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Can you become addicted to sugar and carbs?

Studies show that sugar is as addicting as opioids, such as cocaine, perhaps even more so. Can you become addicted to sugar and carbs? After all, sugar is a natural product from plants,  As it turns out, yes, you can get addicted to food. It happens when you develop a consistent urge to eat that particular food repeatedly for the way it makes you feel.

People usually crave a specific taste of food and the pleasure it brings. If you’ve ever wondered whether you can get addicted to sugar and carbs, the answer is yes. Food high in sugars or other forms of carbohydrates cause strong cravings and could be challenging to control. Read on to learn the addictive nature of sugars and carbs. We also explain how you can avoid the addiction, given their harmful effects on the body.

Is sugar addiction real?

Sweet foods contain a lot of sugars and simple carbohydrates. When we eat these foods, they release “feel-good” chemicals like dopamine and serotine, among other relaxing endorphins, into our brains. The effects created by these chemicals trigger a person to pursue them repeatedly in the future. We crave that good feeling, even though it passes quickly.

The urge to satisfy the cravings becomes a habit where a person tends to easily start eating the sugary foods and the foods rich in carbohydrates. Often, we eat without even thinking about it. This habit  becomes an addiction. Nevertheless, you can kick this habit away by following a restrictive diet in which you mostly eat complex carbs and plant-based foods. We shall look at other tips for overcoming or preventing addiction to sugar and carbs later in this article.

can you get addicted to sugar

Why are sugar and carb addictions so strong?

Most people are not aware that sugar has high addictive potential because it releases opioids and dopamine into the brain. Besides, you increase the serotonin in the body when eating sugary foods. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that gives our bodies a “happy” feeling. In simple terms, chemical changes occur in your brain when you eat sugar, causing a sense of satisfaction. When this satisfaction fades, you feel the need to eat more sugar-rich food substances.

We get addicted to sugar and carbs because of feeling like we cannot get enough. You need to remember that sugar gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream like glucose. Therefore, it’s incredibly difficult to control the urge to eat carbs and sugary foods. In fact, we usually tend to develop the urge to consume this sugary food when our glucose levels are low because sugar helps normalize the glucose levels in our body.

An interesting research finding is that people who stop eating a sugar-rich diet experience typical symptom that drug withdrawal individuals possess. Specifically, sugar withdrawal has been linked with different symptoms like irritability, headache, fatigue, depression, and nervousness.

Can you become addicted to sugar and carbs? Risk factors.

The main reason for eating sugary foods and increasing addiction is that fast food outlets that serve high sugar and carbs foods have become commonplace. There has been a global rise in these outlets serving foods rich in incredibly high amounts of sugar.

Sometimes you could choose to cook for yourself at home but still find it hard to avoid sugar completely. This is caused by the fact that foods rich in sugars and carbs are relatively cheap to buy, thus quickly ending up in your kitchen somehow. Experts have found that buying sugar and grain foodstuffs is much cheaper than fruits and vegetables per calorie. For this reason, you’ll generally tend towards the cheaper alternative and end up with sugar and carb-rich foods when you decide to prepare food at home.

Another reason that could make avoiding r-rich foods a nightmare is that almost every store will sell several varieties of processed foods containing Processed food for different reasons, like creating a universal appeal and improving its taste. Besides, sugars are added to food for preservation purposes. Therefore, you will not avoid sugar in products like jelly and jam. Besides, sugar is added to bread to help it rise, act as a bulking agent in the baked product, and balance the acidity level in foodstuffs containing vinegar or tomatoes like BBQ sauce or ketchup.

The above illustration shows how difficult it is to avoid sugar in your recipes or menus altogether. You can only minimize the sugar intake by avoiding obvious sources like ice cream and donuts. You must also prevent the food labeled “healthy,” especially those kinds of fruit-flavored granola, yogurt, canned soup, and dried fruits. These foodstuffs contain a significant amount of sugar levels and should be avoided.

