Your Brain Does Some Crazy Things When You Cut Sugar From Your Diet
If you're a sugar addict like I am, you know the whole dieting thing is a tough road nobody actually wants to go down.
Seriously, the struggle is super real. I find it nearly impossible to go the entire day without popping at least one piece of candy.
Somehow, someway, I always get my hands on some sugar, no matter what I tell myself as I perform my daily pep talk in the mirror before my morning commute.
Quartz reports that sugar addiction is actually a real thing, and its symptoms are pretty closely related to some other recreational drugs like heroin and cocaine.
See, Mom? I told you this was a serious addiction. Now you can't judge me when I polish off the family-size Skittles bag this afternoon.
The four main signs of addiction -- binging, withdrawal, craving and cross-sensitization (the chances of you developing an addiction to something else because of your addiction to one substance) -- have all been found in lab studies testing sugar addiction.
And sugar molecules in many of our favorite snack foods hijack the brain's innate rewards system, overloading our pleasure sensors and making us feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside every time we eat these delicious junk foods.
When lab rats were deprived of food for 12 hours a day and then given sugar substitutes, they began to portray the same signs of addiction as they would if they had been exposed to hard drugs.
The rats would binge as much as possible on sugar as fast as they could, then show signs of depression and anxiety as they awaited their next serving.
So basically, the rats were me on any given day my coworkers eat all the snacks before I can get to them.
Sugar releases dopamine, the feel-good hormone that gets pumped into the brain whenever we're supposed to receive a reward for our actions, whether it's doing something trained (like helping a friend or complimenting somebody) or eating a delicious piece of sugary goodness.
Unfortunately for us, too much dopamine from things like recreational drugs and sugar can alter the way our brain reacts to the hormone, and long-term effects of this could be devastating to humans, including mental illness and depression.
Still, I'm a firm believer in the key to life: everything in moderation.
It seems like one day, I'll read an article that says sugar is necessary for maintaining positivity and productivity in the workplace and the next, I'll see a study warning that sugar is the devil and causes immediate death.
In the end, we're all adults.
We should be able to control the amount of sugar we take in on a normal day and, if needed, cut it out from our diets when necessary.