How to Break your Sugar Addiction: Five Ways to Quit
Sugar addiction is a very real phenomenon. Research has indicated that, when consumed regularly or in large quantities, sugar overstimulates our brain’s reward centre. Eventually, our reward receptors can be numbed to this feeling, meaning we need more of the same to recreate our initial high. Worst of all, when we can’t satisfy this need, we can experience withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, low mood, tiredness and intense cravings.
Scary? Definitely. Especially when you consider that almost two-thirds of UK adults are classed as obese or overweight. Sugar is a key player in weight gain, so curbing our addiction is more important than ever. But where do you start?
Here are five easy ways to start breaking your sugar addiction.
1. De-sugar your environment
First thing’s first: if there’s sugar close to hand, the temptation is always going to be there to eat it. It’s time to get serious and de-sugar both your home and working environment. Rid your cupboards, drawers and desk of anything overindulgent. That means removing any chocolate, biscuits, dried fruit – the lot. And there’s no need to waste it. Why not offer it up to your colleagues?
Once you’re rid of temptation, you can work on filling the empty space in both your cupboards and your heart with healthier alternatives.
2. Simple Swaps
Simple swaps will help wean you off sugar, while at the same time replacing unhealthy food choices with ones your body will love. It’s a great way to cut sugar out of your diet gradually, and you’ll soon find out just how accessible healthy alternatives are. Avoid ‘fat-free’ and ‘low fat’ products, as these often contain huge levels of hidden sugar (an attempt to heighten their taste). Instead, try some of the following:
- Swap dried fruit for fresh fruit
- Swap sugary tea for green or herbal tea
- Swap your chocolate bar for a serving of natural yoghurt
- Swap white bread, pasta and rice for wholegrain varieties
The possibilities are endless – all it takes is a little research. You could even go one step further by eating fresh fruit with only the lowest fructose content. Fructose may be a natural sugar, but too much of it can wreak havoc on your liver.
3. Plan your meals
When you’re trying to cut out sugar, being prepared can make the process a whole lot easier. At the start of each week, plan menus incorporating breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, then head to the supermarket with your resulting shopping list. Having a rigid list of ingredients means you’ll be less tempted to reach for something sugar-heavy on your way down the aisles, while having healthy food to hand will stave off the temptation to head to the vending machine.
When you’re planning your meals, try to slot in as many low-GI dishes as possible. Food with a low-GI (glycaemic index) is broken down slowly by the body, meaning you’ll not only feel fuller for longer, but benefit from stable energy levels throughout the day.
Sugar is well-known for encouraging the release of endorphins: a range of hormones that boost our mood. Dopamine and serotonin are just two of the endorphins stimulated by sugar consumption, but when we eat too much, their surge is short-lived, ending in an emotional crash.
There is good news if you’re cutting out sugar… Exercise releases endorphins, too, and their effects are much longer lasting. What could be better than a happy-boost with a side order of fitness?
5. Find true comfort
Sugar is no substitute for real, lasting comfort. As well as swapping out dangerously sugary foods for healthy options, why not replace sugar with non-foodie comforts, too? When you get a craving, try running yourself a bath, grabbing a book or going for a long walk: anything that brings you comfort.
We hope this has helped you discover just how easy it is to break your sugar addiction. With a few simple swaps, some careful research and a bit of self-care, it won’t be long before reaching for a nutritious snack is second nature.