Sugar Addiction

Picture 115Do these symptoms describe you?

-eating sugar to excess, even when already full
-a feeling of loss of control over sugar intake, inability to stop eating
-a sense of guilt and shame over your eating
-never feeling satiated
-stockpiling sugary food and eating it in secret
-feelings of stress and anxiety that are relieved by eating

Do you experience any of the above symptoms and also have any of these conditions?

-Cardiovascular disease
-Type 2 Diabetes
-Insomnia or sleep apnea
-Gallbladder disease
-Muscle and/or joint pain
-Gastrointestinal difficulties
-Depression and/or anxiety

If you find yourself nodding your head and recognizing some of your own symptoms, there’s a good chance you may have a very serious illness.

These are the symptoms and health consequences of Binge Eating Disorder. BED can manifest with any kind of food, but sugar is a common one because it has been so vilified by the diet industry.

Binge Eating Disorder is a very real illness with serious long term consequences. Like other eating disorders, it can even be fatal.

Fortunately there are very effective treatments for Binge Eating Disorder. Simply avoiding trigger foods is not an effective or adequate treatment for BED. Dieting, or any eating ‘protocol’ that places restrictions on food and eating, has been shown to be a primary cause of Binge Eating Disorder, and dieting has the potential to make the disorder much worse once it is already established. Any weight loss efforts should be implemented under the supervision of a team of medical professionals who have experience treating BED.

Proper treatment for Binge Eating Disorder includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, dialectical therapy and even medication. I can not stress the importance of seeking proper, evidence-based treatment from experts with experience treating this condition. It CAN be effectively treated.

Why did I title this post ‘Sugar Addiction’? Because I am trained to recognize the signs of eating disorders, and with stunning regularity I hear from people who have self-diagnosed themselves (or been ‘diagnosed’ by an internet guru) as having a sugar addiction. More often than not, though, an objective evaluation of their symptoms points toward BED, not true addiction. Which is actually a very GOOD thing, because there is effective treatment for BED.

Addiction is also a very serious illness that, like BED, requires a multi-faceted treatment approach. Simply avoiding the addictive substance is rarely an effective long term approach to dealing with addiction. So whether a person has BED or a true addiction, it is important that they seek appropriate treatment.


If you believe you may be dealing with either BED or addiction, please seek qualified help. Here are some resources to get you started:


HCG, Intermittent Fasting and Ketosis: the Unholy Trinity of Metabolic Downregulation

Today, for a change, I’m not going to hit you with a bunch of studies. I’m just going to tell you what I’ve learned through experience with my clients and readers. Then I give you a couple links to check out if you want to read some more sciency stuff.

My client base is made up largely of women who’ve already run the diet gauntlet. By the time they get to me, most of these women have essentially been on one diet or another for years, or even decades. They’ve done it all. They’re experts at losing weight. Trouble is, the weight always comes back. With each successive diet, they ultimately find themselves fatter and sicker. I don’t put my clients on diets: they’ve already been, to a one, on all the diets. I get my clients off diets. Get them eating a humane, sustainable amount of food, with a focus on supporting their activity and honoring their personal tastes and cultural traditions. The vast majority of my clients stabilize fairly quickly and begin making forward progress, once they wrap their minds around eating to support their metabolic health.

There are a few clients, though, who have a much harder time stabilizing. Their weight won’t budge, or it fluctuates wildly. They don’t seem to be able to build muscle mass as effectively. They begin to store more fat around their belly than they have in the past. They experience edema. They deal with anxiety and insomnia and other symptoms of starvation, even when their calorie intake is adequate. It is as if their bodies refuse to emerge from the starvation response (see my Adrenal Fatigue post for more info on the starvation response). This goes on for months, even when calories and macronutrients are all adequate and consistent. I’ve had several clients who’ve experienced this, and every single one of them had a history of one or more of the three diet philosophies that I’ve taken to calling the ‘Metabolic Downregulators’. Those three diet philosophies are: HCG, Intermittent Fasting, and Ketosis.

All three of the Metabolic Downregulators appear to provoke the starvation response by design. The first symptom of the starvation response is rapid weight loss. Subsequent symptoms are endocrine adaptations that slow the body’s metabolic processes and insure against famine by shoring up fat reserves, stopping reproductive function and reducing metabolically expensive lean mass. IF and ketosis seem to be able to do this even in the absence of a caloric deficit. HCG, of course, simply relies on extreme calorie deprivation. That initial rapid weight loss is what the dieter fixates on, and when the weight loss stalls out they wonder what they are ‘doing wrong’, and double down on the diet in an effort to get the weight dropping again. This only compounds the metabolic downregulation, and the dieter ends up exhibiting all the symptoms of starvation AND excess fat stores.

Like I said, I’m not going to throw studies at you today (I’ll let Alan Aragon, Anthony Colpo, Stephanie Ruper and others do that). I’m simply sharing the observations I’ve made amongst my clients and readers.

My clients who’ve succeeded in downregulating their metabolic function need much more time to repair and stabilize than others who’ve followed less extreme diet philosophies. 6 months is not uncommon. Some women need a year or more. The longer a person’s body has been in the starvation response, the longer it’s going to take to recover. This is a frustrating reality. The temptation to return to extreme dieting can be great. I encourage those of you who are experiencing this to remember that the diets ultimately failed, and it is exactly those diets that brought you to where you are today. There is a better way. Consistently and dependably giving your body the nutrition and energy it needs to be healthy and active will allow it to emerge from the starvation response and heal from the damage the diets have done. But it takes time. Be patient! The long-term benefits are worth it.

If you’ve gone through this, please share your experiences in the comments so that people just beginning the healing process know they are not alone. There is a vast support network out there for those ready to start on the path out of the restriction maze. Please reach out, from wherever you are, to support each other and to find the help you need.

I will add to this list as I find additional resources.