Breaking My Sugar Addiction: The Symptoms
I had many symptoms before I finally overcame my addiction to sugar.
- Sugar Cravings
- Feeling Foggy
Somehow it never occurred to me that it was not normal to be bloated after every meal. I would be so hungry when I would sit down to eat. Then only a few bites in, I felt so full that I couldnt eat anymore.
My digestive system was miserable every day. I tried so hard to clean up my diet and eat healthily. Even when I managed it for a few weeks at a time, something would inevitably happen that would send me right back to the sugar, and the cycle would continue again. A merry go round that I couldnt escape. It seemed fun in the beginning. But the process always led to me being sick from going round and round and round. The cycle never stopped.
How Long Should You Detox From Sugar
This will depend on your personal goals. Just need a reset after too much indulgence? 5 days is fine.
However, if like mine, your relationship with sugar has become a habit or physical addiction, 30 days is a good start. Many people find that it takes about a month to break a habit, however, other research suggests it may take much longer. Furthermore, to break a habit, one must replace it with another behavior.
Signs Of A Sugar Addiction
Unlike many other substance use disorders or behavioral compulsions, sugar addiction is often easy to spot. The clearest signs of sugar addiction involve consumption of large amounts of food or drinks laden with sugar. The individual may eat constantly, eat to combat boredom, and become hyper and crash. They may even talk about craving sugar after stressful or irritating life experiences.
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Why Is Sugar Addictive
Many people simply wonder why sugar is addictive. Certainly, not many people report an addiction to broccoli, so there has to be a reason! That reason is found in the chemical release of hormones in our brain when we eat sugar.
With every sweet bite, dopamine is released from our brain into our bodies. This is the link between added sugar and addictive behavior that is also found in substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, and illegal drugs.
The neurotransmitter dopamine is part of the reward circuit in the brain thats associated with addictive behavior. The high one feels from eating sugar makes one addicted to said behavior , creating a vicious cycle.
As you repeat the behavior more often your body adjusts to release less dopamine over time. The only way to feel the same high as before is to increase the release of dopamine, which in this case means to eat more and more sugar.
These same behaviors are found in people with drug and alcohol dependencies, but for sugar, the ingredient is much more accessible, available, and socially acceptable than illegal drugs, making it also much harder to avoid in everyday life.
On average, an average adult in the U.S. consumes around 77 grams of sugar a day, or about 60 pounds of sugar per year!
Break The Sugar Addiction
If you’re “hooked” on sugar, don’t try to eliminate all sugary foods at once. If you deny yourself even a single piece of candy or sliver of cake, you’ll only crave sweets more. Instead, eat a healthy diet made up of more satisfying foodswhole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy oils, and lean protein. “Steer yourself away from sugar and eat these foods, which are digested more slowly. They’ll help to even out your blood sugar and you won’t have spikes and crashes all the time,” Dr. Hauser says.
Here are a few suggestions to help you break the sugar habit:
Keep sugary foods away. Don’t tempt yourself by stocking candy, cookies, and other high-sugar foods in your cupboards and fridge. “As a substitute for these things, keep fruit around,” suggests Dr. Hauser.
Sweeten foods yourself. Start with unsweetened iced tea, plain yogurt, and unflavored oatmeal. Then add your own sweetener. No matter how much sweetener you add, you probably won’t put in as much as the manufacturer would have, according to Dr. Hauser.
Watch for hidden sugars in foods. Be wary of foods where sugar tends to hide, including reduced-fat products. “When companies take out the fat, they add back almost all the calories in sugar,” Dr. Hauser says. Read labels. Avoid products that list sugar as the first ingredient or that contain several different types of sugar it’s one way manufacturers avoid having sugar listed as the first ingredient.
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How To Fix A Sugar Addiction
- Eat regularly. Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. For many people, if they dont eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry, and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.
- Choose whole foods. The closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. Food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables, usually presents no metabolic problems for a normal body, especially when consumed in variety.
- Have a breakfast of protein, fat and phytonutrients to start your day off right.Breakfast smoothies are ideal for this. The typical breakfast full of carbs and sugary or starchy foods is the worst option since youll have cravings all day. Eating a good breakfast is essential to prevent sugar cravings.
- Try to incorporate protein and/or fat with each meal. This helps control blood sugar levels. Make sure they are healthy sources of each.
