What makes deserts so appealing to us that we are in a constant battle with our minds to resist the urges?
Sugar is a word that’s used when talking about carbohydrate molecules. You can find it in tons of different food (especially the sweet ones that taste great!). Starch, dextrose, glucose, sucrose, fruit juice, corn syrup, raw sugar, honey and maltose are all types of carbohydrates.
When you eat something sugary, it stimulate the sweet receptors on your tongue which signals the cerebral cortex in the brain. This recognizes sweet tastes and activates the reward system, which is made up of electrical and chemical pathways.
This results in you asking yourself if you should take that second helping of dessert. Drugs, sexual behavior, and socialization are some of the other ways that activate the reward system similarly.
However, when this reward system becomes overactive by eating too much sugar, problems set in. You lose control to your cravings and have an increased tolerance to sugar.
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter at the center of your reward system. Alcohol and drugs spike dopamine levels which makes you feel good and people want to chase the feeling over and over again – AKA, addiction.
Sugar does the same thing, just not as extreme as drugs.
Your brain can detect new and different tastes. Eating the same meals everyday causes dopamine levels to drop off. One reason for these detections is to identify expired food. The other, is because when you’re eating a broader range of food, you’re getting more nutrients and vitamins.
Being able to recognize new foods helps you to keep the variety juices flowing. This also helps you to want to carry on consuming new foods because your dopamine increases every time you do!
Limiting your sugar intake helps the dopamine levels to balance out afterwards. But overeating it causes you to keep on feeling rewarded as the dopamine levels remain high for a while.
That’s why it’s critical to control your sugar intake. But remember, a slice of cake every once in awhile can still be enjoyable!