Before you began your recovery, you may have used drugs or alcohol to medicate your feelings. Now that you’re sober, have you been self-medicating with sugar?
How Much Sugar is Too Much?
Sugar is everywhere: a cookie here, a doughnut there, a teaspoon or two or three in your cup of coffee. You can even find sweet treats at your local AA or NA meeting. But is there such a thing as too much sugar for someone in recovery? How do you know when you have reached a point that is no longer beneficial to you or your health?
Below are some signs that you may be eating too much sugar:
- You constantly crave carbs and sugars
- You feel sluggish throughout the day
- Your skin is breaking out
- You have been experiencing mood swings
- You get sick often
Is Sugar Really That Bad?
Although snacking on sweet treats isn’t as detrimental as your addiction, it can undoubtedly become an addiction itself. Recent studies have shown that food and drugs actually have a similar influence on your brain’s center for receiving rewards. And a 2013 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that sugar, not fat, actually stimulates cravings.
You may not even realize it, but you could be using sugar as an integral coping mechanism, which could put your recovery at risk.
Take a moment to ask yourself:
- Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed?
- Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
- Do you eat to feel better when you are anxious, sad, or mad?
- Do you reward yourself with food?
- Does food give you comfort?
Because of its intense effects on our neural pathways, sugar tends to have a strong influence over our brains and emotions. If you find that your daily diet is filled with an abundance of sugar, you may want to consider slowing down.
A sugar-filled diet can lead to significant weight gain, which can increase your chances of developing health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Even on the spectrum of emotions, sugar can damage you by affecting your self-esteem and even psyche. The roller coaster effect sugar has on your blood sugar – also known as a “sugar crash” – can cause you to have mood swings, brain fog, irritability, and fatigue.
Cravings, changes in mood, and self-esteem can deeply affect your mental and emotional well-being, putting your sobriety at risk.
Replacing Sweets with Self-Care
To help avoid the potential problems associated with consuming sugar in excess, you should see if you are using sugar to self-medicate or cope with any issues that are going on in your life. If so, you need to learn how to deal with these issues that are affecting you, free from the use of any substances, including sweet ones.
Talk to your sponsor, therapist or even a friend who is a good listener. Incorporate healthy activities as a way of releasing any stress or anxiety you are feeling.
Yoga is a great way to relax and naturally help your body release serotonin, the happiness hormone. Meditation is another beneficial alternative that can provide you with a clearer mind and improve your mood. Even adding a few gym days to your week can help relieve stress, give you a boost of energy, and improve your self-esteem. Just 30 minutes of exercise will synchronously stimulate several chemicals in your brain.
In moderation, sweets are not detrimental to your health, but you should limit your intake and try to find healthier alternatives. And if you still feel an overwhelming need for sweets throughout the day, reach out to those in your recovery support system. They will be able to help you decipher what underlying issues are affecting you and provide additional ways to keep you healthy and sober.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, call 888 833 4676. We can help you reclaim your life from addiction.