Why we crave sugar and how Wheyless can help
Have you ever heard that sugar is one of the hardest addictions to kick? Well, the truth is that the brain’s response to drug and food addictions is pretty similar.
Addictive drugs such as amphetamines, heroin, tobacco, alcohol and even some pain killers all act in a similar way, triggering the release of a chemical messenger in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine carries signals between brain cells and one of its main roles is to stimulate the pleasure centre of the brain. The result is increased sensations of wellbeing, positivity and the reduction of underlying feelings of negativity and helplessness. No wonder drugs of addiction are so difficult to stop!
In cases of both obesity and addiction, there appear to be fewer dopamine (D2) receptors in the brain. Studies indicate that for some people struggling with psychologically-driven weight issues, viewing certain types of food triggers greater activation of dopamine receptors in the reward and attention regions of the brain in comparison to normal weight individuals. This kind of brain activity is linked to conditions such as binge eating disorder.
Eating too much sugar is one of the most powerful activation triggers as far as the dopamine-mediated reward system is concerned. And this response is even stronger in foods where fat and sugar are found together – think of donuts and ice-cream! In fact, foods such as these can override appetite-suppressing hormones (such as leptin) so powerfully that they fail to function properly. Think about it. Have you ever been presented with a wonderful-looking chocolate cake just after finishing a really big meal? And, despite feeling full, finding just that little extra room to fit in a slice or two? Overriding eating cut-off signals can be a driver of weight gain.
This is the kind of science that is behind the reason for eliminating sugar from the Wheyless program. By substituting xylitol, stevia and other natural sugar alternatives, we avoid the part of table sugar also called sucrose that is most linked to problem eating i.e. fructose. If you consume large amounts of common sugar, the fructose component is converted into fat.
Your weight is also influenced by the choice of fats and oils you consume. Most commercial sources of sweet foods are manufactured using polyunsaturated oils of dubious quality. This is why the large, clear plastic bottles of these kinds of oils you’ll find on supermarket shelves are not on our list of healthy food suggestions. They are easily oxidised and are proinflammatory (inflammation in the body is linked with chronic of long-term condtions from heart disease to type 2 diabetes). Your body needs fat but it’s better to get essential fatty acids from seeds, unsalted nuts, wholegrains, avocado and cold-water fish (such as salmon and sardines). Cold-pressed olive oil, which is rich in monounsatured fats, is a healthy oil choice.
As well as exercising, moving more, reducing your stress levels (with mindfulness, yoga and tai chi) cutting calories is a key way to pull yourself out of a negative dopamine spiral. The Wheyless program can help you do this.