While giving up sugar in the short term is a reasonably straight forward process, the real challenge is cutting it out over the long term. As such, overcoming a sugar addiction is certainly a marathon, and not a sprint. I’ve got some easy to follow steps and tips along the way to help you with this.
Sugar is one of those substances which has managed to creep its way into a large portion of our everyday foods. As a result, it can become a constant battle avoiding foods that do not contain added sugars.
Just how addictive is sugar?
From a personal level, I know just how addictive certain foods can be. It is hard to pinpoint if it is the sugar or certain trigger foods causing my cravings.
However, when I eat a meal high in starchy carbohydrates, I find I often crave a dose of something sugary after the meal. Whereas a high fat/low carbohydrate meals can sometimes leave me craving something sweet, but not necessarily sugary.
While it may seem the type of food I’m having is my trigger, it is not always the case. I find that eating a small amount of non-dark chocolate (milk or white) can easily snowball into a lot of chocolate. Particularly if I’m not conscious of my eating.
While evidence pointing towards human addiction to sugar provides for mixed results, evidence from animal trials tells us that sugar is extremely addictive. It can become so addictive for the animal that it takes priority over other substances we know to be highly addictive such as cocaine.
Human addiction to sugar seems to fall into two categories. While some studies find the sucrose (one part sugar, one part fructose) component to potentially lead to addiction, others find it is actually an addiction to the food itself.
To make sense of what drives the addiction, we need to look at how the body processes sugar once it is consumed. Sugar is made up of glucose, which is a natural energy source for not just the human body, but almost all of the bacteria on Earth.
Give me the process for overcoming sugar addiction!
Sugar addiction is very similar to other forms of addiction. It can be overcome with the right actions. Nobody is saying it will be easy, but it is most certainly achievable!
The honest truth about overcoming sugar addiction is that the easy part is to initially break the addiction. The hard part is maintaining a diet and lifestyle which either excludes sugars or contains a lower, yet reasonable amount of sugar.
Did you know that most sugar addictions can be broken in as little as a week? Fasting is a great way to kick this off.
This is dependent upon its hold over you, and how determined you are to break that hold. While a serious sugar addiction may take a bit longer to kick, it is still possible and the steps remain the same.
With that said, we have come up with a 7 step process to give you an action plan on how to tackle overcoming your sugar addiction.
The 7 step system to overcoming sugar addiction
I always find the easiest way to tackle a big task is to break it down into smaller actionable steps.
By having a checklist to work through, you’ll increase your chances of kicking your sugar habit to the curb and getting your addiction under control.
We have come up with a 7 step process to maximize your chances of overcoming your sugar addiction.
Step 1- Identify the fact that your sugar addiction has control over you
You are no longer in control of your cravings and you need to take action if things are ever going to change.
This may be starting to sound like a “12-step” program, but the principle is the same. The first step in overcoming any addiction is to recognize that you no longer have control over the substance or act in which you are over-consuming.
Step 2 – Make a decision on what you want your end goal to be
Are you looking to completely remove sugar from your diet? Or are you looking to cut back to a manageable level? To begin with, I would look to completely remove sugar, then if desired slowly introduce a few sugars and maintain low levels.
Whatever you want as your end result, write it down on several pieces of paper. Sign and date every single one of them.
Next, put them in places where you will see them often.
The kind of locations I would suggest are ones such as the fridge or pantry, in your wallet or purse, on your computer screen, or maybe even the bathroom mirror.
Read your statement at minimum three times a day to really cement your commitment into your mind!
An example statement may be:
I am so happy and grateful now that I have overcome my sugar addiction and I am able to enjoy a healthy lifestyle
Writing in future tense plays a trick on the subconscious mind. By repeating it over and over, your subconscious mind can eventually begin to accept the above statement as completely true. This is a simple brain reprogramming hack you can use for yourself.
Once you have your written statement, let others around you know about your intention to overcome your sugar addiction. This helps to provide for accountability and supports achieving your end goal.
As much as this is about you, it’s also about those around you. If the company you keep are doing things to knowingly (or more likely unknowingly) pull you off track, you need to be aware of this. Just be sure you protect yourself from those around you who may drag you back into eating sugar. You really want a cheer squad for this, rather than temptations.
It is worth having a discussion with those around you about your goals and what you need to get there. You never know, a chat may reveal that they too would like to come on the journey with you.
If they are not interested, then make sure you consciously note that this person may not be the type of influence you need for achieving your goal.
You just need to be aware of your environment so the comments or actions of others aren’t taken personally. Remember that people can be subconsciously scared of change, and they may unknowingly try to sabotage your efforts in fear of you changing. It’s like the crabs in the bucket analogy.
Step 3 – Remove all possible temptations
This step is simple. Gather up all your sugary goods and remove them from your household. If you don’t want to throw them away because you don’t like to waste things, then consider giving them to others.
Maybe look at donating them to charities if these are the sort of unopened products that they can use. It doesn’t matter how you get rid of them, just that you remove them from your house to eliminate any chance of caving in to your cravings.
To avoid these being something that make it back into your house, have a meal before going grocery shopping, and always have a bottle of water with you. This will reduce the likelihood of impulse buying what you just took out of your house.
Step 4 – Identifying triggers
Identify and know your triggers. What is it that causes you to crave sugar? Is it some form of stress? Is it the flavor? The quick energy boost? Or is it other foods that lead to a craving for sweet sugary goods?
