Gender Matters when it comes to Sugar Addiction

by Annie on June 4, 2008 · 12 comments

in Aging & Gender Differences,Eating Healthy,Weight Loss & Body Image

Do you find yourself depressed, moody, erratic, volatile, forgetful, and impulsive when you do not get your sugar fix? Can you say no to a small slice of cake without eating half the cake? You just might be addicted sugar like I am. Sugar addiction is a result of low serotonin and beta-endorphin (brain chemicals).

Low serotonin

Serotonin helps control impulsive behavior and mood. When we have low levels of this brain chemical, we cannot “just say no to a cookie.” As a matter of fact, we end up eating the whole bag when we start. This condition is related to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) where some people are more depressed during the winter than any other time of the year.


Beta-endorphin is a natural painkiller. When we have low levels of this brain chemical, we cry at the smallest thing. It is the same endorphin that get activated from exercising. The sugar addict has more beta-endorphin receptors, hence sugar sensitive people will feel more euphoric than others when eating a candy bar.

Sugar addicts tend to rely on “feel good” substances to help balance the low levels of these two brain chemicals with alcohol, drugs, and sugar to make themselves feel good.

Gender matters!

Men generally have a higher level of serotonin and beta-endorphin than women. This explains why men are less impulsive. Hence more women are diagnosed with SAD than men.

Women who are children or grandchildren of alcoholics will have even lower levels of these two brain chemicals.

Biologically, everything revolves around the menstrual cycle for women. So it is no surprise that our beta-endorphin fluctuate each month in sync with our cycle – peaking at ovulation and bottoming before menstruation. All those feeling of inadequacy, isolation, and hopelessness is related to the low levels of beta-endorphin. And when we are feeling low, we crave sugar. But I stated before, beta-endorphin is activated from exercising, so try going for a walk next time before reaching for that bag of cookies.

I am starting to find that health, fitness, and weight loss are a lot more complex than eating less and exercising more. Sure eating less and exercising more helps. But I find that once you get off that track somewhere in your twenties with a plus 20-30 pounds, there are forces within your body that are working against you. And if you are a woman, physically, we have the shorter end of the stick. The battle uphill is much steeper.

Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Halls June 4, 2008 at 5:31 am

I found your site on google blog search and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. Just added your RSS feed to my feed reader. Look forward to reading more from you.

Karen Halls


heidi June 5, 2008 at 2:03 am

Great tips and information. I agree on it being harder for women.

heidis last blog post..The Secret Is Easy: Eat, Drink And Be Merry! How Our Physical Health Affects The Spirit


Debbie Lane June 5, 2008 at 12:58 pm

excellent information.

Use the exercise to stimulate the brain and as you go into the zone, imagine your brain releasing the proper chemicals to enable you to shed weight.


spindiva June 5, 2008 at 6:06 pm

This is very interesting. I don’t have a sugar addiction so i can’t identify with you, however, it is harder for women to get and stay in shape, especially after certain age and after having kids. Great site!

spindivas last blog post..Crazy week: stay focused, challenge yourself, come back strong!


Lori June 6, 2008 at 3:00 am

thank you so much for you comment. My mother is now 82, and my father passed away in 2003. Despite it all she is coming along okay it is difficult at times but we are very blessed. I would rather her get this disease now in her 80′s rather than contracting it in her 60′s. Nice site and the food looked so good in the other location. YUM.
You take care and again thanx for the response.

Loris last blog post..Going Home


Tom Parker June 7, 2008 at 1:00 am

Good post Asithi. However, surely not everything in fitness can be easier for men? How about a few posts on the things that are more difficult for men?

Just as an example, I’m naturally quite slim but really struggle to gain muscle mass. I don’t want to be huge but I think a little extra muscle looks and feels good and I think most people would agree that a slightly muscular, toned physique is the stereotypical ‘ideal body’ for most men (think Brad Pitt in Fight Club size muscles and body tone). To work towards this look I have to hit the weights hard (to build muscle mass), hit the cardio hard (to burn fat and keep the muscles looking toned) and eat right (again to burn fat and keep the muscles looking toned).

Now for women there is less emphasis on muscle mass in the stereotypical ‘perfect body’ (think Jessica Alba in Sin City). Yes women still do need to do lots of cardio, lift weights and watch what they eat to achieve the slender, toned look. However, one of the things the majority of women never have to cope with when working towards this goal is lifting heavy weights.

I find it really difficult to increase the weight I am lifting. Some of the weights I lift now I have been stuck on for months and I still have more muscle to gain before I get what would be considered the stereotypical ‘ideal male body’. However, if I wanted to slim down and tone up I would find this a lot easier. Therefore, in terms of training regimes to achieve what is generally considered the ‘perfect body’ I think men have a tougher time than women.

I’m not trying to start an argument here. I agree with a lot of the information you have provided which indicates that women have a much harder time in certain areas. I’m just trying to make the point that men do not have it that easy. There are areas in fitness where we have a hard time too.


asithi June 7, 2008 at 11:10 pm

Do I sound a little too envious of how ‘easy’ it is for men to loose weight from my last few posts? It’s my husband’s fault. :D The doctor basically told him that he is a little overweight and he came and threw out all his junk food. Six weeks later and he is down 7 pounds, while I am still not sure if that 1.5 pounds I lost is really fat or from water weight. And then, it does not help that he wiped me out from the top 10 list for the balance games on the Wii Fit. I basically told him that he cannot play with my birthday present anymore until I can at least get on the list again. Yes, the silly little stuff that you argue about when you have no other major problems.I guess it just depends on what your goal is. For most women, we are trying to loose weight. And Brad Pitt does look hot. It sounds like you are an ectomorph. And for your goal, yes, it would be difficult to gain that kind of muscle mass. To each, our own challenges. Thanks for your comment.


goodbyetoallfat June 13, 2008 at 11:38 pm

Hi Asithi,

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I don’t know how I had missed this entry of yours as I am subscribed (by e-mail) to your blog …. but I think sometimes we all get a bit too busy to read every single blog.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. The more I read about *metaphysical* reasons that are behind my food cravings the more everything makes sense.

Thanks + best wishes,

goodbyetoallfats last blog post..Addiction & Overeating – Part 1


asithi June 14, 2008 at 3:38 am

Goodbyetoallfat – But in some ways, isn’t it exciting though? To know that it is not a matter of willpower? And that we are weaker than other people? Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment.


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