How to Stop Craving Sweets and Crush Your Sugar Addiction

How to stop craving sweetsLet’s face it:  sometimes the urge for something sweet becomes…uncontrollable.  In spite of knowing that your enjoyment will be temporary and that you’ll regret it later, you just can’t help yourself:  you’re addicted to sugar.

It’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the obvious, though. New research continues to point to a sugar-laden diet as the biggest contributor to serious, chronic inflammatory conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Still, no matter how many times you decide to cut back on sugary foods, your resolve just seems to fly out the window in the face of a fresh-baked cookie or homemade cinnamon roll.

Imagine how sublimely self-controlled you would feel if you could say “No, thanks!” to that cookie without batting an eye. Can you ever hope to achieve such self-control?

The answer is “yes,” but you’ll need more than just willpower to break your sugar addiction. You’ll also need a better understanding of how to stop craving sweets, along with a bullet-proof strategy.

Health Risks: When Sweet Dreams Turn into Nightmares

Before learning how to stop sugar cravings, it’s important for you to understand why consuming added sugar is so dangerous.  According to Dr. Josh Axe, “…we now know today that sugar impacts just about every organ system in the body. And not in a good way.”

What has research revealed about the harmful health effects of sugar? Here’s a brief list of conditions that are now strongly linked to sugar consumption: Sugar addiction

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Leaky gut
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Small intestinal cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Breast cancer

Thanks mainly to the efforts of a powerful sugar lobby, Americans have been told since the 1960s that dietary fat—not sugar—was the culprit behind the upsurge in heart disease. But in recent years, new research, along with the exposure of a huge sugar industry scandal, has revealed that the development of heart disease is much more closely associated to sugar intake than to dietary fats.

“How Much Sugar Should I Eat?”

Most nutritionally-oriented physicians and researchers agree that, ideally, we should consume NO added refined sugars such as table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. But these unnatural sweeteners are hiding out in so many processed foods and beverages, the average U.S. adult now consumes approximately 22 teaspoons/day of them!

To put the typical American’s daily sugar intake into perspective, consider that the American Heart Association recommends an upper limit of 6 teaspoons/day for women and 9 teaspoons/day for men.

Why Do So Many Foods Contain Added Sugar?

Sugar continues to be a major ingredient in processed foods and sweetened drinks because it is an addictive substance. In fact, one recent study concluded that sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine. (Yes, you read that right.)

But table sugar is not “officially” considered to be an addictive substance, as far as food manufacturers are concerned. Since refined sugar remains on the list of Generally Regarded As Safe (G.R.A.S.) ingredients, no one wants to be the first to stop using it and watch their sales plummet. The reality is, however, that refined sugars are dangerous chemicals that our bodies are not equipped to handle.

How Sugar Affects Your Brain

Sugar–like cocaine or caffeine–affects the “pleasure center” of your brain, which regulates the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Every time you eat a sugary food, your blood sugar levels spike, and your brain also triggers the release of more dopamine into your bloodstream.Sugar addict

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for our ability to stay motivated, reach goals, make good decisions, and control our emotions. Eating sugar causes an increase in both blood sugar and dopamine levels, with an inevitable “crash” shortly thereafter when both of these levels fall. That’s when your brain starts demanding more sugar in order to raise dopamine levels again and repeat the pleasant experience.

Sadly, the blood sugar imbalance created by eating sweets can cause an increase in the speed at which dopamine is broken down, producing a never-ending downward spiral. The more sugar you eat, the more of a dopamine deficit you create when your levels fall again, making you want to consume even more sugar in order to feel “normal.”

Take a Quiz to Evaluate Dopamine Cravings

If you think that your sugar cravings may be spiraling out of control and affecting your dopamine levels, Dr. Mehmet Oz has designed a short quiz you can use for a self-evaluation:

  • Do you have a late-night snack at least two times a week?
  • Do you keep eating even after you know you are full?
  • Are you irritable or tired when you cut back on favorite foods?

According to Dr. Oz, you probably have low dopamine levels if you answered yes to any of the above questions.

Eat Foods Rich in Tyrosine

Before rushing headlong into the battle against sugar cravings, you will want to have your “secret weapon” on hand: foods rich in the amino acid tyrosine. Tyrosine-containing foods have been shown to encourage the brain to release dopamine and another neurotransmitter, norepinephrine.  When you eat these foods in place of sweets, you can raise your dopamine levels and “fool” your brain into being satisfied.

Some of the best food sources of tyrosine are:

  • Spirulina Eggs source of tyrosine
  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • Salmon
  • Turkey
  • Shrimp
  • Mustard greens
  • Spinach
  • Watercress
  • Edamame
  • Kidney beans
  • Sesame seeds

By keeping some of these tyrosine-containing foods readily available to combat cravings, you can get off to a good start toward a more sugar-free existence.

For additional brain support, try supplementing with a formula such as Dopamine Plus which contains clinical doses of L-Tyrosine and DL-Phenylalanine to help promote healthy dopamine production.

Don’t Skimp on Protein and Healthy Fats

Protein can help keep your blood sugar levels balanced, and that can really help to reduce sugar cravings. Some of the best protein foods to help you crush your sugar addiction are:Salmon omega-3 fats

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Lentils
  • Wild fish like salmon, mackerel or tuna
  • Organic chicken
  • Black beans
  • Yogurt
  • Free-range eggs
  • Raw cheese

When you stop feeding your body added sugar, it will need to start burning fat for energy instead of the sugar it has become accustomed to. Be sure to start consuming more healthy fats—the kind commonly found in a Mediterranean-style diet. By burning fats for energy, you won’t feel fatigued, and this will give you even more resistance against sugar cravings.

The best fat for overcoming a sugar addiction is coconut or coconut oil. Other good fats to include are avocados, olive oil, ghee, and organic, grass-fed butter.

Eat Plenty of Fiber

For many people, one of the major causes of sugar cravings is the presence of candida in their body’s digestive tract. High-fiber foods can support detoxification and actually help reduce candida symptoms in your body. Another very important reason to eat more fiber is to help you stay fuller longer. Start consuming more high-fiber vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, including:  High fiber chickpeas

  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Avocados
  • Berries
  • Coconut
  • Okra
  • Acorn squash
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Chickpeas
  • Split peas
  • Quinoa

A high-fiber diet is also very important for helping to keep many chronic inflammatory conditions in check.

Decrease Cravings with Sour and Fermented Foods

Sour, fermented, or probiotic-rich foods are great for reducing sugar cravings because of the good bacteria found in them. These bacteria can fight off and reduce candida in your body, helping to restore your gut health.

  • Probiotic-rich foods to consume include kefir, yogurt, kombucha, natto and coconut kefir.
  • Fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, salted gherkin pickles, and brine-cured olives can also help reduce cravings.
  • Sour raw apple cider vinegar and fresh-squeezed lemon juice can help you withstand sugary temptations when you consume them throughout the day.

Replace Sugar with Natural Sweeteners

For those times when you need a sweetener, use one that is natural and has no negative impact on blood sugar levels. The best and safest natural sweeteners to incorporate into your sugar detox diet are stevia and monk fruit.

In his book The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, Dr. Mark Hyman recommends to: “Stop all forms of sugar, all flour products, and all artificial sweeteners—which cause increased cravings and slow metabolism, and lead to fat storage.”

You’ll Succeed If You Stay PreparedBreaking sugar addiction

Whatever you do, once you begin your new sugar-free way of life, keep plenty of foods on hand from each of the lists above. Be prepared, especially when you’re away from home, to handle those difficult moments when you’re starting to feel tired or hungry. Have a high-fat or high-protein snack with you (such as nuts), and sip on lemon water throughout your workday.

Then take a few deep breaths and relax. You’re on your way to “crushing it.”

Sources for this article include:

https://draxe.com/is-sugar-bad-for-you/

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2548255?redirect=true

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Added-Sugars-Add-to-Your-Risk-of-Dying-from-Heart-Disease_UCM_460319_Article.jsp#.WtGQ25ch1PZ

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/

https://www.medicaldaily.com/dopamine-diet-naturally-control-hunger-cravings-and-boost-weight-loss-251265

 

 

DISCLAIMER:  Nothing on this site or blog is intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

16 Replies to “How to Stop Craving Sweets and Crush Your Sugar Addiction”

  1. Thank you for this AMAZING blog! I learned so much from you today, especially the function of Tyrosine in certain foods. I really like that you share how bad sugar is – but I love that you are teaching reasonable solutions to this serious problem. I know I can make healthier choices based on these resources. It makes so much sense and certainly makes elimination of sugar (cocaine!!) and absolute must.

    1. When I first read about how refined sugar was developed and introduced into our food supply 100 years ago, with researchers paid to keep silent about its negative effects, I was dumbfounded. We have all grown up thinking that white table sugar was a “staple” and not the highly-processed, chemically-altered poison that it really is. Knowing the truth and looking into some ways to break my own sugar addiction has helped me tremendously, so I hope these ideas help others as well. Thanks for the positive feedback, Kathleen!

  2. Thank you for all the GREAT information. I’ve been trying so hard to kick my sugar habit. My fix is soda and slightly sweetened tea. I’ve tried to do it naturally with just my own firm resolve but when I reach for that refreshing bottle of water next to a can of soda…sometimes I cave. I’m going to have to try the Dopamine Plus because I love coconut kefir, avacados, nuts and acorn squash, but they haven’t stopped me yet. I’ll definitely try keeping more of that stuff on hand and adding more fresh squeezed lemon to my water too.

    1. I’m glad you found this post informative, Jennifer! Sodas are actually the #1 source of sugar for consumers here in the U.S., and those that contain high fructose corn syrup are associated with the quickest sugar spikes and the fastest development of health problems like obesity and diabetes. But once you realize that sodas are designed to be addictive, it can help you to say no to them. Fresh-squeezed lemon in water has proved to be my favorite and has helped me to eliminate sodas from my diet. (I honestly never think about them at all now when I’m thirsty!) I wish you the best of success with your plan!

  3. I get those days where I crave something sweet and wonder why. It seems most everything we eat has some form of sugar in it.
    I have been using honey instead of sugar in my coffee for a few months now hoping it helps.

    Your article has interesting information, especially on dopamine it makes sense to read the process. I do eat several of the tyrosine foods but maybe not enough? I need to find a balance somehow. Stevia was a big seller when I worked in the pharmacies andI actually forgot about it over time. Nice reminder for me thanks!

    Patsy

    1. When I was gathering research for this article, I noticed that several health practitioners had put together lists of foods to help with sugar cravings, but not very many of them explained the dopamine connection and the reason to eat more foods rich in tyrosine. Knowing that I was actually dealing with a serious addiction, however, is what really spurred me on to actively stock up on foods to combat my sugar cravings. I hope this information helps you as well, Patsy!

  4. This is some great information you got here.

    And thanks for breaking everything down, and creating lists of foods that we can incorporate into our daily lives.
    Eating healthy is not easy, but when you go out of your way to create information like this, it really does help.

    Thank you for the time you spent on creating the content you’ve got here.

    1. It’s really good to hear that you are appreciative of the information here. For me, making major changes in my diet and/or lifestyle has longer-lasting results if I understand why I need to change, and how to go about it. Thanks!

  5. I just get in cutting and I really like sugary foods. I need to consume food which are rich in Tyrosine and have fewer calories so I think I will try getting some spinach before I go to bed.

  6. I like all the foods high in Tyrosine! I am not a huge sugar nut per se, but I do get on these binges every now and then, and then I kind of go crazy. This usually happens after I have been dieting a while, and my mind is telling me I need some sugar, LOL. I am going to try these foods instead. They are all really good foods, so shouldn’t be too difficult 🙂

    1. I’m glad to hear that your taste buds are already steering you toward those tyrosine-containing foods! I hope the suggestions in this article help you to gain control of your cravings whenever you need to.

  7. Hi Abbee, thank you so very much for this great article and I will most certainly be keeping this in mind for when I come back from holiday.

    You have provided some really good information on how bad sugar is but you have also given some excellent alternative ideas to use in place of the sugary items.

    I was so impressed with this post that i am going to let my daughter and friend also read it.

    Thank you again.

  8. Hey Abbee! Really good advice here on how to cut out of your diet. I didn’t know there were so many ways and food that could help to do this. I used to be sugar-free a couple months ago, but then I moved to my girlfriend’s place and started eating sugar again. I should show that to her haha! Keep up the good articles!

    1. It sounds like we’re on the same page, Ben. But, let’s face it, we’re all going to “fall off the wagon” once in a while and eat something sugary. Just as long as we don’t “stay off of it” for too long! Thanks for the encouraging words!

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