- Add spices. Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
We Become Conditioned To Need Something Sweet To Feel Complete Or Satisfied And Continue To Self
In stark contrast to this clinical assessment is the fact that, for most of us, something sweet is a symbol of love and nurturance. As infants, our first food is lactose, or milk sugar. Later on, well-intended parents reward children with sugary snacks, giving them a treat, turning a biochemically harmful substance into a comfort food. We become conditioned to need something sweet to feel complete or satisfied, and continue to self-medicate with sugar as adults, using it to temporarily boost our mood or energy. But as any addict knows, one quick fix soon leaves you looking for anothereach hit of momentary satisfaction comes with a long-term price.
The bottom line is that sugar works the addiction and reward pathways in the brain in much the same way as many illegal drugs. And, like other drugs, it can destroy your health and lead to all sorts of ailments including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, and premature aging. Sugar is basically a socially acceptable, legal, recreational drug, with deadly consequencesand like with any drug addiction, you have to have a flexible but structured plan to beat it.
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How Do People Develop A Sugar Addiction
Why did we develop this bad habit? What caused this obsession to the sweet yummy goodness?
Some studies show that sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. What? I know right!
Oftentimes, we see sugar as a reward.
Have you ever had a stressful day at work where you are just mentally and physically exhausted? Then, while you are on your way home you stop by a convenience store and buy yourself a chocolate bar or two? K. Fine. Maybe three.
Once you get home you collapse into the couch and stare at the ceiling while you eat every bite of that candy bar.
Yes, I know this story all too well.
Your brain sees sugar as a reward, which makes you want it more. Since we often link sugar as a sweet reward, it makes it hard to break the habit.
Our brain sees sugar as a reward.
Have A Chat With Yourself
When it comes to breaking a sweet habit, sometimes having a sit down with yourself helps. Ask yourself, Am I truly craving this bag of candy or is it just a habit? If you have a true craving you may be able to avoid it with a sweet herbal tea , a naturally sweet snack like an apple or you should have a go-to portioned best option, like a square of 70-percent dark chocolate. If there is no real craving at all and it is just a habit, well, then replace that activity with a new one, like reading a book, going for a walk or taking a warm bath.
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What Happens To Your Brain When You Give Up Sugar
Like drugs, sugar spikes dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. Over the long term, regular sugar consumption actually changes the gene expression and availability of dopamine receptors in both the midbrain and frontal cortex. The brain becomes tolerant to sugar and more is needed to attain the same sugar high.
Other Things That May Work
I am pretty sure the three steps above would work for most people to shut down a sugar craving.
But of course, the best option by far is to prevent these cravings in the first place.
To do that, toss all out of your house. If you keep them within close reach, youre asking for trouble. Instead, keep healthy foods within easy reach.
Also, if you eat healthy and exercise several times per week, chances are you wont get cravings nearly as often.
Here are 11 more useful tips to stop sugar cravings:
Numerous other methods may help you overcome a craving for sugar. These include drinking a glass of water, getting good sleep and eating high-protein foods.
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Understanding Sugar’s Power Can Help To Set You Free
A friend and I were talking the other day about our addiction to sugar and fatty comfort foods .
We do so well for a while, and then somehow find ourselves back at it, eating large amounts of whatever the sweet food drug of the moment is. It’s a slippery slope we somehow find ourselves sliding down yet again.
I’ve written before about my challenges with emotional eating and have truly done so much better for many years. I get swept up by sugar cravings much more rarely and even now when I fall off the sugary treat wagon, I do it by eating large amounts of high fiber, all-natural, gluten-free, dairy-free treats.
The damage to my body is much less than in the days when my drug of choice was a cheap grocery store cake full of transfats and junk. But organic cane sugar is still sugar, and I simply can’t seem to use it in a healthy way. I end up on the same unhealthy, compulsive wagon again, albeit in a more nutritious form.
In whatever form, sugar has an unhealthy impact on my skin, my body, my moods, and my weight when I eat too much of it. I realized recently, while talking to my friend, that I need to take this issue more seriously than I ever have if I ever want to truly leave it behind.
Here are some strategies that we discussed that have been working for me:
1. Find rewards that really work.
Find ways to take care of yourself in place of sugar things that deeply nurture you without the side effects and addictions.
Cut Down On The Sugar In Your Coffee
Many of us are consuming a lot more sugar than we realize. How much sugar is in your favorite pasta sauce, salad dressing, or boxed crackers? Another sneaky place for sugar to hide is in our coffee. Fortunately, we can retrain our palates, so cutting back on sugar in your morning coffee is a good place to start.
“It is tough to break the habit. What I have done with my patients is to ask them to study coffee and tea and learn to enjoy the genuine taste without the sugar. Then once they accomplish this, they generally reduce other sugar products,” Dr. Murray Grossan told me. “One important aid is to demonstrate how many pounds of sugar is used in a lifetime just dropping the tea and coffee! This could be a major means of avoiding diabetes. But I start with teaching them to study ‘great’ coffee and tea without and learn that.”
Have fun with this process and become a coffee snob. The better the coffee, the less sugar your taste buds will be calling for.
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Address Past Or Current Stressors That Might Be Causing Dependency
At least one study showed that sugar dependency and cravings are not necessarily about the sugar itself, but may be caused by environmental stressors and situations.
One way to manage sugar cravings is to make it a point to be present with yourself and tune into your patterns. Do you always reach for sugar after a stressful day? Do you experience a craving after you encounter a trigger for a past trauma? Awareness of when and why cravings occur is the first step in freeing yourself from them.
Ten Tips To Break A Sugar Addiction
Just to reiterate, addiction is a serious issue that should be treated with care and under the guidance of a licensed healthcare professional. But, these ten tips should help get you started on the right path for addressing your sugar addiction, stopping the cravings, and, ultimately, finding freedom.
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How To Stop Sugar Cravings: 5 Tips For The Long Term
One of the best ways to manage sugar cravings is to stop them before they start. To help you do that:
- Skip artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners may sound like a great idea, but “they dont lessen cravings for sugar and havent demonstrated a positive effect on our obesity epidemic,” says Grotto, author of 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life.
- Reward yourself for successfully managing sugar cravings. Your reward could be large or small. Remember why youre working on it and then reward yourself for each successful step.
- Slow down. For one week, focus on your sugar cravings and think about what youre eating, suggests Chambers. Diet mayhem often results from lack of planning. So slow down, plan, “and eat what you intend to eat, instead of eating when youre desperate,” Chambers says.
- Get support. Many people turn to sweet foods when they’re stressed, depressed, or angry. But food doesn’t solve emotional issues. Consider whether emotions are involved in your sugar cravings and whether you need help to find other solutions to those emotional problems.
- Mix it up. You may need more than one strategy to thwart sugar cravings. One week you may find success with one tactic, and another week calls for an alternative approach. Whats important is to have a bag of tricks to try, Gerbstadt tells WebMD. To tame sugar cravings, you really need to “figure out what works for you,” Neville says.
Tips That May Help You Find A Sugar Addiction Cure
Sugar Addiction Cure 1: Try a morning drink.
I was initially skeptical about a wacky pre-breakfast morning drink, but I decided to try out a riff on the trendy Master Cleansea mix of apple cider vinegar, lemon water, cayenne, and Stevia. Within a week I became a convert of what’s reportedly Beyoncé’s favorite concoction. Drinking this as a morning pick-me-up meant I wasn’t reaching for sugary snacks as a substitute for a real meal . I’m also experimenting by throwing in other spices such as cinnamon, a natural appetite suppressant, or opting for a bottle of Suja’s Probiotic Vinegar Juices, which also helps me curb my cravings and better ease into the day.
Sugar Addiction Cure 2: Fill up on healthy foods.
Before I start to feel extra hungrywhich is when I’m more prone to reach for sugarI’m making an effort to eat fiber-filled salads or simple raw vegetables with hummus. Noticing that I’m hungry well before I’m ready to eat whatever I can grab allows me to have a healthier, more thought-out meal. If I still have cravings for sweets at the end of a healthy meal, I’ve found that low-calorie hard candy, including MealEnders lozenges, help keep them at bay.
Sugar Addiction Cure 3: Save sugar for the evening.
Sugar Addiction Cure 4: Become a savvy label-reader.
Sugar Addiction Cure 5: Avoid personal trigger foods.
Sugar Addiction Cure 6: Don’t deprive yourself.
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How To Reduce Refined Sugar Intake
While refined sugar seems to be everywhere you look, there are ways you can help break your childs sugar cravings. But before you dive into how to help your child break their cravings, it is important to understand just what refined sugars are.
Refined sugars live by many different names. By and large, they are added sugars. For example, some foods have natural sugars . Refined sugars have undergone an artificial, chemical process to clean the sugars from their raw state to a state that is easier to use in food manufacturing.
One of the easiest ways to eliminate refined sugars from your childs diet is to give them more servings of the fruits they like when they ask for a snack. While fruits still contain sugars, they offer a lot of nutritive benefits that other manufactured foods do not.