Bottom Line: How Sugar Affects Your Appetite
By Joan Kent, PhD
Here's some information you may not know about how sugar affects appetite.
The part of the brain that causes satiety – the feeling we've had enough food and don't need to eat for a while – is the VMH (ventromedial hypothalamus).
Sugar triggers endorphins (beta-endorphin). Endorphins inhibit the VMH. So we may want more food at that meal – or may want to eat again sooner than we normally would.
Endorphins can also change which foods we find appetizing and would prefer to eat. In fact, they'll probably make you want more endorphin-triggering foods – more sugars, more fats.
Either way, sugar is likely to change your food landscape, and not for the better.
Endorphins from sugar trigger another brain chemical – dopamine – just enough to make us want to eat more sugar. This is probably the best reason not to follow the common advice to eat a little bit of sugar when you crave it. (Terrible advice!)
Some people are more susceptible to this 'priming' effect than others. If it affects you, you may find yourself wanting more sugar after you've eaten just a little bit. Maybe lots more.
Some people joke about being chocoholics or sugar addicts. Other people know it isn't a joke. If you eat sugar often, you may crave it when it's not around – or when some time has passed since you've had any. That could be a sign of withdrawal.
If you're also feeling kinda cranky, it most likely is withdrawal. If so, you'll probably want sugar and eat it to change your mood. But the fix is only temporary, and it backfires.
Sugar can impact appetite dramatically. As covered in a previous post, it can also increase fat in our diets. Think of all the sugary foods – such as ice cream or chocolate cake – that contain a lot of fat, as well. Those fats are typically not healthful ones, making a bad nutrition slam even worse.
By the way, alcohol can affect appetite in similar ways to those above – often with even more impact than sugar. But that's a different post....
If you'd like to regain control of your appetite, perfect! That's what I do, and I'd love to help you. Just visit www.LastResortNutrition.com and request your free Empowered Eating Consult. Find out how easy it is to shift your appetite and find true food freedom!
Brought to you by Dr. Joan Kent, best-selling author of Stronger Than Sugar: 7 Simple Steps to Defeat Sugar Addiction, Lift Your Mood, and Transform Your Health.