Discover the personal story of Karen Thomson, author of Sugar Free and take our test to see if you might be addicted to sugar.
My name is Karen Thomson and I am a sugar and carb addict.
My addictive cycle has led me to dependence on alcohol and cocaine and pretty much any substance or person that for a short space of time could make me feel good about myself. I have struggled with low self-esteem and low self-worth my entire life, always feeling that I was lacking in every way. I slowly started to realise that there was no external solution for an internal problem and that to live a life in recovery I would have to restore myself to my natural way of being.
Stopping using drugs and alcohol was the easy part – but when my counsellor in treatment suggested that I had an eating disorder I balked at the idea. I was feeding my feelings, whether happy or sad, with sugar and carbohydrates. My dietitian in treatment had encouraged me to have cola, chocolate and other junk food in moderation. I complied and this was seen as a great success in the treatment of my eating disorder. The effects on my body and moods were not so great. I craved sugar; I needed sugar to survive. My daily cola (or three) had become my drug of choice. I soothed myself with this sweet, toxic liquid. My blood sugar would dip and I would turn into a monster. I would be miserable, shaky and down until I could get my hands on my next sugar fix.
I realised I had a problem with sugar and carbohydrates after watching Professor Tim Noakes on a South African TV show. He mentioned the addictive nature of sugar and in that moment I knew that at the core of my being I had this problem. I was a sugar addict. I examined my ‘health-conscious, low-fat, restrictive diet’ and realised that I was consuming just under forty teaspoons of sugar per day! The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends four to nine teaspoons of sugar per day … I was always hungry, never satisfied and just plain miserable.
I started following a Low Carb Healthy Fat eating plan and the results were beyond my wildest expectations. I had to cut out sugar and refined carbohydrates completely. I lost weight, cellulite started disappearing and my appetite stabilised, but the greatest benefit by far was that my moods stabilised. I was no longer dependent on another substance to make me feel ‘normal’. I was slowly restoring myself to my natural way of being. My story may seem extreme, but it wasn’t until I started acknowledging my addiction to sugar and refined carbs that I was able to see just how bad it had become.
So, are you a sugar-addict? If you answer yes to at least five questions of the below questions then you need to recognise you could be depending on sugar and carbs a little too much.
You are not alone. Many people out there would recognise themselves in these statements.
The Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) is a more refined way of helping you determine if you are a food addict. Find a link to it at thesugarfreerevolution.com.
- Eat starchy or sweet, fatty foods until you feel uncomfortably full (bloated)?
- Feel hungry after eating a full meal even before it’s time for your next meal?
- Eat large quantities of sweets or stodgy foods even though you aren’t physically hungry?
- Feel self-loathing, disgust or depressed about your eating habits?
- Turn to carbohydrate-rich foods or sugar when feeling down or upset?
- Find you need more and more sweet foods to feel better?
- Plan to eat a small portion but end up binge eating?
- Find it difficult to cut back on starchy, sweet or fatty foods?
- Have a difficult time stopping, once you start eating starches, snack foods, junk food or sweets?
- Feel your eating habits are impacting negatively on your social, work or physical abilities?
- Find you cannot stick to healthy eating resolutions?
- Feel you need to (have to) have something sweet after lunch or dinner?
- Eat sweets and chocolates secretly and hide the wrappers because you don’t want anyone to know?
- Eat one piece of cake and then come back for more and more?
- Feel as if you have a foggy head or your thoughts are unclear?
Cutting out sugar and carbs isn’t easy, but a little goes a long way. Try it and see how you feel!