I love sugar. You probably already know that! I’m also trying to overcome my sweet tooth. Why? Because I eat way too many sweets, it’s not what I’d call a healthy diet, it messes with my emotions, and it sure makes keeping a fit and lean figure a big challenge!
In my quest to learn more about sugar addiction and why sugar has such a stronghold on me, I came across a book called Potatoes, Not Prozac. It focuses on sugar addiction (which can play a part in depression and other negative feelings). I was intrigued.
The author, Kathleen DesMaisons, PhD, points out, that, sure enough, some people can become physically addicted to sugar. And she proceeds to give examples in research that support her hypothesis.
According to Dr. DesMaisons, some people are what she calls “sugar sensitive.” Sugar sensitive folks have a biochemistry that makes them more inclined to becoming addicted to sugar, just like some individuals are predisposed to potential alcohol addiction.
Sugar sensitive individuals may be low in specific neurochemicals that help us feel calm, focused, confident, and optimistic. Sugar is a drug that temporarily makes the sugar sensitive feel better, but with negative consequences.
Sure, we all get a little giddy when eating lots of sugar, but a sugar sensitive individual has a much stronger response. To them, sugar makes all their nerve endings dance. They get much bigger highs and crashes from the sweet stuff.
It’s not just an emotional bond with sugar or refined foods that is the only issue here. (As a side note, I must say that emotional eating is a real and important matter, as JoLynn discusses on her site, The Fit Shack)! Sugar addiction as presented in this book also involves an actual physical need for sugar in order to feel good.
Interesting concepts, and I wonder: Am I really a sugar sensitive person? Could I truly be addicted to sugar?
The book had a few “tests” to help answer these questions. One effective way to determine if you’re truly addicted to sugar is to see how you feel when you don’t have ANY sugar for a short time. If you start having withdrawal symptoms and then immediately feel better after having some sugar, you very well could be dealing with a physical dependency.
Another test that made me laugh (out of guilt) was the cookie test.Imagine you arrive home to find a plate of warm, chocolate chip cookies sitting on the counter. No one else is around. You’re not hungry. What do you do?
Someone who may have a strong affinity for sugar would make a bee line for the cookies and eat at least one, maybe half the plate! Those who doesn’t get a charge from sweets may look at the cookies and think about trying one. They may check the mail or phone messages first. They may say, “I’m not hungry now, so I’ll wait until later.” Their minds don’t switch off at the sight and smell of the cookies.
The reason I laugh is because I belong to the first group, without a doubt! After learning of sugar’s drug-like effects and what a sugar addiction looks like, I must conclude that I am indeed a sugar sensitive person. Hi, my name is Susan, and I’m a sugar addict. Truly.
So, if you’ve determined you’re truly addicted to sugar, how do you break this addiction?
Dr. DesMaisons doesn’t recommend going cold turkey and what she calls “white knuckling” it. A seven-step plan to help wean those from sugar and recover from a sugar addiction is described in later chapters.
What are your thoughts on physical addiction to sugar? Do you believe yourself to be “sugar sensitive?”