Health

7 Steps to Kick Your Sugar Addiction to the Curb

When your sugar cravings set in, do you make a special trip down to the grocery store or convenience store just to get a fix? Are sugary treats a fail-proof reward system for you? Do you have a secret sugar stash somewhere just for “emergencies”? Tried to cut back, but failed? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be addicted to sugar.

Sugar is my worst enemy. I have a major sweet tooth so controlling my sugar cravings has been a constant struggle of mine. But being endlessly obsessed and distracted by cookies, donuts, brownies and all the snacks sitting in my pantry, I’ve decided enough was enough. This was no way to live, and I didn’t want to be shackled by the seduction of sugary treats anymore.

After numerous tries to end my sugar addiction, these are the tips that have worked for me so far:

1. Don’t go cold turkey!

Many sources say that the only way to quit sugar for good is to go cold turkey and cut out all added sugars all at once. For some people, it may work, but personally, going cold turkey has only resulted in numerous attempts with just as many failures. So I don’t think it’s very realistic. The trick for me is to reduce your sugar intake slowly to acclimate your body and your taste buds to foods that don’t taste as sweet as they used to.

For example, if you’re the kind of coffee drinker who likes a liberal amount of sugar in your coffee, slowly reduce the amount of sugar you add one teaspoon at a time until you learn to enjoy the taste of coffee with maybe just one teaspoon of sugar—or none at all. And if you’re a chocolate lover, like I am, try to move away from milk chocolate and choose dark chocolate, gradually increasing the percentage of cacao as you learn to appreciate the richness of the chocolate itself without all that sugar and milk to cover it up. Now, I even find that I prefer dark chocolate (about 70% is perfect for me) over the sickly sweetness of milk chocolate.

2. Don’t use substitutes

When your body tastes something sweet, it is expecting to process whatever that sweet thing is into calories. So when you swap out sugar for a 0 calories artificial sweetener like Splenda, you risk messing up your taste for sweet things because your body doesn’t know how to deal with something that is sweet yet provides no energy. In fact, you might end up craving more sweet things as your body attempts to get the energy it’s expecting.

If you habitually like to drink flavored water, try adding some chopped fruit or berries for flavor instead of flavor syrups. And for all other foods that you normally like to add sugar to, just go with step one (reducing the amount of sugar) instead of using artificial sweeteners.

3. Exercise

Ever wonder why you crave snacks and other sugary foods even when you’re not hungry? It’s because sugar makes you feel good. Sugar makes the world a better place. So when you’re looking to rid yourself of your sugar addiction, I highly recommend doing some moderate exercise every day to help with your cravings. Exercise is long known to cause your body to release endorphins, that makes you feel happy and satisfied. So instead of getting your happy fix from sugar, head out for a run or a bike around the block! You’ll avoid that sugar crash and get to feel energized for the rest of your day.

4. Drink water

A lot of the time, our food cravings are just because we’re dehydrated. The next time you feel a craving coming on, try drinking a glass of water instead of reaching for your cookie jar. Not only will the water fill up our stomachs, but it may also be just the thing your body was looking for.

While many sources say that the daily recommended amount of water consumption is about 6-8 glasses a day, I believe that everyone needs a different amount depending on your body weight, composition, and your level of activity. In general, making sure you are well hydrated throughout the day will help curb your sugar cravings by providing your body with exactly what it needs instead of substituting that need with sugar.

5. Eat more, snack less

Keep your body’s blood sugar levels stable throughout the day by never skipping a meal. It’s better to eat small portions of healthy, nutritious food multiple times a day than eating only one or two large meals but snack on sugary snacks in between. While this concept may be obvious, but for many of us who are too busy to plan balanced meals every day, it is something we need to keep in mind. It is also a good idea to incorporate a healthy source of protein into each meal to keep you fuller for longer.

An easy way to make this happen on a busy schedule is to cook in bulk. Foods that keep well are pasta sauces, cooked pasta, cooked rice, boiled or stir-fried vegetables (add some tofu or beans for protein as it’s not a good idea to keep cooked meat for too long, not to mention reheated, frozen meat may not taste that great). You can cook these in bulk, portion them, then stick them in the fridge to reheat at work.

6. Read your labels

It’s important to remember that just because something doesn’t taste sweet, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t contain any added sugars. Many sauces, crackers, salad dressings, even your everyday breads contain added sugar.

When grocery shopping, make sure you read the nutritional labels and list of ingredients. If you find that sugar is in the ingredients list near the top of the list, avoid it. The higher up on the list an ingredient is, the more of the ingredient is contained in the product.

7. Sleep more

Sugar acts almost like pure energy for your body. When you’re tired, your sugar cravings tend to go through the roof as your body desperately looks for energy to maintain normal functions. If your cravings are raging, take a look at your sleep schedule to make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep. Even a nap will help curb those insistent cravings!

I can assure you, once your taste buds readjust, you’ll come to enjoy naturally sweet foods. Sugary treats and foods will taste a little too overwhelming. When you’ve reached that stage, give yourself a good pat on the back. Your sugar addiction is well on its way to the grave, and those extra pounds will follow suit before you know it!

Originally published on liinon.wordpress.com.

Kaitlyn Lo

Kaitlyn is a blogger and professional writer. While specializing in health and relationship topics, she also writes articles on a variety of topics, including culture, food, technology, and politics. Her written work can be found on pilcrowmagazine.com and on her website.