Sugar: A Sweet Addiction

“Are you driven by cravings and need sugar, alcohol or excitement to keep you from feeling helpless or hopeless? You probably tell yourself things aren’t so bad and you can stop anytime…”

Dr. Kathleen DesMaisons goes on to say, “But you can’t and things keep getting worse.” Dr. DesMaisons is the author of Potatoes Not Prozac and The Sugar Addict’s Total Recovery Program.

Her website, Radiant Recovery, is a must-visit for those having issues with sugar cravings. Click here and you’re there.

I’ve been receiving a good bit of email lately regarding sugar cravings. So I searched the archives and found an article with tons of good info. I thought you might like it, so I spruced it up and here it is.

I Confess

I’ll admit it, over the decades I’ve almost always gone with the sugary alternative when it came to making food and beverage choices. Oh, I suspect I’ve always known why. And though I’d like to have dealt with it, I was receiving too many emotional and physical strokes to get serious about it.

When I finally began to do some fix-it research, I came across Dr. DesMaisons website. I found some very cool stuff.

The Biology of Being Out of Control

DesMaisons suggests those of us who can’t manage our sugary food and beverage consumption tend to suffer from blood sugar instability, insufficient levels of serotonin (raise your hand if you take an SSRI or SNRI), and low amounts of beta endorphin. This is very much innate, by the way.

And it makes buckets of sense to me that when all three of these are out of whack, we feel absolutely rotten without the ability to find any measure of relief. According to Dr. DesMaisons, we are, in effect, out of control.

Let’s take a moment and talk about each of these physical situations…

Low Serotonin

Of primary importance is the fact that insufficient levels of serotonin in our brains puts the kabosh on solid decision-making. So that means we’re victims of a heck of a lot of impulsivity, making it darned near impossible to say, “No!” And that’s kind of a drag when icky foods and beverages are lurking about.

And, of course, low levels of serotonin leave us on the depressive end of the mood spectrum. And we long for simple sugars and simple carbs like bread, chips, pasta, and candy.

This is happening with biological intention, folks. Our brains know full well that ingesting such foods will provide a serotonin and mood spike. Sadly, though, what goes up must come down. And the effects of the crash are pretty hard to deal with. Am I right?

Low Beta Endorphin

Now, whether you’re sugar-sensitive or not; sugar, like alcohol, causes a release of beta endorphin. And that’s a pain-free buzz “normal” folks can very freely enjoy. However, sugarheads like us respond in a much more prolific manner.

It can make us actually feel drunk. And, okay, being a chocoholic can be funny at times. But, sadly, chronic buzzes like this ultimately lead to a devastating and, perhaps, permanent drop in beta endorphin. And you can imagine what a smack upside the head that would be.


The bottom-line: one can become addicted to simple sugars and carbohydrates. And the wild thing is it’s all about the very same dynamics as a heroin or Vicodin addiction.

Don’t forget, we can catch an immediate buzz by ingesting sugary stuff. And we can go through physical withdrawal, manifested by symptoms such as irritability and headache.

If the sugar bit is an issue for you it’s attributable to your signature body chemistry. And like other substance dependence issues, may well have been inherited.


If what you just read connects, scoot on over to Dr. DesMaisons’ website and do some learning. And check-out her blog – you’ll find a link on the site.

Some time ago I did a two-part series, “(Dis)Comfort Foods.” Click here to head to Part 1. I think you’ll find it helpful.

Comments are always king on chipur. Any insight or experiences you’d like to share? We’d like to read them…