Most people can relate to reaching for unhealthy foods when they feel stressed, unhappy, or run down. These foods usually involve sugar, carbohydrates, and caffeine – all of which have a stimulating effect on the body. We feel good while consuming them but not long after we are left with less energy and lower mood – and you may or may not even recognize it!


Studies show that sugar lights up the same areas of the brain as some drugs like cocaine and other drugs1. We get instant gratification and seek out more, explaining why sugar can be regarded as addictive. The average North American consumes 100 grams of sugar or more per day. We should be eating less than 40 grams per day. Read labels and don’t forget about sneaky sources of sugar – flavoured yogurt, certain cereals, fruit juice, specialty drinks and coffee.


Our bodies crave carbohydrates because it uses them as a quick energy source. It does this by breaking down the carbohydrates into its basic form – sugar (or medically referred to as glucose). Sugar floats around in the blood stream and enters our cells to be used as energy. Once the cells absorb sugar, the amount of sugar in the blood drops. When it drops too low, it is referred to as “low blood sugar”. When this happens, our bodies crave more carbohydrates to bring sugar levels back up. You enter his rise and fall pattern all day, which causes you to feel tired, hungry, and “hangry”.


It’s surprising how those few cups of coffee can affect us. One single cup of coffee causes a release of the stress hormone cortisol for hours following its consumption, signalling a state of stress in the body. If you are feeling tired, stressed, anxious, or have insomnia, it is best to eliminate coffee for a few weeks. Most people notice an improvement by doing just this!

 If your mind and body are craving these above foods, it’s a good sign it needs support. This is one of the most important times to be mindful of the foods you eat and focus on choosing those that nourish your body!

Dr. Stephanie Liebrecht, BSc, ND
Naturopathic Doctor


1. Avena, N., Rada, P., Hoebel, B. (2008) Evidence for sugar addiction: behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. 32(1): 20-39.