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Top 10 Ways to Know if You Are Addicted to Sugar

Five years ago when I first wrote on the effects of sugar and its addictive potential, there were a lot of questions and doubts that sugar is addictive.  The Harvard Study, printed in the June 26, 2013 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, puts those questions to rest.

Twelve overweight or obese men age 18 to 35 were given a milk shake on two separate occasions.  The milkshakes were the same calories, nutrients and taste.  One caused high blood sugar and the other did not cause high blood sugar.  A functional MRI done four hours after ingestion of the shake slowed greater brain activity at the pleasure or reward center of the brain, the nucleus accumbens, in the participants who had consumed the milkshakes that caused high blood sugar.  This is the same area that lights up in persons with drug addiction or gambling addiction.

Sugar addiction does exist.  But the addiction isn’t just to sugar.  Anything that will elevate blood sugar (high glycemic index foods) does the same thing—white flour, white potatoes, refined starch.

“But I just love to eat sugar—that doesn’t mean I’m addicted.”  True.  Let’s define some terms.

Urge:  a strong need or desire to have or do something

Craving: a very strong desire for something; intense, urgent, abnormal desire or longing

Addiction: a strong and harmful need to regularly have something or do something; compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal

So…How Do I Know if I am Addicted to Sugar?

If you answer “Yes” to most of the following statements, you are probably addicted to sugar.

1.         I consume sweets, even if I am not hungry, because of cravings.

2.         I find myself constantly eating sweets throughout the day.

3.         I have an increased desire for sweets when I reduce or stop eating them.

4.         My sugar eating causes physical problems, and yet I keep eating it.

5.         When I eat more sugar, my emotions improve.

6.         When sweets are unavailable, I will go find some.

7.         I spend a lot of time feeling sluggish or fatigued from overeating.

8.         I can’t function at my best because of needing to eat sweets.

9.         I need to eat more and more sweets to get the same emotional help I got before.

10. After the first bite, I will binge and eat the whole sack of sweets.

11. (bonus) If I don’t eat sweets, I will be an emotional wreck.

If you are addicted, or feel your cravings are getting out of control, there is help.

We will soon be releasing a highly successful program, Sweet Freedom From Sugar.  It will walk you through the 5 steps to freedom from sugar addiction.  If you would like more details, place your name on the interest list and we will keep you informed as to its release date, probably in the next month.

Dr. Stan Gardner, a Certified Nutrition Specialist, is passionate about helping people reach their peak in health.  His office is in Sandy, UT, and he can be reached at 801.302.5397.  

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Fed Up: The Movie, and My Thoughts

Fed Up—Movie Review

Stan Gardner, MD, CNS

See Fed Up if you want:

  • to understand the true cause of obesity
  • your family to eat better food
  • to understand the power of the processed food industry
  • to realize the government cannot (will not) help you be healthy
  • to understand that health for you and your family must be your personal responsibility

Epidemic of Obesity

 In the US today, 1/3 of Americans are overweight and 1/3 are obese.  At the present rate, in 2 decades 95% of the population will be overweight or obese.  By 2050, 1/3 of the US will have diabetes mellitus, type II.  The next generation of children will be the first generation in the history of the United States that will live shorter than their parents.

 True Cause of ObesityIt’s All Preventable

 Sugar is the cause of obesity, not fat.  There are 600,000 food items in stores; 80% of them have added sugar.  When the NIH and the Senate Committee came up with the “Dietary Goals for the US” in the 1970s and 80s, saying that fat was bad, the food industry doubled the sugar and halved the fat in most foods.  (This supposedly made food healthier, although there was no scientific support for that.  Even after 5 very expensive studies trying to prove that fat was bad and caused obesity, it could not be proven.  But it remained the prevailing theory.)

 The processed food industry then targeted children in their marketing, and Ronald McDonald entered the scene.  More recent studies have shown that sugar stimulates the brain in the same manner as cocaine and heroin.  Laboratory rats preferred sugar water over cocaine when given a choice.  Sugar is addictive.

 How the Government Contributes to Obesity

 When the World Health Organization (WHO) was ready to release a document  of dietary guidelines restricting sugar intake to 10%, the Bush administration threatened to withdraw $405M support of WHO if the document was released.  It was not printed.

The government subsidizes the processed food industry to the tune of $Billions, much of it through subsidizing corn to make high-fructose corn syrup.  Decades ago when across the board cuts were made to all services, the school lunch program was also cut.  In an effort to stay solvent, schools set up partnerships with fast food establishments and soda pop distributors.  This also provided a source of revenue for the schools.

