Are you ready to quit sugar? Do you need to break up your love affair with sugar once and for all? Have you wondered how to say no to sugar consistently and are in need of some practical tips?
I am going to share with you how I quit sugar and the steps I took to stop the constant sugar cravings.
Let me start off by stating that saying no to sugar will be challenging. It will take a drastic lifestyle change and a willingness to truly examine your food choices.
But it will also be worth the hard work when the work pays off and sugar consumption no longer controls you.
Part of the real challenge is that no one ever wants to believe that they’ve formed a type of addiction to anything. Unfortunately, when it comes to sugar’s pull it can be one of the most difficult to be set free from.
I know because it was a battle I personally had to face and to be honest still work to overcome on a daily basis.
Are You A Sugar Addict?
Wondering if you have an unhealthy relationship with sugar? You can start by answering the following question, to see if it gives you some clues.
- Do you find yourself eating sugary foods even when you are not hungry?
- Are you craving sugar and then eat more than you intended? Did you lose control?
- Do you often crave carbs, especially simple ones?
- Does the idea of removing simple carbs cause you an unusual amount of fear or anxiety?
- Do you find yourself justifying your attachment to certain high-carb foods?
- Do you defend your need to eat sugary treats?
- Do you feel sluggish, moody after you consume high-carb foods?
- Are you riddled with guilt after you’ve overindulged?
Those are not easy questions to ask ourselves. Because let’s face it, who among us has not felt an overwhelming desire to eat something and have a craving met?
But there is a difference between desiring a certain food and feeling as if you must have it. Like the craving has your undivided attention.
The problem is that If left unchecked our cravings can have a mind of their own and even lead to a form of food addiction.
When it comes to sweet foods, in particular, they have the potential to drive us to our knees. This is because the sugar that hides in high-carb foods can be very addicting.
Do you know that there are studies that show that sugar/carbs can be as addicting as heroin? This would explain why it was always so difficult for me to say no to anything sweet.
It’s easy to look at someone who may be struggling with sugar addiction and make an assumption that it’s just a lack of willpower on their part.
Why can’t they just say no to sugar? But trust me, I tried and failed many times using that type of approach.
When trying to break free from a sugar addiction you need to employ as many tools as possible to assist you. So are we talking about a lack of willpower, or is there something more sinister at work?
Is Junk Food Addictive?
There is a debate about whether junk food and overly processed foods are addictive. By addiction, I mean in the same way, a drug addict must get their next fix.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that high sugar foods that are higher in the glycemic index can indeed be addictive.
How does this happen exactly? The study showed that high carb foods raise blood sugar even more than common table sugar.
Grains, starchy vegetables, and all things sweet actually trigger a part of our brain called the nucleus accumbens. This is the area of the brain that gives us a reward response.
It’s where dopamine and serotonin are formed. Serotonin is what gives us the sensation of fullness and keeps our inhibitions in check. It is also responsible for keeping our moods stabilized and is a natural sleep promoter.
Stop Sugar Cravings
In this same area of the brain is where endorphins, our natural painkiller, and GABA, our natural sedatives also reside. Once this area is triggered it causes an addict to keep going back for more.
What this study shows is that sugar-like drugs can increase the production of dopamine while simultaneously lowering our serotonin level. A terrible roller coast to be on.
So what does this have to do with eating processed high carb foods? Well, the study confirms that we are stimulating the same areas of the brain when we consume these foods. It’s why it’s not exactly easy to say no to sugar.
Become A Sugar Sleuth To Be Set-Free
Personally, I find that this study helps shed some light on the weight and food addiction issues many people are facing. That it has nothing to do with a lack of willpower but a biological response to what they are eating.
When I made the decision to say no to sugar once and for all, I came to the realization that the food choices themselves were what was causing my sugar addiction. It wasn’t that I was weak or that I had some character flaw.
Although that sounds like a pretty simplistic approach it wasn’t. But coming to this conclusion put me on the path to being set free from sugar.
When it comes to a sugar/carb addiction becoming a bit of a sleuth is necessary. It’s up to us to find where sugar may be hiding.
Unfortunately, this even includes items like vegetables, a place we would not think to check, or our table salt under the name of dextrose.
That’s why looking at the carb count of a food item is a quick way to see if something is high in sugar. Trying to stay within the 20 to 35 carb count a day has been key for me to be able to say no to sugar on a regular basis.
Sugar Hidden In Carbohydrates
I had to ask myself if there was something I had allowed in my diet that was sabotaging my desire to be healthy?
I began to really try to decipher all the different names and forms of sugar. This meant I had to face the fact that even so-called healthy forms of sugar could be a trigger for me.
In order for me to be able to get a handle on my over-consumption of sugar, I had to understand that besides cutting out simple carbs like bread, pasta, and sweet treats, I would also have to take a look at the complex carbs I was overly consuming.
Although complex carbs in the form of certain vegetables and fruits are a better choice because they have a higher amount of fiber. It didn’t mean I could have an unlimited amount of these either.
It’s not just about eating so-called “healthy” foods. For example, people will have a sugar-laden granola bar and think they are making a good choice. After all, we’ve been indoctrinated to believe that white sugar is bad but that other forms of sugar are ok.
In reality, some of these granola bars have more carbohydrates and sugar than a regular cookie or piece of cake. It’s our responsibility to read the labels and know what we are consuming.
As someone who has struggled with a love of sugar, I had been fierce in limiting all forms of it. This was particularly hard for me since most of my diet was made up of foods that were high in carbs.
It wasn’t unusual for me to have a large plate of rice with just the sauce that the chicken or beef was cooked in. In my mind, I thought I was fine with this choice since I wasn’t having the calories from the protein.
You see I was the person who would say not to protein in an effort to save her “calories” for dessert.
Addiction To Sugar Is Real
If you are wondering if sugar addiction is a real problem, just talk to someone who has been overconsuming carbs and they’ll tell you that saying no to sugar can be extremely difficult.
That once you trigger that area of the brain that rewards you for your sugary choice that it’s as if you have no control to say no.
But what’s happening? Why is it that it’s difficult to just step away from high-carb foods? Well, it’s because our bodies are reacting in a physical way to the hidden sugars.
There are true physiological changes occurring in our brains every time we say yes to these foods. Each time we choose to indulge we reinforce the need for more.
If that’s not enough, the pleasure areas of our brains are also very close to our pain centers, which can explain why withdrawal from sugar can be so painful.
How To Stop Eating Sugar
If we are not careful we can fall into a vicious cycle, where we remove sugar temporarily then trigger an intense desire for something sweet. This then prompts us to seek more sugar in order to stimulate the brain area with the sweets it is craving.
Just like an addict keeps going back to their drug of choice and needs more of it in order to get the same desired high. We try to raise dopamine with our food addiction only to lower our serotonin levels, and the merry-go-round continues.
Face Your Sugar Cravings Head-On
The first step in being able to say no to sugar is to face that you have a problem. In the same way, an addict must own up to the fact that control has been lost.
We know it’s not easy to fix a sugar addiction since we are surrounded by sugar everywhere. Plus our society tends to enable this form of addiction.
Let’s face it, we celebrate with sugar, we use it to comfort ourselves and others. Just think of how a crying child is often given a lollipop to attempt to quiet them down.
Is it possible to say no to sugar if we surround ourselves with high-carb foods? Don’t you agree that it would be easier to pass a temptation if it were not always nearby?
Would we ask an alcoholic to just be strong around a liquor cabinet? Of course not. Yet we somehow feel that it’s easy to be surrounded by trigger foods and to just learn to say no. Unfortunately, for someone with food addiction, it can be very challenging.
After all, we still need to eat and we still will have to be around family or friends who consume high carb foods. Unlike other addictions where you break off toxic relationships, that’s not really an option when it comes to an addiction to food.
How I Quit Sugar
One of the things I quickly noticed when I began to address my unhealthy relationship with high carb foods, was that I had deprived my brain of healthy fats.
Sadly, I was a victim of the low-fat trend where we swapped out fat in all its forms for a diet that was very high in carbs. I truly believe that this was the beginning of my unnatural love of foods that were loaded with sugar.
I remember how I trashed all my high-fat foods and began only eating low-fat options. As long as the label said low-fat I thought I was good. It was after all that we heard over and over back in the eighties and nineties.
Practical Tools To Saying No To Sugar
When I made the decision to try to get my health back after years of battling the effects of fibromyalgia, Epstein Barr virus, and Guillan Barre Syndrome, I turned to a low-carb keto diet.
In my case, I started my journey to saying no to sugar by saying yes to a diet that was higher in healthy fats. Something very interesting happened when I made the switch from low-fat to low carb. All of a sudden my sugar cravings began to diminish.
The more I learned how to give my brain what it needed in the form of healthy fats, the easier it was to pass up the high carb foods that I would have otherwise never been able to say no to.
