Nutrition Articles

Breaking Your Sugar Addiction

The 4-Week Plan to Stop Sugar Cravings

18KSHARES
Page 1 of 4
That white, powdery substance just makes you feel good. You can't get it off your mind, and you keep coming back for more. The more you have it, the more you want it! But even when you try to stay away from it, it finds ways to sneak into your life almost daily. What can you do?

We're not talking about some dangerous or illegal drug here; we're talking about sugar. Although it's considered harmless in comparison, sugar, in excess, can cause a host of problems for a lot of us: cravings, binge eating, weight gain and heart disease among them. According to the USDA, the average American consumed 151 pounds of sugar in 1999—an all time high. Since then, consumption has dropped slightly and in 2010 the average American consumed 132 pounds. (To put that into perspective, consider that the number was just 4 pounds in the year 1700.) At least half of the sugar we consume comes from soft drinks, fruit drinks, and sports drinks. The rest sneaks into our diets in the form of ketchup, teriyaki sauce, chocolate milk and the obvious sweets like cookies, cakes, ice cream and even breakfast cereal. Surprisingly, some "healthy foods" such as yogurt and instant flavored oatmeal can pack in 20-30 grams (5-7 teaspoons) of unnecessary added sugar! It seems like we're drowning in sugar, and nobody is wearing a life vest.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that we limit our daily sugar consumption to 7% or less of our daily calorie intake—that's about 6 teaspoons (100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men. But that adds up fast. Just one 12-ounce can of regular soda contains 8-10 teaspoons of sugar and 130-150 calories. One glazed donut contains 6 teaspoons, and a half cup ice cream (the standard serving size, although most portions are much, much larger) contains 4 grams of added sugar!

Why Should You Care? Is Sugar Actually Bad for You?

Well, aside from the increased bulge around the waistline, diets high in sugar are strongly linked to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, elevated triglycerides, low HDL (good) cholesterol levels, and heart disease. Sugar intake has also been linked to depression, migraines, poor eyesight, autoimmune diseases (such as arthritis, and multiple sclerosis), gout and osteoporosis.

Recent research has shown that a high intake of carbohydrates, including sugar, releases a feel good chemical in the brain called serotonin. Think of how you feel after indulging in a high sugar meal or treat—almost euphoric, right? The high of a sugar rush is temporary though. After a few hours—or even a few minutes—you start to crash and you become tired, fatigued and lethargic.

Although sweet foods are tempting and delicious to most people (blame Mother Nature for that!), the more sugar you eat, the higher your tolerance becomes. So if you have a strong sweet tooth or intense cravings for sugar, chances are not that you were born that way, but that your dietary habits and food choices created the sugar monster you may have become.

Fortunately, we can reverse this tolerance in just a couple of weeks by cutting out sugar. Once you have decreased your threshold, something that tasted perfectly sweet a few weeks ago, will begin to taste too sweet to eat, and that can help you reduce your intake of the sweet stuff.

Cutting Out Sugar: A 4-Week Action Plan

While the occasional sweet treat won't make or break your weight loss or your health, many people have trouble stopping after a sensible portion or saying no to sugar when it's available. If you feel out of control around sugar, then a sugar "detox" is a great way to reduce your cravings, eat better, and bring sugar back to where it belongs: as an occasional treat that you consciously choose to eat in a mindful manner, not a daily treat occurrence that controls you.

Follow this month-long plan to break your sugar addiction!
Continued ›
Page 1 of 4   Next Page ›
Got a story idea? Give us a shout!
18KSHARES

About The Author

Lauri Watson Lauri Watson
is a Registered Dietitian with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She eats her way through life's tasty treats and documents her culinary journeys at RedHeadRecipes.com, which provides recipes and ideas for a balanced lifestyle.

Member Comments

  • BLOPEZ94
    @Cristina011504 Lol, you made my day with that time zone thing :) This verified forskolin you have mentioned really helped me. i lost like 35 pounds in three month and 100000 pounds to go, lol.
    Speaking about garcinia, donít even spend your money on that. I tried it 2 years go with literally 0 results.

    - 4/12/2016 7:24:53 PM
  • CRISTINA011504
    I've been size 10 all my life without even trying a lot. Recently I hit my 40th birthday. And now i can see that iím starting to gain weight. Soon i will need my personal time zone. My metabolism is getting slower i guess. i hate working out so decided to give weight loss supplements a shot. But there are so manyÖ. My friend which is a dietitian said that www.verified-fors
    kolin.com is the best since it's verified by a lot of studies. Maybe somebody tried it? Or should i try garcinia? - 4/12/2016 7:02:48 PM
  • I have managed in the past to give up most sugar for a few weeks, to the point where things like tinned baked beans and spaghetti taste like jam to me! But the problem is things like Christmas and Easter, where other people give me chocolate. I have been known to give boxes of chocolates away, just to stop me from eating it, cos if it's there, I will eat it, and no, I will not be able to eke it out for weeks. (one square a day my eye!) I think I will try again, after Easter, but I know it will be hard - 3/19/2016 4:05:33 PM
  • I say "All things in moderation". Try to cut high fructose sugars whenever possible, but I don't think I could cut out ALL sugars. Great article though!
    Thanks.

    Nola - 1/11/2016 7:30:13 PM
  • LOTS of misinformation going on here. It is not simply "sugar," but sugar in combination with fats and overeating that deadly combination that are the cause for weight gain and health issues (cake=sugar plus oils and butter, cookies=oil, butter, sugar once again). There are a vast number of high carb vegans that are incredibly fit and trim that can demonstrate that sugar and carbohydrates certainly are not the issue themselves. Fruits, pastas, potatoes, all contain "sugar" that is optimal for health. Refined sugar is an issue, as it provides little to no nutritional value which means its easy to give your body more than it needs, but simply saying "sugar" is not entirely accurate. - 12/2/2015 12:25:10 PM
  • Much like becoming a vegetarian, giving up sugar is not going to happen for me, I need a plan I can follow and still enjoy my life. Being sugar free, like being meat free, might guarantee weight loss but I would not enjoy living that way. Good suggestions on cutting out the obvious sugar but that is probably as far as I will go. - 12/2/2015 3:35:55 AM
  • STEPHIESMITH92
    Ever since I started being more conscious of my sugar intake by checking the nutritional facts, it was shocking to see how much sugar is added to our food! A lot of people think of substance abuse or drugs when they think of addiction, but sugar truly can be addicting. That's why it can be so difficult for some people to make the life changes they need to lose weight. I hope that more people come to understand just how much damage sugar can do. focustreatmentcen
    ters.com - 9/17/2015 1:53:24 PM
  • CYNTHIA575
    25 days sugar free. I have learned that sugar free does not mean sugar free. Reading labels is very important. I feel so much better. I had sugar free jello last nite. Yuck. That stuff is nasty. I will be making my own stuff. I will know what goes in it. Best advice I can give you is prepare and carry ibuprofen with you. It does help. - 9/4/2015 8:38:12 AM
  • KIMSHEPH
    Itís funny that people talk about meat and sugar addiction at a time when alcohol addiction is killing the West. We frankly need more rehab centers, effective rehab treatments, and more rehab center review sites like Canada Rehab reviews ( http://canadareha
    breviews.com ), anti-drug and alcohol laws, not fancy sugar addiction rehabs. - 8/18/2015 5:48:57 AM
  • ANNASTASIA76
    Does anybody know how to get rid of the nausea after going without sugar, I can go without for 3 weeks but after that I start getting sick and weak and just can't function. I can avoid that by drinking fruit juice but that's just another form of sugar, while it's better than my addiction to chocolate it's still alot of sugar and calories and I can't loose weight that way.

    I was told that there are some teas I can drink to curb the nausea and help get rid of my sugar addiction but wasn't told what those are.

    also have a citric acid intolerance/aller
    gy, a lot of the tips here to get away from sugar involved things I can't eat are there any substitutes?? - 3/24/2015 4:37:56 PM
  • HANNAHMUN9090
    Wow I didnt know sugar had a tolorence - 3/9/2015 7:36:58 PM
  • Thank you! We really don't need sugar. I'm not ready to cut it all out, but I do really appreciate the article. I did once, eat a lot less sugar, and it really improved my mood. I was always calm when I was avoiding the sugar. As opposed to moody, which seems to happen when it's present in my diet. So, I'll probably swing back to the no sugar camp, there are a lot of good reasons to be there! - 3/9/2015 10:45:18 AM
  • SHAAMPU
    I had reduced my sugar years ago and now I'm back into that darn ice cream. Every night after a healthy dinner I feel the craving for ice cream. I will try some of your suggestions. It's been so tough. Because of a surgery I lost 10 pounds which I've kept off however my craving is hard to change.
    - 2/5/2015 9:50:12 AM
  • All I can say is that I quit ALL sugar two years ago last September 1 (2014) and will NEVER look back...I no longer binge, or crave ANYTHING sweet! It WORKS! - 12/2/2014 4:37:45 PM
  • For a gradualist like me the solution was to cut down little by little.
    Yogurt - my favorite organic had 29 g of sugar while the plain only had 12. I hated the taste of plain
    So I bought a quart of each and mixed 7 parts sweet kind to 1 part plain.
    Gradually I reduced the sweet and increased the plain.
    It took MONTHS, but now plain yogurt is all I eat.

    I did this with the sugar and milk in my coffee too. Now I drink it almost black and it's fine.

    Gradualism was my choice in weight loss and exercise intensity also. Much less deprivation increases the likelihood I stick with the program
    - 12/2/2014 2:33:50 PM

x Lose 10 Pounds by August 8! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.