The Lies that Perpetuate the Obesity Epidemic

 Robert Lustig, MD and neuro-endocrinologist, maintains the food industry is perpetuating three falsehoods to distract Americans from the problem of sugar:

  • Obesity is the issue (the real issue is the metabolic illness associated with obesity, which also is seen in non-obese children.  While 17% of children are obese, more than 50% of children have the metabolic problems that are present in obese children.)
  • A calorie is a calorie.
  • It’s about personal responsibility.  “It’s about how active kids are.”  “Voracious appetites and they don’t exercise enough.”

An Attempt to Change It

Michelle Obama became quite the early advocate for healthy eating and significant changes in the processed food industry.  Then the food industry decided to partner with her in this endeavor.  One and one-half trillion calories were trimmed off foods.  Unfortunately, this only amounted to about 20 calories per day reduction per person.  Her Let’s Move It campaign shifted from moving or changing the food industry, to supplying more healthy food, to more exercise.  The wife of the President of the United States could not move the nation toward healthier food options.

The Junk Food/Processed Foods/Sugar Industries are Using the Same Techniques as the Tobacco Industry Used in the 1950s and 60s

Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent through campaign donations and extremely effective lobbyists to keep the status quo relative to tobacco.  In the 1950s and 1960s the tobacco industry emphasis was on their assertion that the science was uncertain.  The tobacco industry sponsored game shows and cartoons.  Endorsements were made by doctors, dentists and celebrities.  Finally when a 1991 study showed that 6 year olds recognized “Joe the Camel” as much as Mickey Mouse, R.J. Reynolds was told to remove it from their marketing.  (Does any of this sound like the sugar industry politics of today?)  In 2009 the RICO case found the tobacco industry guilty of engaging in a decades-long conspiracy to defraud the American public about the health risks of tobacco.  The future of the tobacco industry presently lies in off-shore production and marketing to developing countries.


 Dr. Mark Hyman was interviewed extensively on the documentary.  He proposes:

  • A 10-day sugar detox diet
  • Taxation on soda pop
  • Eliminate food marketing to kids
  • Make labels more transparent
  • Get rid of all junk food in schools

 Dr. Robert Lustig proposes the following solutions:

  • Warnings on soft drink cans
  • Equal time advertising fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Voluntary agreements to reduce sugar content

 Dr. Gardner’s comments:

 We must assume personal responsibility for our health.  It will start with a diet of real food and no sugar.  Although the WHO wants to limit sugar to 10% of the diet, there is no known minimum need for sugar or carbohydrates.  We will get all the carbohydrates we need through eating good food.

The school lunch only accounts for 180 of the 1095 meals (16%) your children will eat.  You may send lunch to school, or your child may choose healthier food (which is becoming more available), but even if your children eat school lunch, you still control the vast majority of their meals.

 Although the movie did not bring out exactly how and why sugar causes fat, it is an important concept.  If you were on a 2000 calorie diet and those calories were burned throughout the day, you would feel good because that is what your body needs.  If you eat 500 calories as sugar, the normal insulin response would drive those calories into the storage form called fat, because the body does not need that rapid infusion of glucose into the body.  The other 1500 calories would be normally burned throughout the day, but you don’t feel good because your body needs and utilizes 2000 calories.  You eat 500 more calories to feel good.  Thus you gain fat (and weight).

The movie Fed Up is an excellent resource for information about our health.  Its message will disturb you, but it is well worth watching, and it may transform YOUR health.  Bon appetit!

 If you would like to know more about Dr. Gardner’s philosophies, visit him at his website  His office number is (801) 302-5397.  He will soon be releasing his popular Sweet Freedom From Sugar program.  If you would like to be placed on the interest list so you will be informed of the starting date, visit

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Obesity, TV, and Our Kids

Here’s a quote to help you stay awake at night:

On television alone the average U.S. child sees 15 food commercials every day, or approximately 5,500 commercials a year. The food products advertised most extensively to children and teens include high-sugar breakfast cereals, fast food, soft drinks, candy, and snack foods. In comparison, children see fewer than 100 ads per year for healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and bottled water.

The source gives us information that, at the least, causes concern about the healthy future outlook for our children.  When bombarded with nothing but unhealthy options, that are portrayed as being desirable, they are faced with potential disease in their future.