Once you know what your triggers are, you can better plan to avoid them.
As far as stress goes, we have some helpful articles on meditation and other strategies that you can apply to help cut through these types of tough times.
This step of identifying your triggers is vital. Without it you are likely to fall back into old habits subconsciously if you do not identify the root causes of your addiction. This will require self-reflection to analyze and identify what causes you to crave sugar.
For all of us, it is different things. But we need to identify our own triggers so we can actively avoid them and mitigate them having an impact.
For example, if like me, after a large meal you crave sugar, you know in advance to prepare a strategy to counteract the cravings. Have something sweet that is going to help you quit sugar. Check out our recipes for some ideas – my favorite is the raw chocolate which is sugar free.
Step 5 – Start!
Now that you have done the preparation it is time to start overcoming your sugar addiction. To begin is simple. Just ensure all your meals going forward contain no processed sugar! The tricky part is identifying foods that may have hidden sugar within them.
If you are unsure if a particular food has ingredients which are high in sugar, do a quick Google search on the nutritional value to gain clarity. Don’t forget that with fruit, however, that high fructose/sugar levels are fine as long as the fruit is high in natural fibers. Avoid juicing your fruit to get the best value for overcoming your sugar addiction.
I would personally recommend quitting cold turkey on sugar as it is the much faster and beneficial way. I prefer to rip the band-aid off rather than do it slowly. You can use the method of weaning off slowly, but in my experience it causes unnecessary struggle.
Whether you go cold turkey or wean off, you will still suffer some withdrawal symptoms. Why prolong the process of withdrawal symptoms when you can take the hit quickly and beat the sugar addiction?
Sugar addiction can be cured relatively quickly using the cold turkey method. Now, I get that saying ‘start’ is simple, but taking action is the real key to overcoming sugar addiction!
And here at Detox & Cure, we don’t want to leave you struggling with the inability to take action to beat your sugar addiction. That’s why we have come up with a number of tips to help you succeed in kicking your sugar habits!
Step 6 – Keep going until you have fully detoxed
Depending on how severely you are hooked on sugar, detoxing could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. During the process, you can experience a range of side effects. The can include being irritable, foggy brained, interrupted sleeping patters and lower energy levels. These are temporary and will pass.
To help mitigate these effects there are a number of things you can do:
- Increase your protein intake
Protein will assist in keeping sugar cravings under control. Plant-based protein is superior in this regard as it usually contains additional minerals compared to animal-based proteins. The extra minerals will help provide your body with a needed source of nutrition.
- Increase your fat and fiber intake
Healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats will leave you feeling fuller for longer. This will help mitigate hunger cravings, where you may be inclined to reach for a quick sugary snack. Fiber has a similar effect where by it is capable of helping you with controlling your blood sugar levels, resulting in fewer crashes and peaks.
- Ensure you are hydrated
Keeping yourself hydrated is a no brainer for overall health, but it actually assists in controlling sugar cravings. You may interpret the sensation of hunger pains to mean you need to eat, but quite often your body is really calling out for water. By remaining hydrated you can mitigate this issue and reduce your chances of grabbing a sugary snack.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners
These can immediately increase your desire for more sweet goods. This can quickly spiral into sugar-filled foods if not managed properly. It’s much easier to avoid using sweeteners until you have finished detoxing from sugar.
- Get adequate sleep and do some exercise
Adequate sleep is vital to a healthy lifestyle as it allows our body to rest and recover. Having a proper sleep will lead to fewer urges for a sugary energy fix.
Exercise can assist in fighting withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, or stress-induced cravings. On that note…
- Avoid stress
Stress has been linked to a number of health problems. Stress while detoxing from sugar addiction can encourage a relapse due to the body’s desire for a quick energy fix to deal with the stress.
Simply try to avoid stressful situations during the detox process, and remember to take time out to relax and unwind.
If you are looking for a suitable diet to help you while overcoming sugar addiction, check out our research on the popular Ketogenic Diet!
By the end of step 6, you should have control over your sugar addiction!
Step 7 – Remain clean of processed sugars
Once you have managed to beat your sugar addiction, you will have reached a pivotal point where you get to make a choice. Realistically, I believe it comes down to your personality. If you are a person who has an addictive personality it can be very easy to fall back into old habits quite quickly with sugar.
If you feel you have the willpower to control how much sugar you wish to consume, then there is likely to be little harm in having small amounts here or there. Perhaps a slice of cake while at a birthday party or out for a coffee with friends. Or maybe you and your partner share a treat once every so often to celebrate controlling your sugar addiction!
Whatever direction you choose, note that managing your sugar intake requires constant upkeep. Overcoming sugar addiction is a journey where you will sometimes fall back into old habits as life throws different things your way.
Note, however, that it is OK to have relapses. You are now equipped with not only the knowledge to get back on track, but also the experience and proof that you are capable of kicking your sugar addiction and getting back on track.
Overcoming sugar addiction is a constant journey. You will ebb and flow over time with your sugar consumption levels. Your job is to manage this process and ensure you don’t over consume and keep your intake to healthy levels.
If you ever feel your control over your sugar addiction is getting out of control, re-read our articles and try again. Sugar addiction can be tough, but it is most certainly a beatable addiction.
Have you struggled with sugar addiction? Let us know about how your won your battle with quitting sugar in the comments below.