Frequently Asked Questions - Addiction FAQ's

The evidence for overeating sugar and ultra-processed food as an addiction is broad and consistently supportive of the concept. Drop us a line if you cannot find an answer to your question.

The evidence for overeating sugar and ultra-processed food as an addiction is broad and consistently supportive of the concept. Similarities between overeating and drug abuse include neural anomalies in reward pathways, over sensitisation of stress pathways, cue reactivity and cognitive impairment (brain fog) through habit, conditioned learning, and predisposition. 

Overlaps are also found in behaviour, conformance with addiction diagnostic criteria (DSM-5 and ICD-10/11), a muted sense of taste and extensive consequences. There are also findings for family patterns of use, the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences in some users and a foetal syndrome in both chronic drug abuse and sugar and ultra processed food use. 

We also “suspect” that food manufacturers may be formulating foods to be particularly addictive using ingredients unknown to the public. These recipe formulae or combinations are usually high-fat and high-sugar based but the specification is often hidden due to their “proprietary nature”.

For further information see: Are You Addicted to Sugar?

There are three main categories of user: self-regulators or social users; harmful users and addictive users. Knowing the difference between addiction and harmful use will help you find your North Star in terms of motivation and change. The 3 different types of user are explored more fully in the following items: 

Are You Addicted to Sugar

Sugar Addiction or Harmful Use (Watch video)

Craving refers to an intense desire to consume a substance. Food craving refers to an intense desire to consume a particular food. It is this specificity that differentiates food cravings from feelings of hunger. A craving for a specific food can only typically be satisfied by consumption of that food – while hunger can be alleviated by consumption of any type of food. Moreover, food cravings can occur in the absence of hunger – food deprivation is not a necessary condition for the occurrence of food cravings. 

Addiction is a brain disease. It is chronic, progressive, and left untreated, ultimately fatal. However, the ASAM state that “addiction is a treatable, medical condition.” Like any chronic disease, we must learn to manage “flare-ups”. For the addict, a flareup can manifest itself as a relapse. The key to long-term management is recovery protection.

A key role in recovery protection is managing our thoughts and behaviours. This type of thinking is called “all or nothing” thinking and is very prevalent among sugar addicts. It is unhelpful and a sure-fire way of sleepwalking into relapse. We need to have strategies in place to move beyond this type of thinking. My friend and colleague, Bitten Jonsson shares a simple way to acknowledge this type of thought and to move beyond. When this type of “stinking thinking” appears, welcome it, state its name – oh, hello, that’s that all or nothing thinking and say: hey that’s a great idea but not today – maybe tomorrow? In this way, we learn to keep our thinking present and to become aware of our thought patterns. This is a crucial part of recovery mind training.

And remember sugar addiction has been with many of us since childhood. The Sugar Evaluation process will help you get a clearer understanding of the timeline of development of the addiction and pinpoint at what age you had already become an addict. Transformation does not happen overnight. Little by slow we build new habits; we practise these new habits consistently and we start to re-design our life. It all starts with a Free Test, then schedule your 15 min. Discovery Call.

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” – James Clear “Atomic Habits”

Moderation does not work for sugar addicts. Moderation requires sugar addicts to build up a strong defence to their desires. And where has will power taken us in the past? It is just not a reliable method of controlling our consumption and overeating. In addition, compulsive sugar consumption is due to dysfunction in a specific brain pathway that we need to learn to work with through recovery mind training. Moderation, particularly when associated to weight loss problems will naturally underdo the new neural pathways we’re seeking to build through recovery protection and relapse prevention. 

You may experience psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms from your addiction including:

Psychological

  • · Anxiety
  • · Bad dreams
  • · Depression
  • · Difficulty thinking clearly
  • · Fatigue
  • · Feeling jumpy or nervous
  • · Irritability or becoming excited easily
  • · Insomnia
  • · Rapid emotional changes
  • · Shakiness

Physical

  • · Clammy skin
  • · Elevated blood pressure
  • · Headache
  • · Insomnia
  • · Loss of appetite
  • · Nausea and vomiting
  • · Paleness
  • · Rapid heart rate (palpitations)
  • · Sweating, especially on the palms of your hands or your face

Every time we circle back round to moderation, and realise this will never work, we put ourselves at risk of experiencing the same withdrawal symptoms. Many of us get stuck in a “withdrawal loop” for years in the mistaken belief that moderation will work. In the end, it is a process of self-experimentation and review. We are here to hold and guide and inspire you as you embark on this journey of self-discovery.

You may also quickly forget the downside of your addiction, including the food “hangovers”, blackouts (for some) , upset stomach, nausea, guilt and shame and the endless remorse that may last for days after. It is far simpler to keep moving forward, one day at a time, eating simple nourishing, satiating, single ingredient food.

And finally, once you start over consuming sugar and ultra-processed food, you may not be able to predict or control how much you will end up eating. Moderation is not a friend to the addict.

One of the key features of sugar addiction, or any addiction is cognitive impairment. In practical terms this means we will often suffer from memory loss and struggle with executive functioning skills to such an extent that recalling, events, food and behaviour may be difficult. Feelings are also not a reliable guide when knee deep in the sugar. My mentor, Bitten Jonsson often refers to this as the “cart before the horse” syndrome. We think that if we could only fix all the things that are wrong, then we could stop our compulsion to eat. It never occurs to us to stop the behaviour first.

“I wonder if anybody starts out to use with the thought that they will eventually lose control over their lives. Probably not. The extraordinary delusion persists that a substance can be used recreationally so that somebody with “will power” can stop or cut back at will; this in spite of the testimony of countless others addiction is a twostep process: first you use the substance, then it uses you.” – Roger Ebert

Simply put, Addiction Interaction Disorder (AID) refers to one disease, many outlets. Once we receive a diagnosis of addiction, we start to see how this has played out in many other areas of our lives. Addiction to screens, addiction to spending money, addiction to shopping, gambling, porn, addiction to work, addiction to thought – the list is endless. Like a giant whack-a -mole game everything is brought up to the light to review.

Every picture has its shadow and its light” writes Joni Mitchell – and that’s the story of you.

As I write, I am reminded of one of my favourite quotes:

“To have no more courage than a rabbit is definitely not to be everything you could be” – Jordan B Peterson.

The SUGAR Evaluation test is designed to seek out any other addictions which we may not have yet considered as problematic. Screening for AID is embedded in the evaluation test. Hidden addictions are behind 80% of relapses so this work is essential.

Yes, it takes time, yes it takes dedication to embark on a programme of change but to have a deeply fulfilling life of meaning is worth every single ounce of effort. And you will not be alone. Our weekly support group meeting is a free bonus when you purchase our complete diagnosis package. You can check in with us every week to share your progress and recovery story. Isn’t it time to find your truth?

Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new life.” – John Muir

Our Services Page outlines our diagnosis and evaluation strategy. 

Our sugar addiction and treatment services page

It is not ethical to treat an issue without clarity around what it is we are treating or what we are receiving treatment for. There is a huge difference between harmful use and addiction. We must obtain a clear, factual diagnosis to avoid any risk of pursuing the wrong course of treatment. The treatment for moderate harmful use is different to the treatment necessary for an addict. They are two entirely separate issues. Diagnosis is also key to the depth of understanding of our condition to enable us to embark willingly on the task of recovery. And be in no doubt, recovery is a verb!

The SUGAR Evaluation test is unique in presenting a graph of our symptom curve and timeline of development and onset of our symptoms. It is an incredibly powerful experience to see this in a clear visual representation and to have the chance to explore this with others who have also undergone this deeply transformative process.

Diagnosis also enables us to choose adequate treatment programmes and aftercare. Diagnosis enables us to understand the degree of severity of our symptoms and to match our treatment programmes in accordance with outcomes.

Diagnosis is key when we are confirming research on treatment outcomes – unless we know what condition is being treated, we cannot evaluate the outcomes.

Diagnosis will help us break through denial. The nature of addiction is such that the conditioned vulnerabilities of an addict’s brain lead to a lifelong risk of relapse. With a comprehensive assessment, we can work together to plan a do-able course of action to protect our recovery and plan to avoid relapse. Being able to refer back to a baseline diagnosis will help us visualise the changes we have made and continue to make on our journey back to health.

