So how do you know? Well, other than the obvious feeling of needing carbs, or artificially sweetened things, here's a list of possible signs of addiction according to Sober Recovery:
1. I get tired and/or hungry in the afternoon.
2. I feel lethargic after a meal.
3. I have a hard time stopping once I eat my favorite carb foods (starches, sweets, snacks).
4. When I feel stressed, my first response is to want to eat something.
5. I can’t live without my favorite carb foods.
6. I have a tendency to binge.
7. I frequently crave high-carb foods (sweets, pasta, bread etc.)
8. I am a compulsive eater. I wish I could control my eating.
9. I am overweight even though I don’t really eat that much.
Many consider addiction if you experience withdrawls.
Here's an excerpt from the website for the Arizona Center for Advanced Medicine;
"A hospital pharmacist with considerable knowledge about addictive substances and drug abuse wrote: "I have been a chronic user of diet drinks for years, and always joked that I was 'addicted' to aspartame. Recently, I decided to stop them, but I can't do it no matter how hard I try. When I'm not drinking these drinks, the people I work with and my family have all commented that I act as if I'm going through heroin withdrawal. I also experience many problems while drinking them, the most profound of which is joint pain""
I have personal experience with this. After smoking cigarettes for thirteen years, it took three attempts at quitting before I succeeded. That was EASY compared to how hard it was for me to quit cherry Pepsi. It took me about five attempts and even though I haven't had one for about a year, I still have a hard time resisting. I also have a hard time with sweet, bready things like sweet rolls, doughnuts and cookies. Give me just one and I will do almost anything for more, and more of anything carb-y, it doesn't have to be another cookie. I will get angry, irritable, quick tempered and downright unpleasant. I do not have experience with aspartame or other artificial sweeteners simply because I never cared for them.
Jon is currently going cold turkey after years of at least one liter of Mountain Dew a day. He described how he felt after two days by saying that he felt like his body was furious with him and that he felt like he was freaking out.
We've taken steps to reduce our carb intake naturally through a traditional foods diet but also by simply weeding them out. When I do sweeten something I use whole sugar like sucanat or rapadura, honey, real maple syrup and on occasion, stevia. I seldom bake but when I do, I try to use gluten free ingredients and properly prepared grains. The only junkfood we ever keep in the house anymore are organic blue corn totrtilla chips.
Here are some tips for breaking an addiction to carbs or aspartame:
1. Eat less but more often. Eat small meals or snacks containing some PROTEIN every few hours to keep blood-sugar levels steady.
Skipping meals causes blood sugar levels to drop, which leaves you yearning for processed carbohydrates and sweets for energy. 2. Be selective about the carbohydrates you eat. Avoid nutrient-stripped foods made of white flour, white rice, refined sugar and highly concentrated sweeteners. Look for foods rich in fiber such as fresh vegetables and fruits, which level off blood sugar.
3. Don't skimp on protein to 'make room' for large amounts of carbohydrates. Protein gives the body extended energy, helps balance blood sugar and keeps cravings at bay.
4. Limit your intake of alcohol, fruit juice and caffeinated drinks. These cause abrupt blood-sugar highs followed by troublesome blood-sugar lows, leaving you starved for energy.
5. Eat small portions of seasonal goodies AFTER protein-containing meals or snacks, if at all. If you eat sweets on an empty stomach, you'll experience blood-sugar lows that trigger the desire for more sweets.
6. Avoid becoming famished during shopping trips and while traveling. Carry protein-rich snacks such as soaked or sprouted nuts or hard-boiled pastured eggs. These high-power foods are great when you feel your energy drop.
7. Get enough sleep. When the body and mind are well-rested, cravings for carbohydrates often vanish.
Here are some more really great tips- http://www.firstourselves.org/2009/10-steps-to-control-sugar-cravings/
I find that such damaging and harmful substances are so widley available and accompany so much misinformation shameful. We wouldn't give our children crack now would we? But in so many ways, many of us do and don't even realize. Even if you consume these foods and beverages and don't believe that they are causing any harm, I encourage you to do your own research. Here are some links to get you started: