If you’ve ever felt the sudden urge to get your hands on a candy bar at all costs, you’ve experienced a sugar craving. They’re real and intense, and they result from our bodies and brains being addicted to sugar. It’s an unhealthy addiction that can mean weight gain and decreased mental performance. So how can you beat a sugar addiction? We’ll explain.
Step 1: Rid your pantry of added sugar.
Added sugar is the culprit behind sugar addiction. Like its name suggests, it’s added on top of the natural sugar that occurs in many foods. Common offenders include fruit juice, yogurt, and anything processed. You’ll have to do a close inspection on some labels to find added sugar, as food manufacturers have become very clever when it comes to covering it up. If you need help, check out our list of 50 sneaky names for added sugar.
Step 2: Give your body time to detox.
Like an addict ridding his/her body of a drug, you’ll need to give your system time to “get clean” from sugar. We recommend at least seven days, which is enough time to change the way your brain feels about the sweet substance.
During this time, steer clear of added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and natural sweeteners, like honey and syrup. Natural sugars, like the kind found in fruits, are okay. If you’re feeling brave, try our 30 Day No Sugar Challenge.
Step 3: Prepare for withdrawals.
As your body adjusts to the lack of sugar, you may experience tangible withdrawal symptoms like headaches, moodiness, low energy, and even the perception of hunger. Stick it out! The symptoms are only temporary, and you’ll feel much better at the end of your detox period.
Think about it this way: do you really want to go on being addicted to something that makes you feel so terrible when you don’t have it?
Step 4: Reintroduce natural sweeteners slowly.
Once your body has adjusted to not being overloaded with added sugar all the time, you can begin to slowly reintroduce the better kind of sugar—natural sweeteners. Things like honey, pure maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, agave, and Stevia in the Raw are great options to add a bit of flavor to your foods. Of course, moderation is key, or you’ll be right back where you started from.
Step 5: Treat yourself occasionally.
Sugar by nature isn’t evil. It’s the insanely high amounts of it found in many foods that is the problem. Once you’ve broken your sugar addiction, though, you’ll find that you’re satisfied by smaller portions of sweet treats. You may even find some of your old favorite indulgences are now over-the-top sweet. It’s okay to treat yourself occasionally to your favorite sweet foods. A square of dark chocolate is an especially great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard.