This year for lent, one of my friends convinced me into giving up sweets with her to challenge myself and allow my body a break from all the processed sugar. I figured it would definitely be a challenge in the beginning, but I would soon learn to tolerate it. Unfortunately, remaining sweet less for 40 days has been a lot more difficult than I originally anticipated.
I am the textbook definition of a sweet tooth. Anything sweet I’ll be willing to try. I am that girl in the dining hall eating cookies for dinner and seeing an ice cream bar or cake makes my day. Cupcakes, cookies, chocolate, candy, cake—you name it, I love it.
The past 35 days (update: lent is actually longer than 40 days) I’ve gone through quite the struggle trying to suppress my desire for sweets. I’ve had dreams about inhaling entire tables filled with cookies and brownies and woke up more than disappointed realizing I still had weeks before I could indulge. The highlight of my days are now taking my gummy vitamins just to get a brief taste of what I’m missing out on.
You may be reading this and thinking “It’s just sweets and sugar, she’s just being overdramatic”. Maybe you’re right, but there are some biological reasons as to why my sugar cravings and withdrawal symptoms are so strong.
When humans eat high quantities of sugar, the brain releases high levels of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is activated when one expects or is receiving a reward (ex: SUGAR!).
The dopamine lets the body know whatever it had just experienced is worth getting more of—which is where sugar addiction kicks in. Sugar activates the same region in the brain many drugs do and therefore occasionally, sugar can “hijack” your brain into craving it more and more.
Now, having claiming I have a sugar addiction may be taking this to the extreme, but I am most definitely experiencing some of these cravings. I mean, I think about chocolate cake and warm chocolate chip cookies and ice cream pretty much all the time. Needless to say, I have 10 more days until Easter, and it can’t come fast enough.