A Word Of Caution About Sugar Substitutes
You can choose to use sugar substitutes to ease sugar cravings. However, if you have a strong sugar addiction sometimes too many of these sugar substitutes can cause you to crave the real thing.
Everyone is different and learning your personal triggers is vital. I know that for me this is sometimes the case. This is not easy since I share my low carb/ keto recipes on this blog and many are substitutes for high carb treats that I may be missing.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
The key for me has been in seeing even my low-carb desserts as an occasional treat. I also use sugar substitutes that will not cause an insulin spike. What’s more, I will make it a point to either freeze the leftovers or to share them with others.
First Steps To Freedom
- Start with eliminating all of the obvious sugars.
- Toss the candy, cakes, cookies, and all items that include high fructose corn syrup. Beginning with these makes sense since processed sugars are the worse offenders.
- Eliminate simple carbohydrates. These are the items that turn into sugar in your body quickly, bread, pasta, sodas, and fruit juices.
- Examine what fruits you are consuming. Just because they are natural sugars does not mean you get an automatic free pass. Our bodies will still react to these natural sugars by raising our insulin levels. Once our insulin is raised it causes our sugar cravings to be magnified.
- Avoid high carb root vegetables or at the very least reduce them to only occasional indulges.
Ketosis A Secret Weapon Against Sugar Cravings
One of the best things we discovered as Randy and I drastically reduced our sugar and carbohydrates was that we started entering into a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is when your body begins to burn fat for fuel in the absence of glucose (sugar) in the body. Being in ketosis is a great weapon we can use to reduce or eliminate the impulse to have sugar.
Therapeutic ketosis is, basically, the state of having elevated ketone levels, typically above 0.5 millimoles per liter, or mmol/L. How a person achieves ketosis and how high the ketone readings are will vary from individual to individual.
When Randy and I traded our carb-loaded diet for a low carb one, not only did our sugar craving drop significantly but our bodies began to heal.
Randy was able to reverse his diabetes even after battling this debilitating disease for over 15 years. I also began to heal and was able to put into remission the majority of my fibromyalgia symptoms.
A low-carb keto diet is rich in non-starchy vegetables, has adequate amounts of protein, and is higher in healthy fats, all of which can help stabilize blood sugar levels.
Because of this being in ketosis can not only help us in saying no to sugar but is an aid in the weight loss process by regulating hormones more effectively.
Enlist God’s Help
As a Christian, this is where I not only made a decision to change my diet but where I employed the help of the Holy Spirit to assist me.
Once I admitted that I had a problem that would require all the help I could get to break free from, I began to meditate on several key Bible verses to help me stay committed.
I would constantly remind myself that my body was the temple of the Holy Spirit and that it doesn’t even belong to me. 1 Corn. 6:19
I had to take responsibility for taking better care of my body and not ignore my choices. It was a sobering moment when I realized that if I wanted to say no to sugar I could no longer eat whatever I wanted.
Sadly, for years I felt that because I was a Christian and was focused on my spiritual health, that somehow that meant taking care of my body was not as important.
As I look back after making the decision to quit sugar at the beginning of 2014, it sounds crazy to think that I had allowed my sugar cravings to convince me of this lie.
Without a doubt, a real physiological response was happening every time I would overeat carbs. However, I also had to face that there was a spiritual battle that needed to take place for me to find complete freedom in this area.
Choosing a low-carb keto diet and combining it with my Christian faith has made a world of difference for me in my battle against sugar cravings. It’s a lifestyle change that has planted me on the path of becoming whole in spirit, mind, and body.
Being Set Free From Sugar Will Be Worth The Work
Is all this work worth the effort? It is if you want to take your health back and truly be set free. I’ll admit that the first few days and weeks will be the most challenging.
But after consistently turning down the temptation you will notice the desire for sweets to begin to subside. The more you surrender this area to God the easier it will be to pass the test.
Randy and I call this our Jesus and Keto Lifestyle. Because it wasn’t until we combined our faith with a ketogenic diet that we began to experience real transformation. It finally put us on the path to being able to say no to sugar and yes to our health.
What Are You Craving?
Lastly, don’t ignore why you are craving something. It’s a sign that our brain is starving and our biochemistry is out of balance. Overconsumption of carbs can lead to a brain that is not properly nourished.
We have a Fittoserve Group Facebook Page and a Private Free FB Group you can join for added support. Randy and I want you to know that you are not alone in this battle, that there are people who want to stand beside you and encourage you on your decision.