Sugar Cravings in Alphabet City


From the Front-Lines
of the Sugar-Shackle Battles

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Sweet Tooth/Self-Health Series

Phillip Martin - artist/educator

Phillip Martin – artist/educator

Hello-my-name-is-Madelyn
and I am an addict

If there were ever any doubt about it, I now have irrefutable evidence.

During the more than several hours over the last couple of days that I have been researching, planning and first-drafting the articles that will comprise the upcoming Sweet Tooth Series, I have gotten up FIVE times to journey to the cookie jar.

That makes it pretty darned clear that, as with any other substance abuser, even thinking about a sweet-tooth can activate my cravings.

It seems that each time I reached an impasse or a segue point, I simply HAD to have a hit of sugar to kick-start my brain again.

Give me a Break?

I’m not totally off-base in my thinking about the cognitive benefits, you realize.

A study conducted by David Benton, a psychologist at the United Kingdom’s Swansea University, found that in the approximately thirty minutes after having a sugar-laden drink, 9 to 11-year-old schoolkids were better able to concentrate on tasks and scored higher in memory tests (Biological Psychology, vol 78, p 242).

  • I repeat that little ditty as my ADDled brain feeds me the excuse that a cookie is less damaging than the nicotine stimulation of the cigarette I also crave, as I suck on the cigarette-shaped plastic pacifier that is little-to-no-help whatsoever!
  • Yet I overlook the cookie costs at my own peril – and I am as aware of them as any alcoholic who knows that bathing his brain in spirits is a really dumb idea (as he downs his second cocktail and orders his third).

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The Nails in my Coffin

The penultimate nail in my “addiction” coffin is the fact that most of the times I reached my eager hand into the forbidden container I withdrew, not one, but TWO of the thin, two-and-a-half inch molasses cookies I vowed I could handle “responsibly” when my inner three-year-old and I plucked the package off the shelf in the grocery store.

brachs-candy-cornI thought we’d kicked the real cookie habit when we discovered virtual ways to cookie ourselvesApparently NOT! 

I should have known that the bag of 75%-off after-Halloween Candy Corn would probably turn out to be a bad idea – but the inner kid insisted, and she’d been so GOOD!

The FINAL nail in our coffin is my awareness of the reality that our most recent trip down the pantry hall came right on the heels of a hefty serving of spaghetti squash with tomato-mushroom-veggie-meat sauce.

  • Yes-er-ee-Bob, that was the healthy meal I made for the two of us, attempting to avoid the gluten assault of Madelyn’s Famous Spaghetti — which is what I would have prepared for dinner before I began taking part in the Gluten Sensitivity Summit.
  • Yet there I was, stuffing my face with the “frankenfood” sugar/fat/gluten combo that ranks at the very top of that glycemic index we’re supposed to try to stay away from.
  • And I wasn’t even HUNGRY!

Eating LOW on the Glycemic Index

As most of you probably already know, high-glycemic index food and drink wreak havoc on our insulin response, raising blood sugar and reducing insulin sensitivity which is the exact opposite of the way we need to go if we expect to remain healthy and avoid the problems that domino from obesity.

  • ALSO, and probably more important, sweet tasting foods – even if they’re sugar-free – have been shown to have a tendency to reactivate or reinforce our cravings for more sweet foods.
  • The reasons aren’t entirely clear to science, but if it quacks like an addiction duck, that’s good enough for me — at least until I can once again step AWAY from the cookie-aisle!

What’s a Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index, for those of you who are unclear, is how how high your blood sugar goes in response to each food you eat, measured about an hour and a half later. When your blood sugar spikes, so does insulin production, which triggers a process they call glycation, the glucose modification of bodily proteins — not good!

Glycation is a major player in the process of inflammation, which leads to the many diseases of autoimmunity and even cancer. Gycation also increases the production of free radicals which degrade DNA, fat, protein, the defense function of the lining of the intestinal track — as well as neuronal components making up important relays in our BRAINs!

An interesting feature in New Scientist on the link between sugar and dementia reports extrapolations that, globally, 115 million people will develop Alzheimer’s by 2050 (#2880, pp. 32-37) — and recent studies indicate that glycation is strongly implicated in the development of Alzheimers and other dementias.

With its relevance to the ADDandSoMuchMore community, we’ll look more closely at “brain glycation” as the Sweet Tooth Series moves forward.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In the words of cardiologist Dr. William Davis, from the Gluten Summit

Glycation from high blood glucose is a fundamental process underlying multiple disease states and aging.

