Carol (Missy) Cohen MPH, CHHC

Are You a Sugar Addict?

The average child consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. That is the equivalent of 2/3 of a cup of sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 3-8 teaspoon of sugar for a child per day. Just for comparison, the average adult consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day and the American Heart Association recommends no more than 9 teaspoons for men and 6 teaspoons for women.

Sugar is an addictive substance.

What makes a substance addictive is:

  • It stimulates feel good receptors in the brain. The same receptors that are stimulated by certain street drugs. Dr. Mark Hyman states that sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine!
  • It takes more and more sugar to result in the same euphoric feeling. The more the habit is fed, the more it needs to be fed.
  • When sugar is removed from the diet, withdrawal occurs which may include headaches, crankiness, fatigue, and muscles aches and pains.

Why Does It Matter?

When sugar, or flour for that matter, are consumed, our bodies release a hormone called insulin. It is insulin’s job to store any extra fuel in our cells to be used during times of hunger or famine. In today’s world, those times hardly ever come and we store more and more “fuel” that we do not need. The result is:

  • Obesity; especially as belly fat stored around our internal organs
  • An alarming increase in diabetes particularly in children
  • Evidence is showing that sugar is the leading cause of heart disease.
  • A reduction in hormones that can cause a decreased sex drive, acne flare-ups, and depression


Using Sugar Substitutes Is NOT the Answer!

When our body gets a hit of a sugar substitute, it is getting tricked into believing that it is about to get some sugar and it prepares for that by releasing insulin. As the insulin becomes available but there is no sugar molecules for it to work its magic on, it sends a message to the brain. That message says, “I need sugar! I’ve been tricked and I am not happy!” You then eat more sugar than you would have had you just fed your craving to begin with.

How to Get off the Insulin Rollercoaster

There are several ways to get off this rollercoaster. These are just a few suggestions:

  • Is there a routine that you do that you can change up? Perhaps you stop at a coffee shop everyday and, of course, you have to get a sugary treat to go with your coffee. Maybe you could make your coffee at home so that you wouldn’t be tempted.
  • Drink more water. Often it’s not hunger that we are dealing with but dehydration. Fill up on water before you decide that you really are craving something sweet.
  • H.A.L.T – determine if you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired before reaching for a sugary treat. If you are hungry, make a choice that will satisfy you nutritionally as well as physically.
  • Add sweet vegetables into your life. Sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, winter squashes and more are vegetables that will satisfy your sweet tooth and provide you with vitamins and nutrients.

    Are you a recovering sugar addict? How did you overcome your sugar cravings?

Be Well,



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