How to Overcome a Sugar Addiction

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Anyone else eat a LOT of sugar over the holiday week? Maybe not just the past weekend, but the entire last month? Maybe your 2017 resolution is to cut back on the sugar and get healthy?

You're definitely not alone. And now, all you want is more sugar and treats, right?

Sugar is a very sneaky substance that has a lot of power over us, whether we realize it or not. There are many studies that compare the addictive nature of sugar to that of certain drugs like cocaine! Sugar is very harmful to the body, despite what certain industries or companies want us to believe. Sugar lowers nutrient levels, reduces our bodies ability to fight off diseases and bacteria, promotes obesity, damages the gut lining, damages our arteries and veins, alters hormone levels, drains our energy, promotes skin breakouts... plus a whole list of other undesirable effects in the body! Even just 1/4 of a tablespoon of sugar can supress the immune system and start a cycle of negative feedback in the body.

I know for me personally, the more sugar I eat, the more I want it. Then the cycle continues until I realize just how much sugar I've been eating. Breaking a sugar addiction can be a long process, especially if you are in a habit of eating sugar after meals, during the day as snacks or in your beverages. Try some of these tips to break your body of the sugar addiction and tame that sugar dragon!

  1. Eat real, nutritious meals - Before you reach for more sweets, try to eat a solid, balanced meal. Balanced meaning a good healthy source of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Your carbohydrates should be primarily from vegetables.  Some examples of healthy fat could be butter, coconut oil, nuts or avocado. Protein could be from seafood, ground beef, or grilled chicken. Load up on water rich vegetables, dark leafy greens, and even fruits! Eating a healthy meal after a weekend of indulgence sets us up mentally for a week ahead of healthier eating as well.

  2. Drink water - Drink a TON of water. Water will flush out toxins, combat sugar cravings, rehydrate you after drinking alcohol, promote healthy gut bacteria and keep your energy levels up. If drinking plain ol' water sounds boring, add some fresh lemon or lime juice and a drop of stevia, put in some fresh berries or cucumbers to enhance the flavor, or drink a flavored sparkling water for some extra excitement. Drink water before you give into a sugar craving and reevaluate in ten minutes to see if you really are craving sugar, or are just thirsty.

  3. Slowly Eliminate - For many people, the minute they tell themselves they can't have something, the more they want it. If you are one of these people and know the minute you tell yourself "no sugar" you can't stop thinking about everything with sugar in it, then this tip is for you. Eliminate sugar from your diet slowly. Try to eliminate the treat after lunch, but have something sweet after dinner. Allow yourself to still enjoy the sweet stuff on occasion, but moderate it. This takes practice!

  4. Don't keep sugar around the house - This seems simple, but if there is no sugar in the house, you will be less tempted to indulge! This is such a key factor for so many people when overcoming sugar addiction. Don't buy candy, sweets, sugary juices or drinks and you simply won't be tempted. Chances are you will find something to busy yourself with around the house and forget about the temporary sugar voice.

  5. Try a Whole 30 or 21 Day Sugar Detox - I have completed both of these programs and if you are a person who does well with clear guideline, limits and a strict plan to follow regarding your diet, then these programs are great! The 21 Day Sugar Detox is very effective when it comes to reducing sugar cravings because even most fruit is eliminated on this program. By the end of 21 days you will eat a piece of fruit again and realize how sweet it is once your taste buds have reset.

One thing I don't recommend when trying to cut back on sugar is turning to artificial sugars or using too many sugar substitutes. Artificial sugars such as aspartame, Splenda, or Equal are very harmful to the body, and I even recommend using real sugar over these products. As far as the "natural" sugar substitutes gaining popularity such as stevia, xylitol and erythritol, I usually don't recommend these either. Even though these substitutes are better than artificial sweeteners, they don't do the brain or body any favors. They are simply a substitute for a sweet taste that mentally further promotes the craving for sweetness. In other words, even just the taste of sweetness, although not from real sugar, can still trick our brains into wanting more sugar, furthering the addiction. I prefer stevia as a sweetener, it is the least harmful in my opinion. Also a small amount goes a long way and you can easily control a few drops of stevia in coffee or water.

Getting plenty of sleep, exercising and sticking to your other healthy habits will help curb sugar cravings as well! Simply being mindful when it comes to how much sugar you're eating, and when you crave it, and focusing on what your body truly needs instead of sugar can go a long way too!

Let me know if you have any tips that help you to win against sugar or if you have any questions about how to reduce your sugar consumption after a week (month?) of indulgence. Thanks for reading!