I have to say, regardless of political leanings, I side with First Lady Michelle Obama and food master chef Jamie Oliver on this one:  We need to be giving our kids the right messages about what is good for them.  And ultimately, when they are involved in their food by including them in gardening, when we talk freely about food choices and what’s good  (and bad) for us, they stand a much better chance of being healthy as they mature.

Worth the effort.

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The Popular HCG Diet and “Ease on Down Weight Balance Program”

Hi Dr. Gardner, What do you think of the HCG diet that seems to be so popular right now?

Before I specifically answer your question, I’m going to explore some foundational principles in weight loss that are key components in the soon-to-be-launched (next week!) Ease on Down Weight Balance Program.

At the core of losing weight is getting your body into a healthy state.  This involves long term commitment, understanding of the underlying principles of how your body operates, and learning how to recognize and respond to the clues your body is giving you with the signs and symptoms you experience.

When you commit to follow the Ease on Down Weight Balance Program, all of those elements, and many more, are included in your training.  You will immediately begin to notice the benefits of feeling better, or walking more easily (even going up and downstairs–yes, even with challenges in your knees!)  You will have more energy; you will be filled with greater zest for life and an overall sense of well-being. Your excess weight will begin to melt off, and you’ll notice a difference in how your clothing fits and how you feel about yourself.

That said, some of us are morbidly obese, and have been struggling with intense and significant weight issues for many years.  For our personal health and safety, we need to get significant amounts of weight off.

I am opposed to gastric bypass surgery.  It is far too dangerous, with far too many side effects, and the risks far outweigh the benefits of this procedure.  So….

The Ease on Down Program takes this into account.

After you have participated in the program for a few months, and learned and incorporated the teachings into your personal habits and lifestyle, I am making available a few tested, safe, methods for a more rapid weight loss.  A special format of HCG will be available as an option, after we have explored the best options for you personally.  You will be an active participant in this process (after all, it’s YOUR body!).  These are planned with extensive research and personal and patient experience, and they include some tremendous aspects that are not available anywhere else.

This program is comprehensive, and it is profound.  It will change your life.

Now, having said all that…let’s get to HCG:

The HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) diet has some great elements in it:

  • It gets you off all sugar, processed food and many harmful foods.
  • It insists you are on a good supplement program, and
  • it encourages you to clean up your life from toxins and other harmful substances.
  • It even supports your liver, which will help with detox after you start losing fat. (Toxins in the body reside in the fat tissue, and will be released as fat is burned.)

The 500 calorie diet is not healthy, but the program recognizes it and will not let you stay on it indefinitely, requiring breaks of several weeks in between ‘treatments.’ The HCG is made by the body, so it has metabolic pathways to handle the extra load.

HCG apparently takes away your appetite so you are not hungry on that low of a diet, and the pounds just melt away.

The important thing about any diet that works is what lifestyle you will adapt when the weight is off. If you will be going back to an unhealthy program that made you gain weight in the first place, it will come right back with a few extra pounds. The HCG program anticipates some regression and has made provisions to help you get back on track, which is good.

There are almost as many sources of HCG as there are people promoting the product.  They differ in quality. The HCG that will be available through the Ease on Down Weight Balance Program is highly effective, not given through injections, and contains some exclusive additional benefits that I will share with you during the program.  These are available through homeopathic drops.  It is tested and proven, and of exceptional quality.

If this is of interest to you, and you are not yet on the interest list for the Ease on Down Weight Balance Program, I suggest you go right now to this link, and sign up.  There is no obligation:

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Announcing the Ease on Down Weight Balance Program

Hi Dr. Gardner,
I’ve read your articles on Meridian Magazine online and much of what you’ve written jives with what I’ve learned about medicine over the the last few years.
I’m in my mid-30s and I’m clinically obese. My BMI is between 37 and 38, though when I tell people I weigh between 270-290 they nearly fall over. I just don’t look that big. I just look a little chubby. Anyway, I’ve had periods where I have lost significant amounts of weight, 49 lbs last summer, 20 lbs here and there before and after last summer’s success, mostly by following a paleo-type diet, cutting all sugar and most carbs except for a cheat meal every week. I don’t understand how I can be successful for a period but then I fall back into my old, self-destructive eating habits, especially when I usually feel so good when I’m disciplined and strict about my eating.
You’ve been talking about a new weight loss program. Would this program help me?

I’m pleased to say that yes, I believe that this program will help you.  Why?  How is it different from all the other “diets” that you’ve been on?

