Chances are you probably already know how bad sugar is for you. It’s no secret that the stuff is totally addictive and ridiculously unhealthy. And while your sweet tooth may definitely be the culprit of your weight gain, sugar addiction doesn’t just impact your waistline, but your overall physical and mental health.
Once you manage to finally kick the addiction and rid yourself of that sweet tooth, you’ll see how natural it is to shed the extra pounds that you’ve been carrying around for years. In addition, you’ll become more focused and alert, and you’ll feel physically energized.
How Do I Know if I’m Addicted to Sugar?
Let’s start by acknowledging that not everyone who has a sugar addiction is aware of it. You may think that your food choices are healthy when in reality, your daily diet is actually sprinkled with sugar.
Your sugar addiction may be flying just under the radar if you:
- Choose flavored yogurt over plain
- Generously use condiments
- Douse your salads in dressing
- Add chocolate chips to your trail mix
- Order flavored coffee
- Stock up on granola bars
If you’re craving sweets throughout the day for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon pick-me-up, you have a sugar addiction. But pay attention to the little things as well. The way in which you choose to prepare your healthy meals can also point toward a sugar addition.
There are so many good reasons to quit sugar for good, but first, let’s explore how your sugar addiction is harming your health.
How Sugar Impacts Your Health
Sugar and weight gain are closely related, but so are sugar and many other health problems. Consuming sugar doesn’t just cause your body to hold on to fat; it also increases inflammation throughout the body, leading to a whole slew of symptoms and even chronic disease long term.
There are almost too many health conditions to list, but some of the major ones that have been linked to excess sugar consumption include:
In addition to all these health problems, sugar addiction itself can have a significant impact on your life. Like every other addiction, it occupies your thoughts and takes over until you get your next fix. It causes you to empty your wallet on sweets and treats that your body undoubtedly could do without.
That crash in energy that you experience during the day is a direct result of your giving-in to that sweet tooth. Sugar and refined carbohydrates cause a rise in blood sugar levels, followed closely by a dip, which makes you feel slow and sluggish.
Why Sugar Addiction Is Difficult to Beat
By definition, addictions are difficult to overcome. However, sugar addiction can be especially difficult, because from the moment we are born, we are wired to prefer sweets. Breast milk is incredibly sweet, and while it’s filled with so many great things for a growing baby—healthy fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals—it’s packed with carbohydrates to give the baby energy. The carbs stimulate the release of feel-good hormones serotonin and endorphins for relaxation and bonding with Mom.
These effects never go away. Feel-good hormones are released in our bodies each time we eat carbohydrates and sugar. The more sugar we eat, the more impactful the fix, and so the cycle continues. Food industries take advantage of these sugar cravings that are wired so deep within us, and they add sugar to many food products so that we end up with those particular food cravings later on.
So, how do we kick it? How can we finally quit sugar once and for all?
How to Quit Sugar
The first few weeks may prove difficult, but once you get past them, you’ll notice that your sugar cravings have disappeared. It may seem almost impossible now, but with these tips, you can finally get rid of your sweet tooth once and for all.
1. Do a Sugar Detox
Sometimes the best way to kick a bad habit is to jump in headfirst. Going cold turkey may not be for everyone, but it has its advantages. You won’t be left deliberating over every meal and snack, because there will be no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Clear your house of all sugars, flours, processed foods, and anything that comes in a box, can, bag, or package. For 10 days, you’ll be loading up on green shakes, herbal teas, lean protein, and healthy fats. You should even cut out fruit during the detox period because those natural sugars can hold you back from reaching your goal. By the end of the 10 days, your sugar cravings will completely disappear.
2. Transition into It
A sugar detox may be effective, but it isn’t for everyone. You’ve been eating and drinking sugary things for years now, and it’s difficult to throw it all away in one fell swoop.
Start small and slowly but surely eliminate sugar from your diet. If you usually put two teaspoons of sugar in your tea or coffee, start putting in one and a half instead. After a week, cut down to one. The next week, add only half a teaspoon. Each day after that, put a little less in until you are drinking your morning cup of joe without any sugar at all.
Try this method out with all sugary foods that you reach for throughout the day. Slowly swap out packaged and processed foods with healthier versions of those treats you love.
3. Avoid Sugar Substitutes and Alternatives
Unfortunately, stevia is not the answer. If you think you can get away with cutting out sugar by swapping it for other sweeteners, you have another thing coming. These sweeteners are doing your body no good at all. They trick the body into thinking that it’s about to get an energy boost from the sweetness. Instead, it gets nothing, so you end up with an even stronger sugar craving than before.
Sure, you’ve avoided the calories from sugar, but you’ve done absolutely nothing to help kick that sugar addiction.
4. Remove It from Your Home
It’s really pretty simple. If it isn’t there, you can’t eat it. No more sodas, fruit juices, sugary cereals, candy, cookies, or any other products that contain refined sugar, brown sugar, or high fructose corn syrup. But make sure that if you’re getting rid of all unhealthy foods and snacks, that you have healthy ones to replace them—which leads us to the next point…
5. Equip Yourself with Non-Sugary Snacks
Stock your pantry and fridge with healthy foods that are quick and easy to eat, provide plenty of nutrients, and satisfy your food cravings.
Make sure you have plenty of fresh berries, nuts, seeds, dried fruit (no sugar added!) and natural nut butters. Always have a big pitcher of water in the fridge, flavored with slices of fruit such as strawberries, kiwi, lemon, and pineapple. Add mint leaves or ginger root slices for an extra healthy and energizing boost.
6. Get More Sleep
Sleep deprivation leads directly to sugar cravings. Your body is low on energy from lack of sleep, so it seeks to fill its energy stores through other channels, such as sugary foods.
Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night to keep those sugar cravings at bay.
7. Distract Yourself with Physical Activity
Every time you think of reaching for a sugary or processed snack, take a sip of water and do ten push-ups, jumping-jacks, or sit-ups instead. Not only will this temporarily distract you from eating sugary foods, but it’ll also help to retrain your brain to gravitate toward healthy habits instead of unhealthy ones.
8. Load up on Nutrient-Dense Foods
Sudden food cravings are often an indication that your body is lacking something. Make sure to eat a wide variety of healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables in all colors of the rainbow for diverse antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Get your healthy fats from fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, and sardines.
When your body is loaded up with the proper nutrients, you’re much less likely to succumb to sugar cravings.
Benefits of Quitting Sugar
In a world of immediate satisfaction, you’ll be delighted to learn that the benefits from quitting sugar are almost immediate. Sure, you’ll benefit long term as well with decreased risk of many life-threatening diseases, but there are plenty of short-term benefits as well. Here’s what you’ll gain by ridding your body of sugar:
Clearly, there are plenty of good reasons to kick sugar out of your life. It can only do you good, and that’s a promise.
Sugar addiction is hard to beat, but when you do it, you’ll never look back. The benefits of ridding your body of sugar and processed foods are endless, so give it a go—you have nothing to lose (aside from that extra weight)!