Many people in the Rochester, NY area struggle with removing sugar from their diet. It is an easy way to trim off calories and help you lose weight, but people often begin to feel different without sugar. Sometimes people will get tired or even sick; these symptoms are a telling sign that a person has developed an addiction. Much like drugs and alcohol, sugar can become addicting and you can experience withdrawal symptoms when removed from your diet.

One of the important steps to getting over a sugar addiction is by understanding why sugar can be so addictive. For our ancestors, sugar was not as readily available as it is today. Humans developed strong connections with foods that are very energy dense, like sugar, that can sustain us for longer periods of time. The brain will release dopamine when we taste these high energy foods. This is our chemical reward system and when activated gives us a sense of pleasure. It is the same chemical released when we smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Sugar and other energy dense foods are readily available today, but our bodies have not changed to the new environment. The brain still releases dopamine with any sweet taste encountered.

A person can get used to the higher levels of dopamine and will begin to become addicted to the sweet taste associated with dopamine spikes. It is important to understand how these spikes are specifically affecting you. Everyone who drinks alcohol doesn’t magically become an alcoholic - this is the same with sweet foods. We are all different individuals and we all have different brain chemistry. If the thought of giving up sweet foods gives you bleak outlooks and makes you depressed, these are the signs that you have a serious addiction.

To break the addiction, you need to spend time away from sugar and away from those dopamine spikes. This means a full detox of sugar. Depending on the level of addiction, this can take up to 21 days and will produce a range of side effects. The most common are irritability, hormone fluctuations, and general body aches. The best way to limit the side effects is by keeping your blood sugar from fluctuating too much. Having a balanced diet with plenty of fiber, healthy fats, and protein can keep blood sugar levels from crashing and worsening the detox.

You have to become vigilant at reading food labels during and after the detox. Companies like to hide sugar in food by giving it different names. Maltose, Galactose, Sucrose, Fructose, and Dextrose are all different names sugar can go by. Keep an eye out for these hidden in the ingredients list of many different foods and drinks. Artificial sweeteners may also be a problem. Remember, it is the sweet taste that triggers the dopamine release. While they don’t add calories to your diet, some artificial sweeteners may worsen sugar addictions and increase sugar cravings.

Getting through a sugar detox is rough, but there is a much more promising and healthy future on the other side. If you are struggling to remove sugar from your diet, please give us a call at your Rochester chiropractor, Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic. Our nutritionist can help you develop a plan to ease the transition, curb the cravings, and make sure these nutritional changes fit into your current lifestyle. Schedule a free consultation today!