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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 3: Stop the Cravings
Now you really start to put your plan into action. You’ve identified the sources of added sugar in your diet and replaced those foods with healthier and more wholesome alternatives. Your kitchen is now set up for success!

This week’s focus should be on making a conscious effort to avoid sugary foods. When a craving strikes, try going for a walk or simply drinking a glass of water. Take a hot bath or get lost in a good book. Typically any craving will pass if you wait it out long enough. But it's important to begin understanding the difference between true hunger and food cravings. If you are truly hungry, a handful of nuts or some raw veggies dipped in hummus will sound appetizing, so go ahead and eat one of your healthy snacks. But if you're craving something sweet or a specific sugary food, use a distraction technique.

The first week of saying no to sugar will be the hardest, but the more diligently you stick to your plan, the better you'll fare in the end. Even a tiny taste of sugar during this time period can lead to setbacks.

After a couple sugar-free weeks, your sugar threshold will start to decrease and you will find that you no longer crave sugar or sweets as you once did. As with any lifestyle change, the first couple of weeks are the hardest. Eventually, it will become habit to reach for a mint tea or piece of fruit instead of juice and candy.

Week 4: Game Plan for Life
Now that you have yanked that sweet tooth, it's time to devise a plan to prevent a sugar relapse. Although sugar isn't necessary for health and it's perfectly fine if you want to continue avoiding it, it probably isn't realistic for most people to avoid all forms of sugar forever.

So if you want to allow a little sweetness back into your life, that's OK. Moderation is key. Don't let sugar and sweets become a daily habit. Instead, consider them to be special occasion treats only. With your lowered threshold for sweetness, that shouldn't be too hard. But if you begin to indulge too often or overindulge over a short period of time (such as a weeklong vacation), you could find yourself back in trouble with sugar all over again.

If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up over it. Accept your action and decide to make a better decision next time and move on. Continue to experiment with your new, healthy foods and recipes. You'd be surprised at how many ways you can make treats healthier and use far less sugar than a recipe suggests.

And remember: It generally takes about 3-4 weeks for a new behavior to become habit, the most important thing is to stick with it.


This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople's nutrition expert, Becky Hand, M.S., Licensed and Registered Dietitian.

Sources

The Journal of the American Medical Association. Welsh JA, Sharma A, Abramson JL, Vaccarino V, Gillepsie C, Vos MB. "Caloric Sweetener Consumption and Dyslipidemia Among US Adults," Accessed August 2011. www.jama.ama-assn.org.

The Journal of the American Medical Association. Schulze MB, Manson JE, Ludwig DS, Colditz GA, MJ Stampfer, et al. "Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Weight Gain, and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in Young and Middle-Aged Women," Accessed August 2011. www.jama.ama-assn.org.

United States Department of Agriculture. "USDA Database for the Added Sugars Content of Select Foods." Accessed August 2012. www.usda.gov.

WebMD. Kam, Katherine. "The Truth about Sugar," Accessed August 2011. www.webmd.com.
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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 RedHeadRecipes.com, which provides recipes and ideas for a balanced lifestyle.

Member Comments

  • I was addicted to sugar and food for over 20 years, a friend in Europe showed me how this is all related to emotions and Diet. A Diet to address the emotions and the food worked for me and I have been free!

    CLICK MY NAME AND SEE MY SUGAR ADDICTION BLOG AND YOU WILL BEAT FOOD AND SUGAR ADDICTION. - 7/14/2014 6:55:08 PM
  • I just have to say that comparing todays sugar consumption to the 1700 isn't a very good comparison. They didn't have the kind of refined sugars that we have today, so of course they're eating much less of it. It was also super expensive back then which gave fewer people access to it.

    Other than that, good article. - 6/1/2014 9:09:44 PM
  • I broke my sugar craving/addiction with tincture of Gymnema Sylvestre.
    IT WORKS!! - 5/18/2014 1:24:19 PM
  • AMYINBUFFALO
    "When a craving strikes, try going for a walk or simply drinking a glass of water" --- Seriously? I can't stand it when I look for answers on how to help my sugar addiction and I get advice like THAT. I'm sorry, but when I want chocolate and I want SWEETS, I do NOT want a glass of freaking water or to go for a walk! So annoying. - 5/6/2014 6:54:27 PM
  • EBBIELOU1
    I am sure sugar is making me loose energy so great advice I will be sticking to reduce sugar intake by being careful of hidden sugars - 5/5/2014 5:58:36 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
  • FUNCTIONALMEDNP
    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
  • DZAKRIA
    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
    gar.org - 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