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Addicted to sugar DEBATE

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  • VintageFeline
    VintageFeline Posts: 6,771 Member
    I would say my former neighbor was addicted to it. Had type 2 diabetes and would always drink soda, eat junk food, and if someone brought her baked goods she would eat it all and not share with her husband. Anyone who eats sugar to the point their legs have open, seeping diabetic sores, then continues eating is an addict. Ew Dx

    I don't see how overeating all of everything = sugar addiction. I'd call that far deeper psychological issues surrounding food consumption that are causing her to basically kill herself.
  • Carlos_421
    Carlos_421 Posts: 5,132 Member
    Disclaimer: biology is not my field, but I do have someone who studies sensory reactions in the family and I know how to interpret a scientific paper. I have done research; I'm not pulling this out of nowhere - but I'm not an expert.

    That said, addiction is a complicated subject. A human being can become addicted to anything. Calling a substance or behavior "addictive" is only saying that it's more likely to cause dependence than something more benign, and/or trying to break the addiction is more likely to have adverse physiological side effects than trying to break an addiction to a less addictive substance or behavior.

    In other words, yes, you CAN be addicted to sugar. Even so, all hope is not lost - addictions CAN be broken. It's hard. Lots of people fail. Nearly no one succeeds the first time they try. But it can be done if you just keep getting back on the wagon.

    But, where exactly does sugar fall in the scheme of things? Well, by what I've seen, I'm inclined to say that excessive sugar is somewhere in the middle of the addictiveness scale - more addictive than rock concerts, but less addictive than cigarettes, or gambling, or heavy drugs.

    In other words, if you're addicted to sugar but willing to work to break it, your prognosis is a lot better than it is for trying to quit smoking, so keep at it.

    And which scientific paper are you interpreting to come to these conclusions?
  • Carlos_421
    Carlos_421 Posts: 5,132 Member
    SezxyStef wrote: »
    Disclaimer: biology is not my field, but I do have someone who studies sensory reactions in the family and I know how to interpret a scientific paper. I have done research; I'm not pulling this out of nowhere - but I'm not an expert.

    That said, addiction is a complicated subject. A human being can become addicted to anything. Calling a substance or behavior "addictive" is only saying that it's more likely to cause dependence than something more benign, and/or trying to break the addiction is more likely to have adverse physiological side effects than trying to break an addiction to a less addictive substance or behavior.

    In other words, yes, you CAN be addicted to sugar. Even so, all hope is not lost - addictions CAN be broken. It's hard. Lots of people fail. Nearly no one succeeds the first time they try. But it can be done if you just keep getting back on the wagon.

    But, where exactly does sugar fall in the scheme of things? Well, by what I've seen, I'm inclined to say that excessive sugar is somewhere in the middle of the addictiveness scale - more addictive than rock concerts, but less addictive than cigarettes, or gambling, or heavy drugs.

    In other words, if you're addicted to sugar but willing to work to break it, your prognosis is a lot better than it is for trying to quit smoking, so keep at it.

    Based on anything I have read/studied no they can't. Once you are addicted you are always addicted....you just learn to cope and not go to the substance. Treatment is lifelong and the addiction is chronic and you can relapse at anytime given the right circumstances.

    and dependence is another story..it is different than addiction so please don't use the two as the same.

    dependence does not mean addicted. You can become dependent on drugs without being addicted to them but they are often seen together.



    Agreed.
    For instance, I'm dependent on caffeine. I've had it consistently enough for a long enough period of time that if I go without it I get a nice headache.
    However, I'm not addicted to it.
    I never get cravings for it and oftentimes on the weekend I don't even know why my head hurts until I stop to think about it and realize I didn't have my coffee that day. I can beat the headache with ibuprofen and roll right on without the caffeine.
    Give it a few days of abstinence and the dependence is gone. No more headaches.
    Addicted? Nope. Totally fine to go without it. I can watch someone else drink coffee or mt dew and be totally content with a water.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    Very enlightening thread. Some great thoughts shared.

    The word addiction seems to be contested. I’ve used it myself to identify a pack a day of smokes for 20 years. I’ve even used it to describe my “need” for caffeine. Both were habitual behaviors, both seemed to drive physical cravings.

    I'd call these physical dependencies (they unquestionably are, re cigarettes, and can be, re caffeine) that are sometimes tied to an addiction. They need not be -- some drugs create dependencies even when they are helping, not harming you, and thus you have to wean off them. I've quit caffeine cold turkey and gotten the headache, tired reaction, which I think means I had a bit of a dependency, but it wasn't serious. I don't think I'm addicted to caffeine (using the term as I understand it would encompass it having a negative effect on your life, bad effects, so on).
    I have battled behavioral overeating and obesity all my life. I’ve lost 100 pounds twice. I’ve been put off work and treated for bulimia. And I’ve been in and out of counseling for disordered eating. Diabetes is prevelant in my family, my Mom has denied to admit she has disordered eating, but has been in treatment for OCD. It has been suggested to me that eating disorders seem to have some connection to family history of eating disorders, OCD, abuse (not in my case though), and some athletic pursuits. So maybe there is an element that I might be psychologically prone to certain eating behaviors. Still I’m not convinced I am addicted.

    I think there are links between eating disorders and various eating behaviors and addiction, although I am not personally comfortable saying that are the same thing (or normally the same thing). But I don't really think it matters. I know that SOME of how I use food when emotional eating/stress eating is similar to how I used to use alcohol, but it is also different in various ways (it doesn't affect my brain in the same way -- I can numb myself with food, but I don't get "under the influence," and I can generally overeat, even to the point of being extremely overweight (I lost 60 lbs once and 95 the second time) without it being the same kind of "let everything else in my life go and don't care about anything" that alcohol was). But it was also to some extent a replacement activity and self medicating for depression, I think (and the latter I know has been something my mother, who has been gaining and losing weight all her life, has done).

