Category Archives: binges

On Sugar Addiction from Dr. Frank Lippman

I hope you enjoy this post which you can see in full at:

http://www.goop.com/journal/do/103/overcoming-sugar-addiction 

What we should know about sugar
from Dr. Frank Lipman

As a serious sugar addict still struggling with my “addiction” I know first hand how difficult it is to get off sugar, and to stay off it. Part of the reason it’s so hard to kick the habit is that over time our brains actually become addicted to the natural opioids that are triggered by sugar consumption. Much like the classic drugs of abuse such as cocaine, alcohol and nicotine, a diet loaded with sugar can generate excessive reward signals in the brain which can override one’s self-control and lead to addiction.

One study out of France, presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, showed that when rats (who metabolize sugar much like we do) were given the choice between water sweetened with saccharin and intravenous cocaine, 94% chose the saccharin water. When the water was sweetened with sucrose (sugar), the same preference was observed—the rats overwhelmingly chose the sugar water. When the rats were offered larger doses of cocaine, it did not alter their preference for the saccharin or sugar water. Even rats addicted to cocaine, switched to sweetened water when given the choice. In other words, intense sweetness was more rewarding to the brain than cocaine.

The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction to include three stages: bingeing, withdrawal and craving. Until recently, the rats had only met two of the elements of addiction, bingeing and withdrawal. But recent experiments by Princeton University scientist, Professor Bart Hoebel, and his team showed craving and relapse as well. By showing that excess sugar led not only to bingeing and withdrawal, but to cravings for sweets as well, the final critical component of addiction fell into place and completed the picture of sugar as a highly addictive substance.

In stark contrast to this clinical assessment is the fact that, for most of us, “something sweet” is a symbol of love and nurturance. As infants, our first food is lactose, or milk sugar. Later on, well-intended parents (me included) reward children with sugary snacks, giving them a “treat,” turning a biochemically harmful substance into a comfort food. We become conditioned to need something sweet to feel complete or satisfied, and continue to self-medicate with sugar as adults, using it to temporarily boost our mood or energy. But as any addict knows, one quick fix soon leaves you looking for another—each hit of momentary satisfaction comes with a long-term price.

The bottom line is that sugar works the addiction and reward pathways in the brain in much the same way as many illegal drugs. And, like other drugs, it can destroy your health and lead to all sorts of ailments including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, and premature aging. Sugar is basically a socially acceptable, legal, recreational drug, with deadly consequences—and like with any drug addiction, you have to have a flexible but structured plan to beat it.

Frank Lipman MD, is the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in NYC and the author of REVIVE; Stop Feeling Spent and Start Living Again (2009) (previously called SPENT) and TOTAL RENEWAL; 7 key steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health (2003). He is the creator of Eleven Eleven Wellness, Guided Health Solutions, leading edge integrative health programs to help you feel better than ever.

 

Sugar Addiction is Real

What is an addiction? Merriam-Webster defines an addiction as follows:

noun \ə-ˈdik-shən, a-\

: a strong and harmful need to regularly have something (such as a drug) or do something (such as gamble)

: an unusually great interest in something or a need to do or have something 

:  the quality or state of being addicted

:  compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal;broadly :  persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.

If you, like millions of others, find that sugar creates a persistent and undeniable need for more sugar, you are likely addicted. Both in the biological and psychological realms.

Sugar is a major part of our western food industry, our western food traditions, and it’s hard to avoid. But for many of us, any sugar leads to persistent cravings for more sugar, and therefore we are for all intents and purposes addicted

I have offered other blog posts about the problems of staying away from sugars, especially in regard to weight loss, but more important are the harmful affects of glycation that sugars cause at the cellular level.

There are many reasons to get control of sugar, but as we grow older we more than ever appreciate that part of what we think of as “natural” effects of aging, are in fact the results of decades of poor diet. Sugars and starches from grains, are the worst offenders. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, declining joint functions related to arthritis, bone loss, fuzzy thinking, wrinkling  and thinning skin, and so forth.

If you find that it is next to impossible for you to stay away from sweets, then consider that abstaining is the best way. We can’t have just a little of these sugars/starches without the concomitant insulin reaction that we know as cravings. If you stall or struggle at weight loss, chances are high that the problems stem with what you are eating. Eating sugar or starchy foods creates a vicious cycle of cravings. The only way to stop an addiction is to actually STOP what causes it.

No one likes to think s/he can’t control a substance, but most people who are plagued by the addictive nature of cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping, and sugar, among others, know that there is no such things as “a little.”  To be free of any addictive substance or behavior means abstaining.

