Symptoms of Sugar Addiction – What is an Addiction Anyway?

How do you know if you’re an addict? What are they symptoms of sugar addiction? And is this even a real addiction??

What?What is an addiction?

Insert dorky dictionary definition here — If you’re addicted to something it means you are “physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.”

OK. Let’s take that apart. An addict is:

  • Physically dependent
  • Mentally dependent
  • On a certain substance
  • Not able to quit
  • Bad things happen when you try to quit

Got it? Good.

Does this sound like you?coffee and cookie

Your coffee is dripping in the morning and it needs a glazed donut or danish to go with it. You were looking forward to that donut as soon as you woke up today. Just like yesterday. You know you should eat an egg with some sauteed spinach instead, like you had planned, but now you just want to the donut. Cooking is too much work anyway. You eat 2 donuts because one just wasn’t enough. Maybe your coffee is a salted caramel mocha instead of black coffee? While you work throughout the day, you have your trusty bag of candy on your desk. Somehow it disappears before lunch (you don’t even remember eating it). You grab another from your bag to keep you focused on work. Yesterday you forgot to bring any snacks and you were a grouch all day. Later you remember you have to stop at the store to pick up something for dinner. Which store should you go to? You pick Ingles because they have a better ice cream selection. The candy bar you snagged in the checkout line is devoured on the car ride home. And you still want that ice cream after dinner. The bowl you scoop out is 5 times the suggested serving size. Yet when it’s gone, you wish you’d gotten another scoop.

Any of this scenario resonate with you? I know it does with me.

My Symptoms

  • I often find myself thinking about what healthy breakfast I can make so I can feel justified in eating a sugary pastry afterwards.
  • I never write snacks down on my grocery list, yet they always make it into my cart.
  • I drool over Pinterest dessert boards.
  • We make dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies “for the kids” every year yet most of them end up eaten by me. Late at night when the kids don’t see me.
  • I sometimes eat sugary things in secret so nobody knows just how much I’ve had.
  • I sometimes binge on huge amounts of candy or cookies at one time. Cartons of ice cream seem to empty overnight.
  • I love coffee, but I think I love the snack I always have with my coffee even more. I drink coffee as an excuse to eat another snack.
  • If the only sugar in the house is something I don’t really like (such as Peeps, ewww) I will eat them anyway!
  • I’ve tried to ‘cut back’ and end up bingeing later.
  • I feel ashamed at my lack of control.
  • I’m secretly OK with my kids not finishing their meals because that means they aren’t allowed to have dessert. More for me.
  • I will eat sugar until I make myself physically sick. Yet knowing the consequences doesn’t stop me.

Decide for yourself


Do you feel like you physically depend on your sugar hit? Does the infamous afternoon slump make you run for the nearest candy bar to boost your energy? Maybe you get ‘hangry’ or irritable if you can’t have that snack when you want it.

Are you mentally dependent? I love the calm, relaxed, happy feeling I get when I sit down with my coffee and cookies. It’s soothing for me. Does the thought of giving up your habit make you feel miserably depressed? Do you use sugar as your antidepressant?

This goes for any carb loaded foods, even things like potato chips, pasta, and bread. They all turn to sugar in your bloodstream. So if those are your weaknesses, you’re in the same sugar-addict boat as the rest of us.

Have you ever tried to quit, or even cut back? Get ready for some sugar withdrawal symptoms! Headaches, irritability, weakness, low energy, and digestive issues are some fun thing to look forward to. Somehow we always come back for more.

My Decision

Looking at the evidence in my own life, I believe that sugar addiction is indeed a very real condition. The effect of sugar on our brain chemistry is similar to cocaine. That’s not something we can easily walk away from. Even when we know we should.

Sugar Addiction is being mentally and physically dependent upon excessive amounts of sugar, and not being able to stop eating it without suffering debilitating withdrawal symptoms in our body and emotions. My definition anyway.

Only you can take a realistic look at your life, your habits, your secret indulgences, and decide if you have a problem. Deep down inside, you know if this is you. And if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you want to do something to change.

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve tried so many times to change, only to fail every time. That’s OK. It doesn’t have to always be this way. No matter how many times we fail, we can always choose to try again. Face your demons and call your addictions what they are. Hiding will only make the problem worse. Come out into the light and take your victory! We CAN beat this!

high five




16 thoughts on “Symptoms of Sugar Addiction – What is an Addiction Anyway?

  1. I found your article really interesting.

    I’m not a huge fan of things like chocolate or biscuits but fizzy drinks, high carb foods, and crisps are my weakness.

    I do try to be really good and overall I do not do too bad (I rarely ever snack) but it is difficult and I have to make a huge effort to be good! I have got to a point where I can say no to most things, but I am still really bad with fizzy drinks when out.

    My husband is a lot worse than me, he does not have the ability to say no so I rarely ever buy treats like chocolate because he cannot say no and they will be gone in seconds.

