You may have come across advice that says don’t deprive yourself of any food including sugar or you will just want it more. Patrice French (RNP here at IMWL) came across such advice recently in her never-ending research she does to help our patients. She asked me what I thought about someone on the internet giving advice that you should not deprive yourself of sugar (or anything else) because that is the reason you overeat it. This is sometimes referred to as the diet-binge cycle. The following is my response to Patrice:
There is a difference between dieting and avoiding substances that give you the munchies.
Depending on your specific, albeit changeable physiology, sugar can cause chemical cravings.
There is scientific evidence for this as well as the experience of countless human beings.
Some people, sometimes, itch from peanuts.
To think that they itch only because they are scratching is ridiculous.
Some people at sometimes get a *real* appetite “itch” (craving) from sugar.
Some people don’t have that sugar-induced itch, and those people may need to just quit “dieting” and love themselves.
Eventually if I love myself enough, I might stop having cravings that result *from* eating sugar.
Until then, I will continue to learn that my physiology hasn’t changed enough, and I will in fact get chemical cravings from sugar, and mood swings too.
Not just because I “broke my diet”
In conclusion, you are the one who can know if certain foods give you the munchies (cause cravings). If they do, you will find freedom by avoiding those foods. Or you may be someone who overeats as a result of restriction (dieting). In that case, quitting dieting should result in freedom from overeating. Either way, being as kind to ourselves as we would any other human we love and care will help us let go of those “trigger” foods, or “trigger” diets.
To your happiness and health! ~ Dr. Beth
In addition, here are Patrice’s thoughts on the subject:
“I have been discussing with my patients for the last week how they feel about sugar addiction vs emotional overeating and where they stand on the issue based on their life story and expertise. The same conclusion applies that some people can have sugars/carbs and be able to enjoy it without fear and move on. They may be emotional eaters at times but with coming here, they have learned their triggers are more mindful of how and why they are eating.
However, in the words of one of my patients “If I eat a piece of a brownie, I will go home and start foraging for more sugar and start to binge. I believe sugar is addictive for me and I know I need to avoid it”
There has been no doubt in anyone’s mind whether emotional eater vs food addict that food addiction is very real. I also feel to address this with patients in a compassionate, understanding manner is a huge relief for many who suffer and are validated. It is a great conversation to have”