Here’s what I know for sure: failure is an event not a person. Thomas Eddison “failed” at making light bulbs over 10,000 times but he persisted. A failure is data. We tried this but it did not work. We tried that and it did not work either. 

There is one thing I know about us addicts; we are persistent! How many times have we embarked on another crazy restrictive diet plan expecting a different outcome. We say things like: this time it will be different; this time I will stick to it; this time I will be successful; this time I will be in my bikini by summer sipping cocktails on the beach surrounded by adoring crowds. I will finally be accepted.

Well, how’s that working for you?

Is that so? Me neither.

We understand that you may come with a long history of weight loss problems. We understand that you will also likely have developed a fear of failure and a reluctance to try again. I also recognise the discouragement we feel from repeated failures to lose weight. That was me and my life for over forty years!

What we are offering is the hope of a new protocol based on the addiction model. Diagnosis will confirm or reject addiction as the underlying cause of your repeated weight gain. There: we have a base point upon which we both agree it’s a brain disease and not a substance issue. In fact, it is nothing to do with food – food is simply the ticket into the show. We are not failures, we do not exhibit character flaws, we are not weak – it is nothing to do with will power – it’s a brain disease not a substance issue. Little by slow and with time, like any other chronic condition, we can learn to mange our disease. Failure only comes from not meeting self-imposed goals within a specific period and there are no deadlines here. This is your recovery journey, and it starts with personalised diagnosis.

We warmly invite you to grab a coffee and book a 15-minute Discovery Call to take place on zoom. It’s a chance for me to find out a little more about your story and to answer any questions you may have about diagnosis. We make a nominal charge of £15 for the call and will discount this from the purchase price of SUGAR® Evaluation Recovery, should you choose to proceed. 

Click link to Book your Discovery Call

You will be sent a zoom link the day before our online meeting is due to take place. 

Book your Discovery Call

The screening test we use – S-UNCOPE – will give an indication of whether addiction is likely to be an issue for you.  If you answer 2 or more questions “YES” then get in touch and explore the issue further through a Discovery Call.

Click the link to take your SUGAR Addiction assessment to take the screening assessment.

It’s easy! Book a Discovery Call and find out how taking a SUGAR Evaluation can help you find a way forward from the misery of sugar and food addiction.

The first part of the interview collects demographic information and creates your unique code to ensure anonymity and confidentiality. We will also ask if you consent to your anonymous data being used for research and quality improvement.

The interview includes screening questions relating to other substance use (alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and drugs) and process addictions such as gambling. You will also be asked about life events, including stressors and mental health, which are often linked to our relationship with food.

Part two of the interview covers the assessment of patterns of compulsive use, loss of control and unwanted behaviours in connection with certain foods.

The interview may take 60-90mins, so please give yourself this time to commit fully to the process. Before the interview, please take some time to think about your relationship with food, life events and periods of weight loss/gain throughout your life, to help to get the most accurate “map” of your food journey. We will send you a detailed pre-evaluation assessment questionnaire to complete to help you access these memories.

SUGAR is not designed to be therapy; however, many clients say it is a therapeutic process where they have been “heard” perhaps for the first time.

Your SUGAR practitioner will show you the preliminary results at the conclusion of the interview and then arrange a follow up appointment within seven days to give you a comprehensive report with recommendations for any future treatment, should this be indicated by the results.

In addition, we offer 7 days of focused one to one support via VOXER and unlimited access to our weekly support group.

We look forward to meeting you!

STEP 1.

ADDICTION QUIZ

Diagnose For Addiction QUICK, FREE & EASY Food Addiction Questionnaire

STEP 2.

DISCOVERY CALL

CONSULTATION CALL
Share your story and learn what our recovery programs will deliver for you.

STEP 3.

PROGRAMS

EVALUATION, DIAGNOSTICS & TREATMENT   Professional Training, Education & Full on support.

sugar addiction test
Food Addiction Test
Food Addition Test