Tag Archives: food cravings

Sugar: Physical Addiction, Emotional Craving?

This is Part 4 in a 4-part series on Sugar and Other Sweeteners.

(1) Sugar Is Toxic: Heart Disease, Cancer & More
(2) Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?
(3) Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat (3a: Health Risks of No-Calorie Sweeteners)
(4) Sugar: Physical Addiction or Emotional Craving?


One of the most frequent questions in the Normal Eating Support Forum is whether to cut out sugar in the early stages of recovery. For most emotional eaters, sugar is a two-edged sword: They feel out of control with it so cutting it out completely seems like the only solution. But when they cut it out completely, they eventually end up bingeing on it.

Is this apparent addiction physical or emotional, and what is the way out? Is it possible for an emotional eater to become a normal eater who eats sugar occasionally, as described in Part 2 of this series?

Continue reading Sugar: Physical Addiction, Emotional Craving?

Health Risks of No-Calorie Sweeteners

Weight regulation is not a simple matter of "calories in, calories out". Sugar causes obesity disproportionate to its calories, and (surprisingly) no-calorie sweeteners actually cause weight gain. How can you gain weight from something with no calories? The body learns to associate the taste of a food with how much energy it gives. When sweet taste becomes associated with zero calories: (1) people’s metabolisms slow, (2) they eat more – and since their metabolisms are slowed, they gain more from what they eat.

That’s bad enough, but no-calorie sweeteners – even stevia – may contain other serious health risks. This article cuts through the complacency and hyperbole to give you the facts.

Continue reading Health Risks of No-Calorie Sweeteners

Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat

This is Part 3 in a 4-part series on Sugar and Other Sweeteners.

(1) Sugar Is Toxic: Heart Disease, Cancer & More
(2) Sugar: How Much Is Too Much?
(3) Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat (3a: Health Risks of No-Calorie Sweeteners)
(4) Sugar: Physical Addiction or Emotional Craving?


People drink diet soda to avoid calories and keep from getting fat. Yet study after study shows that daily use of artificial sweeteners is strongly associated with obesity. Do overweight people tend to drink diet soda, or does diet soda cause people to become overweight?

A number of recent studies make it clear: artificial sweeteners cause obesity. They confuse the body, causing appetite to increase and metabolism to slow. When something tastes like it should have calories but does not, you eat more and get fatter from what you eat. The same effect has been found with fat substitutes.

You can’t get something for nothing. Everything you consume has a cost. It’s ironic that the cost, in this case, is obesity.

Continue reading Artificial Sweeteners Make You Fat

Stopping When Full

There are many reasons that people continue eating after they are no longer hungry. Here’s the short list:

  • You don’t recognize satiation cues. You don’t recognize that you’re no longer hungry until you are past full.
  • It bothers you to leave food on your plate. The reasons for this can run deep, as you’ll soon see.
  • The food tastes good and you want to continue experiencing that. But what aren’t you paying attention to?
  • You are in the grip of compulsion. You don’t want it, it doesn’t taste good, but you can’t stop.

Continue reading Stopping When Full

Eating Candy and Feeling Guilty

Today is the day after Halloween and candy leftovers abound. Are you locked in a war with yourself about eating it? Here’s how to take the power out of the candy and put it back in you, where it belongs.

The crucial shift is in your attitude. You must know on a deep level – not just intellectually, but emotionally – that you have the right to eat whatever you want. This is true no matter what your current weight. If you feel your rights are constrained by societal mandates – that others can tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat – you’ll stay stuck in a childlike mindset, either doing as you’re told or rebelling against it. Only people with the right to choose can make choices. You can’t freely choose to forego candy or eat a salad unless you understand you have the right to make either choice.

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Good Nutrition: Myths and Facts

Editing Note: This post and the previous post originally were one long article.


In my previous post I explained why nutrition information has a role in the non-diet approach – not as a rule, but as information. But with all the contradictory nutrition advice out there, is there really such a thing as “good nutrition”? There is not one single nutrition principle that isn’t contested by someone somewhere. Doesn’t this mean that there are no reliable facts about nutrition, and everything is subject to reversal?

Actually, no, though it can feel that way at times. While many details of nutrition are speculative, some principles are backed by voluminous research. So how do you separate proven facts from tentative theories presented as facts, or outright misinformation?

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Taubes’ Book and the Real Cause of Obesity

I just finished reading Gary Taubes’ book, Good Calories, Bad Calories. It’s superbly researched and contains crucially important information, but it’s a hard read – long, dense, meandering, and repetitive. I fear that many people won’t get all the way through it. And while the extensive detail on studies is great, the forest gets a bit lost among all the trees. So here is a summary of the book’s main findings, which start with this revolutionary notion:

Overeating is not the cause of obesity, but rather its consequence – a form of body wisdom caused by dietary fuel being abnormally locked away as fat. The cells of your body don’t have enough usable energy, so you eat more and move less. Sound crazy? There’s actually voluminous research to support this theory.

Continue reading Taubes’ Book and the Real Cause of Obesity

How to Stop Overeating Sugar, Fat, and Salt

In my previous post, I talked about how eating processed food can make people fat. Processed foods are fabricated in labs, specifically and deliberately to use our body wisdom against us. The weapons they use are fat, sugar, and salt, which trick us into overeating. From the chapter on Stage 4 in Normal Eating® for Normal Weight:

“Humans enjoy sweetness because in nature, sweetness is a sign that fruits and vegetables are at their peak of ripeness, and when they’re at their peak of ripeness, they’re also at their peak nutritionally.”

“People love salt because it’s required for life, but was hard to come by for early humans living inland from the ocean. Those who had a taste for salt and sought it out stayed alive to reproduce; those who didn’t take the time to find salt got sick and died.”

“People have a natural liking for fat because it’s energy-dense – that is, it’s high in calories for its weight. For most of human evolution, the food supply was unreliable and going hungry was common. A taste for energy-dense food evolved to keep us from starving when food was scarce.”

Stage 4 of Normal Eating®, Choosing, is about making healthy food choices once you have overcome the compulsive urges that take away your ability to choose. But what if you’re not yet at Stage 4? How do you free yourself from the addictive effects of sugar, fat, and salt?

Continue reading How to Stop Overeating Sugar, Fat, and Salt

How to Stop Food Cravings

Food cravings are, without a doubt, the biggest obstacle in recovery from emotional eating. Even when you know what is triggering the desire to eat, the craving can remain. As I mentioned in my previous post, the first step towards stopping is to insert a pause between impulse and action – to not immediately act on the urge. Every moment you pause is a moment of recovery.

But how do you use this pause to dissolve the craving so the pause turns into a stop? That is the subject of today’s post. (You’ll find a more detailed discussion of how to stop food cravings in my book Normal Eating for Normal Weight.)

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