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Are you a Sugar Monster?

Posted on by on April 4th, 2011 | 4 Comments »

We all know it. The time from Halloween through Thanksgiving to Hanukkah or Christmas  to Valentine’s Day and then Easter (that is half the year!) is a time of mass sugar consumption. And for others, these occasions are also accompanied by exaggerated emotions. Anxiety about completing that ‘To Do’ list a mile long. Shopping, meal preparation or packing to travel. Irritated at the not so welcome house-guest.  Depressed from seeing loved ones go home. Are emotions and sugar related? Multiple manuscripts reviewing the neurochemical effect of intermittent sugar intake show that sugar consumption alters brain chemistry similarly to other drugs of abuse. And that it is possible to become sugar-dependent and feel withdrawal-like symptoms including anxiety, irritability and depression. Biochemically sugar elicits a similar response as heroine, crack or alcohol. Perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to cut sugar out of your diet? This is a great resolution for two reasons.

Not only can a diet high in simple carbohydrates and low in protein (a typical American diet) lead to insulin resistance it can lead to sugar dependency. The energy from simple carbohydrates (soda, desserts, even white flour) very quickly floods your bloodstream with glucose. At first you feel an initial sugar-high as the sugar recruits serotonin and beta endorphin, brain chemicals that makes you feel calm and happy. This rapid increase in blood sugar signals the pancreas to secrete insulin. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle. In turn, this deprives the brain, other organs and muscles of energy. Resulting in the notorious sugar crash as you become weak, tired and unable to focus. The sugar-high combined with the ensuing sugar crash causes you to crave even more sugar, resulting in a damaging cycle of sugar bingeing and cravings. This cycle can contribute to insulin resistance and dependency.

Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you eat a lot of sweets? Do you crave simple carbohydrates? Are you overweight and don’t seem to be able to easily lose the extra pounds. Are you depressed? Do you have a history of anger that sometimes surprises you? Does your child ask for sweet foods all the time? Does your child have unexpected meltdowns that turn into tantrums or tears? Is your child restless and in motion all the time? Does your child have a hard time paying attention? Has your child been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or oppositional defiance disorder (ODD)?

According to Kathleen DesMaisons, a pioneer in the field of addictive nutrition, if you answered yes to three or more of the above questions it is very likely that you belong to a subpopulation that is sugar sensitive. If you are sensitive to sugar then dietary sugar can cause the sugar high/sugar crash cycle to be extreme. Sugar sensitivity is a term coined by DesMaisons that describes three core issues: volatile blood sugar that overreact to refined carbohydrates; low natural levels of the brain chemical serotonin that affects mood and the ability to say no; and low natural levels of the brain chemical beta endorphin that modulates both physical and emotional pain. She further describes sugar sensitivity as an inherited biochemical condition that has predictable and specific effects on the brain and on a person’s behavior. Sugars have the same pain killing and euphoria-stimulating effect in the human body as opioid drugs like morphine and heroin. These drug effects of sugar are heightened in sugar sensitive people.

In response to sugar consumption both serotonin and beta-endorphin are released, leaving the sugar sensitive person feeling exhilarated. Some describe feeling relaxed, silly, talkative, temporarily self-confident.  Isn’t that how one feels after a few glasses of chardonnay? This feeling makes them go back for more. Sugar sensitive people strive to consume greater amounts of sugar in an attempt to increase serotonin and beta-endorphin production and this may lead to sugar dependency.
 Serotonin and beta-endorphin receptors are addictive receptors, sometimes referred to as habit forming.

Do you crave sugar? Ah, now you know why and why its never too late to make that resolution to curb it!

Curb your cravings with Jayda’s Six Month Program.

Divine Gluten-Free Bread {UPDATED} »


  1. Laura Storoschuk
    Posted on: 3-20-2012

    Hi Jayda,
    I am currently sitting in a living room of our rental house in Mexico with your Uncle Rob and Wendy. We are discussing nutrition. I am excited to get some of the recipes Wendy has been sharing with me. You have some really awesome information. We have been working on our family nutrition for the last few years and are always happy to learn more. Cheers Laura

    • JaydaSiggers
      Posted on: 3-21-2012

      Thank you Laura! Please feel free to email me any questions you might have.
      Enjoy the rest of your vacation.

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