For most people who get into recovery, at some point, food and sugar become an issue in their life. It serves as a secondary feel-good mechanism when they’re not feeling great. But why is sugar so appealing? Why do some people struggle so much with it that it causes problems in their life? 

On today’s episode of The Addicted Mind Podcast, Duane speaks with Mike Collins about the science behind sugar addiction and how it negatively impacts people in recovery. When Mike got sober, he went right back to sugar in massive amounts and a lot of people in recovery do that. Completely sugar-free for over 30 years now, Mike is the Chairman of the Board of a Food Addiction Institute that helps raise awareness about processed food and sugar worldwide. He is the founder of which has been helping thousands successfully quit sugar for over nine years.

Mike talks about the concept of an emotional management system where we are literally managing our emotions with a ubiquitous, almost free product that’s available anywhere. Some people may stop for 30 days. But they revert back to their emotional management system, which has been co-opted by sugar. 

There are two major things here. First is how the food industry has weaponized this knowledge of the neurological workings of our brain – sugar being the gateway drug. It has that long shelf life so it’s cheap to manufacture. And once they get you kind of addicted to it, they keep selling it to you. It’s not just food, it’s a mood changer.

Mike shares his own story of how sugar impacted his own life when he started recovery, the impact of sugar addiction, and how to work through that process and get away from sugar addiction. 

In this episode, you will hear:

  • Why sugar is the original gateway drug
  • The science behind sugar addiction
  • Why people are struggling with sugar addiction
  • Sugar as a cultural norm
  • Understanding the emotional management system
  • The epidemic of overweight children and the real problem that’s causing it

Key Quotes:

[02:59] – “A group of people who are in recovery from drugs and alcohol have struggled with sugar.”

[05:46] – “The nucleus accumbens, the dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, adrenal glands, oxytocin, even your endorphins – all these things are affected by sugar.”

[07:32] – “We are literally managing our emotions with a ubiquitous, almost free product that’s available anywhere.”

[08:53] – “We have to separate hyper palatable foods and sugar from real food.”

[11:32] – “When you stop eating these refined carbohydrates and processed foods, even the gut biome has to start to shift and change and adapt to not having this product in the body.”

[18:17] – “When you’re consuming a large amount of sugar, your body is putting this hormone out that drives your behavior. Until you shift that, it becomes really hard to even stop the process.”

[20:55] – “People fall back to the old emotional management system when something difficult comes up.”

[35:13] – “We have an epidemic of overweight children, and they’re not out shopping for food.”

[36:19] – “The concept of calories needs to be destroyed. It’s a ridiculous construct.” 

Subscribe and Review

Have you subscribed to our podcast? We’d love for you to subscribe if you haven’t yet. 

We’d love it even more if you could drop a review or 5-star rating over on Apple Podcasts. Simply select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” then a quick line with your favorite part of the episode. It only takes a second and it helps spread the word about the podcast.

If you really enjoyed this episode, we’ve created a PDF that has all of the key information for you from the episode. Just fill in your information below to download it.

Supporting Resources:

Hooked: Food, Free Will, and How the Food Giants Exploit Our Addictions by Michael Moss

Metabolical: The Lure and the Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine by Robert H Lustig