The other day I bought some almonds. These almonds were delicious. They had a spicy and sweet chai coating. I ate the whole bag. As soon as I finished the bag, I had a splitting headache. Then, my throat felt scratchy. A few minutes later, I felt ridiculously hung-over. I wanted to take a nap. I seriously considered canceling my dinner plans because I felt so sick. It’s not the almond’s fault. I know who the culprit really was… SUGAR. The coating on the almonds contained sugar. I can eat a hand full of raw almonds, feel satisfied, and move on with my day. Cover those same almonds in a sugary coating and I can’t control myself. I’ll eat them until they’re gone and lament that I didn’t buy more. Every time I fall prey to sugar, it reminds me that sugar is straight up evil.

Besides wrecking havoc on your blood sugar, when you eat sugar, dopamine is released in your brain, making you feel good… for a minute. Then that feeling fades and you have to eat more sugar to feel good again. It’s an ADDICTION. Over consumption of sugar leads to OBESITY, FATIGUE, TYPE 2 DIABETES, and even DEPRESSION. While we use some natural sweeteners in the Paleo diet, I don’t recommend making them a part of your everyday diet, simply because even a small amount can trigger cravings. You have to know what you can handle. Part of eating clean is learning how these food-like substances affect you personally. Sugar gives me a headache, but it might make your joints hurt. If you don’t ever try taking out the sugar, wheat, dairy, etc, you may never know how good you can feel. As my headache faded, I decided that instead of beating myself up over eating the whole bag of almonds, I’d take it as friendly reminder of why I stopped eating sugar.

Wondering if you have a sugar addiction?  Here are 6 Signs you might be: 

 
1. 3pm energy slump- eating sugar causes sharp rises and drops in your blood sugar. This leaves you lethargic, especially in the late afternoon.
2. Cravings- since sugar signals your brain to release dopamine, a feel good neurotransmitter, you immediately crave more of it. This could be any simple carb like pasta or a straight up sugar bomb like candy.
3. Overeating- again, this release of dopamine makes you want more and more of the sugary treat you’re eating leading to over indulgence.
4. You get HANGRY- when your blood sugar crashes, so does your mood. This leads to that angry feeling when you get hungry. You could also experience headaches, brain fog, or irritability.
5. You’ve gone to the store specifically for a sweet treat- No explanation needed. You probably have a secret candy drawer in your office, too?? Don’t lie.
6. Sugar is your “go-to” when you’re stressed. Deadline looming, kids screaming, horrible traffic, crazy boss- whatever your trigger is, you go running for a sweet treat to feel better.
 
Want to learn more about how to bust those cravings? Read our blog post HERE for some great tips.
 
 Karen Rylander is a certified nutrition consultant, trained chef, and read food enthusiast. You can find her at GoPrimalbyKaren.com