Yours in reality,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

Ever More Studies are Showing that Sugar Affects the Brain Like Opiods

Those of us who have struggled with sugar don’t need a study to tell us that there is something different about sugar than other foods. Dr. Yudkin in the 1970s showed the addictive properties of sugar, and was bold enough to say that had sugar been discovered now it would be a controlled substance. Below is a link to yet another study that lifts up the problem with over use of sugar.  While some people can handle sugar and not allow it to become a dependency, just like there are people who can smoke and drink without becoming dependent, there are some people who find they cannot stay away from the powerful draw of sugar. What starts as some overeating can eventually lead to binges, so there is a progressive element to sugar addiction that’s also present in alcohol abuse.

No one likes to think they are addicted to anything, but for those of us who have found ourselves constantly craving more sugar-starchy food even though we have just eaten a big meal know that there is something we have ceased to be able to control when it comes to those highly refined carbohydrates.

Once we accept we can’t have a little and go our merry way, the healing begins. For me it is strict abstaining from sugars, most starches, and artificial sweeteners.  Sugar was the only thing in my life I could not control, and while it may not be how I expected to  find myself as I aged, at least now there is a plethora of information to support why we struggle with this substance, and why we need to avoid it long before we find ourselves under its control.

Yours in learning and acceptance,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

Here’s the link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=12055324&ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Obes Res. 2002 Jun;10(6):478-88.

Evidence that intermittent, excessive sugar intake causes endogenous opioid dependence.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The goal was to determine whether withdrawal from sugar can cause signs of opioid dependence. Because palatable food stimulates neural systems that are implicated in drug addiction, it was hypothesized that intermittent, excessive sugar intake might create dependency, as indicated by withdrawal signs.

RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES:

Male rats were food-deprived for 12 hours daily, including 4 hours in the early dark, and then offered highly palatable 25% glucose in addition to chow for the next 12 hours. Withdrawal was induced by naloxone or food deprivation. Withdrawal signs were measured by observation, ultrasonic recordings, elevated plus maze tests, and in vivo microdialysis.

RESULTS:

Naloxone (20 mg/kg intraperitoneally) caused somatic signs, such as teeth chattering, forepaw tremor, and head shakes. Food deprivation for 24 hours caused spontaneous withdrawal signs, such as teeth chattering. Naloxone (3 mg/kg subcutaneously) caused reduced time on the exposed arm of an elevated plus maze, where again significant teeth chattering was recorded. The plus maze anxiety effect was replicated with four control groups for comparison. Accumbens microdialysis revealed that naloxone (10 and 20 mg/kg intraperitoneally) decreased extracellular dopamine (DA), while dose-dependently increasing acetylcholine (ACh). The naloxone-induced DA/ACh imbalance was replicated with 10% sucrose and 3 mg/kg naloxone subcutaneously.

DISCUSSION:

Repeated, excessive intake of sugar created a state in which an opioid antagonist caused behavioral and neurochemical signs of opioid withdrawal. The indices of anxiety and DA/ACh imbalance were qualitatively similar to withdrawal from morphine or nicotine, suggesting that the rats had become sugar-dependent.

PMID:

 12055324

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=12055324&ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Does the Outdoor Temperature/Weather Affect Your Appetite?

I am affected by the outdoor weather. When it’s blazing hot, I have almost no appetite; one of the rare times I don’t want to eat. Conversely, when the weather is cold, snowy, rainy, I like to have warm and comforting foods.  A blanket of snow calls for chili, soup, stew, casseroles, any such very warming food.

You are also affected by the weather, to a greater or lesser degree, though you may not be aware of the connection. We are often not aware that outside climate factors can have a great impact on our desire to eat, and the kinds of foods we want to eat; they also impact our sleep, desire to move, and other behaviors.

Some people are brought very low, even to depression by certain kinds of weather, particularly during the short days of winter.  But other kinds of weather can also make people react at a very deep biological level.  High winds unsettle most people, deep cold, that is, temperatures that fall well below freezing make people uneasy. Very bright sunlight, or simply bright light often affects people prone to migraine or other neurological disorders.

If you have not yet, begin to take note of the way you feel in various kinds of weather conditions. I joke with my family that 72F with a light breeze is my idea of good weather, but I also find a comfort on rainy, cool afternoons when I can be at home settled in a chair with a good book or movie.

When I did my most detailed journals of my food, along with noting mood, I noted the weather; not surprisingly, there was often a correlation. Days when I felt unsettled, antsy, aggravated, such as when the winds were high, I tended to be hungry, and want to eat more often.

Just a reminder that we developed in closer connection with the out-of-doors than we tend to live now, but we are still very much a part of the changes going on there whether we realize it or not.

Yours in knowledge,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

For more: http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/fall-weather-brings-risk-of-de/18331198

Traveling and Other Sugar Pitfalls

Traveling and Avoiding Sugar Pitfalls

Sometimes I could travel and do fine, but other times I would cave and then slide into a binge. Struggling to stay free of binges I examined what places I was most vulnerable, and in those places, what foods tended to be the the ones that started the ball rolling.

