Sugar addiction is something you may have suffered from at some point. If not a sugar addiction, maybe a pesky 3 p.m. sugar craving every day? There are reasons why you feel like a sugar addict! And for the benefit of your health, it’s time to examine ways to prevent cravings and how to remove sugar from your diet.
Why Do I Crave Sugar?
Craving sugar may have something to do with hormone changes and unbalanced blood sugar levels. Your hormones are chemical messages which communicate throughout your entire body via your bloodstream (1). Eating too much, too little, stress, underactive thyroid, lack of exercise, yeast infection, menopause, PMS and aging all affect hormones and blood sugar levels. Eating refined (bad) carbohydrates such as white bread, chips, and pasta affects blood sugar levels and the brain in such a way that self-control becomes challenging. The hamster wheel of eating carbs, then craving more carbs becomes a vicious cycle.
How To Stop Eating Sugar
Removing sugar from your diet is challenging because sugar is added to many foods. But it’s not impossible! Educate yourself on exactly which foods contain sugar. We all know that doughnuts and candy contain sugar, but what about seemingly healthy products like granola bars or fiber muffins? Unless homemade, chances are it’s loaded with sugar. Current research suggests that regularly eating high amounts of sugar may lead to changes in your brain and behavior similar to the effects of drugs (2). Some experts even think that sugar is as unhealthy as smoking a cigarette, and should be regulated in the same way.
Withdrawal symptoms during the first few days, or even a week, of removing sugar can be unpleasant for some. Don’t underestimate how difficult this process may be; sugar is highly addictive! Start removing sugar from your diet over the weekend so you can rest if necessary. Among other things, you may experience lack of energy, headaches and mood swings. Some people don’t notice any withdrawal symptoms.
Tips To Control Your Sugar Addiction
Protein helps enormously in controlling and preventing sugar craving by stabilizing blood sugar levels throughout the day and eradicating afternoon slumps and cravings. Eating protein with every meal helps control your dietary hormones insulin and glucagon. Insulin is a dietary hormone that your body produces when you eat carbohydrates. Insulin tells your body to store fat, creates inflammation throughout your entire body, and may increase bad cholesterol. Glucagon is a dietary hormone produced when you eat protein. This dietary hormone controls and balances insulin and prevents fat storage and weight gain. It increases your ability to lose weight and increases the P450 enzyme in your liver helping you detoxify during weight loss. Enjoy heaps of green leafy vegetables, good quality protein, healthy fats, and a few complex carbohydrates. Also, try these tips to control your sugar addiction.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can cause sugar cravings.
- Sleep deep. Every night is essential for managing sugar cravings.
- Reduce stress. A daily practice of yoga, meditation, walking in nature or talking to a friend really helps.
- Make a batch. Bite-sized treats containing chia seeds or flax, plus cacao, balance blood sugar levels and satisfy your hunger.
Fructose In Fruit
Fruit is packed with antioxidants but must be eaten in moderation. Fructose is a liver toxin which may begin the process of fat production. Excess fat production may lead to high levels of bad cholesterol. The other major issue with fructose is that it may initiate an enzyme which lowers the activity of insulin receptors in the liver, which may lead to higher insulin levels. Some studies, although more research is needed, claim that fructose may increase your homocysteine levels, leading to many health conditions and weak bones (3).
Enjoy low fructose fruits such as berries, oranges , grapefruit, apples, and pears. Avoid foods containing high amounts of fructose such as sucrose, honey, fruit juices, dried fruit, sports drinks, and bananas. For example, while a banana with almond butter can be perfectly healthy, a banana smoothie with honey and dates is likely too much fructose for one meal.
How To Stop Sugar Cravings
Managing cravings whether, they are sugar, alcohol, smoking or drugs, can be hard (4). The most effective trick for preventing sugar cravings is to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Blood sugar (aka blood glucose) is the sugar in your bloodstream that carries energy to your cells. Overeating sugar or simple carbohydrates causes your blood sugar levels to become consistently elevated, which may lead to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and even type 2 diabetes.
The best way to keep your blood sugar and insulin levels balanced is to swap your refined carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates, increase quality protein and enjoy healthy fats with every meal (5).
How Carbohydrates Affect Your Blood Sugar Levels
Eating a refined carbohydrate, such as a slice of white toast or a bowl of cereal for breakfast, causes your blood sugar level to rise. Hello sugar addiction (starting at 7 a.m.!). Within two to three hours your blood sugar levels fall, and cravings for carbohydrates rise (usually before lunch!). So, you eat another carb. This cycle continues indefinitely. While you sleep, blood sugar levels continue to drop, which can disrupt your sleep, and when you wake up, you feel tired, hungry and crave more carbohydrates, initiating the cycle all over again.
