Food/Sugar Addiction

Sometimes you may feel you are trying everything you can to lose weight and improve your metabolic health. But as much as you try you just cannot control yourself around certain foods such as sugary carbohydrates and highly processed foods. You know you shouldn’t be eating these, but you physically cannot help it!

You give in to your cravings… and then feel like you have failed.

You might have even said these words to yourself:

‘I’ll try again tomorrow or I’ll start my diet again next Monday

It then becomes a vicious cycle, happening over and over again.

Trust me, I have been there!!!

Effects on the brain

Food/sugar addiction operates similarly to other addictions, which explains why some people can’t control themselves around certain foods no matter how hard they try. The effects of certain foods on the brain make it hard for some people to avoid them, yet food is readily available everywhere so it can be even harder than the more well-known addictions to smoking, drugs or alcohol.

Food addiction involves the same areas of the brain as drug addiction. Also, the same neurotransmitters are involved, and many of the symptoms are identical. Sugary carbohydrates and processed junk foods have a powerful effect on the reward centers of the brain. These effects are caused by brain neurotransmitters like dopamine (the happy chemical) which plays a huge role in how we feel pleasure and happiness. Over time, the brain loses its ability to produce its own dopamine and depends on substances (such as sugar and carbs) to create it.

Food addiction is not caused by a lack of willpower but is believed to be caused by a problem with the dopamine signals that affects the biochemistry of the brain.

And this is how addiction starts to happen.

You wouldn’t say to an alcoholic ‘it’s okay to have a pint of beer or a glass of wine, just one won’t hurt’ or ‘everything in moderation’

So why would we say this to a person who is addicted to sugary and highly processed foods????

This is why low-carb diets work really well for people who suffer from food/sugar addiction. By reducing the drug (sugar/carbs) the cravings over time will stop or become easier with the right support.

Taken from: PHCUK.ORG:

About 8% of adults display symptoms of an addictive relationship with food. This increases in clinical populations, particularly people who are overweight, have disordered eating such as binge eating disorder or have type 2 diabetes. This equates to over 4.3 million adults in the UK alone. 

The modern food environment is very challenging for people who can’t moderate their consumption of certain foods and they tend to fail repeatedly with weight loss efforts. Being able to recognise food addiction and give people the right advice can be life-changing for them. 

If you feel you may have a food/sugar addiction please have a look at the following website:

You will be able to take a quick quiz to see if you have the signs and symptoms of food addiction

Diet Doctor Podcast #99 — Food addiction

Have a look at this link which is a great podcast about food addiction

Please also have a look at these 2 videos (Part 1 & 2) which explain how food addiction works on the brain: (The sound is very poor but if you turn up the volume you will be able to hear it)

Dr Jen Unwin: Can Food Be Addictive? // Part 1

(The sound is very poor but if you turn up the volume you will be able to hear it):

Dr Jen Unwin: Overcoming Food Addiction // Part 2

(The sound is very poor but if you turn up the volume you will be able to hear it):

I would also highly recommend you to read this book By Dr Jen Unwin called ‘Fork In The Road’

This book has helped me and many other people understand exactly how food addiction plays havoc on the brain, understand why it is not your fault as well as provide a valuable tips to overcome this yourself.

Can be bought HERE

If you would like to discuss this further please make an appointment with your G.P or nurse