and, like sobriety, the benefits take over. Getting there takes time.

Here are some tips for starting the journey toward going sugar free:

  • Clean: Do a sweep of your refrigerator, cabinets, and pantry. Help you help yourself by getting rid of all the sugary foods in the house, as well as things with added sugar.
  • Read: While cleaning out your house and grocery shopping read the labels. Looking at the ingredients and nutrition facts will show you just how much sugar is in your ketchup.
  • DIY: Instead of buying pre-sweetened food sources, opt to make food and food additions yourself. If you don’t have time to prepare everything at home, look for sugar-free or unsweetened varieties.
  • Snacks: Eating multiple small “meals” throughout the way staves off hunger which can cause craving for sugar. People tend to snack on candy and sugary items during the day. Reach for any whole, real food instead. Fruits and vegetables are great snacks.
  • Spices: While you’re learning to eat without added sweetness, you might find yourself lacking in flavor. Spice everything up using herbs and spices.
  • Soda: A great tool for reducing sugar is cutting out soda. If you’re desperate for a fizzy drink try natural sodas sweetened with agave or sparkling flavored water.

Enlightened Solutions is proud to offer comprehensive education in food, cooking, and nutrition as part of our holistic program of healing from addiction. Call us today for more information on our programs of treatment for men and women seeking recovery 833-801-5483.