Saying Goodbye to My Sugarholic Diva Days

Rena Newman avatar

by Rena Newman |

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“Oh, honey. Ah, sugar, sugar.”  

Hola, señoritas y señores. I’m still exhausted from the holiday weekend, even though I didn’t do much. Hey, looks like there’s caramel corn in my cleavage again. Crunch! Nom nom.  

Anyway, tonight I’m sitting at home wrapped in my knitted purple mermaid blanket that is two sizes too big, looking like a walrus, and I’m thinking about sugar. Buk, mew, buk, mew.” Oh, Cadbury eggs.   

“Confection Takeover.” (Courtesy of Derrian Childress)

I resent that I’m always craving something so terrible, and I blame my inner sugar addict diva. Together, we are a hot mess, and she is always hungry. 

“Look! Krispy Kreme.” Keep dreaming.  

I wonder if there is a connection between Sjögren’s syndrome and sugar?

It’s only speculation 

“Sin-a-bon.” What? “Cinn-a-bon!” Silence! 

All right, focus.  

Since sugar causes inflammation in the body, I am curious whether my sugar addiction contributed to getting Sjögren’s. Maybe I would have gotten it regardless. I also wonder if this disease can cause an obsessive desire for sweets. Could it be a bit of a stretch, or am I on to something?  

Friends, am I alone in this? What do you all think? 

“What would you do for a Klondike bar?” No, ma’am!  

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diet recommendations

Diet Tips for Sjogren’s Syndrome Patients

Dental concerns 

I’ve had enough of this. And a little piece of my bottom right molar just broke off. Wow, as if I’m surprised. I am aware of the dental problems associated with Sjögren’s syndrome and how sugary foods only compound the problem. Gee, if I keep going down this route, at this pace, I’ll be writing denture adventures in no time. 

It’s interesting, I know what to do to take care of myself, but I don’t always do it. I manage to take care of myself well when it comes to other things, but a sweet-treat habit has always been an on-and-off battle for me.   

Gimmie a break, gimmie a break, break me off a piece of that …” Don’t you dare say it. 

Sayonara, sweetmeats 

Hi, my name is Rena, and I am a sugarholic. 

I’m hoping that by confessing this to you all now, this time will be different, and I will follow through and quit for good. Also, if there’s anyone else out there reading this with the same struggle, know you’re not alone. Today is a new day and hopefully the start of a new season.

I want and need to mean what I say in the following lyrics, from my musical journal entry #18, “Goodbye”: 

“I’m taking back control of my life,

And you’re not welcome here anymore.

Just go away forever.

Yes, it’s really over now,

So, goodbye,

Goodbye, my love.”


Note: Sjögren’s Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sjögren’s Syndrome News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Sjögren’s syndrome.


Marina avatar


Sugar is the devil. I have tried to cut it out as much as I can. The inflammation it causes is not worth it. I have sarcoidis, underactive thryroid, coeliac disease and cronic hand dermatitis and all seem to flare up with sugar intake, especially from alcohol. I am coming off HRT at the moment too so doing my best to stay healthy. There are nice treats you can make without sugar so find something you like and go for it. Best of luck. Thanks for this article. It helps to know there are others out there xx

Rena Newman avatar

Rena Newman

Indeed! Thanks, Marina <3

Eileen m Burkhardt avatar

Eileen m Burkhardt

I'm a diabetic just diagnosed with Sjogrens. i have a terrible time controlling my craving for sweets, and only my diabetes and fasting blood sugar keep it in check.

Shelley avatar


Yes ! I can identify, Im not sure why many healthy foods upset my stomach, but these thickly covered chocolate donuts do not 😩 & then I reassure myself , I deserve this delicious donut, because I have Sjogrens & RA & fibromyalgia

Rena Newman avatar

Rena Newman

It's the same for me. The healthy foods tend to hurt my stomach and it's not just about trying to get used to the fiber. I also have a hard time taking vitamins.

Mary lou avatar

Mary lou

I am and have also been a sweet tooth person. My husband always kids people I would give other things up for extra sweets.
I was just diagnosed in Jan with Srogjens and lupus so I am new to the game and seeing how it affects my body like it didn’t before

I’m due to see a nutritionist next month and seeing if she can direct me in the correct way to reduce flares and take control .

