Sugar is the most accessible drug on the market. From childhood all the way into adulthood we are bombarding our bodies with a chemical high followed by a subsequent withdrawal and desire for the next high. Addiction is defined as “the repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable.”

What is unique about sugar addiction is the vast amount of people it affects day in and day out. At least one in three people have a sugar problem on the planet. So what does sugar addiction look like and what can you do to change it? Much like addictions to other substances, it is necessary to recognize the problem. Read on for signs that you may be addicted to sugar:

1. You can’t stop thinking about your next fix

When sugar has a strong hold on your physiology, your body is constantly looking for the next high. The spikes and drops of your blood sugar, keep you on edge all day watching out where you’re going to get your next fix. Whether it’s a donut, a sugary coffee drink or anything else, that is your body telling you that you’re stuck in a sugar addiction cycle.

2. You get a sugar slump at 3 in the afternoon

Common, not normal. Many people express lethargy in the afternoon as if it is just a part of adulthood, a normal product of carrying out life on this Earth. What they don’t realize, is that this state of living is not only directly connected to what they’re putting in their mouths, it isn’t the way humans are supposed to function. So how does sugar come into play? With a daily habit of consuming sugar, quality sleep is impossible to achieve. Without adequate rest and repair from sleep, we move through our days feeling groggy and tired and what does that lead to? More sugar cravings and blood sugar spikes.

3. You wake up with a sugar hangover

Sugar hangovers are real. Often people who are addicted to sugar find that the hangover is worth it for the short term pleasure of binging on their sugary food of choice. After this heavy consumption of sugar, just like a high consumption of alcohol, your body is taxed with digesting and processing the substance. This puts a huge burden on your pancreas, liver, GI tract and ultimately your brain. The sugar high and subsequent sugar low puts your body in a stress response mode that leaves you feeling emotional, foggy and fatigued with possibly coinciding physical pain such as joint pain, GI upset, constipation, diarrhea, and headaches.

4. You keep eating even though you know you’re not hungry anymore

Not feeling fully satiated by a meal and needing that sweetness, is your physiology telling you that it wants that sweet taste that makes your brain’s dopamine receptors light up with joy.

5. You crave salty foods and meat

Salty foods balance out the sweetness of high sugar foods. If you’re eating a highly salty diet, your body will crave sugary foods to balance out the saltiness and vice versa. If you’re eating mostly sugary foods, your body will crave salty foods to balance out the sweetness. It’s chemistry. If you’re craving meat, that is your body trying to bring you into balance by getting nourishment from something that won’t heavily spike your blood sugar.

6. You’re eating sugar even though you don’t want it

This can happen when you have constant access to highly sugary foods. That chocolate bar is sitting on the table and you don’t even want it. You know you won’t feel good about yourself after but you just can’t help picking it up, unwrapping it and eating it anyways.

7. It starts to show in your body

Dark circles under your eyes, acne, slumps, overly anxious, quick to anger, depression. All of these things are physical manifestations of sugar addiction. The risk of lifestyle diseases increases tremendously when we introduce refined sugar into the mix. We see this with countries that import refined sugar into their existing diet. Diseases associated with lifestyle choices increase dramatically over time once refined sugar is introduced.

If you’ve found yourself identifying with the above signs, know that it isn’t all bad news. Your life isn’t supposed to look and feel like this and through dedication and a strategy, you can get your sugar habit under control. This strategy includes curbing or eliminating those sugar cravings, healing sugar erosion in the body and replacing nutrients that have been depleted by chronic sugar consumption. Find out more about the Sweet Freedom program to see what a life without sugar dependence looks like for you.