  • If I glycate the proteins in the lenses of my eyes, I get opacities or cataracts over time.
  • If I glycate the tissues of my arteries, I get hypertension – rigid arteries.
  • If I glycate those small, very glycation prone, LDL particles, they are likely to become oxidized and contribute to coronary athersclerosis.
  • If I glycate the proteins and cartilage of my knees and hips, over time the cartilage becomes brittle, degrades, and I get arthritis.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Diabetic Dangers

I’m sure you’ve heard that a high-sugar diet is a major contributor to the onset of Type-2 Diabetes.

Did you ALSO know that, according to functional medicine specialist Dr. Mark Hyman, co-author of The New York Times bestseller Ultra Prevention: The Six-Week Program that will Make You Healthy for Life . . .

If things continue the way they are going now, 50% of the American population will be affected by “diabesity” by 2020, and 90 percent of them will not be diagnosed. 

“Diabesity,” a newly-coined term for pre-diabetes, ALREADY affects over 1.7 billion people worldwide. In addition to rising obesity rates, excess sugar intake is also linked to chronic yeast infections and leaky gut syndrome, along with a laundry-list of other undesirables.

Sugar-Addiction-Cycle

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
According to a response to a question on allstarhealth.com —

“Even sugar-free sweets should be consumed in moderation, because they de-sensitize a person to sweet tastes and encourage the consumption of more sweet foods.”

That idea, they go on to remind us, is an area of current, ongoing study, adding a bit of avoid-the-sugar-binge reinforcement with the mention of the next little tidbit.

“The proliferation of sugar-free foods and sweeteners coincided with an explosion of obesity and diabetes-like syndromes across almost all age and ethnic groups, including young children who, it was previously believed could not develop Type II or ‘adult-onset’ diabetes.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So WHY do we do it?

Why can’t we – don’t we – just say NO?  Wait – don’t think about the answers to that question.

Perhaps the better questions are WHEN will we just-say-no, and
WHAT will it TAKE for us to jump off the really-no-more-sugar cliff?

Having lost two siblings before their time to Type-I Diabetes (what used to be called Juvenile Diabetes), I am particularly aware of its dangers.

  • I certainly don’t want to wait for diabetic rhetinopathy to claim MY eyesight, as it did my brother Michael’s.
  • Nor do I want to follow in my sister Jaye’s EIGHT heart-stents footsteps.

Working our way back toward sanity

Christmas-Sweets-Hd-Widescreen-WallpapersSO, in the shadow of my recent cookie debacle, with the temptations of the upcoming holiday sweets standing before me like a battalion of Ghosts of Christmas-Yet-to-Come, I have decided that NOW is the best time to turn some serious attention to the Sweet Tooth Series.

I’ve made room in my upcoming blog-posts schedule to shoe-horn this topic in NOW, when it is probably most needed.

Because I have observed that more than a few of us here in Alphabet City have some powerful sweet-teeth!

Something to Consider

Whether or not the scientific community (or the rest of the universe) currently embraces the idea of sugar as an addiction, I believe that many of us here in ABC-land would be well advised to think more along the addiction lines, if only to increase the likelihood that we will STOP beating ourselves up for our lack of won’t-power and take the problem seriously enough to do anything about it.

Self-Medication?

To those who insist that what passes for an addiction response is “merely” another maladaptive attempt at self-medication, I counter with the thought that there might be more than a bit of evidence that the EFD crowd – those of us with Executive Functioning Disorders – have brains “set” to crave sugar.

When we give in, it seems we activate a chain of consequences that seem to include the dopamine reward pathways in a manner similar to that found in the brains of heroin addicts.  I’ll site the studies in future articles in this Series.

Let’s spend some time together exploring the mechanisms of addiction, brain-science, nutrition, sugar and health through the “sugar-blues” content in some of the studies, books, magazines and in articles sprinkled around the internet — on our way to making dietary choices that nourish our bodies in a way that promotes the Optimal Functioning that is our birthright.

“What if we have been looking at the question backward? What if ADD hyperactivity actually causes people to crave sweets?

If the ADD brain is slower to absorb glucose, it would make sense the body would find a way to increase the supply of glucose to the brain as quickly as possible.

I have worked with many ADD adults who are addicted to sugar, especially chocolate which also contains caffeine. They find that eating sugar helps them stay alert, calm, and focused.