Rena Newman avatar

Rena Newman

Hey Mary lou. My husband also makes jokes about it. I think it's awesome that you're seeing a nutritionist soon. I plan to as well.

Alice avatar


I so so appreciate your frankness about this havoc that has somehow got into my body still can't figure out where I do have the sugar blues just like u I beat it once years ago tks for the way you describe our situation u put a smile on my face god bless keep in coming tks alice always look forward to Monday I crave it also

Rena Newman avatar

Rena Newman

Hi Alice. Thanks for your sweet comment. <3

Jan Ordos avatar

Jan Ordos

I hit a wrong button, so please delete whatever came across in this field earlier because I was not finished. As I was saying, I will continue to enjoy some Hershey's (or any other brand) of DARK chocolate every day. I first saw the Hershey's bar in a PMS kit at Pay n' Save those 35 years ago, and not knowing what else was in the kit, I thought I would try the dark chocolate to see if it helped with the stress of PMS. And it did! So I have continued to this day, some 35 years later, but it helps now to relax my muscles AND give me energy to make it through at least half of the day with the vagaries of Sjogren's. I have to stay away from too much dairy but for someone else, milk chocolate bars may also work. Red meat is also inflammatory and I can tell the difference in pain level when I eat red meat. And 2 tabs of Advil - what can I say? I can go for 8 hours straight (without pain and with energy) on just those 2 tablets, knowing of course, that too much Advil can affect the kidneys which is one more problem I hope not to deal with, so am careful to only do that a couple of times a week. I have had the SS-A and SS-B markers for Sjogrens since 1992.

Allison avatar


Amen Sister!



Thanks for your post. I quit sugar for a 3 years and like any 'oholic' I started back on it very slowly. Now, I am back eating once a day, every day. I needed your post to shake me back to reality and to, once again, get back on track.

Linda K Smith avatar

Linda K Smith

I swear sugar is physically addictive and it is in EVERYTHING. Awful part of it is that for me it adds to the depression, joint pain the misery of eye inflammation. ugh.... do love my reeses peanut butter cups!

Bev avatar


I have dark chocolate every day-85% dark chocolate. It does not bother me due to the negligible sugar. It may take a while to get used to the taste, but it won't cause a sugar binge.

Loraine Dixon avatar

Loraine Dixon

Hi I was diagnosed with secondary Sjogrens in december the consultant at Hobowen hospital in Wales told me there was no cure but several things I could do to control it . I explained my herbalist had previously put me on a no sugar diet. No cakes or biscuits but also no root veg and soya milk as the almond unsweetened has no sugar rather than cows milk rich is 10% sugar !!! I had done this for 3 months. The inflammation in my fingers reduced I can now get my engagement rings on and felt marvellous. Back to the consultant he said well I think your herbalist is a very wise man because that is exactly what I am going to tell you to do. . I did for 3 months but only seem to be able to manage for about that but then slowly I went back to my old eating ways. At Easter I had chest pain and have just had an angiogram but after being told to not do anything strenuous I have now put on a stone. And feel awful. So I am living proof cutting sugar out works. My eyes didnt hurt and I have had dry mouth for 7 years but even that did not bother me so much. Yesterday I had the angiogram and today I am going back on the diet it's just not worth a piece of cake to be I'll I hope this helps . Ps I do have no sugar biscuits with a cuppa you can buy them from Diablo but my herbalist told me it takes 7 days to get it out of your system and I can honestly say people have sat and eaten puddings and cream doughnuts in front of me and once I have the right mindset it doesnt bother me. I cut out bread because of the yeast being activated by sugar. And whatever I had in a sandwich I put on a plate and have with some salad. There are so many beautiful green veg and I ate avocados lots with salmon tuna etc . I just had meat or fish with green veg . I am not bothered about tomatoes but I also understand they can cause inflammation in arthritis. Hope this helps

Susan Masterson avatar

Susan Masterson

Yes, yes yes. When I eat sugar, my eyes are burning within hours. Cutting sugar makes a huge difference!

Jennifer Michele avatar

Jennifer Michele

I’ve had Sjögren’s since 2009. At least that’s when I was diagnosed. I eat sugary foods only food I can taste. I can’t taste savory foods and I can no longer smell those same foods. It could be due to the severe dry mouth (xerostomia). Also, the dryness makes it difficult to swallow (dysphagia). Not to mention the once beautiful teeth which become the beautiful expensive crowns which are now all broken due to the dry mouth.
Ahh, Sjögren’s, doctors are oblivious to this strange inflammatory disease. Trying for many years now to recieve medically necessary dental procedures which we should be qualified for!
Tough to quit the sugar.

Felicita Alvarado avatar

Felicita Alvarado

Thank you from another SugarHolic . I tried many times to put it behind me. It pulls me back in. I didn't understand it until I read the Fungus Link to Diabetes by Doug Kauffman. He breaks it down. There is also a list of things you can eat and to avoid. When I follow it I have less inflammation. Then 3 months later I fall off the wagon.
I am going to try again today, however already had half a poppy seed muffin ={ God Bless You. I appreciate you sharing your journey. Lisa Alvarado

Alberta Kucharski avatar

Alberta Kucharski

I've been a sugar-holic my entire life and I'm in my late 70's. I blame my mother - she made the most wonderful desserts!
I'm recently diagnosed with Sjogren's and quitting sugar was difficult but now I have no desire for it. My husband always has a sweet snack in the evening and even watching him eat it doesn't make me want some.

Kimberly Collins avatar

Kimberly Collins

I am a sugaraholic too. I went keto for 1 month and started stevia and monk fruit. Well, I’m off keto but stayed on the stevia monkfruit. It’s not bad. I use it in my morning coffee and oatmeal. Although, I do have sugar in OTHER foods I eat, like dressing on my salad, and okay maybe a mug of ice cream or a brownie mug cake… once in awhile. But! You can start swapping it out too! Every little bit helps. That’s how I feel. I’m pre diabetic and trying my best to eat better fir my Sjogrens, Raynauds, erythromelalgia too. Good luck to everyone! Keep trying!

Nancy Blonshine avatar

Nancy Blonshine

Reading about the comments of how bad sugar is for us, leads me to another question teeth. I have had sjogrens for 23 years and it has been miserable. Now I am at the point where I have to go through the choice between dental implants or dentures. I cannot bear anything in my mouth, so I do not think I could stand dentures. I am hoping that I can get some input from somebody that might have had to make this decision, and give me some direction.........I would certainly not welcome being toothless(:

Adrienne Jones avatar

Adrienne Jones

Such funny timing as I'm trying to eliminate any sugar from my diet as well. Also interesting to see that healthy foods don't agree with some people on this thread. I have the same issues. I'm not a "sugarholic" per se, I'd be more devastated about having to give up salt - but I will miss that little handful of jelly belly's when I feel like something sweet.

Laurie Nichols avatar

Laurie Nichols

There are so many triggers lying in wait in various foods. I once mentioned to my rheumatologist that I thought eating salty chips and drinking a bushwhacker on our boat days may have contributed to a bad day following. He said “stop eating chips”, as if that were something one could do immediately and with no effort. It DOES take effort. I make sweet treats with natural sweeteners like Maple syrup, honey or dates that satisfy my sugar cravings. But I’ll never give up chocolate! I eliminated gluten from my diet about 5 years ago, to help prevent inflammation. It is hard, but it also keeps me away from all those yummy muffins, donuts, cakes, and cookies I don’t need anyway. It’s a continual balancing act. Hang in there, and keep writing these lovely articles. It’s wonderful having a forum to share our trials and tribulations with others. Thank you!