    I do agree it is a very real things that is kind of overlooked. I have tried really hard to be good for my sons benefit more than mine, I want him to have a healthy relationship with food.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that you recognize your husbands weakness and have tried to remove the temptation for him. Having a supportive spouse is a blessing!

  2. Totally agree with you!
    I also was addicted to sugar and is an addiction just like drugs, with the difference that no one is offering you drugs everywhere you go. I think this is a very important article to make people
    conscious about the subject! Something that helps me personally was eating enough fruits every day!

    1. Yes! Having treats available so readily and often pushed upon us (especially as kids) makes it that much harder to avoid. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Gosh! I didn’t know about being addicted to sugar . Sounds as worse as drug addiction! My only weakness is chocolate especially in the night while watching television. Sugar causes a lot of health issues that’s why I try and limit sugar intake as much possible for the whole family.

    1. Yes, as Nicole pointed out, there are scientific studies showing sugar can be as addictive (if not more addictive) than drugs. It’s a topic I want to shed more light on to hopefully help others struggling like I have.

  4. I love the honesty in this post. Sugar addiction is a real problem for many people. There’s a really great documentary on Netflix (at least I hope it’s still there) titled Fed Up. It’s all about the sugar industry. They talk about how sugar addiction relates to cocaine in the film, and it’s actually more addictive. They took mice who were already addicted to cocaine water and found that somewhere around 40% of them preferred sugar water over the cocaine water. The mice were addicted to the cocaine before the experiment started, and they still chose the sugar. That’s pretty telling.

    1. Thanks Nicole, I have seen the documentary but it’s worth watching again. Things like that make me even more determined to overcome!

  5. Sugar addiction as far as I am concerned is real. I used to drink 2l bottle of coke a day, and 3 teaspoons of sugar weren’t enough in my coffee. Sugary desserts were always on my menu. And one day a visit to the doctor, some blood test, and I was warned about diabetes. It was much of a shock that finally made me realize how dependent I was to sugar. It has been a long journey to try to abolish it from my diet. I am still working on that.
    This is definitely a real condition and I am glad to read you talk about that.

    1. Type 2 Diabetes is on the rise. We can work to prevent and heal diabetes with the right information. Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. Hey, Anna!

    I remember the symptoms I had, once I decided to quit sugar.
    Everything you said and insane amounts of cravings. Just insane amounts.
    For pretty much two weeks it’s a ****load of suffering. And cravings, did I mention the cravings?

    But after that it’s such an amazing feeling. In truth, sugar no longer tastes good. It’s just sweet and tasteless.

    One thing that helped me overcome these withdrawal symptoms was fruits. Fruits that are high in sugar, the natural sugar. Stuff like dates, grapes, persimmon and other really sweet fruits.

    Okay, so for some this may sound contra-intuitive. However, do know that not all sugar is created equal. The sugar we have in donuts, cupcakes, candy and even added to bread is processed sugar. Insanely harmful stuff when you read the research.
    On the other hand, we have the natural sugar mostly in fruits but also in vegetables, only in smaller amounts.

    The way our bodies process them is completely different, like day and night different. Every possible bad thing you’ve ever heard about sugar, it being addictive and all that stuff comes only from processed sugar.
    So, what I’m trying to say is that you can beat the processed sugar with the natural one.
    And after you surpass all those withdrawal symptoms, then you can give up fruits, if that is what you seek, it will be without any hardship.

    Be, however, aware then that if you choose to eat processed sugar again, it will make you sick, you won’t be able to focus or think straight, you’ll feel dizzy and lots of other unpleasant symptoms will emerge for quite a few hours after the consumption.

    Cheers And May the God Be With You In The Journey Of Quiting Processed Sugar.
    Have a Great One!

    1. Thank you for your story Matiss. It’s so encouraging to hear how someone else overcame their addiction. With continuing tips and support like yours, we can all be successful!

  7. Sugar addiction is a major threat to public health in many developed countries. Therefore, it has to be taken seriously. The most common way is to ignore this problem. Everyone has the right to eat what they want but medical facts should be recognized and applied in one’s own diet. Once a week, a sugar day would be less harmful than daily high-energy consumption

    1. It is certainly better to cut back our consumption of sugar. Those who have the ability to cut back, only eat a small amount, and stop, are indeed blessed to be able to do so. It’s also true that some people are NOT able to have a little bit. They feel compelled to keep eating. That’s the addiction I want to shed light on.

  8. Ugh, I am normally not a sugary person but yes, there are some times that I would just let myself to be out of control and be immersed in carbs. Especially that I’m a Malaysian Chinese – means that I eat a lot of spicy food that goes with rice. And as the food is spicy, I need even more rice to cancel the spiciness (oops, hi, sugar).

    I’m not really addicted to sugar but at the same time, it’s really hard for me to totally quit sugar too. But, yeah, it’s good to consciously reminding yourself not to take too much sugar!

    Thanks for your informative article! 🙂

    1. Ah, I’m glad you recognize where your weaknesses could be. For some, rice would not be a problem but for others it is. We all have to examine ourselves honestly to come up with the places that need improvement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *