How do I know if I'm eating too much sugar?

depression hunger lethargy sugar

5 Clear Signs You’re Eating Too Much Sugar

Your body is talking to you. It’s time to listen.

I teach people how to connect with their bodies to reclaim their health. What’s striking is how normalized feeling unwell is. We’re then suggested at every turn to hand this primal relationship over to apps, diets, pills, huge portions of food, and sugar.

Even through the disconnection, your body is communicating with you. Overeating, outsized hunger, cravings, brain fog, and lethargy are how your body tells you something is wrong. In this case, it might be all the sugar you’re eating.

Awareness of the problem is the first step to recovery.

Here are a few ways to understand if your body is struggling to process all the sugar you’re eating (knowingly and unknowingly).

1. You struggle with outsized hunger.
Your body isn’t meant to be micro-dosed with sugar but that’s exactly what’s happening, and it’s making you hungry.

Sugar, even in trace amounts continually taxes your nervous system which creates a call and response from your gut for you to eat regardless of satiation. Even if you aren’t a ‘sweets person’ you’re eating differently because of added sugar.

Repeated exposure to sugar (the modern diet) traps you in a vicious cycle of cravings and overeating.

I bet you thought you were just a very hungry person?

It’s the sugar.

2. You’ve consistently gained weight over the years.
Outsized hunger leads to overeating, which of course, leads to weight gain. Sugar presents a double whammy. The calories themselves are obesogenic and activate your hunger signals directly.

We’ve normalized steady weight gain over a lifetime but that doesn’t make it any less undesirable for your health. Excess weight creates discomfort and limits movement. To be clear, I’m not advocating thinness, simply a body that feels good held at a steady weight.

If you’ve gained weight year over year, sugar probably has a lot to do with that.

3. You use it to soothe difficult emotions.
Had a bad day? Sugar. Feeling down? Sugar. Feeling lonely? Sugar.

If you recognize this pattern in your own life, know that it’s pretty common and that’s unfortunately by design. Marketing reinforces this message everywhere, and hey, maybe your mom did too. That doesn’t make it a good idea, or even an effective remedy.

Your difficult emotions are made worse by turning to sugar.

4. You have depression or anxiety.
I’m not suggesting that sugar alone causes anxiety or depression. We’ll think of its root causes as a constellation of factors, like genetics and circumstance. So is what you’re eating.

According to their study, people who ate processed foods like sweetened desserts, fried foods, and processed meats were more likely to be diagnosed with depression than people who largely relied on unprocessed, whole foods.

There’s an entire field of psychiatry that specializes in food and mental health so yes, there’s a direct connection.

“Many people think about food in terms of their waistlines, but it also impacts our mental health,” said Dr. Uma Naidoo, a Harvard psychiatrist and the director of nutritional and lifestyle psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. “It’s a missing part of the conversation.”

Author’s note: in my own life I was able to end my seasonal depression by reducing sugar. Now twelve years and counting.

5. Your energy is generally low.
Contrary to popular belief, sugar is a depressant. It creates lethargy and brain fog, which leads to feelings of depression and anxiety.

The sugar rush is a myth. Rather than making people feel energized and hyped, the new research suggests eating sweet foods actually causes people to experience the opposite: fatigue and a lack of alertness.

Do you reach for sugar when you need a pick me up? Chances are you're locked in a pattern that’s creating more fatigue (and keeping you from getting to things important to your life satisfaction).

If you recognize yourself in this list please know that getting most of the sugar out of your life is entirely doable. It’s not simple, which is why a solid process is necessary, but unlike quick fixes, this makes a measurable difference in the quality of your life.

Our culture encourages us to think the remedy for a body that feels bad is dieting, fasting, or even worse, juicing (which is basically a sugar overload).

It’s none of the above. It’s getting a handle on sugar.

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