Looking for how to stop sugar addiction? You’ve come to the right place. The good news is – you are NOT addicted to sugar! Food or sugar addiction is not the same as being addicted to alcohol, drugs, tobacco, sex, media, or other external stimulants.
You require food to survive. By that token, you cannot be a food or sugar addict. Classifying yourself in this way can create an addiction consciousness and set you up for a lifetime of battling food and diverting life energy to managing your addiction while also, in some ways, keeping you connected to it.
Does your brain light up in excitement after having foods that contain sugar? Yes, however, feeling excitement and pleasure after eating is all part of your survival wiring so you eat and don’t starve to death.
But what do you do if you can’t seem to shake the sugar addiction feel? Here are some quick tips:
Enjoy ALL Your Meals
Finding pleasure in our eating experience is like oxygen to human beings. What happens when you finally get oxygen to breathe after two minutes of not having it? You gasp for it, you breathe intensely and uncontrollably. If we don’t get oxygen a.k.a pleasure from our food for a while because we’re dieting or just not paying attention to the eating experience, once we DO get oxygen, we too are gasping in the form of uncontrollable overeating. What’s that source of oxygen that tends to come along after we’ve deprived ourselves from pleasure from food? Sugar! Once you start eating it you can’t get enough of it. You think it’s sugar addiction but in reality your brain hasn’t gotten pleasure in a long time and it’s making sure you eat to secure your survival.
The best thing you can do is simply ensure that you’re paying attention and making honest choices about the level of enjoyable foods you are choosing for yourself to eat throughout the day.
Eat Higher Quality Foods
Nutrient deficiencies can be a powerful driving force behind feeling addicted to sugar. Often our body can crave the opposite of what we feel we truly need. A mere lack of protein, healthy fats, or not eating enough real food in the first half of the day are enough to bring on those intense sugar cravings making you feel like a sugar-holic. By eating higher quality foods, you will increase your intake of proteins and healthy fats, naturally helping to curb the cravings.
Adding higher quality foods will also help DECREASE any excess of sugary foods you may or may not realize you’ve been consistently consuming such as real sugar in your coffee (3 times a day), highly added sugar cereals (regardless if organic), snacks, and treats.
In our primitive hunting and gathering days, our ancestors learned that any foods in nature that were sweet, rather than bitter, were not poisonous. Therefore, the brain learned sweets = safe. Sweeter, high-calorie foods like fruits were essential for survival and were not usually available year-round, unlike today. The primitive response was a natural increase in cravings and drive to consume sugars and fruits to stock up on body fat, which was an essential means of survival for the upcoming scarce winter months. And that drive is still within us today, millions of years later!
Unfortunately the food industry knows this too. Researchers know excess sugar will stimulate the brain in a “feed-forward loop” to want more food. Therefore many processed foods today are manipulated and engineered to “hook” you, so your primitive brain will tell you to eat more (and buy more). There’s a tremendous amount of science, research, expense, and brainpower that (sadly) goes into figuring this all out. You just learned how our drive for sugar dates back to our ancestors millions of years ago as a means for survival, and unfortunately, the food industry takes very, very good advantage of this. This does NOT mean you are a sugar or food addict.
Add MORE Higher Quality Carbohydrates
Depriving yourself of carbohydrates can easily make your brain and body crave them more, making you feel addicted to carbs or sugar. Carbohydrates are your body’s number one energy source and yes, they ARE good for you! So what happens when you don’t give yourself ANY or such a little amount for your body to work with? You CRAVE them – naturally!
Carbohydrates to the chronic dieter, even “healthy” carbs, are usually still on the forbidden avoid-as-much-as-possible list because they believe the myth carbs = automatic weight gain. If this is you, the BEST thing you can do is start by giving yourself high quality carbohydrates that you ENJOY in some of your earlier meals throughout the day. Reassess how that changes the intensity around carbohydrate rich foods in the evenings when overeating sugary foods tends to happen. My clients are always shocked when I gently suggest they actually HAVE carbohydrates for breakfast, but then they quickly realize the positive impact that has on their constant cravings for sugar.
Watch Your Negative Self Talk
Telling yourself “I can’t have X because I’m addicted to carbs” psychologically is enough to cause your brain to crave them and have a “last supper” dynamic when you actually do give in to consuming them because you “won’t be able to have them” later. You have every right to eat the carbohydrate rich food you desire, but so often we legalize food rules like “avoid carbs because carbs are bad” or “don’t eat past 7pm or your metabolism shuts off”.
When you give yourself the right to choose or not choose to have something and equal the playing field, you’ll find those sugary foods aren’t all that fabulous and your thinking and cravings for them will dramatically reduce almost instantly. Relax and tune into whatever sugary food you do wish to choose to have for yourself. Enjoy it, mindfully, and move on. No guilt. If you want it again tomorrow when you’re hungry, tell yourself that you’ll give yourself permission to do so if that is what you really want. And if you do, you will eat it mindfully.
As you give yourself mindful permission you’ll find yourself actually choosing NOT to have these foods very quickly, not because you “shouldn’t”, but because your brain will have settled down about these foods and your body will naturally begin to crave different things too, and usually that is higher nutrient dense food. I know that sounds crazy but you MUST give yourself permission to go through a short period of time where you allow yourself to rediscover what foods you actually like again and how those foods make your body feel without ANY other agenda. Pay attention to the details of the thoughts in your head about what you tell yourself about sugar and food addiction like you would on an intense diet.
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