I know myself firsthand that this a tremendously difficult addiction to overcome. So I thought it might be helpful to share with you my knowledge and experience so you can stop your sugar addiction too. I know how extremely unhealthy and tiring a sugar addiction is and I can say without any exaggeration that it ruined my life. My body, my mind and my day to day life. So how do you really stop a sugar addiction?
Before anything else, getting rid of your sugar addiction is the healthiest and most rewarding thing you can do for your body and mind regardless the diet or lifestyle you are following.
What are the consequences of a sugar addiction?
Sugar addiction can be dangerously unhealthy. Eating too often too much high-glycemic, processed carbs and white refined sugars will not only make it almost impossible to stay slim or lose weight, but it can increase the risk of some serious diseases, such as diabetes, heart attacks and cancer. Not to forget the mental craziness that will start to occur when you are a long time sugar addict. Some examples are headaches, depression, feeling lethargic, and not being able to concentrate (‘’cloudy feeling in the brain’’ as some would describe it). The above is not based on a specific source although feel free to Google ”sugar addiction” to find probably even more symptoms. These examples are from my very own experiences, the people I coached and even close family members. More facts on what sugar does to your health are explained in this YouTube video ”Sugar is killing us”. More information about cancer and sugar is explained here.
Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms
After being a sugar addict my whole life it was really a terrible experience to quit sugar and to find a balance where I could have healthy sugars without falling into a sugar addiction again. Since I was a kid I always had sugar available to me. At the age of 5 I would be quiet for hours eating an enormous bucket of cookies. I had dental problems and later on I felt as if I was always in a battle with myself. I grew up to be chubby and the endless fight with my biggest friend and enemy (sugar) started. My skin was terrible, I had no endurance, I was pessimistic, wasn’t able to lose weight, suffered from headaches and was always dieting. Over time I felt worse and worse and when I realized I needed to quit sugar I also realized I couldn’t. The addiction was too strong. Many years ago, after educating myself I finally managed to quit my sugar addiction.
Life is so much better without the guilt, the cravings, the weight struggles and the tiredness that a sugar addiction can create.
How to really stop a sugar addiction
The biggest problem with sugar addiction is this, we need food. There is no way around it. It’s super addictive (even more so than drugs) and it changes our taste buds so we dislike healthy foods and crave more and more refined sugars. Also, sugar is everywhere around us and strongly related to happiness, festive occasions and social gatherings.
1. Know the facts
If you want to stop your sugar addiction, you’ll have to take it serious. Educate yourself on what sugar really does to your body. Read and/or watch the books and documentaries that you find interesting and that will educate you. For me those were the books and documentaries about the relation between cancer and sugar (cancer loves sugar). Later on I enjoyed lighter documentaires as well. This step is so important because you will look for a life time inspiration, which is your own knowledge! Your knowledge will become an endless source of inspiration. If you want to start out with a documentary, I would recommend ”That Sugar Film” or ”Fed Up”. This documentary will give a glimpse on how devastating sugar is for the body. I’m also sharing two book tips with you in above video.
2. Accept the
This was for me a big one. I never wanted to feel bad, because I thought it was a sign of my body I was not doing the right thing. But guess what, stopping an addiction comes with misery. Acknowledge and accept the misery that will come. You will feel bad. You will have weird moods. You will think that a cookie will solve it. You will have headaches. You will feel tired and you might feel emotional. depressed, anxious or angry. I remember day three was the worst for me, where I woke up feeling like I had a hang over. I had a full night of headaches and a weird overall feeling. A sugar addiction is that powerful. Accept that your body needs time to switch. I was eating sugar most of my life, each and every day. It would be unrealistic to think I could fix this in a few days. When you feel really bad, listen to your body. Drink a big glass of water and rest if possible. It also helps to realize that the discomfort will not last forever. Things will only get better, and you will feel better than ever before. The discomfort is worth it.
3. Keep track of your water intake
Drinking water in general is very important, but when you are trying to stop a sugar addiction it is even more important. Track your water intake so you are sure you drink at least 2 liters of water per day. Your brain needs water, and it will give you a signal. That signal can feel like hunger, since the body also takes water from the food we eat.
4. Stop cold turkey
For most of us (including myself), it was best to stop cold turkey. In the first week, avoid ALL sugars. The refined white sugars, the sweeteners, honey, maple syrup, dried fruits, fruits with a high GI, sugary drinks, white bread, white pasta…nothing. After 7 to 10 days you can introduce fruits again, because they are the good sugars after all.
5. Don’t diet
Stopping a sugar addiction, is not a diet. It is about leaving out a toxic product out of your diet, about cooking your own food and about reading the labels of your food pruducts. So there is no need to feel hungry and deprived. Eat enough. Include lots of proteins and fats in your meals that will fill you up the healthy way. Beans (these are great to beat a sugar addiction), legumes, coconut oil and nuts are just a few examples. And of course there are endless amount of veggies you can eat with for example buckwheat or quinoa. Also spices and herbs are a great way to make your meal taste amazing. It is hard in the beginning and your food may taste different, but this will change within days. Just eat enough. A funny thing that always happened to me was, that I would indeed feel full but there was still this weird craving. And since I didn’t want to have more food ( I was too full), and I couldn’t eat sugar I was forced to think about what was going on in my body. Often, I remember I realized I was just tired, thirsty or stressed. We all know a cookie will not help with that, but I would reach for that cookie for years in a row when I would feel tired or stressed. I knew sugar would not help, but this just shows how strong a sugar addiction is.
Stress, and a lack of sleep can make you crave sweet food. I don’t know exactly how this works in our brains, but the other day I think I found the answer to that right in front of me in the supermarket. A little boy was crying and his mom literally put a piece of chocolate in his mouth. I’m not bashing any moms here, but as babies we also always got fed when we would cry. Could that be a link? As grown ups sweets are a way of comforting ourselves. We can’t change any of the above, but try to protect yourself (especially in the beginning) from being too stressed or having a lack of sleep which may trigger us to reach to sugar again to comfort ourselves.
7. Find a buddy
Not all of us will need a buddy, but this may help you a lot. A buddy can be someone who have been through this, who is going to stop together with you, a health coach or a friend who wants to listen to you and tell you just how great you are doing.
The first week is the hardest. After ten days (this can be shorter or longer) it will become easier to stop a sugar craving. That is the time you can slowly add good sugars into your diet again. Fruits and dried unsulfured fruits are a great way to make your life sweet again the healthy way. Fruits come as a package full with fibers and pectin, which will slow the absorption of sugar. When you eat food that don’t spike your insulin levels so much, it will not only give you more energy for a longer period of time (without the sugar crash), but it will also prevent that sugar will be stored as fat and it will not evoke sugar cravings. If you ever want to include refined white sugars/prodcuts again in your diet (rather not), try to see how much you can eat without tipping over to an addiction again where you will start craving more and more.
I could write an entire book about this topic, but when it comes to stopping a sugar addiction these are my golden tips. If you think you don’t have a sugar addiction or if you are in doubt try to eat refined sugar free for 10 days to see if you develop any symptoms.
Do you have any experience with a sugar addiction?
photo credit: www.sugarandcharm.com & documentary “Fed Up”