    Anyway, I have gone back and forth on how I think about the term addiction for eating behaviors/food. Originally I thought "why not." Then, I got bothered by the fact that the discussion seemed to focus on specific components (sugar) that seemed inaccurate or at least not addressing the whole issue, and to assume it was all about a physical issue, which I think it is not. Increasingly I think eating addiction can be a thing, although how it manifests is different in different people (what foods trigger it if there are specific ones, so on), and I think mostly people who struggle with food don't have full-scale addictions but perhaps are somewhere on the spectrum.

    I am inclined to say that whether the term is used or not likely does not matter, so long as you don't use it to ignore the specifics or assume there's a one-size fits all.

    For me, it was really helpful to acknowledge some ways in which what I do with food, sometimes, is similar to how I used alcohol to numb, but not jump to "must be abstinent." It was UNHELPFUL when I assumed it was about finding a specific way to eat that would automatically fix everything (which really has nothing to do with the term "addiction" in my mind) but seems to be the way some diets are sold (by diet gurus, not saying anything bad about various ways of eating). It was helpful to recognize WHY I was diving into food or wanting so badly to eat or unable to control myself around some foods once I started.

    I find it easier to focus on eating healthfully and whole foods and not to eat a lot of so-called hyperpalatable things when in a period where I'm struggling with misusing food, but I can see how some can end up intensifying the problem if they focus on eating restrictively and beating themselves up if they don't. For me it helps with my head to focus on enjoying eating whole, nutrient-dense foods and very consciously choose and look forward to them, rather than focusing on NOT eating certain other things (although I don't). Although I see the addiction analogy, I worry that use of the term addiction makes the power all in the food and the focus on NOT doing things rather than doing positive things. (Admittedly, I think some of this is personality differences and different things work for different people.)

    Just some Saturday musing! ;-)
  • cmriverside
    cmriverside Posts: 32,793 Member
    edited November 2017
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  • jgnatca
    jgnatca Posts: 14,465 Member
    I think it is unproductive to blame an external thing, like soda or hard candy, for obsessive behaviour. I was T2 for years, cut added sugars from my diet, kept it in control for decades, but did not find relief until surgery. My health benefitted from good education and a calm acceptance that I would have to monitor my intake.
  • jgnatca
    jgnatca Posts: 14,465 Member
    I think abstinence disorders like anorexia are a sickness. Is there a food that causes it? I don’t think so. The food is an external proxy for what is really going on.
  • KeepRunningFatboy
    KeepRunningFatboy Posts: 3,055 Member
    Great insight above. There are recognized behavioral and medical conditions and treatments. I personally feel that we are still in the dark ages when it comes to neuroscience. This is far more complex a matter then simply blaming sugar and labeling it an addiction or even calling it a habit. There are a combination of factors and differing degrees in which people are triggered and affected and even how it manifests itself. Hyper-palatability, nueroscience, DNA,, cravings, and God knows what else all seem to work together against some people. It’s a real struggle for many, sometimes even life threatening, but I just don’t think it can be classified as an addiction.
  • KeepRunningFatboy
    KeepRunningFatboy Posts: 3,055 Member
    Sugar addicts seem to be all over the place with their claims. you never hear of them eating sugar from the bag or buying bags of sugar in bulk at the grocery store.

    The answer is yes. I have eaten white sugar, brown sugar, and powdered sugar straight from the bag during binges. I have even tore open small packets of sugar, and the small packets of sugar substitutes while in motel rooms. And yes to tearing open energy gels to consume sugar even when not running. Again, addiction - I dont think so. Pathetic and humiliating - yes. Some mental health / eating disorder - Absolutely.
  • lemurcat12
    lemurcat12 Posts: 30,886 Member
    Bingeing is interesting, because it seems then the compulsion to eat isn't really tied to what is tasty or specific foods, for at least a lot of people (although bingeing behavior does seem to vary). Is that true for you?

    It also seems like some people do find straight sugar tasty and many of us don't. I don't actually think that has much to do with how addictive it is. (I don't think not finding straight sugar tasty has much to do with whether one can have disordered and addictive-like reactions to eating or food, although I'd say it shows that sugar itself is not really the driver, although for some it may be part of the foods most commonly gravitated to -- not surprising if they are perceived as tasty.)
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,836 Member
    jgnatca wrote: »
    Macy9336 wrote: »
    An interesting opinion piece published recently called "The Pursuit of Pleasure is a Modern Day Addiction"
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/09/pursuit-of-pleasure-modern-day-addiction

    In this piece, the author argues that it's the dopamine our brains release when we do something pleasurable which is the true addiction. So if we drink alcohol, smoke, eat sugar, look at porn, get friended on FB, we get a release of dopamine...which causes us to want more dopamine so we repeat the activity that gives us that feel good feeling. He talks about how serotonin is the feel good but satisfied feeling and how modern day stress reduce serotonin levels such that we are seeking more dopamine. He basically points to the increasing rates of depression ( linked to low serotonin...caused by stress in his opinion) as a symptom of this increased need for dopamine.

    The problem with this hypothesis is that dopamine is now considered the anticipation hormone. In studies it has been shown to release before the desired reward is given.
    Yep. Like going to a movie you're excited about without seeing it yet. Or a rollercoaster you're waiting in line for. Or a date with someone you've always wanted to date. Or buying baby stuff before even using it.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
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    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

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