When you eat something loaded with sugar, your taste buds, your gut and your brain all take notice. This activation of your reward system is not unlike how bodies process addictive substances such as alcohol or nicotine — an overload of sugar spikes dopamine levels and leaves you craving more. Nicole Avena explains why sweets and treats should be enjoyed in moderation.







  • gooey – soft and sticky
  • mouth-watering – (of food) having a very good appearance or smell that makes you want to eat
  • taste buds – the areas of your tongue that recognize the flavours of food/drinks
  • to fork off – to diverge into two or more separate paths
  • fuzzy – relating to pleasant and usually sentimental emotions; not clear
  • to kickstart – to make (something) active again
  • gut – the long tube in your body, through which food moves during the process of digesting food; (informal) a person’s stomach
  • overdrive – a state of great activity, effort, or hard work
  • to spike – (informal) to increase suddenly
  • to spark – to activate; to respond with enthusiasm
  • wedge – a piece of something, especially food, in the shape of a triangle

Answer the following questions:

Is sugar only present in candies and desserts?

What’s the brain’s reward system? What is it activated by?

What is the result of overactivating this reward system?

Why is it so hard to get kids to eat vegetables?

When are we more likely to get all the nutrients we need?

Why are we hooked on sugary foods?


Practice Makes Perfect

Fill in the gaps in the sentences below with the right word in bold:

           taste buds                          gooey                   spark                     fuzzy    

                          mouth-watering             overdrive           gut


  1. The basic facts of the story are starting to emerge however the details are ……. .
  2. The food came quickly but it looked wet, ………….. and not very appetizing.
  3. The show’s cast went into ………… to prepare for the first performance.
  4. It was as though I had hit her in the ….. .
  5. I took a bite and thought my ……… ….…. had gone to heaven.
  6. All the delicacies looked ………… – ………… .
  7. His question seemed to ………. a lot of interest.


 ANSWERS: 1.fuzzy; 2.gooey; 3. overdrive; 4. gut; 5. taste buds; 6. mouth-watering; 7. spark




Could you live without sugar?

Do you have a sweet tooth or do you prefer spicy food?

Do you like meat dishes that have sugar added to the sauce?

At what age is it ok to give children sweets? How much sugary stuff should children be given?

What’s your opinion of artificial sweeteners or other sugar substitutes?

Do you believe that sugar is addictive?


Explore it more to create your own teaching-learning experience!

Why Do We Crave Sweets When We’re Stressed?

A brain researcher explains our desire for chocolate and other carbs during tough times