Prior to ADD treatment many report drinking 6-12 sugar sodas, several cups of coffee with sugar, and constantly nibbling on candy and sweets throughout the day. It is impossible to sort out what is pure sugar craving when it is mixed with the stimulating effects of caffeine on the ADD brain.”

~ Friend and colleague Wendy Richardson,
The Link Between ADD and Addiction;
and When Too Much Isn’t Enough

Stay tuned – and don’t miss the comments –
I hope YOU will take the time to ring in below too.
Maybe, together, we can kick a bad cookie-jones!

Next article: But I don’t WANT to give up TASTE!

© 2013, all rights reserved
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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

15 Responses to Sugar Cravings in Alphabet City

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    • Thanks Edmund. I appreciate the link to ADDandSoMuchMore.com – even though it appears to be TOTALLY unrelated.

      23hq is an interesting site I would have been willing to promote by approving the link, due to its open policies — I REALLY don’t get the “fake” name, however. NOBODY could be named roof improvement – lol!

      In the future, however, “fake names” will be spammed unless I totally understand how they work in the 23hq world. Leave me a reply.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

  5. jeg700 says:

    AH, sugar, how do I love thee?

    I have been a sugar bug since birth, where my mother had to put sugar in my milk so I would drink it. Also, she had to crush all medications and mix with sugar to get me to take them. Fast forward to the teen years, where I put sugar on all my food, including spaghetti and steak. Faster forward to me currently…58 years old, never had an issue with being overweight but always struggled with underweight and anemia. I have always eaten copious amounts of fruit as well as the additional sugar added to my diet. I get tested every year for diabetes because it runs rampant in my family. So far, nothing. Each year, as I get older, I await the results anxiously because I seriously do not think I could exist without my sugar. Of course, I am able to better control the consumption of sugar, only giving in to the need when it overtakes my every thought 🙂

    Seriously, what is up with the correlation between ADD/ADHD and sugar? Couldn’t it be veggies instead that produce the endorphins we so need to function!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you (except for the spaghetti and steak part 😀 ) – until relatively recently, it didn’t seems to matter how much sugar I ate, I was thin and felt no ill effects when I gave in and choc-ed out. (Dad had Type-2 when he died, at 90+, developed in his late 70’s — 2 sibs with Type-1 died early, so I know the Diabetes signs by heart and watch for them like an eagle).

      WELL, I’m beginning to slow down. MY “normal” energizer bunny resolve is starting to look a tad threadbare, and I think I’m waaaay too young to get old! I started to notice the “slow-downs” come with sweets. Then my occasional pear binge started to make me a sort of zombie afterwards Then grapes. CRAP!

      So, ok, I’ll dial back. No biggie. (surprise!) BIGGIE! Usually a confirmed chocoholic, I’ve become a cookie monster. C-R-A-V-E oatmeal raisin, molasses, gingersnaps – gingerbread men!

      The cookie cravings are *much* worse now that we are back to October Panic with stims availability again – have been waiting OVER a week for my pharm to get my meds in.

      I’m limping along SERIOUSLY under-medicated as I attempt to stretch my remaining meager script “leftovers” — and really hating on the FDA and the DEA (and Congress!) for caring more about protecting drug addicts and abusers than those of us who RELY on the availabilty of stims MEDICATION to function!!

      What do you MEAN they can’t make anymore until January? ENOUGH already!

      So I’m investigating the sugar/carb connection, and blogging about it – hoping to make it LESS of a biggie, for me, for anyone, to eat intentionally (or at least put this cookie thing behind me — and I must admit that the Gluten Summit got to me!)

      As with all else, I’m not seeing in MY life (and that of many “ABC”ers) what is being reported as THE “norm,” but I’m still checking it all out. And will be sharing.

      Thanks for ringing in here – may you always be able to eat whatever you want with no ill effects!!

      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  6. busydarling says:

    The sugar addiction may just be another form of self-medication for ADHD/ADD. Not one that really works, but on short term it may give you a high.

    I don’t believe the sugar-free-sweetened-causes-sweet-sensitivation thing applies to everyone. It’s kind of in the same line as the diet-coke obesity thing: apparently diet coke’s sweet taste was linked to people consuming more sugar. Yet at the same time, anorexics have been using diet coke to control their appetite. I suspect there’s more to the sweetener thing than we think.

