There are all types of behaviours that are considered ‘addictive’. It is easy for children to be addicted to the latest video game, a favourite sport or food. Adults know the addictive power of alcohol (the world’s highest social cost to governments and healthcare) Destructive addictions to illicit and prescription drugs, cigarettes and even gambling highlight that addictive tendencies are not just seen in children.
Addiction is a highly complex psychological, physical, environmental and situational occurrence. Isolating a single factor that ‘causes’ addiction and simplifying it to ‘I’m addicted to cigarettes’ is scientifically impossible.
Reviewing contributing factors and understanding the mechanism of addiction can help us develop strategies and processes to assist addicts who wish to change a person’s life. Alcoholics Anonymous is an example of a tried, tested and proven system and strategy that has shown positive benefits to addicts.
Is Sugar Addictive?
Researchers have tried to separate a person’s need for sugar and the craving an addict feels if they are prevented from having the amount of sugar they have become used to eating daily. Sugar withdrawals or the impact of being deprived of sugar creates cravings.
Cravings are common in all types of withdrawals – nicotine, caffeine and marijuana are common examples. But what is a ‘craving’? How is it measured? Why do we have them?
At the most basic level, if we change anything we do, we experience an emotional loss. This may be called a ‘vacuum’. By definition, a vacuum is a space that ‘sucks’ in things to fill the empty space. Addiction is simply rebalancing or readjusting to what existed before the change occurred. The easiest ‘filler’ is what existed previously.
How Do We Become An Addict?
“The less sugar children eat, the less they are likely to crave it,” writes Casey Seidenberg, in the Washington Post. “Sugar addiction causes tangible cravings, but so do other entirely unrelated factors, such as low blood sugar and thirst.” For some children, playing online games, boredom, emotional issues or teen hormone surges may influence children’s cravings.
Cravings may be managed by the household shopping trolley. Three steps that decrease the children’s access to sugars are:
Back To Nutritious Basics
Processed foods always contain higher levels of simple carbohydrates, simple sugars and starches. Many biscuits, pastas, white breads, white rice, corn flours and white rice flours have a chemical make up very similar to their sweet cousin, sugar. Don’t be confused, brown sugar is merely white sugar coloured by the ash from burning the cane prior to harvest. It may be slightly less processed (or cleaned) but it is sugar regardless.
Before changing your supermarket journey, have one of the family record how much time you spend in each section. Sit down together when you get home and decide where you can improve your family’s nutrition in the supermarket. Spending twice as long in the fresh fruit, vegetables or natural grain products will not only improve your diets, blood sugars and body fat, it improves the whole families engagement in each person’s short and long term health.
Most importantly, it avoids creating obese, unhealthy adults who are addicted to sugar.