Rena Newman avatar

Rena Newman

Hey, Laurie. I'm with you. I can't give up my chocolate! <3

Mary Parrott avatar

Mary Parrott

Hello Rena! This is my first day reading your wonderful articles! I'm newly diagnosed...after 12 years of going from one doctor to another including 3 other rheumatologists only to be told that my pain was all in my head! ...and am just now beginning to make a little bit of sense about this whole Sjogren's trip (with RA, pericarditis, osteoarthritis as well) !! I, too, have just had a piece of my bottom right molar break off! I, too, am a sugarholic...but AM really Trying to cut it out...Most Days! But Stevia, monk fruit, and ALL other sugar substitutes that I've tried...well...they seem to cause...uh...let's just say I UNDERSTAND NOW about those Embarrassing Moments you wrote about!!
Anyway, I just wanted to say THANK YOU for your articles and for the opportunity to read what others have to say about their own journeys with this crazy dis-ease ( that, acccording to Google and Mayo clinic is "an immune disorder characterized by dry eyes and dry mouth." That's IT? Saliva and tears??? They make it sound sooo....benign. simple. harmless!!!) I'm just glad to Finally Know WTH is going on with my body...and that iit's NOT All in My Head!!!
Thank you again, and Keep on Writing !!

Lorna avatar


Hi Everyone,
It is interesting reading about your different journeys with Sjogren. I am 57 years old and was diagnosed with Sjogren's three years ago. I feel blessed as I see a private Rheumatologist through my private insurance as well as one in the NHS both are very good in the information they provide. I am a very persistent individual when it comes to my health as I would like to live a long time in good health so trying to do everything to help myself. I used to have a sweet tooth but due to the condition and not wanting to develop diabetes I have gone minimal and take honey from the farm rather than sugar in my ginger drink or just plain hot water. I do not have any box drinks only Ribena on the odd occasion when I feel for a glass or need some energy. I do my best to have a healthy diet and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. I used to have a lot of basmati rice but that's non-existent now. I have whole wheat brown rice but do not like the texture when cooked so left it alone. I am a fitness fanatic so constantly exercising in the gym and walk every day. I love running but a dfe weeks ago I went running outside and on my return, my knees were very painful for a few days so haven't ran since but still go and do my gym classes. I found I was getting worrying headaches and went to see the dermatologist who sent me for a brain scan (private) and the results were clear and I am relieved so thankful to God for that. However, I have been getting spontaneous lightheadedness to the point of sitting down or at the computer, feel like I am moving but I am not. I went to my local GP who is not b=very helpful and we both had arguments when I go to see her now because sad to say for a doctor she is very uncaring. I saw her last week about the lightheadedness and to my shock she told me these things happens and I may not get the answer I am looking for and there are some things we have to **live with**, I told her I live in hope, she did not like my response! She has referred me to see the ENT so I am now waiting for the appointment to come through. I have stiffness and pain in the right side of my neck but use Voltarol and Biofreeze which I found very useful and massage the area and it has now literally gone.
I have done my own research, asks questions to my dermatologists and found this forum useful. I am praying for a **cure** for this disease will be found sooner than later. Be encouraged, stay positive and let us live in hope.
God bless

Ann Chapman avatar

Ann Chapman

Thank you so much, this is the first time that I have read comments from other people that do so apply to me. It has cheered me up no end to read of the efforts you make to overcome the difficulties of Sjogrens. Sweet treats are one of my failings and as I like dark chocolate, I will try having a piece in the evening and see if that helps with my longings. Thank you all again, especially Rena, I really enjoy your blogs.

Beth Blois avatar

Beth Blois

Hello Rena, thank you for your column. I was reading from Jennifer Michele problems with her teeth and it sounds as if the crowns she got are broken as well. I was wondering if I read that right. I have Sjogren's as well and are getting crowns in September as my teeth are bad. I had thought that they would stand up to Sjogren's. Have you heard anything about crowns and Sjogren's? Thank you!

Carol Traweek avatar

Carol Traweek

This is so very interesting, and I need to say "applicable" to me, myself and I! I love sweets of any kind, I think, especially cookies! But after reading this, and knowing better already, just didn't want to admit it and take action! I will attend to my needs in food, and it will not be ice cream, cookies, candies, and etc. Thank you so much for writing this, Rena, and it's good to see that I am not alone!

