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When Cookies Talk: How to Overcome Your Sweet Tooth with Dr. Andrea Grayson (Episode #168)

If your sweet tooth gets chatty when you pass candy or soda, or even chips, there is a reason. It turns out that mood swings, headaches, brain fog, depression, and exhaustion are also related to that irresistible tug, and it all comes down to the way sugar is hijacking our future, often hourly, every single day. Our guest, Dr. Andrea Grayson, has a fresh approach to helping us break free from this cycle, and unlocking a better future.



About Our Guest:

Dr. Andrea Grayson is a behavior change expert with a focus on Public Health at the College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, and she’s written a book called The Sweet Tooth Dilemma. Recently, Dr. Grayson is becoming an important, approachable voice on this topic; an “influencer” whose rigorous intention and ideas can radically improve our lives.

As a dentist of 30 years, I’ve thumbed through dozens of books in this genre, but this one stopped me in my tracks. I could immediately see that Andy’s perspective on the issue of reducing the impact of sugar in our lives was incredibly welcoming, concise, and doable. She gets to the facts quickly, and makes her case without shaming us or using that “know-it-all” tone that is so common among experts and speakers on this topic. 

Dr. Grayson comes by the question, “Are the cookies speaking to you?” from her own experience. Andrea’s life changed in 2016, when she suddenly realized that she had been concealing a lifelong dependence on sugar and carbs beneath a web of denial (“It’s just a sweet tooth”) and rationalization (“I’ve been good, I deserve a treat.”)  

After she taught herself to quit, she started helping others do the same: She created the program “Breaking Free from Sugar,” which has helped over 3,500 people successfully reduce how much sugar they eat. 

Best of all, in her book and in this interview, Andrea can laugh at herself while describing the almost supernatural grip that sugar has on most of us. With that context, she has broken down the issues surrounding our attraction to sugar into some very actionable realizations, like:

  • The fact that flour is sugar. (So even if we don’t have a sweet tooth, we may still be just as hooked on the feelings sugar gives us—it just comes in the form of foods like bread, crackers, and cereals instead of sweets.)
  • How processed foods are designed to trigger and hold us at our “bliss point.”
  • How the allure of carbs and sugars comes naturally to us—because not that long ago, we were hungry almost all the time, and needed the extra calories sugar would bring.
  • How willpower is not the answer. 
  • 4 big myths about sugar—which Andrea busts with important science, teaching us how our bodies work in the process.
  • Some great strategies that do work.

So why should we care? Well, that might be the most important takeaway message in this conversation, because it turns out that sugar and carbs can fundamentally change our physical, mental and emotional lives. What we’ve just eaten can greatly challenge our ability to have successful relationships in our families and workplaces; there are mood challenges that we might not even realize we are having, caused by sugar highs and lows on any given day. 

If anything in this article is resonating with you, Dr. Grayson has shared her wonderful “quit sugar” program in her book, The Sweet Tooth Dilemma, and information about all her programs can be found at CreateChangeLab.com. There, you will find her current projects, and the 10-Day Sugar Detox Program that guides people through the most challenging part of quitting sugar. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with relationships, energy levels, moods, headaches and other unexplained ups and downs, this episode is for you.

References Mentioned:


  • 00:00 – Intro & Welcome
  • 02:52 – Evolution and Sugar Craving
  • 06:10 – What is Sugar?
  • 10:01 – Sugar’s Pleasure Pathway
  • 11:00 – Willpower vs. Sugar
  • 12:15 – Dr. Grayson’s Sugar Journey
  • 15:38 – Understanding Dopamine
  • 17:10 – Pleasure Beyond Sugar
  • 18:20 – Break
  • 21:00 – The Bliss Point
  • 22:50 – Sugar Addiction
  • 28:01 – Detoxing from Sugar
  • 35:53 – Cold Turkey Detox
  • 38:29 – Sugar’s Impact on Children
  • 39:53 – Calorie Myths
  • 44:07 – Hidden Sugars in Foods
  • 47:54 – Label Reading Importance
  • 50:43 – Closing

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