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Nutrition Articles  ›  Healthy Habits

Breaking Your Sugar Addiction

The 4-Week Plan to Stop Sugar Cravings

-- By Lauri Watson, Registered Dietitian
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Week 1: Identify Sugar and Where It's Hiding
The first step in conquering your sugar habit is to rid your pantry and refrigerator of added sugar. Some things (think ice cream, cookies and candy) are obvious, but most of us need to look closer at where the sugar in our diets is coming from. This will require a bit of label reading in the beginning, but after a while, it will become easier.

In order to cut back on hidden or added sugar, scan the ingredients list of a food label. If you see any of the following terms listed, then sugar has been added to the product in one form or another and it is best left on the shelf at the store—especially if that sugar shows up within the first five ingredients of any food product.

Agave nectar
Agave syrup
Barley malt
Beet sugar
Brown rice syrup
Brown sugar
Buttered syrup
Cane sugar
Cane juice
Cane juice crystals
Carob syrup
Confectioner’s sugar
Corn syrup
High fructose corn syrup
Corn sugar
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup solids
Crystalized fructose
Date sugar
Diastatic malt
Evaporated cane juice
Fruit juice
Fruit juice concentrate
Glucose solids
Golden sugar
Golden syrup
Grape sugar
Grape juice concentrate
Invert sugar
Maple syrup
Raw sugar
Refiner's syrup
Sorghum syrup
Turbinado sugar
Yellow sugar

This first week is about awareness. Reading labels before you buy—or bite. How many of your favorite foods contain hidden sugars in the top of their ingredients lists?

(Need help figuring out where else hidden sugar may be lurking in your food? Check out this helpful resource from the USDA.)

Once you have identified the sources of sugar in your diet, clean out your kitchen. Throw out or donate all of the products that contain hidden or added sugars, including any juice, soda, candy, sweets and seemingly healthy snacks like granola bars, fruit and grain bars, instant flavored oatmeal and sports drinks. This may sound drastic, but stay with me!

Remember, you don’t have to throw away everything that is sweet! Natural sugar, like the kind you find in whole fruit, contains vitamins, minerals and fiber, which are lost in the processing of juice. Milk contains naturally occurring sugars, but also provides calcium, vitamin D and protein. So unlike soda, fruit juices and other processed foods, whole fruit and dairy products provide us with essential vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Be wary of certain fruit- or milk-based products that contain added sugars though: flavored milk, many yogurts, fruits canned or jellied in added sugar or syrups, and the like. Opt for unflavored skim or 1% milk, plain yogurt or Greek yogurt, and whole pieces of fruit. Remember, we are trying to cut out the 151 pounds a year of added sugar, not the naturally occurring sugar found in whole foods.
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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, which provides recipes and ideas for a balanced lifestyle.

Member Comments

  • Health authorities agree that Americans' habit of consuming an average of 22 teaspoons, or 110 grams, of sugar per day is too much. The American Heart Association suggests that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (30 grams) a day, and men limit themselves to 9 teaspoons (45 grams) a day. You can know the recovery tips here http://forum.inte
    ddiction-how-overcome-t5311.html - 3/4/2014 12:35:32 AM
  • BALANCE in all things.

    low carb high fiber whole grains, for people who do NOT have Gluten allergies, in Moderation, is a good thing.

    Yes many grains are just as harmful as sugar because the body breaks them down into sugar.. so without fiber to bind and slow that conversion down, or without exercise enough to use it in the rate the body BURNS it off, the carbs from whole grains are converted into FAT cells just like sugar anyway, and we all already read how bad sugar is.

    So just because its "whole" grain or "low carb" grain doesn't make it SAFE.

    The body doesn't need more than 40g of carbs to function for anything... (which it can get from green vegetables) unless of course one is exercising all the glucose from that out already.
    - 1/25/2014 4:31:40 PM
    If you don't know that whole grains are just as harmful as regular sugar and that they also elevate blood sugar, then you should't be writing dietary advice. You're harming people. - 1/5/2014 11:25:27 AM
  • Avoiding added sugar is great. Avoiding carbs entirely, as some users are suggesting, is not. Your body needs them to function properly, just like it needs fat. Yes, fat. It's not a dirty word, it's a dietary necessity.

    Like the article says, moderation is key in all things. Just don't forget to give your body what it needs in your effort to avoid what it doesn't. As someone with insulin resistance, I have to be careful with my carbs, so rather than avoid them like the plague I just spend 'em where they count - whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, plenty of fiber, and the occasional indulgence. - 9/22/2013 1:41:40 AM
  • Thanks for the info. - 9/4/2013 9:41:29 AM
  • I finally broke out of my sugar addiction by realizing and accepting that all carbs = SUGAR. Now I avoid them and for the 1st time in my life my blood sugar is under control with NO CRAVINGS. - 7/24/2013 9:48:09 AM
  • I find it is not possible for me to suppress my sugar cravings and have to rely on natural pills by innoveat. They work well. - 7/12/2013 11:05:44 AM
    sugar addiction is really a bad problem which i was struggling from and i succeeded to quit sugar addiction and you can see my personal experience about how i succeeded to quit sugar addiction in my site http://quittingsu - 7/9/2013 3:07:19 PM
  • Thanks for the information... I am a migraine sufferer and believe sugar is a trigger for me. I haven't been able to break the habit, even for headaches. I am up for the challenge! - 7/3/2013 11:06:36 PM
  • Good info and great tips! - 6/23/2013 1:26:48 PM
  • The link to the USDA does not work anymore. - 6/17/2013 3:32:54 PM
  • Thanks for that tip @CONTRARYWISE I have tried over and over to eliminate sugar and by cravings get extreme to the point I'll go out a 12 am and buy a donut or find myself baking late at night. I try to use low fat recipes that call for stevia/truvia, sometimes I talk myself into having a double serving because I know it's low fat. Sugar cravings really make me feel like a drug addict sometimes...just pitiful. - 6/14/2013 3:00:18 PM
    I know the article says to avoid ANY sugar to break the habit, but sometimes my sugar craving is so bad, I would once have baked from scratch a whole batch of cookies and eaten several to satisfy it. Now I find that if I just eat a tiny spoonful of honey or put a spoonful of sugar in a couple inches of tea or coffee, it satisfies my craving. Plus it doesn't take up a whole bunch of time! - 6/9/2013 2:35:56 PM
  • My gosh, I really prided myself in checking for hidden sugar in foods and the list in this article shocked me. I'll print out that list and keep it with me. Another thing I always check on the food label is sugar grams. My graving for sweets is far less than I can ever remember it being in my entire life and I feel and look so much better. - 6/9/2013 11:51:35 AM
  • Thanks for sharing - 6/9/2013 7:02:49 AM