Patricia T Jones avatar

Patricia T Jones

Wow, ladies! I have taken such note to what you have said about your journey with this illness. I can so relate!!! Much of this info pertains to me. I was diagnosed with Sjogren in 2017. I had some blood work done to get some life insurance and the lab indicated that I should share the results with my doctor. I had been complaining about tiredness for years. I had dry eyes so terribly bad that I woke up one day and literally could not open my eyes for a moment because the eyeball was stuck to the eyelid. My mouth was so dry that when I awake in the mornig, my tongue would become stuck to the roof of my mouth. I have tried to eat sugar in moderaton. As I was reading this article I was eating a walnut/pecan mix with candied ginger. I really like ginger, but I see now that I am going to have to look for ginger without the added sugar... I can feel the impact in my body. I have fallen asleep several times reading this newsletter... My eyes are sensitive to light so I wear the sunglass wraparound that the doctor gives you when you have your eyes dilated. Speaking of eyes, I have had vitreous detachment in both eyes (one two years ago, one two months ago). I take Aziathioprine for the rheumatoid arthritis. It makes my skin sensitive to the sun. My teeth have been impacted as well. I experience brain fog and fatigue also. I am 62 years old. I am so thankful for this group. This is my first time reading and sharing and I have been given great wisdom how to manage this disease. Thank you all for sharing! God bless you.

Alison avatar


Wow this article hit it out of the park for me I have been struggling with sugar issues for years having sjourns and fibromyalia and arthritis the inflammation is a real problem and so are the cravingings I've done everything diets 12 step programs you name it I've done it. Reading this has helped me put the bat away there must be a link with our illness to our cravings for sweets

Patti Podnar avatar

Patti Podnar

Sugar isn’t good for anybody. And I’m sure it contributed to my dental problems, but dryness was the main culprit. My teeth eroded to the point where I had to get every single tooth crowned, to the tune of $30K.

After a year and a half of wearing a mask, my gums are retracting, and my expensive crowned teeth are shifting. My mouth is so dry that very few foods sound appealing. So some days I eat ice cream for breakfast and nothing else the rest of the day. At least I make the ice cream myself!

Mindy avatar


I see there is a common symptom, and reasonings for our sugar tooth indulgence as well as our behavior with it. I will also just have a banana split which has very little ice cream. I am so intolerant to cold unless I've been working a sweating hard. This disease on top of autism all getting a very late diagnoses at age 38, I don't want to get worse, but wtf kind of life am I supposed to live if I have to take the one thing that isn't suffering? The one thing I have left I'm just supposed to want to stop? If I do that I can say, death will be much more appealing then living. Why does life have to be an increase in suffering an decrease in doing things that we want? It's insult to injury. I'm not a good example for others, I apologize. My brain fog is setting in now soo I lost my train of thought.

Laurie C avatar

Laurie C

I’m so glad that I found this forum and was able to learn from all of your experiences. I was diagnosed in 2019 through lab work and eye exam. I also have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. My rheumatologist recommended an anti-inflammatory diet which includes no sugar or artificial sweeteners and when I cut them out I can feel a reduction in pain and swelling in my hands and wrists, neck, lower back and feel better all around. Not to mention my dry eyes and mouth are less severe and the tinnitus is also better. The longer I can follow the diet the better it is for me, so this has really become my main coping mechanism.

Red meat I’ve discovered on my own is a trigger. It was not banned but recommended to eat less. I find it’s better to avoid all together. Bread of any kind is a no go, as are crackers, cereal, etc. I can usually tolerate 1 or 2 corn tortillas on occasion with no real problem. Poultry or fish with vegetables are the main meals along with eggs or omelette for breakfast. Protein shakes and smoothies are another way to stay satisfied and help reduce sweet cravings. It’s really hard in the beginning but the more you practice, the easier it gets. Built bar and Atkins makes really delicious snack bars that are super low in sugar and are coated in real chocolate. The coconut ones are really delicious!

Pilocarpine lollipops, 5mg, for dry mouth. I get mine made at a local compounding pharmacy. For days I feel flu-like symptoms with muscle pain I take a muscle relaxant. I can’t take NSAIDS. If someone has any advice for the brain fog or insomnia, please share. Even though I’m fatigued, it’s hard to sleep, so weird. Take care everyone and God bless.


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