It’s well known that consuming an excess amount of sugar is bad for our health. Obesity, chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, depression it’s all caused by sugar. With a little determination, you can train yourself to stop craving sugar. Here’s how I stopped sugar cravings and balanced my body for good.
For years, dietitians advised us that to cut down fat and cholesterol intake. These two foods were believed to be causing the obesity, diabetes, and heart disease epidemics. But a growing number of nutritionists are now pointing the finger at SUGAR, claiming that our over-consumption of sodas, candy, cookies, and other sweets and processed foods are the real cause of our health crisis. Not only that, sugar is proven to be highly addictive, like drugs.
Sugar-bingeing spikes levels of feel-good dopamine (a neurotransmitter your body releases in response to pleasurable activities like sex) and opioids (natural pain-suppressing substances that act like morphine) in the brain. It also sparks activity in the brain’s pleasure center, which is linked to addictive behaviors. Eating sugar makes you feel great, then the lack of it causing you to feel terrible, which makes you crave sugar again. This leads to the formation of tolerance and needing more sugar to get the same feeling again. It’s like never-ending sad and very UNHEALTHY addiction circle that leads to forming diseases. Even if you’re at a healthy weight, sugar still can cause health problems – heart problems, inflammation, headaches, acne, bloating, and energy crashes. It’s definitely worth the effort to make the diet change.
Sugar is enemy number one in the western diet. I can totally agree with that. And sugar craving is a HUGE problem too because it leads to sugar-binging and forms an addiction loop. Sugar craving was a HUGE problem for me, and if I haven’t drastically changed my lifestyle, I would probably develop many of mentioned health problems precisely because of sugar over-consumption.
While sugar occurs naturally in healthy foods like dairy, fruits, and veggies, added sugars such as table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup do more than tickle our taste buds. They stimulate our brain and cause real addiction. Unfortunately, added sugars can be found in many (actually almost all) store-bought food products – cereal, granola, salad dressings, ketchup, sauces, etc. Added sugar lurks literally from everywhere!
I suffered from real sugar addiction. My sugar craving was really REALLY bad. Sugary drinks, soda, cookies, candy bars, cakes, muffins, waffles, chocolate… it may helped me cope with the everyday stressful life, but sugar binging (and overall unhealthy lifestyle) led me to serious obesity.
When I started my healthy lifestyle, I knew that my sugar addiction is the first thing I need to resolve. I struggled so hard to get off the sugar and to stop my sugar cravings. It took me about month to overcome my sugar addiction and to get my body in balance. I’ve been through painful and rather unpleasant cold turkey. I suffered from substantial pain in my stomach and my bowels. I was very nervous and tense. It was a nightmare. But these unpleasant feelings didn’t last forever. I’ve followed some rules that helped me ease these unpleasant feelings and in the end resolve my sugar addiction.
Here’s how I kicked my sugar craving (in the butt) for good:
I did TOTAL ABSTINENCE from added sugars for the first month.
Some say it’s better to cut back sugar gradually because going cold turkey can lead to a binge later on. That was not the case with me. I totally abstained from ADDED SUGARS, I’ve gone through cold turkey, and I didn’t binge on cookie nor chocolate afterward. Actually what happened was total liberation from my sugar addiction. I think that moderation rarely works when getting off the sugar. Eating one cookie can trigger you to eat the whole box. In that first month, I avoided eating ALL added sugars, even healthier alternatives like honey and maple syrup. I did eat some low sugar fruits like kiwi, oranges, berries, but I ate very moderate amount, a one serving per day, and only when I had a craving.
I stopped DRINKING SODA and store-bought drinks – juices, flavored waters, etc.
Soda drinks and store-bought juices are loaded with added sugars and highly addicted. They are worse than solid food since they’re quickly absorbed into the body. Instead of soda, I started drinking plain water – a LOTS of it. The water helped me flush toxins out of my body and reduced my craving for sweets. Since I’m a fan of flavored drinks, I did add few drops of lemon or grapefruit in my water bottle. I even tossed some berries in the glass. Lemon and other fruits gave a nice flavor to the plain water but also a boost of vitamin too.
I started WALKING AND DOING YOGA.
I realized that my stressful, busy lifestyle raises the cortisol levels in my body and that’s whats drives my sugar cravings. I knew I had to reduce that stress somehow, so I started walking and practicing yoga. That helped me not only with my stress but also jump-started my weight loss. I felt better when I was physically active, and that helped me to feel psychically better. In addition to many health benefits, exercise starts a chain reaction that lowers your desire for unhealthy, high-calorie foods.
I stopped eating ALL STORE-BOUGHT PROCESSED FOODS.
That meant all store bought packaged food like sauces, ketchup, salad dressings, including flavored yogurts, etc. I learned to make all these HOMEMADE, added sugar-free. The key to reducing sugar cravings is to focus on having a healthy diet by adding real, wholesome foods to it. So I started eating more REAL food, fresh veggies, whole grains.
I incorporated HIGH-PROTEIN FOODS AND HEALTHY FATS in my breakfast.
High protein foods like eggs, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, quark cheese, and oats reduces sugar cravings while eating sufficient amounts of healthy fats like avocado, nuts and seeds and olive oil for breakfast helps keeping hormones balanced. Breakfast has become my favorite and most important meal of the day. It is now a part of my daily routine. I also learned how to make my breakfast well balanced and super healthy. If you’re looking for inspiration, you can find my healthy recipes HERE.
I swapped sugary snacks with a HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE.
In that first month, when I had mad desire to eat something sweet, instead of sugary snacks like store-bought cookies, energy bars or flavored yogurts, I had a banana with non-sweetened peanut butter or plain yogurt with blueberries. That snack-swap removed my sugar craving, but also kept me fuller longer because peanut butter and yogurt contains protein and healthy fats in addition to the natural sugars in the banana and fruits that satisfied my sweet tooth.
This total sugar abstinence doesn’t have to last forever. Once you cleanse your body (and your mind) from sugar, and you’ll get your body in balance you absolutely CAN incorporate healthier sugars in your daily diet. That means you CAN start cooking and baking with healthier sugars – like maple syrup, honey, stevia. When your body is in the balance, sugar cravings just stop. That means you won’t binge on Carrot Oatmeal Cookies nor Raspberry Lemon Cake. ou will have one slice and your body will tell you that’s enough. At the end of your sugar cold turkey journey, you’ll also learn to listen to your body and live healthier balanced life.
Quitting sugar is tough. It’s true. But you know what?! You’re tougher! Set your goals and visualize the positive outcome of your journey. This will help you guide through the tough weeks at the beginning of your cleanse. If you feel your willpower dwindling, remind yourself why you chose to cut out sugar in the first place.