Believe it or not, sugar addiction is a real thing. In countless studies, sugar has been proven to act like a drug in the body. Sugar creates a sense of euphoria shortly after ingesting it, then there is the comedown or sugar crash. You can have strong sugar cravings and actually experience withdrawal symptoms if your sugar addiction is bad enough. So can you kick sugar for good? Yes, but you need to think about a couple of things. First, think about what a drug addict has to do to rehabilitate themselves from drugs. It takes time and a lot of specific strategies to make it happen and to make it last. Also think about the fact that you probably won’t eliminate sugar completely from your diet, so your body will always be getting a little bit of the “drug.” But it is possible to conquer this addiction that so many of us battle. I didn’t have a sugar addiction, but I slowly lessened the amount of sugar in my diet over a period of one year. Now, years later, if I eat too much sugar, I feel sick, and I really don’t crave it all that much. Let me share some of my best nutritional advice for kicking the sugar habit.
#1. Go slow
Some people may be able to quit sugar altogether cold turkey, but that’s not going to be successful for everyone. I highly recommend taking your time over a period of months, or even a year. Phasing sugar out of your diet slowly will help your body adjust more naturally and without as many side effects. You should probably start by making a list of all of the things you eat that are high in sugar. Make a plan for slowly reducing and then removing these foods from your diet. If you regularly snack on candy before bed every night, don’t eat candy for one night the first week. The next week, don’t eat candy two nights, and so on until you are not eating candy any nights. This will go hand-in-hand with some of the other strategies below. Just take your time, be patient with yourself, and don’t give up. This is your health!
#2. Don’t fake it
In your quest to eat less sugar, do not turn to artificial sweeteners. These products are made of chemicals that you do not want to be putting in your body. We don’t know the long-term effects of these sweeteners, but some have already been linked to cancer. When you eat something with artificial sweetener, your body will not be fooled, and it will leave you still craving the real thing. Sugar may not be great for you, but at least it is natural.
#3. Clean out your pantry
Start making it a rule that you will not keep sugar-laden food in your house. You know that if it’s there you will eat it. Stop buying cookies, candy, ice cream, cakes, and anything else that you know is heavy on the sugar. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it. You shouldn’t be feeding this stuff to your children either. Instead, start buying healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, yogurt, etc.
#4. Turn to fruit
Fruit has sugar in it, naturally occurring sugar. This is not the same as the added sugar you will find in packaged treats. You still don’t want to eat fruit all day every day, but it will always be better than candy. Turning to fruit is a great option, especially in the beginning when you are first lowering your sugar intake and you are still battling cravings. Have super sweet fruit on hand always—pineapple, berries, peaches, melon, etc. A piece of fruit will usually cure any sugar craving you may be having.
#5. Flavor your food
Find simple low-fat ways to flavor all of your food, so that you feel more satisfied with your diet overall. If you are trying to lose weight, and all you eat are bland vegetables and unseasoned chicken, then of course the sugar cravings are going to go into high gear. Use fresh herbs, spices, lemons, and other natural flavorings to jazz up your food. See this post for more details.
#6. Read food labels
Once you have worked on the obvious sugar culprits, it’s time to start looking at where some of that hidden sugar is coming from. The more sugar you can remove from your diet, the better you will feel. There is sugar hiding in food items you wouldn’t imagine, like salad dressings, ketchup, BBQ sauce, crackers, bread, and lots of other places. Start looking at the sugar grams on the nutrition panel. Always opt for foods with 5 grams or less per serving. Don’t forget to look at the ingredients list too. The higher up sugar appears in the list, the more of it there is in the product. Sugar can come in many different forms. There are actually 61 different names for sugar on ingredients labels. You can read them here .
Sugar addictions can be conquered. It takes knowledge, dedication, and time. You will feel so much better if you do this, and you will be doing your body so much good. You and your health are worth it!
Have you overcome a sugar addiction? What are some tips that helped you?