One of these days I’m going to stop reading. You know how you think you’re fine until you see something that tells you otherwise? All of a sudden you think, Wait a minute, that’s me! That happened when I started reading about a new book that says my addiction to chocolate could signal more than just a sweet tooth or a fellow chocoholic enabler-of-a-husband.
In Beat Sugar Addiction Now!, Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum is kind enough to potentially ruin my relationship with sugar for life. He describes it as the ‘canary in the coal mine’, saying our cravings for chocolate cake or Krispie Kremes often point to an undiagnosed problem like failing adrenal glands or even too much ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut. Can’t it just point to a lack of willpower, I thought?
Maybe, but according to the nice doctor, there are four types of sugar addiction, each triggered by a different cause and each signaling a potential health problem. Read on if you dare:
Sugar Addict Personality #1: You work more than 40 hours a week and feel tired much of the time. A coffee every morning is vital to get you going and you crave sweets or caffeine through the day (you’ll also have a non-diet fizzy drink most days). You are plagued with aches and pains and have frequent headaches. You’re also gaining weight and have trouble losing it.
Potential Problem: Thyroid disorder. It’s not unusual to have an underactive thyroid gland, which leads to fatigue. But cutting caffeine can help alleviate sugar addiction (because when we come down from the energy ‘high’ in coffee, we often reach for sugar). He also says drink more water, ban processed foods and get more sleep.
Sugar Addict Personality #2: It’s impossible for you to get through the day without bread or sugar.
Potential Problem: It could be a yeast/candida overgrowth, especially if you’ve had a fungal infection in the past or have taken antibiotics for more than a month or more than three times in a 12-month period. Teitelbaum says if you’ve had more than your fair share of antibiotics or antacids, there’s a strong chance they’ve triggered an overgrowth of bad bacteria and eating sugar multiplies this yeast and intensifies cravings. The solution? A whole food diet void of caffeine and filled with probiotic foods, like yogurt.
Sugar Addict Personality #3: You’re irritable when you’re hungry and you also often feel stressed. Sometimes you feel dizzy when you stand up. As well as suffering from recurrent sore throats and swollen glands, you may often be thirsty and have to urinate frequently.
Potential Problem: You could be suffering from adrenal ‘overload’. The job of our adrenal glands is to pump out the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol when we’re under pressure. When this happens frequently, the glands become sluggish, causing us to reach for sugar for energy. Instead, he recommends grazing on small, high-protein meals throughout the day (nuts, cheese or eggs) to keep energy levels on an even keel.
Sugar Addict Personality #4: You’re a woman aged 38 or over. You suffer from low mood and reduced sex drive—your periods have been getting irregular or changing, and the week before it starts you experience insomnia, headaches, fatigue and hot flushes.
Potential Problem: You may be experiencing menopause, perimenopause or pre-menstrual tension. I don’t know why PMS only applies to women over the age of 38 here, but the doctor says as our hormone levels drop, sugar cravings soar, which only leaves us more tired, irritable and miserable when we do eat it. Aside from cutting down on sugar (easier said than done when you’re talking to an addict), try taking vitamin B6 (200mg a day) to ease the deficiency of the ‘feel good’ hormone prostaglandin E1.
Are you a sugar addict? If so, tell us how you deal with it.