    As a former anorexic I seem to have completely unlinked ‘sweet taste’ with sugar rush’. I don’t actually even tolerate loads of sugar very well. It’s one of those things that seem like a good idea but aren’t. Whenever I eat sweets or drink sugar-loaded drinks too much, I feel awful. I actually attenuate the sugar impact for example by only drinking fruit juice with a meal. Or mix it with water to lower the sugar % and drink it slowly. I love Dr Pepper, but the sugar free version isn’t available here, so when I do drink dr Pepper (rarely), I drink it slowly. I’m cutting out diet coke though, because it’s crap.

    I can eat ‘too much’ chocolate, but it doesn’t have the same strong fuzziness, perhaps because of it’s high fat content. Does make you feel sick sooner.

    The only time I’d actually seek out a sugar boost is when I’m very very tired. Not smart, I know, but that’s the only time I can drink a ‘real’ coke without freaking out.

    Perhaps my otherwise conscious diet has something more to do with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • FIRST, let me say congrats on kicking the eating disorder. Have you written anything about how you accomplished that major feat? (would you LIKE to do it here, if not?)
      —————
      RE: the rest
      Totally agree on the self-medication thing – AND that “normal” is a statistical aggregation of effects that apply less (or differently) in the lives of the neuro-atypical crowd (or any sub-population, for that matter).

      I’ve almost always done the water (or crushed ice) dilution thing with OJ because it’s just too much/too sweet undiluted, drink my “over” consumption of coffee black, wasn’t raised around (so don’t like) the syrupy taste of sugar colas – and noted that there were NO effects (good or bad) from sweets with meals.

      I *was* a Tab junkie in my undergrad years and it didn’t seem to domino into a sugar binge. It actually seemed to help me comply with my then acting field’s “camera adds 10 pounds so you have to be SKINNY” obsession — until they pulled Tab off the market following the flawed cyclamate research (quit only once I could no longer GET it – and I stockpiled!)

      Have **TOTALLY** avoided Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi (and cousins) for a long time now — following my investigation into aspartame as excitotoxin research & aspartame poisoning after a client had a dramatic case.

      I *may* decide to do an Aspartame Series, but my friends and colleagues simply roll their eyes when I attempt to share, so it has (so far) stayed my blogging fingers.

      Personally, I’m with the doctor (originally a “pooh-pooh this nonsense” supporter) who said, “Since investigating the research, I haven’t allowed so much as a stick of aspartame-sweetened GUM to pass my lips.”

      Diet Rite, the ONLY non-aspartame alternative I can find anymore (have they stopped making Diet RC?) lacks the cold caffeine kick so it tempts me less.

      Still, haven’t noted that fake-sweet kicks off sugar cravings for ME – but the science is interesting and, I must admit, compelling if it holds up. A lapsed social drinker, I no longer drink alcohol often enough (or enough) to have noticed anything much there.

      But I SURE wish they’d study more than 12-year old ADD boys and neurotypicals — because I agree with you that there’s A LOT MORE to know about what’s going on. I don’t think they’ll find it if they keep sampling the same population and generalizing from there.

      I’d put together a survey — at least an attempt to gather some of those stupidly demonized “anecdotal” stats — but I can’t make myself believe it would be worth my time and cognitive energy for the few completed surveys I’d get from the Alphabet City citizens who would follow-thu and actually TAKE the darned thing.

      (I can’t even motivate MOST of my readers/clients/students to comment, like or share, for the most part — like they’re REALLY gonna’ get it together to do a survey?)

      So, on the heels of what I learned during the Gluten Summit, I’m checking out what there IS to find out about sugar — from as many sides as I can find in an environment that is weighted heavily *against* and grand-standing from the just-say-NO pulpit.

      I’m doing what I’ve always done – a one-rat study – and keeping my eyes and ears open for relevancy as I report what I’m finding and noticing.

      THANKS for ringing in!

      xx,
      mgh

      Like

      • busydarling says:

        I’m using Stevia sometimes for no particular reason other than curiosity at some point. Haven’t read much on aspartame, but lately I’m just more on a ‘can you grow it’ thing. Am even baking my own muffins and biscuits and stuff but maybe that’s just a remnant of anorexia combined with an actual positive idea of taking care of my body: it’s healthier if I know what I put in it.

        Tab is still available in South Africa.

        I haven’t written about recovery as such. I have no real super story, and technically it’s only ‘partial remission as the psych duds like to call it. I’ve managed to more or less maintain my weight for a year and a half now after the last serious relapse. (Had to gain weight recently thanks to illness). I’m still marginally underweight, but with a small frame to begin with my body is happy enough with it. I still have my moments, but in the end it comes down to focusing on my actual life. Funnily enough my ADHD meds are helping me stay healthy, and have helped me restore my eating pattern. Plus… While certain things are what they are, I’ve grown so much as a person that it doesn’t really define me any more.

