Addictions – sugar intake

Emerging evidence suggests a close relationship between diet and mood.

A concept that has received increasing attention over the past 10 years is the notion of food addiction. Historically, the term addiction was reserved for drugs of abuse and encompassed the loss of control over consumption, increased motivation to consume, and persistent consumption despite negative consequences. The term is now used more broadly to also describe behavioural addictions, also known as ‘routines that are habitually undertaken to attain reward – again – despite apparent negative consequences. Individuals who develop food addiction are proposed to display symptoms analogous to those of drug addiction, including cravings for ‘problem foods’, tolerance (needing more food to satisfy cravings), limited control of food intake, unsuccessful attempts to reduce intake.

Much of the research surrounding the addictive properties of food is focused on sugar, which contributes to the notion that addiction to sugar is the underlying cause of food addiction.

Unlike many other substance use disorders or behavioural compulsions, sugar addiction is often easy to spot. The clearest signs of sugar addiction involve consumption of large amounts of food or drinks laden with sugar. The individual may eat constantly, eat to combat boredom, and become hyper and crash.

In 2016, researchers found that a diet with a high glycaemic load may cause increased symptoms of depression and fatigue.

A diet with a high glycaemic load includes many refined carbohydrates, such as those found in soft drinks, cakes, white bread, and biscuits. Vegetables, whole fruit, and whole grains have a lower glycaemic load.

While a healthful diet may improve overall mood, it is essential for people with depression to seek medical care.

Daily Task

Reduce sugar intake (from, say, ten spoons a day—across all your drinks—to six).