Signs of sugar addiction

  • Emotional eating

You are an addict to sugar and carb if you’re among the people who feel enticed by sugary food. You could also be feeling instant energy and good tastes after you’ve taken sugary food. Sugar has an emotional fixation capability, helping a person to restore their moods after a stressful day. If you’re a sugar addict, you’ll usually turn to sugary foods after breakups. People who turn to pints of ice-creams and chocolate to console after emotional distress are likely to get addicted to sugar and carbs.

  • Binge Eating

Binge eating is eating rapidly and fast, accompanied by feeling disgust, shame and guilt. Binge eating can usually be characterized by focusing on sweet foods. It could include non-sweet foods for self-medication and emotional regulation. People under binge conditions are potential or active sugar addicts, given their consistent huge intakes.

  • Alcoholism

Experts have established a genetic link between the child born of alcoholic parents and sugar addiction. The dopamine receptors of those who abuse alcohol lights up like it happens when someone consumes sugar. People who struggle with sweets can be drawn to alcoholism or moderate consumption of alcohol.

Individuals who are addicted to alcohol experience sugar cravings and have a higher preference for sweets. Besides, they are more likely to experience sugar withdrawal symptoms. The genes of the alcohol-abusing parents and the sugar preferences among these parents are usually transmitted to their children, which makes them predisposed to these conditions.

  • Sugar withdrawal symptoms

If you are a sugar addict and eliminate sugar from your diets, expect tol experience sugar withdrawal symptoms. This usually manifests in the form of fogginess, irritability, low energy, and moodiness. Cravings and withdrawal seem intense for people with binged conditions and struggling with sugar addiction. People who lack control over their craving and withdrawal symptoms feel the need for the sugary foodstuffs to meet the chemical needs within their brains. Nevertheless, try exploring healthy alternatives to ensure you stay safe from sugar addiction, as discussed below.

can you become addicted to sugar and carbs

Breaking from sugar and carbs addiction habit

Now that we have seen that you can become addicted to sugar and carbs, what can you do to break off this habit? We always recommend a gradual substitution of your daily habit. We strongly warn against sudden elimination of all sugars from your diet when you realize that you’re an addict. When you deny yourself a small piece of candy or chocolate, you will develop irresistible cravings and withdrawal symptoms. You don’t want this to happen to yourself. Therefore, we recommend taking a healthy diet that incorporates many vegetables, lean meat, fruits, and whole grains while minimizing the intake of sugars and carbohydrates. These foods are digested slowly and will stay a little longer in your body. You could observe the following more specific measures while trying to break off from the sugar addiction:

  • Avoiding sugary foods

You can avoid sugary foods by minimizing the cookies, candies, and other high sugar-content foods in your house. Instead, ensure that you have many fruits in your fridge that you can eat from time to time.

  • Sweetening foods

Don’t wait to buy sweet foods from the stores and restaurants when you can sweeten food at home. You can switch between sweet and unsweetened tea, oatmeal, and yogurt. When adding a sweetener of your choice, you will not add sugars in as high content as manufacturers do. Therefore, doing it yourself when you feel the urge will minimize the sugar intake as opposed to buying the same foodstuffs in the processed form.

  • Discover foods with hidden sugars

Some food products labeled and sold as “healthy” actually contain significant amounts of sugars. Look at labels on foods where sugar tends to hide, especially the reduced-fat food products. When a company removes fat from a specific food product, it often adds back the lost calories in the form of sugar to enhance flavors.

You should also look at the label of the products that list sugar as their first product.  Manufacturers must list ingredients in the order of quantity, most to least. Therefore, when sugar appears high on the list, consider that product unhealthy.  Also, products containing a wide variety of sugars should be avoided. Sellers often use a wide variety of types of sugars as a strategy to make it seem like it contains less sugar. If you successfully avoid these processed foods and food products, you’re surely safe from sugar addiction.

  • Eating breakfast

Start your day by taking a fulfilling and nutritious breakfast. With such a healthy start, you fight those cravings. Among the recommended breakfast choices, consider whole grains such as oatmeal, and fruits.


Can you get addicted to sugar? After reading this article, you know that you can! You’ve also seen the factors that increase our risk to addiction and the symptoms we develop with the addiction. However, we hope by now that you know the answer when someone asks you, “can you become addicted to sugar and carbs?” You also know what you can do to break off from sugar addiction or prevent the behavior from happening.



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