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Confessions of a Sugar Freak: Beating Fatigue and Depression

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Confessions of a Sugar Freak: Beating Fatigue and Depression

By Margaret Adamek, PhD, Natural Solutions

As far back as I can remember, I was tired. All of the time. No matter how much sleep I got, no matter how much coffee I drank, my fatigue simply overwhelmed me. I had a terrible time waking up. By late morning, I could hardly concentrate on my job. Mid-afternoon brought an intense urge to nap, and by early evening I was ready for bed. I experienced occasional spurts of energy throughout the day—usually fueled by something sweet or caffeinated, but nothing I could sustain. My exhaustion affected my work, my ability to exercise, and my upkeep of personal affairs. Throughout these decades of fatigue, I faced deadlines where I cranked up enough nervous energy to make it through—but then I’d collapse for several weeks.

Feeling exhausted and unproductive was compounded by a low-level depression, which, for me, translated into inertia and a lack of motivation. Because I didn’t cry a lot or stay stuck in bed, I never recognized these as characteristic symptoms. Furthermore, I was forever anxious. With each passing year, my symptoms became more severe, and I began to experience mood swings that made me (and those I loved) miserable. Life was chaotic, unhappy, and unhealthy, even though I looked healthy, slim, and put together. My doctor and a therapist recommended medication for my depression and anxiety, but I felt uncomfortable going the pharmacological route.

Fortunately, around that time some new research emerged in the nexus between nutrition and neuroscience that explained in part what was happening to me. Scientists had already established the “food-mood” connection, linking diet, brain chemistry, and blood sugar regulation. Popular writers generated practical, food-based solutions for some of the most prevalent mood disorders, publishing how-to books that helped people alleviate their symptoms through dietary changes. I thought I was beyond that. After all, I cooked from scratch, ate lots of organic produce, limited my saturated fat intake, and was primarily vegetarian for many years. Yet I also skipped a lot of meals, consumed sweets every day, and relied on a moderate, but constant caffeine fix. My personal breakthrough came when I realized my fatigue, depression, anxiety, and moodiness shared a common root cause. Even though my overall diet was relatively healthy, a few bad habits and a serious sugar addiction were seriously affecting my moods.

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Mel, selected from Natural Solutions magazine

Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living offers its readers the latest news on health conditions, herbs and supplements, natural beauty products, healing foods and conscious living.

141 comments

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3:32AM PDT on Mar 10, 2013

It seems to be such a cruel cosmic joke that we are primed to taste sweet and that sugars are so called addicting while refined sugars are so bad for us.

6:52AM PST on Nov 15, 2012

I don't think cannibals are immune to depression! If so, why does the pharmaceutical industry market so many antidepressants? For vegetarians only? There is something fishy about this study and I'm sure it's biased. Depression is mainly caused by stress, lack of perspectives, etc.

6:49AM PST on Nov 15, 2012

What if eating sweets is your only pleasure in life?

11:30AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

Thanks so much, I'm really struggling with fatigue issues and am happy to have some advice and encouragement to work on a healthier diet and a healthier lfie!

3:07PM PDT on Mar 14, 2011

There are a lot of people who do not eat three times a day nor do they eat the right kind of foods.

7:04AM PDT on Mar 28, 2010

This is just what I needed to hear! Thanks!

4:49AM PDT on Mar 25, 2010

Thanks, I suffer from depression and constant fatigue, funnily enough I've just started incorporating nuts into my diet and hopefully this will help! Also, I'm taking Omega 3 supplements and I am hoping these will improve my mood.

5:08PM PDT on Mar 20, 2010

Really great article! Keep up the good work.

4:02PM PDT on Mar 14, 2010

Thanks for article.

9:33AM PST on Mar 7, 2010

Thanks this is a great article. I started doing the 400 calories every four hours 4 times a day or at least an average of 1600 calories 4 times a day a few years ago. It helped with weight control even when I went over the 1600 calories a day. When I finally got the message that simple sugar and processed carbs are really bad I started cutting way back on simple sugars and changed to complex carbs. It seems to be positively affecting my weight problem. The next thing to tackle is the omega 3's. Really interesting ...the connection between omega 3's and depression. P.S. I found that a couple of tablespoons of unpasturized honey on wholewheat bread each day satisfies the sweet craving while killing the need to binge.

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