In this episode, Mike Collins talks to us about sugar addiction. Mike is the chairman of the Food Addiction Institute, a non-profit which has been around since 2005. Their stated goal is to get chronic sugar use elevated to a substance use disorder.
Mike found recovery from his drug and alcohol addiction a little more than 34 years ago when he was 28. Over the years, he got married and had a normal career and business life. Yet, as he progressed with his sobriety, he started to recognize that his patterns with sugar were almost identical to his using patterns with drugs and alcohol. If he didn’t have it he suffered withdrawals and became anxious, and irritable.
When Mike’s wife became pregnant with twins, she ensured that they had no sugar, flour, or caffeine, from the time of their conception. This inspired Mike to start on his curious journey to figure out the connection between sugar and the way that our bodies respond to it.
In his intensive studies of addiction over the last five years, Mike has noticed that the sugar cravings in recovery seemed to revolve around the brain’s reward system. He saw that many people, in their first year of recovery, would gain huge amounts of weight and he realized that they were getting an alternative dopamine rush from sugar.
Some people are hugely overweight. They are losing limbs and going blind due to diabetes from all the sugar they are eating, and even though the doctors tell them they are going to die, they still cannot quit sugar. This is an addiction. In his research, Mike has interviewed all the top scientists and they all describe fructose as a psychoactive drug.
Sugar is an easy way to make ourselves feel better, so it often becomes a substitute for other addictive substances. And although sugar is a powerful psychoactive, it gets no respect as an addictive drug because it is a habit that we’ve had since we were children. It’s freely available, so instead of dealing with the pain and discomfort of the withdrawals, most of us simply reach for more sugar. With its continued use, life becomes only about fighting off withdrawals, so all of us need to connect the dots and realize how sugar affects the brain.
Mike has been off sugar, flour, and caffeine for the last thirty years. It was a drawn-out and lonely struggle for him in the beginning, and it took a while to get off them, but once he managed to do it, he stuck to it. Mike has never seen anyone go for 90 days without sugar and then go back to it.
Connect with Mike:
Mike’s website – www.sugaraddiction.com
Video on Youtube – Dr. Gary Fettke, ‘Is Fruit Good For You?’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6LL92Zs5L0
Sugar Blues by William Dufty
Hacking the American Mind by Robert Lustig