Ease on Down Weight Balance Program is NOT a diet.  It is a long-term program designed to help you get in tune with your body again.  You will learn how your body functions, and why it reacts the way it does, and how it communicates with you to tell you what it needs.  You will learn how to connect with your body so that the two of you truly become one, and work in partnership.

When you apply the correct principles of healthy living, your body will begin to move into its correct and most healthy state.  The Ease on Down Weight Balance Program partners with you in helping you to understand and establish those correct principles in your life.  They will become habits, and the habits will support you in making these long-term, permanent changes.

I’ve worked on the Ease on Down Weight Balance Program for nearly 20 years.  Over the last several years I have tweaked it, refined it, and tried it on several people (myself included) with wonderful results.  If you are interested, please put your first name and email address in the comments below, or visit this site to get on the list for the information I’ll be sending out in the next few days:

The Ease on Down Weight Balance Program will launch in early to mid-October, to a limited number of participants.  I am excited to see each of you who participate feel fantastic, move with greater ease and fluidity, and watch with delight as your clothes fit better and you look and feel terrific!

To your dynamic health and energy!  Dr. Stan

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Stress, Abuse, and Weight Gain

I would like to learn how stress and abuse may have contributed to my weight gain.

Stress causes weight gain.  It also makes it difficult to lose weight.  Here’s why:

As our body reacts to the stresses placed upon it, it shifts into the ‘fight or flight’ mode called the sympathetic nervous system overload. This system is designed to protect us when we meet the saber tooth tiger in the jungle.  The system

  • increases blood supply to muscles,
  • makes the heart pump harder and faster,
  • makes us stronger,
  • releases sugar from its storage form–all in an effort to improve survival. It also
  • decreases non-survival mechanisms
  • decreases all digestive juices,
  • slows down the digestive tract (which causes constipation),
  • decreases urine production,
  • tightens sphincter control and relaxes the bladder and gall bladder.

This is the initial reaction. If the stress does not go away, the body sets up a new level of stability, but in overdrive. Chronic stress leads to chronic elevation of glucose, increased insulin release to help reduce it, and chronic interference with all digestive processes. High insulin interferes with the body’s ability to break down fat for energy, and encourages fat formation because of the elevated glucose levels.

Current trauma is just another stressor. Past trauma and abuse will act as a chronic stressor, and these may even be difficult to identify. Some of this abuse is remembered in the tissues of the body, serving as a constant reminder, often at the subconscious level.

As we ‘hang on’ to these experiences, and have difficulty forgiving others or ourselves–as we can’t ‘let go’ of the emotional stuff–we will also have difficulty ‘letting go’ of the physical stuff, like fat. So, not only do we need to address the present stresses in our life, we must also release the past abuses and move on so we can be healthy and feel good.

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Calories Count? Or Carbs? Or What?

Calorie Counters Have it Right, Diet Study Says

Recently released information in the Wall Street Journal shows that calories do count—that it isn’t what you eat, but how much. Participants were put in one of four diet groups—2 low-fat groups and 2 high-fat groups, with a high-protein and normal-protein groups being the other parameter. All diets were Continue reading Calories Count? Or Carbs? Or What?

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Vitamin Water Marketing and Sugar (?!)

Wall Street Journal

Coca-Cola Co. faces a deceptive claims law suit from The Center for Science in the Public Interest for its VitaminWater bottle. Coca-Cola claims the vitamins reduce the risk of chronic disease and support immune function. The opposing side claims the sugar content will promote obesity, diabetes and Continue reading Vitamin Water Marketing and Sugar (?!)

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Dangers in Approved Drugs

A series of recent articles in various newspapers and magazines bring to light some issues that concern me, and may be of concern to you. Read on for a synopsis and my thoughts:

Injected Wrinkle Fillers Need Stronger Warnings, FDA Says

The FDA panel is debating if there should be stronger Continue reading Dangers in Approved Drugs

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Obesity, Diabetes, and Stress: My Initial Notes from the Las Vegas ACAM Meeting

I recently returned from an ACAM (American College for Advancement in Medicine) meeting that was held in Las Vegas. This group of medical professionals meets twice a year as a group and shares the latest information in healthy alternatives to drugs and surgery. I’d like to share some of the highlights with you:

Highlights of ACAM meeting October 17-19, 2008

First speaker: James LaValle, NC, CCN, R.Ph (Pharmacist)

Metabolic progression of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes to cancer

The presentation started with how the various stresses on the body (diet, drugs, exercise, emotional, toxins, …) Continue reading Obesity, Diabetes, and Stress: My Initial Notes from the Las Vegas ACAM Meeting