Is sugar addiction really a thing?

I was interviewed recently by Rachael Watson of for one of her regular podcasts.

The main theme was about how to transform the out-of-control behaviour around food that many people experience with emotional eating into habits that can be consciously unpicked and explored.

In this way, people can discover profound insights and a-ha moments, almost as if they were hidden in plain sight, as their first step to making changes in how they feel and think about food. This method works to take limiting beliefs and negative self-talk off auto-pilot so that a person, often for the first time, actually becomes aware of the self-deprecating, negative judgements they continually make about themselves.

Once you’ve acknowledged this dynamic it is possible to resolve and release the old patterns of behaviour which no longer work for you.Another interesting topic that came up while we spoke was to explore if sugar addiction was really a thing or not? I know from my own work that clients regularly come to see me end their years of yo-yo dieting and tell me they’re addicted to sugar and that their cravings for sweet things feel overwhelming.

Part of my work is bearing witness of course and I hear my clients when they say how powerless they feel in the face of their addiction and even though they try really hard to give up sugar they fail time and time again. As their story unfolds I’ve noticed a commonality of challenges my clients share.

If they feel out of control around sugar they often express how overwhelmed they feel by many other aspects of their life too. It can be within their professional work or their home life that things aren’t working out or it can be something old and cruddy from their past that however much they attempt to bury those painful memories with food still feel very much alive.

My take, from what I’ve observed and learnt from my clients is that sugar addiction seems like a symptom of life’s challenges and a strategy that evolved to cope and even survive really difficult circumstances as well as a way to swallow down uncomfortable emotions.

Russell Brand said in his book ‘Recovery’ about his past addiction to alcohol and heroin, ‘Drugs and alcohol are not my problem. Drugs and alcohol are my solution.’ In a way, I feel the same way about sugar. Johann Hari in his book ‘Chasing the Scream’ that explores and proposes to debunk the accepted wisdom about addictions said ‘If you are alone, you are vulnerable to addictions.’

Many of my clients feel alone. It doesn’t mean they are without partners or live alone but they often feel emotionally alone. It is for some of these people that sugar can feel like an overwhelming craving and even an addiction.

Sugar has become a diversion from their reality. It’s not the only strategy either. Often emotional eaters will struggle with hoarding, or over-shopping, or even gambling. What is amazing and joyful to witness in my therapy work with clients is that once one unhelpful strategy is resolved and released then their other negative behaviours can fall quickly like a house of cards setting them free to be the person they were always meant to be.

If you think you may be struggling with sugar addiction, please do book an obligation free 30-minute discovery call. Link at the top of the page.

If you’d like to listen to Rachael’s interview with me then click this link for iTunes 


Sally Baker




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