Are you eating more sugar than you think? Could you be developing a sugar addiction? Tupele Dorgu and 5 other celebrities find out just how hard it can be to detox from sugar.
Former Coronation Street star Tupele Dorgu is just one of six celebrities who agreed to battle their self-confessed sugar addiction on ITV’s three-part series Sugar Free Farm aired in the UK on January 26th. The show takes place on a farm over a two-week period where participants are required to stop consuming sugar cold-turkey and get back to the basics of food with fresh farm ingredients and home-cooked meals.
Self-Confessions of Sugar Addiction
In an article on Express.co.uk, Dorgu says that among her friends and family she was always described as “the one who always wanted a biscuit.” She would look forward to sweets as part of her daily diet, and would often skip lunch in favour of a slice of cake and a cup of coffee. Having a sugar addiction was not something she had ever really thought about. However, she noticed that she was slowly but steadily putting on weight and finding it difficult to lose.
Actress and dancer, Jennifer Ellison, admits to having the highest daily intake of sugar out of all participants, consuming an average of six to eight cans of coke per day. She says she would skip breakfast and grab a can of Coke to give her the energy she needed to get her day started. When lunch rolled around, she would have another Coke and grab a chocolate bar or jelly sweets, rarely taking the time to sit down and eat real food like fruits and vegetables.
To put that into perspective, the National Health Services (NHS) in the UK recommends that the average adult has no more than 30g of sugar per day. One 355mL can of Coke contains 39g of sugar, meaning that at 6 cans of Coke per day Ellison was consuming at least 234g of sugar each day — almost 8 times the recommended daily intake without taking into account her lunch of chocolate bars and jelly candies.
Quitting Sugar Cold-Turkey
During the two weeks, each of the six participants were required to help out on the farm — milking, feeding animals, gathering eggs, cultivating the garden — in exchange for fresh, organic food. For two weeks, they were not allowed any added sugar in anything they ate. Added sugar refers to sugar added to food as opposed to naturally occurring sugar found in fruit, vegetables and natural milk products. In other words — no sodas, no candy or chocolate and no alcohol.
For Dorgu, the sudden absence of sugar meant constant headaches which left her feeling tired and lethargic. Ellison as well complained of severe headaches, likening her head to feeling like a bowling ball on the end of a matchstick. “Every time I bent down I felt like someone was standing on my eyeballs,” Ellison said. “I felt physically sick. I had the worst headache I’ve ever, ever felt.” It got so bad, in fact, that paramedics were called to the scene to take her vitals and ensure that she was fit to keep filming.
How Addictive is Sugar?
Many people are surprised to hear that sugar, or lack thereof, can be responsible for the above ailments. However, research done with lab rats showed that rats were just as likely to overindulge on high-sugar, high-fat foods as they were to overindulge on morphine or cocaine when given the chance. Sugary food affects the reward centres of the brain in much the same way as drugs or alcohol. And for humans, it is built into our survival instincts to stock up on foods that are high in sugar and fat to make up for times of famine when the only food available was vegetables or plants.
These days, however, famine is rare. But our brains are still wired the same way, making us crave foods that are high in sugar. Unfortunately, everywhere you look there are places to indulge these cravings — chocolate bars in line at the supermarket, fresh oatmeal cookies next to the register at your regular coffee shop, shelves of candy in the drug store — making it easy for the brain to develop an addiction, sourcing these sweets at every chance it gets.
You Eat More Sugar than You Think
If you avoid sugary sodas and chocolate bars you may think you are doing pretty good as far as your daily sugar intake goes. However, you might be surprised at just how much hidden sugar you are consuming. Manufacturers often add sugar to products you might otherwise consider savoury, such as bread, soups and most processed foods. For example, manufacturers add sugar to tomato soup to combat the acidity of the tomatoes. One tin of tomato soup can contain up to 30g of sugar which will automatically put you at your maximum recommended intake of sugar for the whole day in just one meal.
All this hidden sugar means that most people are consuming high amounts of refined sugar each day, increasing the chance of developing a sugar addiction. In essence, the more refined sugar you eat, the more your brain craves it.
Sugar Addiction Treatment
Sugar addiction, and the broader term of food addiction, is treated as a process addiction. In the case of Sugar Free Farm, the show is a great way to teach the participants and those who watch the programme about the effects of sugar and how to incorporate a diet that is free of added sugars. However, little is done on the show to treat the psychological aspect of addiction while detoxing.
Those with a sugar addiction will turn to food, typically food that is high in sugar and fat, in times of stress, sadness, happiness and celebration. Like an alcoholic turns to alcohol, a sugar addict turns to food to cheer themselves up, to celebrate an event, or anything in between.
Food and sugar addiction can lead to obesity, depression and social disorders and increases the risk of many other health-related issues. If you are having trouble controlling your eating despite a sincere effort, you may have a sugar addiction. Give us a call today for a free-assessment and see how we can help you get your life back on track.