Here is an interesting fact about human behavior: we are creatures of habit. We tend to repeat the same behaviors which is why it can be hard to break bad or negatives patterns. But the good thing about this slavish trait is that we can use that knowledge about ourselves to break through the negative.

A couple years ago I read a book on habits by Charles Duhigg, called The Power of Habit, in which he layouts out the powerful nature of habits, why that is good, and why it is a challenge for us to change habits. The short version is there are three basic parts to a habit: 1) a stimulus or cue, 2) to which we respond, 3)to produce the reward or goal. The key to changing a habit is not denial or will power, but taking advantage of the first and third elements, changing only the response. So, if every evening you have an alcoholic drink (response) while watching television (the stimulus), which is relaxing( the reward);  you replace the alcoholic drink with another rewarding drink, perhaps a cup of herbal tea you enjoy. Soon the idea for the drink is for the tea, not the booze.

I realized that when I visited a family member’s house where I tended to give in to sweets, the most usual or initial food I was tripped up on was chocolate. Next time I visited I stopped at a market before going to the house and bought some of my favorite cheese and cold cuts. Now I had something to respond to the cue.

I further realized that chocolate was almost always what tripped me up because I can do some chocolate at home, very dark 85% chocolate to which I add some sliced almonds or coconut, and don’t over eat. Away from home the chocolate had a lot of sugar, and that I cannot or will ever be equipped to handle.

Now it will probably take more than one time to make the shift, but if you are determined, you can do it.

Yours in changing unhealthy habits,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

Stress Can Cause Cravings

I have been doing exceptionally well staying very low carb, and not feeling cravings. Some days ago, though, I received a call early in the morning telling me that my youngest sibling had died, which was expected since he had advanced cancer, but I as we do even when we think the passing is a blessing, I was very sad, cried, and was mourning that little boy of our childhood who lives so brightly in my mind.

Later that evening I found myself overwhelmed with cravings. I managed by eating good things, and not having a carb binge, but it took some effort. I was very surprised by this, considering how well I’ve been doing. Further, this kind of sadness often works just the opposite in me, and I lose my desire for food; so this seemed almost obscene to me.

I mention this because we all have lives of ups and downs, sorrows and joys, and that vast array of emotions that come with living.  Just a few years ago I would  have descended into a sugar-starch binge from such cravings, but I didn’t this time because I have a plan. I did eat more, but it was all the right kind of food.

We can never know exactly how we will react to the stresses in our lives, but knowing that a common reaction to stress is an increased craving for high carb foods at least gives us some armor.

Yours in loss,

Nan aka Sugarbaby

Avoid Substitute Treat-Foods Like the Plague

One of the most common things you read on no-sweet, low carb, paleo-primal, and all other such blogs, is all the ways to make substitutes for all the junk/gluten/sugar/starch treats people have had trouble with before, and will keep having trouble with by trying to cook up faux treats.

I know some people seem to have control over these, but most do not, especially not anyone who identifies with being a sugaraholic. Trying to create faux sweets and other such substitutes  is the epitome of trying to eat your cake and have it, too. Just doesn’t work. If you would eat a whole batch of regular cookies, chances are very good you will eat a whole batch of faux treats.

The best, smartest, and EASIEST way to get over a problem with sweets/carbs is to turn your back on them. You don’t need them, they don’t taste that good anyway, and if your bigger goal is to be healthy, slim, and free of the cravings, then give up the substitutes.

I’ve had to learn this the hard way; my weight loss would stall using almond bread, for example. Not surprising really, since bread, cookies, and cakes made with almond flour are very high calorie, and often hard on the digestive system. Plus, these foods also can lead to binges on the real thing, since you keep in your mind the idea of bread, cookies, candy, etc.

I’m not an absolutist about diet, so if you can in fact find a couple of things you can enjoy as desserts and not over use them, that’s great. For me ice cream is something I can make that is very satisfying and I’m happy with a small serving.

The psychology of food and eating is very important, and needs to be understood alongside the desire to eat well. Someone came up with the acronym JERF, for just eat real food; that’s the best goal. Eat real food and keep the idea of treats as something rare and even unnecessary.  My present goal is to be an A-1 Jerf-er, and keep away from the temptations that are purely replacements for the old sugary-starchy foods. If we have learned anything about substitutions, and we know from studies on the effects of artificial sweeteners, that people actually eat more, and gain more weight in diets high in them.

My advice: avoid substitutes like the plague. Eliminating such food will make our lives far easier, and we will be leaner and healthy for it.

Yours in learning,

Nan aka Sugarbaby