The addiction to sugar is a very real thing… I’m sure many of you, including myself, can agree with that. I have a major sweet tooth. I very rarely crave anything salty or greasy… but sweet and sugary? I’ll be first in line (at the dessert table…..)
I saw a video this week that sugar is as addicting as cocaine, as it releases pleasure chemicals in your brain. Also like cocaine, you begin to need MORE of it in order to get those feel-good-feels, but more sugar leads to a lot of unwanted side effects: weight gain, brain fog, high blood sugar followed by a crash, bad skin, poor sleep, and a crazy amount of inflammation….
So, what’s a gal with a sweet tooth who’s been on a sugar binge to do?!
I’ve compiled tricks that I personally use to get over sugar binges and majorly decrease the amount of sugar in my diet… without the withdrawals – which, yes, are also very real. I’m not saying it won’t still be a little uncomfortable (headaches, lack of energy, cravings, irritability….) but these methods do help!
#1 – Load up on fruit
This is probably my number one tactic to get over a junk food binge (you know… the kind that lasts a week or two and gets out of control. Or is that just me….). I go shopping and get a ton of fruit, chop it all up so it’s ready to go, and then make sure to have a few servings a day.
I’ve found that this really decreases the amount of cravings for sugar I get because while I’m still consuming fruit sugars, at least it’s the healthy kind! Plus, you’ll be getting all the fiber and vitamin goodness as well. Then, as the week or two goes by, I’ll start decreasing my fruit intake. I don’t intentionally do this, I find that my body just doesn’t crave the sugars as much. Listen to your body!
#2 – Lots and lots and lots of water, fruit infused if you like!
Staying hydrated is so key to breaking the sugar habit. Often when you’re craving something, it’s your body actually trying to tell you you’re thirsty! I make sure to have a 32 ounce jar of water first thing in the morning, and then try for another 2-3 of those jars throughout the day.
If I do find myself faced with a sugar craving, my favorite trick as of late has been to have coconut water with some frozen fruit in it. It’s super hydrating, has the sugars my body craves, plus a ton of electrolytes. Bonus! It also works better than coffee for waking me up in the afternoon.
#3 – Eat often and eat enough
I’ve never been much of a snacker, I’m usually happy with my 3 meals a day. However, when coming off a junk food binge, I find that I need to force myself to eat often and eat enough. I aim for 3 meals plus 2 snacks in between, and usually those snacks are my servings of fruit.
When you’re eating plenty of food, you’re keeping hunger at bay, which helps you make smarter choices. Make sure you’re eating lots of plant-based foods such as big salads with your meals, steamed or roasted veggies, etc. Try and fill ¾ of your meal plates with plant based foods for optimal nutrition. The added fiber will help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you fuller for longer. Here’s what an average day will look like for me:
Breakfast – 2 eggs scrambled with diced bacon, chopped bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, on a bed of spinach
Snack – Smoothie (1 banana, ½ cup blueberries, ½ cup unfiltered apple juice, 1-2 cups spinach, ½ scoop protein or greens powder, 1 cup water, ice)
Lunch – leftovers from the night before because who has time to cook
Snack – apple with almond butter
Dinner – Honey Dijon chicken with onions, sun dried tomatoes, garlic, & green beans (Honey Dijon sauce: 1 can coconut milk, 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, 2+ tablespoons honey, adjust to taste. Will make 4+ servings)
Dessert – Dark chocolate square (at least 70%)
#4 – Learn to love dark chocolate
I’m a white and milk chocolate kind of girl. I don’t like the bitterness of dark chocolate. However… I have found that freezing the chocolate and ending my day with it has really helped with my dessert cravings. I’ve actually come to enjoy it – even though I still don’t really love it, it helps do the trick… at least for my brain!
The addiction to sugar is very real, and it really sucks. Honestly, whenever I go “off” it, I feel 110% better. Yes, there is that unfortunate withdrawal period, but give it a week, and it does pass!!! I’m possibly creating a Paleo-based eating guide that focuses on kicking the sugar habit after I complete my nutrition course….. if it’s something you’d be interested in, let me know!