After eating a piece of cake, does it seem like you want another slice, and another and another? Or maybe throughout the day, even after a meal, are you still hungry?
For many of us, when we “give in” to this craving, we’re so hard on ourselves and blame our sugar indulgences and cravings to our lack of will power. While it might be true that this craving for comfort food and high caloric foods feels uncontrollable consider this.
It’s not your fault.
New studies are beginning to shed new light on the eating behaviour that leads to weight gain, illness, frustration and more.
Research suggests that sugar or high glycemic foods can cause addiction. Through studies and exhaustive research, scientists have recognized how neural activity among individuals who ate sugary foods was similar to that of individuals addicted to drugs.
A high GI meal has surprising effects on the brain. Eating high GI meals have proven to stimulate "pleasure centers" of the brain, which can cause us to desire more of it. A high GI meal also increases our neurological demand for food as a form of a reward. When researchers discovered that this neurological pathway is very similar among substance addicts, they suggested that sugar can be a form of substance addiction.
Addiction is defined as a condition that drives an individual to a certain “pleasure substance” or behaviour despite adverse consequences. A little bit of that substance can trigger a cascade of neurological pathways that cause us to desire more. Here’s one recent study which shows this cascade at work.
Roberts and her team observed hunger eating behaviour between two groups; individuals who ate a low and high glycemic index meal. The group that received a first low glycemic index meal showed a reduction in hunger and increased satiety during a second meal later that day.
On the other hand, the group that received a first high glycemic index meal showed an increase in hunger and less satiety during a second meal later that day. This group consumed 30% more in calories the second meal.
There is so much more to eating behaviour than self control or will power. There’s likely a very real biochemical response and possible addiction which has been wreaking havoc on you physically, mentally and emotionally. So, the next time you berate yourself for a lack of willpower, consider the idea that there are some foods within your diet that have been preventing you from the body, health and lifestyle you want. Can you break a sugar addiction? Of course! And when you do, you can enjoy the freedom that comes from getting your power back and showing sugar who’s boss.