Do you find yourself depressed, moody, erratic, volatile, forgetful, and impulsive when you do not get your sugar fix? Can you say no to a small slice of cake without eating half the cake? You just might be addicted sugar like I am. Sugar addiction is a result of low serotonin and beta-endorphin (brain chemicals).
Serotonin helps control impulsive behavior and mood. When we have low levels of this brain chemical, we cannot “just say no to a cookie.” As a matter of fact, we end up eating the whole bag when we start. This condition is related to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) where some people are more depressed during the winter than any other time of the year.
Beta-endorphin is a natural painkiller. When we have low levels of this brain chemical, we cry at the smallest thing. It is the same endorphin that get activated from exercising. The sugar addict has more beta-endorphin receptors, hence sugar sensitive people will feel more euphoric than others when eating a candy bar.
Sugar addicts tend to rely on “feel good” substances to help balance the low levels of these two brain chemicals with alcohol, drugs, and sugar to make themselves feel good.
Men generally have a higher level of serotonin and beta-endorphin than women. This explains why men are less impulsive. Hence more women are diagnosed with SAD than men.
Women who are children or grandchildren of alcoholics will have even lower levels of these two brain chemicals.
Biologically, everything revolves around the menstrual cycle for women. So it is no surprise that our beta-endorphin fluctuate each month in sync with our cycle – peaking at ovulation and bottoming before menstruation. All those feeling of inadequacy, isolation, and hopelessness is related to the low levels of beta-endorphin. And when we are feeling low, we crave sugar. But I stated before, beta-endorphin is activated from exercising, so try going for a walk next time before reaching for that bag of cookies.
I am starting to find that health, fitness, and weight loss are a lot more complex than eating less and exercising more. Sure eating less and exercising more helps. But I find that once you get off that track somewhere in your twenties with a plus 20-30 pounds, there are forces within your body that are working against you. And if you are a woman, physically, we have the shorter end of the stick. The battle uphill is much steeper.
Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.
Like what you are reading? How about subscribing? It's free!