Sugar addiction: no longer a metaphor

Most people hear the phrase “sugar addiction” as a metaphor. A new study from Denmark indicates that sugar addiction is literal. Dr. Michael Winterdahl, one of the scientists who led the study, wanted to refute the idea that sugar was physically addictive. The evidence changed his mind:

“After just 12 days of sugar intake, we could see major changes in the brain’s dopamine and opioid systems. In fact, the opioid system, which is that part of the brain’s chemistry that is associated with well-being and pleasure, was already activated after the very first intake,” says Winterdahl.

The study from Aarhus University is explained in layman’s terms in this article from The technical English-language summary on the Aarhus University site is here.

For more about sugar, see my post on the Good Habits blog, “Kick the sugar habit—or it will surely kick you.”


Yes, that was the sound of the summer holiday going by.

It’s gone.

I’m going to work tomorrow, and so are you, probably, but if you have a moment you might want to check out the two reviews of Good Habits, Good Students that I’ve posted on the Good Habits Blog. A couple of pretty impressive people saying nice things about my book.

Cheers me right up.

Enjoy 2007-08, everyone!

How to lose weight

At least, here’s how I lost 25 lbs:

  1. I quit drinking coffee. Then I got the flu, aching from head to toe for two weeks until I realized I didn’t have the flu: I was going through coffee withdrawal. Half a week later I was cured.
  2. I changed my diet. At the time (mid-July) it was extremely hot, which made it a bit easier. I ate rice and vegetables. Soy sauce. Fruit for dessert. Once in a while, a small bit of lean meat or fish. I drank water. No sugar, no dairy products, no processed foods.
  3. After 3 months or so I had lost 10-15 lbs. I then began exercising a little: push-ups and a bit of stretching.
  4. After about 9 months I had lost 25 lbs. and was down to my normal weight from 15 years ago. Without all the extra weight, exercising became possible, even pleasurable. I started to feel physically fit for the first time in years.

My conclusions: After a certain age, the metabolism slows down so much that it’s impossible to exercise your way out of obesity. The only solution is to put less food into your mouth, and better food. I had a craving for coffee, and I had a craving for cheese. I didn’t think I could live without either of them; I didn’t think I wanted to live without either of them. I was wrong. My new rule of thumb: if I have a craving for a certain food, it’s not good for me.

It’s been almost a year now since I quit coffee and changed my diet. I’m exercising every day and feel great. I don’t miss the coffee or the cheese.

Pretty simple, eh?

Are you open to new experiences?

According to a study by an American psychologist,

It appears that at younger ages, openness to experience is the most important personality factor correlating with the attainment of facts, vocabulary, and book learning.

So if you are not by nature attracted to new experiences, make an effort and develop the habit of being more open to the new and unfamiliar.

The same study, interestingly, found that crankiness in older people is a sign of higher intelligence.