Sugar addiction can fuel food cravings

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Your begging for bacon or candy craze may cease after devouring so much your shorts split at the seams.

Food cravings can be as mild as a weekly snack or turn into a life-changing detriment. Various causes change these yearnings, and students’ lifestyles play a large role.

Debbie Mosher, a family and consumer science adjunct instructor, said people implement consumption of certain foods into daily routine, and the food’s ingredients spur a dependence. However, sugars have the largest pull.

“We can get addicted to sugar in as little as three weeks, and most people that are drinking a lot of soda or eating a lot of candy probably have some kind of addiction to it,” said Demaree Johnson, a family and consumer science associate professor.

Sweet and salty foods are two strong cravings, and because the foods are easily prepared, they’re more sought after.

Johnson said college students desire the quickest, closest food, and this draws them to the vending machine. Treats’ ingredients are highly addictive, and they’re most accessible—creating a smorgasbord of fatty, cholesterol-pumped sweetness.

“I’ll crave [certain] foods, but I mainly eat foods closest,” said Erin Gliddon, a freshman elementary education major from Las Vegas, who lives at the dorms and eats in the cafeteria or at food chains in the area.

Mosher said certain amounts of sugar and salt become crucial when the habit is made, and without a realization of what is wrong, the craving worsens.

“Without a health scare or an ‘I can’t fit into my pants’ scare, what usually happens is the craving increases,” Mosher said. “The more sugar a person eats, the more they want and need it in order to satisfy the craving.”

Fortunately, when there is a scare, shedding a craving doesn’t take too long. Johnson said many methods work fast.

“We can get off of [a food] addiction in three to four days by going cold turkey or reducing the amount of sugar,” Johnson said.

When unhealthy cravings end, with substitution, people can base a new diet off something much healthier. Replace candy and soda with protein-fortified cheeses or nuts, Johnson said.

Although the sugars and salts are more addictive, certain circumstances make healthy foods more crave-worthy.

Gliddon said she hasn’t felt well recently. Normally she craves more traditional comfort foods, but with nutritional knowledge, she knows what combats illness.

“Because I’m sick, I just crave healthy food, so I can boost my immune system,” Gliddon said.

Karl Heimer, a freshman psychology major from Salt Lake City, said he realized once-craved foods now make him sick; he prefers salad the most now.

A majority of people fail to recognize the drastic nature of food cravings. In addition, craving leafy greens is much less common. Mosher said people must confront dietary problems by preparing their own foods or keeping daily logs.

“People today have to make the choice to eat healthy, plan, shop and cook to reach that goal,” Mosher said. “Sometimes it may have to be a daily choice to avoid the doughnuts, burgers and fries, and replace [them] with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.”