Please take a moment to review Hachette Book Group's updated Privacy Policy: read the updated policy here.

Meet the Author of Sugar Free

Discover the personal story of Karen Thomson, author of Sugar Free and take our test to see if you might be addicted to sugar.

sugar free

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

Do you;

  1. Eat starchy or sweet, fatty foods until you feel uncomfortably full (bloated)?
  2. Feel hungry after eating a full meal even before it’s time for your next meal?
  3. Eat large quantities of sweets or stodgy foods even though you aren’t physically hungry?
  4. Feel self-loathing, disgust or depressed about your eating habits?
  5. Turn to carbohydrate-rich foods or sugar when feeling down or upset?
  6. Find you need more and more sweet foods to feel better?
  7. Plan to eat a small portion but end up binge eating?
  8. Find it difficult to cut back on starchy, sweet or fatty foods?
  9. Have a difficult time stopping, once you start eating starches, snack foods, junk food or sweets?
  10. Feel your eating habits are impacting negatively on your social, work or physical abilities?
  11. Find you cannot stick to healthy eating resolutions?
  12. Feel you need to (have to) have something sweet after lunch or dinner?
  13. Eat sweets and chocolates secretly and hide the wrappers because you don’t want anyone to know?
  14. Eat one piece of cake and then come back for more and more?
  15. 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!