Let's Talk About Your SUGAR Obsession

Demonizing sugar is a very popular take these days. And I often hear people describe themselves as "addicted to sugar" or "sugar obsessed." I myself have believed all of those things at one point.

BUT, when we know better we do better. And over the years, after studying what the science says and after developing a better understanding of the context in which I struggled with those things, I have learned that there are a few things to RULE OUT before you resign yourself as "sugar obsessed."

First things first, demonizing sugar is not really a solution - nor is it backed by the data.

"We find little evidence to support sugar addiction in humans, and findings from the animal literature suggest that addiction-like behaviours, such as bingeing, occur only in the context of intermittent access to sugar. These behaviours likely arise from intermittent access to sweet tasting or highly palatable foods, not the neurochemical effects of sugar." PMID: 27372453

What if it's not that you're addicted to sugar...but you're simply a noraml wired human existing in a hedonic (aka indulegnt) environment with constant access to delicious foods?

What if the behaviors and cravings you see as "wrong" are actually physiological responses that have been CRUCIAL to our development and survival as a species?

If you feel like your sweet tooth controls you, here are four questions to ask to help you find balance and sustainability in your nutrition formula.

Q1: 1️⃣Are you underconsuming or in a caloric deficit on a regular basis?

This includes intentional or unintentional restriction of foods or food groups, in particular starchy carbohydrates.

If you...

  • Have no idea what maintenance calories are
  • Have gone on extensive periods of low-fat or low-carb dieting
  • Have dogmatic (paleo, vegan, keto) diet experiences
  • Notice resistant bodyfat, decreased performance in the gym and/or hormonal imbalances...

Then start implementing these actions.

  • Work up to maintenance calories
  • Avoid dropping below 40% bw in grams of fat
  • Experiment with a minimum 100-120g of carbs from rice, sweet/white potatoes, quinoa, plantains
  • Schedule frequent, balanced meals throughout the day


Q2: Could you be nutrient deficient?

You can be maintaining overall caloric balance but not incorporating enough nutrient-dense foods.

If you can relate to this...

  • Dogmatic (paleo, vegan, keto) diet experience
  • Not losing weight but eating enough calories
  • Low intake of foods like vegetables, lean protein, nutrient-dense starches or fruit

Work on this...

  • Incorporating five servings (cup) of colorful veggies per day
  • A serving of lean animal-based protein with every meal
  • At least two to three servings of fruit per day
  • Nutrient-dense starches such as potatoes, quinoa, or plantains with each meal


Q3: 3️⃣Are you using sweets as emotional coping mechanisms?

Food is tied to culture, background, and early reward systems. It is a 100% natural reaction and makes 0% sense to feel bad if you notice a correlation between your sugar intake and emotional experiences. It may simply be time to add some emotional processing tools to your arsenal, so you have more options.

If you can relate to this...

  • Reaching for foods during/following an emotional event
  • Consumption often tied to perceived higher stress
  • Not necessarily hungry when consumption occurs

Work on this...

  • Identifying non-food sources of comfort
  • Giving yourself grace - it's completely normal to use food as comfort
  • Seeking support from a therapist or counselor to help you expand your arsenal of emotional processing tools


Q4: Could your gut use some TLC?

Our gut microbiome helps determine nutrient levels and sends messages to our brain. Since pathogenic bacteria feed on sugar, an imbalance in our guts can potentially lead to more/less desire for sweets.

If you can relate to more than one...

  • Acne or skin issues
  • Acute reactions such as extreme bloating after eating
  • Difficulty sleeping or waking easily
  • Headaches, brain fog, or memory loss
  • Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas, or bloating
  • Cravings for sugar or carbs


  • Getting with functional/integrative doctor or specialist
  • Amping up your mealtime habits: chew, breathe, and relax
  • CRUSHING sleep
  • Walking and getting outside every day
  • Finding ways to play regularly


Guilt has no place at the table when I choose to indulge in my favorite sweet treats - like HEB's 1905 Vanilla Ice Cream. And sweets absolutely have a place in a healthy nutrition formula (in fact, they are likely essential for sustainability!). I hope this has given you some ideas and actions - get after it!



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