Sugar: The sweetness of food is hard to resist and is, perhaps, the greatest addiction in modern times. Regular consumption of sugar in significant quantities can lead to abnormal blood sugar balance, which manifests in symptoms like fatigue, headache, poor concentration, perspiration and digestive problems. Foods high in sugar, such as candies, cookies, cakes, mithai and soft drinks, usually spell disaster for both mental and physical energy levels. In the long term, sugar may deplete the body of nutrients that play an important part in the generation of energy. Reduce your sugar cravings by eating regular meals, fruits instead of a sweet snack or simply by reducing your portion size.
Coffee: It contains three stimulants — caffeine, theobromine and theophylline. Of which, caffeine is the strongest. Theophylline is known to disturb normal sleep patterns and theobromine has similar effects as caffeine. So, decaffeinated coffee isn’t exactly stimulant-free. While caffeine can certainly improve short-term energy levels, the boost is normally followed by a period of increased fatigue. You become dependent on a certain amount of caffeine to maintain your energy levels and excess consumption can lead to problems such as palpitation, anxiety and insomnia.
Tea: If you cannot get going without a cuppa and think that tea is better than coffee, then you must know that a strong cup of tea contains as much caffeine as a cup of regular coffee and is equally addictive. Tea also contains tannin, which interferes with the absorption of iron and zinc. Drinking weak tea is a good way of reducing caffeine intake. You can also try herbal or fruit teas.
Chocolates: Cocoa, the active ingredient in chocolate, contains significant quantities of theobromine, the effects of which is similar to caffeine. As chocolate is high in sugar and stimulants, and delicious as well, it’s all too easy to become a chocoholic. The best way to kick the habit is to give up chocolate for a month. Chocolate and green tea also contain caffeine but much less than coffee, tea and colas.
Alcohol: When you begin to sip a glass of Scotch, it lifts your mood and gives you an initial flushed feeling, imparting a sense of warmth. The ethanol in your drink triggers the release of dopamine — a chemical which produces feelings of satisfaction. If you consume alcohol as a sleeping aid, it can become addictive. It can contribute to lethargy even when the intoxication has worn off. It releases sugar rapidly into the bloodstream and may also lead to problems with low blood sugar. Many alcoholic beverages contain substances called congeners that contribute to hangovers and also deplete the body of energy. If you can’t do without alcohol altogether, try diluting your drink with water or non-alcoholic mixers to cut down on the alcohol content.
Cola & energy drinks: These contain considerable amounts of caffeine. To add to the woe, they are just as high in sugar, making colas and energy drinks highly addictive.
The more stimulants you consume, the more your body and brain become insensitive to their own stimulants — dopamine and adrenaline. You then need more stimulants to feel normal and keep pushing the body to produce more dopamine and adrenaline. The net result is adrenal exhaustion. It will leave you feeling tired, stressed, unable to cope and depressed much of the time. Reforming yourself can be highly stressful, so it’s best not to quit everything at one go. The first step in breaking a habit is to reduce the frequency and amount of consumption.