No Locations settings found. Please configure it
  • Blog >
  • Sugar Addiction
RSS Feed

Sugar Addiction


by Dr. Jon Repole, DC, NC, HHP, CPT, CFMP

Each year the holidays offer us a vehicle to value that which matters most in our life – taking care of our physical bodies, fostering compassion, care, and concern for ourselves and others. It is also a special time for us to create the space that allows us to spend more time with the ones we love. Unfortunately, the seduction of materialism, can thwart or misguide our intentions and behaviors into a sea of forgetfulness towards the aforementioned virtues.

This particular blog post, will focus on the seduction of food – most notably SUGAR! Healthy indulging is OK, but, when it turns from self-compassion to self-destruction we are led on a twisted spiral that can take us far away from a “healthy indulgence” to an addictive pattern that can, for some, last for months or even years. Let’s explore the various sugar addictions/types and the ways we can overcome their seductions during this holiday season.

This sugar type is a problem of awareness. This type is a psychological issue of our basic needs not being met. According to psychologist, Abraham Maslow, there are two categories of needs – deficiency (physiological, safety, love and esteem) and growth needs (self-actualization and self-transcendence). In essence, one must satisfy the deficiency needs in an effort to reach the higher growth-related needs. When our basic deficiency needs are not being met, we develop addictive patterns to fill the void – smoking, eating sugar, and so on.

Our biological and physiological needs are straight forward – air, food, and water, for example. Safety needs include protection from the elements, security, environmental stability, freedom from fear, law and order. Love and belongingness needs include our desire for love, friendship, intimate relationships, affection and all other types of interpersonal nutrition. Our esteem needs include obtaining prestige, accomplishment, recognition, self-respect, and gaining the respect of others. As these basic deficiency needs are met we can climb the hierarchy of needs towards our growth needs which include: finding our calling, following our bliss, becoming the highest versions of our Self, purpose, contribution, and a transcendence and merging with the ultimate threads of reality – divinity herself.  

When our deficiency needs are not being met we begin a spiral of unhealthy addictions and attachments to externals of no real value. In relationship to food, emotional eaters and sugar addicts eat to escape fear, punish themselves, and to drown the pain. When we eat these heavy addictive foods it’s as if we are metaphorically and literally weighing ourselves down to kill the pain, fear and guilt.

The problem is never about knowledge – we all know we should eat healthy. The problem, therefore,  is not what’s in your “head” but rather what’s missing in your heart – you must take time to bring into your awareness which deficiency needs are not being met otherwise you run the risk of playing a mental “wack a mole” game. The addiction is not about the food. We are simply terrified to look within. We can’t do this, however, unless our environment is safe, supporting, nurturing and love is present. Don’t trade 1 addiction just to pick up another (hence the “wack a mole” analogy) – treat the cause rather than the symptom otherwise your deficiency needs will manifest – hidden under the cloak of yet another addiction.

The adrenal gland is an endocrine gland that sits on top of your kidneys and produces various hormones. Cortisol is by far the most well-known and referred to simply as your “stress hormone.” When there are elevations in cortisol levels we reach for sugar to “keep us going.” This is the addict who uses quick fixes like sugary snacks, caffeine, energy drinks and the like. This type of addiction is easiest to think of with a visualization of the “soccer mom.” This is the archetype that keeps going (working two jobs, taking care of the kids, making dinner, and, of course, taking the kids to soccer practice). They don’t realize they are leaving someone very important out of the circle of compassion – themselves! They are slowing running out of hormones and without nurturing themselves – it will eventually catch up. They are, in essence, addicted to stress and the treadmill of life. What they don’t realize is that for each quick fix they are consuming they are also making withdrawals from their internal energy bank and once the bank is depleted – they will crash and take on signs and symptoms of the next type of addiction.

After years of quick fixes and taking withdrawals from the internal energy bank, cortisol is no longer effective and is now depleted. Low cortisol levels are associated with low blood sugar. The easiest visualization to remember for this type is the “Hangry” individual. They are both hungry and angry. Ask yourself, do you become irritable if you do not eat or have a sugary snack? Is your motto, “Feed me or I’ll kill you!?” When blood sugar levels fall and cortisol levels are dysfunctional it becomes a perfect storm for the hangry signs and symptoms. This sugar type is associated with adrenal fatigue.

This addictive type has been taken over by BUGS such as yeast and bacteria. The cravings associated with this type is like the invasion of the body snatchers – being drawn to the refrigerator like a magnet in a state of an otherwise hypnotic trance. The body snatcher type reaches for sugary snacks with associated BUG-related signs and symptoms such as increased gas, bloating, sinus congestion, candida, white-coated tongue, chronic urinary tract infections and so on. Interestingly, when yeast and sugar meet in your body – small amounts of alcohol are produced – relating to signs and symptoms of brain fog.

This addictive type is surrounded by dysfunctions in sex hormone production and usually occurs later in life. In women, it could be the time around or after menopause and for men – mAnopause. Signs and symptoms include low libido, depression, irritability, hot flashes, etc.

These sugar cravings are associated with the hormone, insulin. The problem here is simply a combination of the types previously described and its hallmark – years of poor dietary and lifestyle choices compounding to produce true disease states and risk of heart disease.

To start with, all types must, of course, concentrate on core fundamentals such as:

  • Diet: Whole Foods Plant-Based
  • Lifestyle Choices
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Stress Management

Wack A Mole Type

  • Find out what deficiency needs are not being met!
  • If needed, seek out life coach or counselor for help.

High Cortisol

  • High plant-based carbohydrate diet including fresh fruits
  • Find ways to decrease the “Soccer Mom” work load
  • Begin with dilution of sugary snacks for ease of transition away from reliance
  • Supplements: adrenal adaptogens
  • Diagnostics: adrenal stress index salivary testing

Low Cortisol

  • High plant-based protein diet, increased snacking throughout the day and low glycemic foods
  • Supplements: adrenal adaptogens, and short term use of sprouted plant-based protein powders   
  • Diagnostics: adrenal stress index salivary testing

Body Snatchers

  • High plant-based protein diet, increased snacking throughout the day and low glycemic foods
  • Supplements: anti-microbials followed by probioitcs
  • Diagnostics: stool analysis  

Sex Hormones

  • Supplements and diet based on blood and salivary hormonal testing

Diabetic Mixed Type

  • High plant-based protein diet, increased snacking throughout the day and low glycemic foods  
  • Diagnostics: glucose, HbA1c, and insulin levels   

(This post was inspired by the works/research of Abraham Maslow and Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum)