The first two posts in this series detailed how the brain can become addicted to sugar and what happens if you try to stop eating sugar, even for a short period of time. Most people feel awful when they try to quit, so they end up consuming more and more sugar, which perpetuates the problem even further. This final installment of this three part series will detail several ways that we have used to help sugar-addicts the world over free themselves from this sometimes crippling affliction.
Breaking the Cycle
If you feel like you, or someone you know, is addicted to sugar take comfort in knowing this: you are not the first one. There have been thousands and thousands of people that have faced this addiction and beaten it. Here are a number of ways for you to begin to overcome your sugar addiction:
- Eat real food. Ideally, food shouldn’t need a label (i.e., fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables; raw nuts and seeds; grass-fed or organic meats, poultry and eggs; legumes (beans, peas and lentils); fresh fish and organic dairy products. If your food does have a label, make sure you can identify all the ingredients as real food. Studies have shown that the more you eat healthy food, the more you will crave it.
- Eat regularly – every 2-4 hours works best for most people.
- Eat balanced meals – this means when you look at your plate, roughly ½ of it should contain vegetables and/or fruit, ¼ should contain protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, lentils, protein powder) and ¼ should contain a starchy vegetable (carrot, sweet potato, yams, potato, etc.) or whole grain (brown rice, quinoa, barley, etc.). This link provides great recipes and a searchable database for you to find exactly what you need, even if you have food allergies.
- Eat protein at every meal; if you are following the suggestion above this will help. This is especially important at breakfast and lunch to help curb cravings later in the day.
- Eat within 60 minutes of waking; this will help curb cravings. Smoothies work great!
- Eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners. If you want to end cravings, you must reset your brain and the only way to do that is to give it new information. Clear anything that contains sugar (including corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup) in the first six ingredients out of your house and don’t buy it at the grocery store. Same goes for ‘diet’ goods and artificial sweeteners.
- When you have sugar craving, drink water and have a snack, like a piece of fruit along with a palm-full of nuts. Get active with something and the craving will pass.
- Determine if you have any underlying food allergies or intolerances. We often crave foods that we are allergic to. Specific laboratory testing can help you pinpoint your exact hypersensitivities. Eliminating your allergic foods can help reduce cravings immensely!
- Get more sleep. Lack of sleep intensifies cravings. Aim for 8 hours/night with as much before midnight as possible.
- Talk to a health care professional about supplements. There are many supplements that act as natural appetite suppressants and can reduce cravings or modulate dopamine receptor function to regulate appetite. This can make all the difference in the world to ease withdrawal, eliminate cravings and establish new habits that allow you to kick the sugar-habit.
Sugar addiction is very real and it can make achieving vibrant health seem almost impossible. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to break the sugar addiction cycle and retrain your brain to crave healthy foods. If you’d like more support and guidance, don’t hesitate to contact us – we’d love to help you free yourself from sugar addiction and lead the life you’ve always wanted.
- “Can sugar be addictive?” foodnavigator.com. William Reed Business Media, 16 Jan. 2006.
- Leutwyler Ozelli, Kristin. “This is your brain on food.” Scientific American Sep. 2007: 84-85.
- Daniells, Stephen. “Food addiction: Fat may rewire brain like hard drugs.” foodnavigator.com. William Reed Business Media, 29 Mar. 2010.
- Gardner, Amanda. “Compulsive Eaters May Have ‘Food Addiction,’ Study Finds.” healthday.com. Health Day, 4 Apr. 2011.
- Gray, Nathan. “Food addiction has similar brain response to drug addiction: Study.” foodnavigator.com. William Reed Business Media, 5 Apr. 2011.
- Hyman, Mark MD. “Stopping Addiction to Sugar: Willpower or Genetics?”
- Scott-Thomas, Caroline. “Animal study suggests existence of sugar addiction, says scientist.” foodnavigator.com. William Reed Business Media, 11 Dec. 2008.
- Scott-Thomas, Caroline. “Sugar addiction ‘unlikely in humans,’ says scientist.” foodnavigator.com. William Reed Business Media, 9 Jan. 2009.