"This is what happens to your brain when you stop eating sugar"


#1

Found an article on sugar addiction on Hacker News. What are everyone else’s thoughts on it?

I thought the line towards the end was interesting, about sweets seeming “too sweet” after stopping. I know that the little bit of taste I had for sweets before faded even more while I was on Soylent.


#2

Not mine. Crave it less; eat it much less; enjoy it just as much when I do have it. Including absolutely sugary things like Marshmallow Peeps.


#3

Ewww… peeps were the worst part about Easter baskets growing up. How could you possibly consider that enjoyable? XD


#4

Always have. But 23andme has just sent out a genome report of three (European) genotypes predicting greater, medium, and lesser enjoyment of sugar, so there’s that.

I have a brother-in-law who doesn’t like desserts at all, except he thinks very dark chocolate is okay; I could eat straight sugar from the bag, really.


#5

I never ate them, I just sent them off into battle.


#6

Totally same experience here.


#7

23AndMe has me at typical preference for sweets, and one of my sisters at high - but we’ve never really cared for marshmallows or peeps.


#8

I think the whole sugar ‘addiction’ thing is exaggeration.

Yes, the same reward pathways are in play… but those same pathways are in play for everything we enjoy and take pleasure in. Our response to sugar is larger than responses to many other foods or activities, but it’s a difference of magnitude, not a difference in type.

More importantly, the difference in magnitude between sugar “addiction” and real addiction to, say, opiates, is profound. That addiction is powerful because it plays directly in brain responses in wildly greater magnitudes than trivial things like sugar intake.

And “craving” sugar is not really “withdrawal,” it’s more like missing something you like until you get used to not having it… compare that to the severe medical withdrawal symptoms of the alcoholic or the drug addict!

I’m not denying that sugar and our responses to it play into bad food choices - they do, and the effect is real - but equating it to real addiction and withdrawal is just part of the currently popular bias towards demonizing sugar.

(Arguably, an obese person’s systemic “addiction” to the leptin produced by their own fat is bigger impediment to losing weight and keeping it off.)


#9

I don’t think missing and craving are the same thing at all. There are things I miss no matter how long I haven’t had them, and there are many things I have liked but do not miss. I am not depressed by things I miss, I simply would enjoy repeating the experiences. I do not feel compelled to repeat any of these things, like I feel compelled to get a beer or a package of cookies, especially immediately following the first beer / cookie (“I dare you to eat just one”). The compulsion goes away after days to weeks, but I still miss the tastes of my favorite cookies and beer months to years later.


#10

I don’t disagree with you… I’m just saying “craving” is more like “missing” than like drug dependency “withdrawal.”


#11

…the animals show a series of behaviors similar to the effects of drugs of abuse. These are categorized as “bingeing”, meaning unusually large bouts of intake, opiate-like “withdrawal” indicated by signs of anxiety and behavioral depression (Colantuoni et al., 2001, 2002), and “craving” measured during sugar abstinence as enhanced responding for sugar (Avena et al., 2005). There are also signs of both locomotor and consummatory “cross-sensitization” from sugar to drugs of abuse (Avena et al., 2004, Avena and Hoebel, 2003b).

Craving and withdrawal are two separate things. Granted, anxiety and depression that comes from sugar withdrawal is not nearly as severe as opiate withdrawal, but it is still withdrawal. Things we miss don’t cause cravings or withdrawal symptoms.