        My theory also is that sensory integration problems play a large role in my eating disorder: I literally feel larger than I am.

        There’s a certain balance in my body that I am comfortable with, if this changes I’m very aware of it and I don’t like it. You know when you close your eyes and ‘feel’ how you sit in space? Or how bloat feels? Nothing ever really helped to change that, and unlike many eating disorder patients and anorexics in particular, I do know exactly what size I am in visual spatial terms. It has been like that ever since I was ‘fully grown’ (at age 19-20). I do better than most women actually: I hardly ever take the wrong size to the fitting room, regardless of inaccurate sizing. My jeans are bigger on the inside!!

        And I’m sensitive to texture of food, and find certain physical sensations very hard to handle. Has always been like that.

        I’m stable in my own sort of recovered. As good as it gets. Can be happy and healthy, but the line is thin. Am doing the best I can within my abilities. And am doing a good job.

        Liked by 1 person

        • FASCINATING theory about SI/SD and body image – and I would bet money that you are right on and not alone (on both sides of that modalities fence btw!)

          This is one of those duh!s I talk about (too obvious when you hear it, but not something we might ever have gotten to on our own).

          So much so, I’m wondering WHY something so obvious hasn’t been studied by SOMEBODY in the eating disorders community.

          Like with everything ELSE about “ABC” disorders (including ADD), none of us fit neatly into anyone else’s descriptions/observations of how we “are” – sometimes we show up in exactly opposite ways.

          Most “helping pros” tend to forget that – myself included, as you well know.

          FOR EXAMPLE: Some visual dominants might cling desperately to the “must be OUT so I can see it to remember it” style of organizing. OTHERS, can’t have anything out because it is too visually overwhelming. So it is with every sense – and a whole lot in between.

          But something like body awareness is a product of both tactile and kinesthetic feedback loops.

          • A person who is unusually sensitive to the feedback WOULD feel more tiny bodily changes in a way that might look obsessive or overly-concerned without the SI or SD component in place.

          • Teens who are tactile-defensives frequently can’t keep their hands off every teensy bump on their faces or their bodies because they can feel the pressure of the histamine reaction and it drives them crazy – and their parents and dermos can’t understand WHY they insist on picking since they KNOW it makes things worse!)

          A person who is not sensitive to the degree that statistics say is “normal” might not only be considered “clumsy,” bodily size might be a crapshoot

          Not only could they NOT do your trick with taking the correct size to the dressing room, they might gain or lose a size or more and not even notice, unless their clothes were precisely tailored and close-fitting (rarely in this community), that the fact that they fit differently would alert them (assuming they don’t chalk it up to shrinking or bagging out with wear). It simply wouldn’t OCCUR to them that their body size changed, because they’d be insensitive to the fact that their body “feels” different.

          AND THEN there would be an entire category of truly diagnostic SI issues where they weren’t receiving accurate information – like the person to whom a noise is painfully loud or some of the “super-tasters” who frequently can’t tolerate certain tastes because they have MORE taste-buds for one category or another, so even a small amount seems way too strong.

          IMHO, this is **MAJOR** I’m wondering how many so-called anorexics – even bulimics – there are whose lives would be TRANSFORMED by this info (even if they didn’t need – or go for – sensory integration therapy.)

          WOW. Thank you SO much for this comment – I’m thinking we need to do at least an article about this TOGETHER (unless, of course, you want to claim it and run with it). I’m thinking it absolutely needs a bit of play in my Modalities Method™ book-in-process as well.

          I DO want to include the idea in one of the blog-posts in the SI series, however — I’ll credit you for the genesis and link to your site and these comments.

          xx,
          mgh

          Like

          • busydarling says:

            Ok. The ED community has actually studied it to some extent and do offer tactile therapy.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Whew! Good to know.

              Not the solution for EVERYBODY, but certainly helps to explain why they offer it. I’ll check out the research. Thanks again!
              xx,
              mgh

              Like

  7. Madlyn, lots of great info in this article! Thanks for the shout out 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for checking it out – and especially for taking the time to comment. Be sure to let me know about posts on YOUR great site that need to be linked to future articles in the series (I can edit at the back end and WILL for great links!)
      xx,
      mgh

      READERS: check out her site – either by clicking her name from her comment, or jumping over from the link in the RELATED CONTENT (she’s the one with the no-fault recipe, btw.)

      Like

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