Enjoy complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates to maintain an equilibrium of energy. Healthy sources of complex carbohydrates include: quinoa, beans, lentils, brown rice, whole grain wheat, rye bread, wholemeal pasta, oats, apples, pears, oranges, plums, berries, dark green leafy veggies, watercress, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, green beans, capsicum, nuts, seeds and oatcakes.
Avoid refined simple carbohydrates such as: sugar, sweets, white bread, white pasta, white rice, alcohol, sauces, banana, raisins, and fast food.
No. 1 – Remove Forbidden Items from your Brain
Yes, it’s great to remove unhealthy food from the fridge and pantry, however I also want you to make a conscious decision to not make ANY food “forbidden”. When we make food forbidden, there is a mental shift in how we view it. That mental shift then makes you DESIRE that food even more. However, if you give yourself permission to consume that food when you want it, YOU then take back control.
No. 2 – Eat Regularly and Balanced
If you struggle with sugar cravings, make sure you are eating balanced (carbs, protein, fats) meals. This helps stabilize your blood sugar. Stick to lean proteins, complex carbs with fiber, and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods. They are packed with chemicals and artificial ingredients that can increase cravings!
No. 3 – Keep Healthy Options Handy
One of the BEST things I started doing was washing and prepping all my fruits and veggies right when I got home from the store. I unload all the groceries, spray the fruits and veggies with EatCleaner, then display them in the fridge at eye level, in clear containers. That way, when I open the fridge, strawberries, raspberries, apples, carrots, etc are starring me right in the face… so I am more motivated to grab it.
No. 4 – Don’t Eat when you’re Emotional
If you are in the midst of an emotional tornado, don’t eat. Allow your emotions to calm before putting food in your mouth. When we eat when we’re emotional, we train our brain to then crave food when we are effected emotionally.
No. 5 – Stay Away from Artificial Sweeteners
Eating simple carbs without the addition of proteins and fats, will give you a quick energy boost but will leave you craving more. Use an all-natural alternative, such as stevia!
No. 6 – Understand your Personal Food Boundaries
When dealing with cravings, there’s not just one approach. In my opinion, everyone should approach a craving differently. For example, one person might be able to eat a little bit of what they’re craving and that satisfies them. They’re able to consume a reasonable portion and don’t feel restricted. However, someone else might not be able to use this approach. On the alternative, one bite might send them over the edge and the flood gates open. They lose control, and end up over indulging in their craving. Everyone is different. Know your body. Know your boundaries.
No. 7 – Stay Hydrated! Drink Up!
Sometimes when you think you’re craving sugar, you’re actually just dehydrated.
No. 8-Enjoy Healthy Fats
Include some healthy fats like: coconut oil, flax seed oil, olive oil, avocado, chia seeds, egg yolk. Healthy fats tell your body to release a dietary hormone called leptin, which helps satisfy hunger for a few hours.
What Happens When You Stop Eating Sugar?
Withdrawal symptoms may be caused by the biochemical reaction within your body when you stop eating sugar (6). Symptoms include: bloating, fatigue, headaches, cramps, nausea, and cravings. How long these symptoms last varies enormously for everyone. Once these withdrawal symptoms end, you should start to feel full of vitality and motivation.
Removing sugar reduces glucose and insulin spikes. It also has a massive anti-aging effect, both within your body, and on your skin. Foggy thinking and sadness may be alleviated. Again, this shift in mood is related to no longer suffering the highs and lows of blood sugar. Your hormones, immunity, gut, cholesterol, sleep, heart, brain and liver health will be in much better shape.
Once you have an idea of which foods do and don’t contain sugar, create a positive mindset.
How To Create A Positive Mindset
- Become aware of your patterns
- Control your conscious mind
- Address your emotional attachments to sugar
- Allow yourself nutritious treats when a sugar craving hits
- Find a distraction and release your emotions
- Journal and enjoy the journey
Sugar causes chaos in your mind and body. Other negatives include: eroding tooth enamel and increasing the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. Begin the weaning today for a brighter and better future!
Thanks so much for this. I’ve weaned myself from sugar addiction before, but here I am addicted again. I’m furious at myself, but it is what it is! That being said, I’m going to follow the guidance in this amazing article and get back on the “go away sugar” wagon again. I’m so thankful for the 131 method. It’s my saving grace. It’s my way of life. Even backsliding with sugar is covered in this program. I love that you teach us to forgive ourselves and return to a healthy lifestyle. I started this program (2 beta programs) so i could live to be 100. I’m on that journey. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m a 131 method lifer! Forget sugar addiction. I’m Chalene addicted!
We get it! Sugar can draw anyone back in! Use us and the 131 Community as a support system as needed but always give yourself grace 🙂 Nobody does perfection around here!
What about protein bars like Rx Bars, Pure Protein bars, etc.? They are a little sweet and might help me break the habit of reaching for candy. Thoughts?
Agreed- those are much better options than reaching for candy! And will help you not feel deprived! ~Ashley