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An addiction expert shares: the shocking truth about craving sugar

By Pettina Stanghon |


I Quit Sugar - An addiction expert shares: the shocking truth about craving sugar

Sugar: it’s so quick to sink its cavity-filled teeth into us, we often have the blinkers on when it comes to realising how well and truly addicted we are.

We treat a number of addictions through our residential health program at Noosa Confidential, on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. But sugar is by far the most common.

In fact, 90 per cent of our clients are struggling as a result of their relationship with sugar. And I’ve learned that most people have no idea how reliant they are on their next hit, until sugar is removed from their diet and they take a step back to look at their habits.


“I’ve seen clients raid our frozen fruit fridge, drink a litre of coconut water at a time or break into a brewing kombucha pot to get their fix.”

Why the “everything in moderation” message is wrong.

We constantly hear so-called experts tell us moderation is key when choosing which foods to nourish our body, and that denying yourself treats can be counterproductive. I completely disagree! Sugar and moderation will never be friends, just like a little bit of heroin will never be okay.

I’ve seen clients raid our frozen fruit fridge, drink a litre of coconut water at a time or break into a “brewing” kombucha pot to get their fix.

A sugar addiction isn’t just physical.

Sugar-based foods were framed as a treat for most people as they grew up. This means many people have a strong emotional attachment to sugar involving a primal connection to their childhood.

When a person tries to kick sugar to the curb, it can trigger a strong sense of loss or missing out, and anxiety around how or what they get to have as a “treat”. We are talking about deeply entrenched patterns which can be challenging to break. The good news is we are stronger than any craving taking place in our bodies, and we can tap into this strength to create long-term change, particularly if you get clarity around the core drivers.

We need to get up close and personal with food labels.

It’s no wonder so many people have a problem. Sugar is so rife in the packaged and low-fat foods on our supermarket shelves it can be challenging to avoid – and I’m not just talking about the confectionary aisle. It’s only by learning how to read labels, and understanding the different forms of sugar, that we become aware of how much sugar we are truly ingesting.

It is equally important to understand how much sugar is in the bananas and dates we use to sweeten our smoothies, bliss balls and raw cakes. And we need to understand how refined carbohydrates and alcohol convert to sugars – I believe anyone who consumes these two foods regularly has some sort of sugar addiction. We need to get the full picture.

The health ramifications need to be more widely understood.

Word is slowly spreading about the link between high-sugar diets and poor gut health, inflammation, psychological issues and hormonal problems. And that’s just the beginning. However, we need to talk about it more and often. After all, sugar isn’t called the most dangerous drug of our time for nothing.

We originally published this article in January 2016. We updated it in March 2017.

Pettina Stanghon
Pettina Stanghon

Pettina is a counsellor, clinical hypnotherapist and psychotherapist known for her work in treating mental health issues and addiction by creating a network of specialists to support the contributing factors to disease. Pettina is the owner and director of Noosa Confidential, a private residential health program specialising in the treatment of mental health and addiction issues through the integration of conventional medicine with evidence-based natural therapies.

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