NUTRITION HOTLINE: Is Sugar Addictive?
By Diane Keddy, MS, RD
Reprinted from Eating Disorders Recovery Today
Spring 2005 Volume 3, Number 2
©2005 Gürze Books
Q: I have read several books that say sugar is addicting. I am a compulsive overeater. Should I avoid foods with sugar?
A: The idea that sugar is addicting has been around for years. However, there is no research in humans that proves sugar is an addictive substance. When your body or mind is stressed, your adrenal glands produce more of the hormone cortisol, which can increase cravings for carbohydrate foods including sugar. Depression can also increase carbohydrate cravings.
I have found that those who work on stress management and receive treatment for depression significantly decrease carbohydrate and sugar cravings. In addition, eating frequently throughout the day and consuming balanced meals with a high fiber carbohydrate, a protein, and a fat will help prevent sugar cravings.
Lastly, legalizing all foods and practicing intuitive eating help reduce the consumption of high sugar foods. Avoiding high sugar foods tends to make the food more desirable and may result in bingeing later.