Sugar Cravings – Why Your Brain Made You Do It & How To Break Free

Sugar Cravings – Why Your Brain Made You Do It & How To Break Free

Video | Sugar and Your Brain | Add Before You Subtract

Are sugar cravings causing you to break your diet? In this post, I explain how your brain is responsible for sugar cravings, and why most of us fail to break free because we have our strategy backward. The good news is that there’s an easy fix that you can start using today to get control of your cravings.

Sugar Cravings Summary

  • When you eat sugar, a “feel-good chemical” is released in an area of your brain known as the nucleus accumbens. 
  • Eating sugar multiple times a day chronically stimulates this area of the brain, causing it to downregulate, which strengthens sugar addiction.
  • Adding healthy fats and volume from things like non-starchy vegetables to your diet as you are subtracting sugar will quiet sugar cravings.

Sugar Cravings – How To Break Free [Video]

In this video, you’ll learn…

  • The affects of sugar on the brain.
  • The important step many of us miss when trying to quit sugar.
  • Additional weight loss strategies!

Sugar and Your Brain

Your brain has a reward center called the nucleus accumbens. We call it the reward center because it is associated with feelings of pleasure. That pleasurable feeling is generated by the release of a feel-good chemical called dopamine. When you do something that you enjoy, your brain gives your nucleus accumbens a little hit of dopamine, and you feel good. 

This pleasure experience is not just a once and done thing. This area of your brain is capable of learning and making associations. Therefore, it can identify foods that caused pleasure and remember it. 

Sugar is a fantastic example of this learning process. All you have to do to appreciate that fact is to watch the face of a little child the first time they taste sugar. At that moment, the little guy or girl’s nucleus accumbens lights up and makes the association: cake = pleasure! 

By adulthood, most of us have established this link between sugar and pleasure. The nucleus accumbens now takes on an even more profound role by getting involved in the actual pursuit of the pleasurable substance.

link between sugar and pleasure

Have you ever beat up on yourself because you’d rather stay home with a box of chocolates than go out with friends or do something active? You now know that there is some biochemistry going on in your brain that made your pursuit of sugar more desirable than socializing or exercising. 

How Sugar Addiction Gets Stronger

When we regularly give in to this desire to give ourselves a sugar fix, we see things happen in the nucleus accumbens that make our addiction to sugar even stronger. 

Eating sugar multiple times a day chronically stimulates this area of the brain, causing it to downregulate or become less sensitive to sugar. 

why we are less sensitive to sugar

What we see happening is that the receptors that used to be in place to pick up the dopamine go away, so you now need more sugar to get the same sugar high that you used to get. So, one cookie doesn’t cut it anymore; you need 2, 3, or more.

Understanding Your Relationship with Sugar

Because of sugar’s powerful pull, it is important to realize that you are not weak or worthless if sugar is a problem for you. In reality, you are living in a body that is responding exactly how it should be given the foods that are coming into it.

Your brain must down-regulate under conditions of high sugar because it is protecting itself. This is the physiology of a working system, not a broken system. 

Fighting Back Against Sugar Cravings

You can bring your body and brain back into balance and get a handle on sugar cravings. However, if you are like many people, you have not been able to break away from sugar because you approach the issue backward.

We get it backward because we try to subtract before we add. The only way to break free from sugar is to flip that strategy around and Add before you Subtract

It is not unusual for someone who struggles with sugar cravings to have many failed attempts under their belt. Each attempt to stop eating sugar goes something like this: 

  • You get disgusted with yourself and immediately swear off sugar. 
  • Within a few hours, your brain chemistry gets triggered, and you feel obsessed with sugar cravings. 
  • You try to hold off the cravings by using willpower. However, willpower cannot stand up to the biochemistry of the brain. 
  • Before long, you cave in, eat sugar, and feel like a failure. 

What’s missing from this strategy? 

sugar addiction

The answer is that when sugar was removed, there was nothing added to take the edge off of hunger and cravings. In other words, you must Add before you Subtract. 

Add Fat and Volume Before You Subtract Sugar

There are two things to add to your diet as you are subtracting sugar that will keep you in control. Those two things are healthy fats and volume, both of which turn off hunger and quiet cravings

Adding these things to your diet may not be a magic switch that immediately obliterates sugar cravings in your life. However, this strategy can stunt cravings enough to give you the edge you need to resist eating sugar. 

add before you subtract

The more days you can string together without sugar, the more dopamine receptors can be replenished in your brain. When this happens, you don’t need sugar like you used to. 

If you are avoiding fatty foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, and cheese because you think they will make you fat, you’re barking up the wrong tree. These fatty foods satiate hunger and quiet cravings. 

The same can be said for volume. When you fill your stomach with a large salad at lunch and a big side dish of cooked vegetables at dinner, hunger signals that normally travel to the brain from receptors in the wall of your stomach are shut down.

Instead, your full stomach sends your brain a message that there is plenty of food to process, and no more food is needed.

Consuming enough healthy fats and plenty of volume will not only control hunger but also move your body into a fat-burning state. 

Get Started

Allowing yourself to eat fat and eat more food when you’re trying to lose weight takes some rethinking of what your meals should look like.

If you’d like a guide to help you get started, you can download my free 0,1,2,3 strategy. The strategy will help you get off of sugar and get some much-needed volume into your diet. 

About the Author

Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.

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