Last month we made a post regarding an addiction that isn’t exactly considered “conventional.” But sugar addiction is real and on the rise, especially among our youth. The rate of childhood diabetes is increasing rapidly, as is the rate of heart disease and other obesity-related afflictions.
In this week’s blog, we’d like to introduce some ways to help kick your sugar habit, and we’ll offer alternative choices when it comes to curbing those sugar cravings. So let’s get started!
Biochemistry, Not Willpower
Sugar addiction is not simply a lack of willpower; rather, it’s about an important balance of biochemicals in our bodies.
Dr. Frank Lipman states, “Part of the reason it’s so hard to kick the habit is that over time our brains actually become addicted to the natural opioids that are triggered by sugar consumption. Much like the classic drugs of abuse such as cocaine, alcohol, and nicotine, a diet loaded with sugar can generate excessive reward signals in the brain which can override one’s self-control and lead to addiction.”
The American Psychiatric Association defines three stages of addiction:
And according to Zoe Harcombe, you need to know the four stages of sugar addiction:
- You desire to have a particular substance (in this case, it would be sugar).
- You need more and more of it (sugar).
- You become cranky and/or irritable when you don’t get a fix.
- You eventually suffer the consequences.
“It is only stage 4 where people seek help. If there were no consequences to sugar addiction, we would just eat confectionery, cookies, cakes, ice cream, muffins, etc. all day long.”
But how do we know where to even begin? Do this, not that. Eat this, not that. There’s so much that goes into kicking an addiction.
- Identify sugar and where it hides in your life. Rid your pantry, snack drawer, and refrigerator of all the foods that contain sugar. Think about things that aren’t as obvious as cookies or cake. This will require reading the labels on your food. Sparkpeople.com put together a great list of all the ‘hidden’ names sugar can be called.
- Eat Regularly: five small meals a day. Doing so helps you avoid the “crash” when you’re hungry, which is when you crave sweet stuff the most.
- Eat whole foods. The less processing food goes through, the closer it is to its original form. Eating foods closer to their natural form is always a better choice, and healthier, too.
- Try to eat a combination of protein and/or healthy fats in each meal. This will help to control blood sugar levels.
- Get moving! Exercise! Do yoga, dance, go rock climbing—anything that will get you moving! Movement reduces tension and will give you a boost of energy! That will help decrease your craving for sugar.
- Get enough sleep. Exhaustion leads to the consumption of sugar to counteract our lack of energy.
- Stay away from artificial sweeteners. ALL. OF. THEM.
- Do a detox. You can find a multitude of sugar detox guides online. Find one that you think you can stick to, and give it a try!
There’s No Magic Potion or Spell
Be patient; results won’t happen overnight. Kicking a sugar addiction takes time—lots of time. And just like any other addiction, your chances for relapse are high. It’s easy to fall off the wagon when there’s a Krispy Kreme open 24 hours a day down the street from you!
Join a support group to help keep you on track and accountable! You can also seek advice from an accredited nutritionist to guide you to a better lifestyle and help direct you in making healthier food choices to kick your sugar addiction! Contact us if you want more information for beating a sugar addiction.
~ Pamela Moore, MA, LMHC
Client Care Coordinator