How to Identify a Sugar Addiction

In last week’s post on the many forms of addiction, we discussed the importance of identifying our own addictions. We will continue to explore this in future posts. Today we will explore one addiction in particular – one that is front and center when it comes to improving our overall health and managing our weight – sugar addiction.

We probably already have an inkling if we suffer from this, but there is also a population of people who aren’t even aware of the sugar content in seemingly innocent foods. They might be surprised to find that they are addicted to sugar, namely, high fructose corn syrup. You’re probably familiar with high fructose corn syrup and may even be familiar with why it’s important to eliminate this ingredient from your diet. All that said, you also may be thinking of high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient in overtly sugary drinks and foods like sodas and candy. You may not realize it’s also in many every day foods and condiments you consume. Here are a few examples of common foods that contain high fructose corn syrup:

  • Salad dressing like French dressing, for example. It’s easy to substitute this with homemade dressing using olive oil and vinegar like red wine or balsamic. Try adding a teaspoon of dijon mustard for a little kick!
  • Condiments, especially Ketchup and Barbecue Sauce. Always check the ingredients and choose an option with the least amount of sugar.
  • Juice! You might see labels on juice bottles, boxes, etc. that boast being high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, however, one look at the ingredients list and you’ll see high fructose corn syrup listed almost immediately.
  • Coffee Creamers are usually high in sugar like HFCS and other unhealthy ingredients. Eliminating this from your daily cup of coffee or tea might be tough at first, but it’s an easy way to eliminate unhealthy sugar from your diet. Try substituting with almond milk or a little half and half or heavy cream.
  • “Healthy” Snacks like yogurt and apple sauce often have high fructose corn syrup – especially fruit-flavored yogurts. Check those labels and read the list of ingredients.

Read those labels and look for the best option with the minimum amount of sugar! There are healthy options out there – you just have to read the labels. Don’t trust the flashy slogans and claims made on the front of packaging. Just because something is “Made with Real Fruit Juice,” doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Some of these foods may be part of your dietary routine and cutting them out can be challenging. Other times, we consume foods that are more blatantly chock full of sugar out of habit, or yes – addiction. The following signs are primary indications of a sugar addiction:

 Craving sweet foods
 Engaging in harmful levels of habit-forming behavior (poor diets)
 Neglecting or losing interest in healthy activities (no exercise)
 Relationship difficulties, which often involve lashing out at people who identify the dependency (denial)
 An inability to stop consuming high levels of sugar, though it may be causing health problems or personal problems
 Minimizing the danger of sugar ( “Oh, it’s just one cookie.”)

How many of those examples can you place a checkmark next to?


When a person has an addiction and they stop or greatly reduce their sugar intake, they may experience some of the following symptoms:

 Anxiety
 Increased cravings
 Irritability
 Headaches
 Nausea
 Fatigue
 A loss of appetite

We know reducing sugar is not easy. Breaking any addiction is tough no matter the substance or behavior. But without a doubt or exaggeration, it is true to say that just like other substance addictions, your life and certainly your health is the price you will pay for continued excessive sugar consumption.

From Part 1, we saw how important it is to simply identify the addictive behaviors. Once the behavior is called out, we can begin by reducing
sugar intake by just half, and just that alone will have a significant positive effect on your health and wellbeing. Paying attention to food labels will show you just how excessive our sugar intake is. Add up the grams per day and begin to take charge of your health. Stay tuned for the next segment when we explore what lies beneath an addiction.

At Physician’s Weight Control and Wellness, our weight loss programs are unique in that they are physician-guided and individually tailored to each patient. Because every patient is different, no two treatment plans are the same. Our patients’ personalized treatment plans include personalized consultations and can contain any or all of the following, depending on individual patients’ needs: medications, supplements, and lipotropic injections.

Our bariatric weight loss programs are structured around regular, personal consultations with our doctors. During these consultations, our physicians assess your body’s biometrics, check in on your current weight loss progress, create and adjust a meal plan and exercise program, and, most importantly, get to know you and your weight loss goals. We know you are invested in your weight loss journey – we are too!

Contact us with any questions!

Read about what lies beneath addiction.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash