Strategies to Stop Sugar Addiction

CassandraMarch 10, 2007

I am a sugar addict and have struggled with it all my life. I grew up in a household where mom loved to bake cookies, cakes, etc. and we ate candy a lot. I was over weight as a kid but managed to diet myself fashionably thin throughout my teens, twenties, and thirties--despite binges on sweets. Now at middle age I know I have to stop this and eat healthy, permanently, once and for all. I have always been interested in nutrition and I actually do eat healthy for the most part--except for uncontrolled sweet binges that sabbotage everything else. I know I'm not alone in this. I'd really like to hear about others who had the same problem and managed to beat it, or others who have strategies to keep the sugar monster at bay. Please!

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I like sugary foods too and try to keep intake under control. If you have a craving, I wonder if one hard peppermint mint would satisfy you.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 8:40PM
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The only thing that has worked for me is to be completely controlling about what I purchase. If I have no sugary food in the house, then I can't eat it, can I? And I try to make my husband do most of the shopping (with a list), which prevents me from making impulse buys myself.

I do allow myself some small treats -- I find I have to eat something before bed, so I eat a cereal bar that is somewhat sweet. My Viactivs taste like chocolate. So I don't feel too totally deprived.

But yeah, I've found that if I give into myself, and buy a candy bar or something else that is super loaded with sugar, that usually starts a downward spiral where I can't stop for several days. So the biggest thing is just prevention from purchasing in the first place.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 12:12PM
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The key to stopping your addiction to sugar is to treat it as you would any other addiction. Just as an alcoholic cannot have just one drink, or a smoker have just one puff, you must start by cutting out sugar altogether from your diet. Once you stop eating sugar, your cravings will subside and eventually your body will adjust. Any diabetic will tell you how they manage to live without sugar every day. Don't buy sugary foods, read labels, and eat like your life depends on it, because it does!

Alot of it is conditioning too. Conditioning your body not to expect that shot of sugar after meals. This will take time, but it does work. I noticed that even one cookie can start sugar cravings in me that can last for days.

If you can cut out sugar (especially corn syrup) and simple carbs like white flour from your diet, you will never have a weight problem again.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 2:14PM
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Kimba00 is correct -- once you stop eating sugar, your craving and even desire for it will almost disappear. I know that because I too am a sugar addict and I always withdrawal symptoms (headache and intense craving) on the first day I stop eating it, and an almost complete lack of desire after about two weeks of not eating it. As soon as I start again regularly, the cravings return.

Do you exercise? When I don't exercise my whole program falls apart and I begin to eat sugary foods. As soon as I resume exercising, I begin to care more about what I eat and it's easier to ignore the cravings, thinking about how sluggish I'll feel later if I give in.

I think one key is to eliminate the desire for sweets (not just sugar) altogether. I don't believe substituting sugar with Spenda or other substitutes is a good alternative because it still satisfies one's desire for sweets. If you want to eat a healthy diet, many foods that include substitutes also include white flour or other junk that have little or no real nutrition (Jell-O comes to mind!).

Of course, not having them in the house at all, and buying lots of other healthy alternatives, is also good advice.

Making a commitment to never eat sugar again will almost guarantee that you will. Approach your commitment one day at a time. After I complete the withdrawal period and no longer crave it, I can eat something sweet now and then and not have the cravings again.... for example, a piece of cake at a birthday party or wedding reception, dessert at a guest's house or a celebration -- you don't need to say no at those times, and eating a piece does not recharge my cravings unless I continue to eat it daily.

One technique that works very well for me is delayed gratification. When I'm tempted, I say "Not this time, maybe tomorrow (or later, or tonight, or next week... whatever). That gives you an open door to delay it until the very near future without completely depriving yourself of it forever. Then, the next day I say it again... "Not today, maybe tomorrow." That builds discipline and perseverance to continue one day or hour at a time.

Finally, prevent hunger by eating complex carbohydrates in a balanced diet (whole grain bread is GOOD for you, white bread is not!) and eating more frequently.

These are just some ideas. Hang in there -- one minute... one hour... one day at a time -- YOU CAN DO IT!!!


    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 6:10PM
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I agree with everybody above that the only way to manage this is by eliminating sugar entirely. Nothing else works for me. After a few days the cravings will subside. I don't think they will ever go away altogether. I was diagnosed with diabetes over 2 years ago and I don't eat sugar at all - but I was at Albertsons today and I really wanted a maple bar but managed to leave with just a bag of lettuce. I also can't eat complex carbohydrates as suggested by Jenn. I love all carbs. In fact, I really prefer complex carbohydrates. In the past I was usually dragged back into my addiction by giving in to the idea that complex carbs are really good for me and I won't eat them to excess - NOT! I was eating steel cut oats in the morning (no milk, no sweetening) but even that was standing in the way of my losing any weight. I thought if I worked out for an hour after having my bowl of oatmeal I would be okay, but the truth is I am not. And its not true that if you cut out sugar you will never have a weight problem - or at least it isn't a guarantee.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 8:31PM
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Devorah, how big was your bowl of oatmeal? It sounds like you made and ate a big serving. Are you having difficulty controlling how much of it you make, or just how much of it you eat?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 10:53PM
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Thanks so much for all your replies. It is really good to hear from those who experience sugar cravings but have learned to keep them at bay. I am 100% convinced that the way to stop cravings is to completely avoid sugar. I have learned by bitter experience that the smallest amount does set off a course of uncontrolled binging over several days. In charting my eating, I also know that the cravings are powerful around TOM. This is the time I tend to sabotage the other three weeks of the month that I've eaten a balanced and healthy diet. Moreover, I live in Minnesota where for half the year the days are short and dark and cold--I have a strong sense that the sun helps in regulating cravings (Vitamin D, maybe?) I do get a substantial amount of exercise, and it helps tremendously. So. . .the long and the short of this saga is that I "know" all the right things to do but just need to wrap my mind around doing them.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 4:11PM
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It's really good to read all the sharing, thanks for the posts!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 11:39AM
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Just to update because I may have been mistaken in one of my assumptions. I eat 1/4 cup of steel cut oats (dry weight)in the morning before an hour of strenuous exercise and my blood sugar is too high afterwards. Today, my regular teacher was out and we did only very light exercise and my blood sugar reading is excellent - so it may be just the exercise that is pushing my sugar and not the oats at all. So - still more experimenting and record keeping to do. It's an on-going process.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 1:08PM
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I know of this sugar substitute that's actually a herb.
I've used it before, tastes awesome in herb teas, found it odd in coffee.
you're suppose to be able to use it in baking as well.
it's worth checking it out.
It is pricier than sugar but it will cut down on your sugar intake when you add it to teas and othere things.
I personally found it to taste slightly like black licorice.
I had bought it from a magazine. I don't know if you can find it in typical grocery stores.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 11:42AM
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I find that if I start eating sugary things, it sets in motion a craving for them, especially after dinner. But if I cut back, the craving seems to be less after a week or so.

Candy is so the check-out counter in drugstores, car washes, grocery stores, hardware stores, even Michaels has candy at the check-out. It tempts me so very much (oh how I love those Milky Ways! ...and Reeses...mmmmmm), but sometimes if I turn it over and look at the fat and calories, it helps me put it back.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 11:25AM
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I'm not a sugar addict to the extent that many people (incl. my DH & sister) are. I do like sweet things, especially chocolate & mint chocolate chip ice cream. I've been trying to follow a low carb diet. This is supposed to get rid of sugar cravings. I use some things that are sweetened with Splenda. It's still not as good as sugar, but pretty good in a lot of things. The best thing for me is keeping the stuff out of the house. Even though it's a short drive to the store, I won't go just to pick up one thing I want. If it's in the house, I have a really hard time resisting. I'm lucky, I don't have any problem walking past the stuff when I'm grocery shopping.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 6:18PM
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Love yourself more.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 12:32AM
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I've been eating pears in 100% juice (very sweet) and pineapple chunks in 100% juice. It seems to quell the monster for me. I don't keep any candy at home or at work. I'm not a big baked goods eater. My downfall is chewy candies, like gum drops and jelly beans.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2007 at 10:34PM
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Try this, since all foods have to be turned into sugars in order to be used by the body, eating a piece of bread! Our body process of turning it into sugars might satisfy you.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 8:18AM
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I read a articel in a newspaper about 15 years ago that talked about stopping sugar cravings. I know that it had to do with mineral.I can't remember which ones. But I do remember that it worked! For the first time in my life I new what it felt like to NOT crave sugar. I have been on a quest all morning searching for info on the web about this.
This is what I have found so far....funugreek, niainamide, omega3 )from fish not plants), gymnema sylvestrea, alpha lipoic acid, flax seed oil, chromium picoliate,ccarcinia comboqia, magnesium. I kind of remember that the newspaper talked about zinc too. I am going to try these and see how I do. I don't know the amounts. But I will try them at the recommend amount. I will let you know how I do. If anyone has other mineral or vit. to suggest please let me know.
good luck to all of us.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2008 at 2:27PM
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For me the hardest part is all the high fructose corn syrup that is in EVERYTHING! Spaghetti sauce, some canned tomatoes even. You really have to check the labels of every can you buy or you could be ingesting sugar without even knowing it. I chew a lot of sweet gum. Not sure that's a good thing but even after 7 years of not smoking I still need gum.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 9:45AM
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I eat lean protein + vegetables (no corn or carrots), beans, oatmeal, brown rice. And 4 meals/day. It started out as a "temporary" diet to lose weight (=

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 11:42AM
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i'm struggling with coke (coca cola) as we speak. Somehow a couple years ago i got into a bad habit of drinking soda. Worked in a restraurant while going to college and it was so easy to walk up to the fountain soda machine... MMMmmm fountain soda. Anyhow, got a good look at myself in the mirror finally and my mid section and overall weight is starting to get a little out of hand i'm 5'1" and weighting in at almost 150lbs. Cut out ALL soda for 9 days and i didn't NEED one yet had one at lunch yesterday. Well I ate (and felt!) like crap ever since. I think the key is to be cut it back and be consistant. I'm finding i really need to just cut it out totally. It's really not good for you. When you're finishing a 2liter bottle of soda in like a day and a might as well just eat a five lb bag of sugar. It's not good for your system. Once you get through that horrible pd. of weening yourself you might as well not start the vicious cycle over again by giving in. That's what i'm going to keep telling myself. :)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2008 at 1:49PM
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Cut back sugar as much as possible, but here are some little crutches that help me a lot sometimes:

--brush your teeth

-- chew sugarless gum

    Bookmark   May 31, 2008 at 5:56PM
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Robin Rene, you're thinking of Chromium. That's the mineral that helps regulate your insulin levels.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 6:43PM
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most of my sugar cravings hit me at night so now i get up really early, about 5am and go food shopping. i go to bed around 8pm so my cravings never get too bad.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 2:05PM
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I've always noticed when I decided to blow my diet and binged on something sweet, I felt a temporary increase in energy, and felt much happier, and just assumed it was because of the increase in calories. But finally I noticed that I was feeling this after I decided to binge, but before I actually ate anything. I've been suspicious that binging on simple carbohydrates is "addictive" in more than the pleasure of eating a special treat, or even because of up and down blood sugar and insulin levels. A couple of months ago, an article was published that indicates that binge eating in rats causes release of dopamine, the chemical that causes that "feel good" rush that causes addiction. Why am I not surprised. This sure explains what's happening every time I give in and go for something sweet. What a drag, alcoholics and drug addicts can at least avoid their triggers, but we still have to eat, which means constant exposure to biologically enhanced temptation. Sigh.

Here is a link that might be useful: food addiction- for real

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 3:16AM
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