Eating a healthy, real foods diet is very important to me. Nourishing foods like organic vegetables and fruits, bone broth, homemade bread, pasture-raised meats, eggs, and raw dairy comprise the majority of my diet.
But sugar is one area where I have always struggled. Even though I have long been aware of the damage that processed sugar can do to your body, I just hadn’t been able to let go of my sugar addiction.
I have had a sweet tooth for as long as I can remember. Confession: Chocolate is my biggest weakness. I used to keep a bag of chocolate chips in the cupboard and grab a handful after dinner each night. And another handful or two for a late-night snack. And they were not small handfuls.
Don’t judge me.
Why Is Sugar So Bad?
Sugar does terrible things to your body and causes countless health problems.
High levels of sugar consumption can lead to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, elevated blood pressure, and chronic inflammation (1).
Americans consume a ridiculous amount of sugar. A typical person consumes 42 tsp of sugar per day and 152 pounds per year on average (2). One of the reasons for this excessive intake is that sugar is hiding in basically all processed foods as well as in many beverages and condiments. Even organic “healthy” foods can be packed with added sugar.
I have found that when I eat too much sugar, I experience headaches, brain fog, fatigue, and extreme blood sugar fluctuations.
Despite many attempts, my efforts at cutting back the sugar my diet have always failed; until now. I decided to get serious about drastically reducing the amount of processed sugar from my diet. And this time I was actually successful!
I put together a list of the things I did that helped me beat my sugar addiction. These tips may work for you as well if you have similar struggles! Keep reading to find out how I did it.
My Top Tips For Beating A Sugar Addiction
Three Week Sugar Fast
My main goal was to stop my constant cravings for sugar and decrease my overall sugar intake. This did not mean that I would never eat processed sugar again but I knew I needed to do a sugar fast to get used to not having it as a daily part of my diet.
A long time ago I read that it takes 21 days to fully break a habit. I can’t remember now where that information came from but it came to mind when I began to form my plan for cutting sugar out of my diet. I decided to go a full three weeks without eating any processed sugar. Maple syrup and coconut sugar are not necessarily considered processed sugar but I did cut them out as well. The only sweetener I used was raw honey in very small amounts.
This was extremely difficult for me but also turned out to be the most beneficial thing I have done for my health. The first week was especially hard as I was so used to eating sugar whenever I wanted. It became a lot easier to continue on with the fast once I started noticing increased energy and decreased cravings.
I discovered that I turn to sugar out of habit and also during moments of stress. This sugar fast helped me to break my unhealthy dependence on processed sugar.
A few months back I was talking with one of my friends about how my diet was way too high in sugar. She mentioned that she felt the same way about her sugar intake. This conversation led to us starting the three week sugar fast together and agreeing to hold each other accountable.
Having an accountability partner was huge for me! Honestly it was one of the main reasons I was successful with my sugar fast. I knew that if I cheated on my fast that I would have to report back to her. This stopped me from grabbing that handful of chocolate chips on many occasions. It was encouraging to have someone to else going through the same things as me.
We texted each other every night to check in and see how we did during the day. This extra support was so beneficial. I highly recommend finding an accountability partner if you decide to do a sugar fast.
I found that it it completely unrealistic for me to not have any type of treat at all. So instead of eating cookies, brownies, donuts, and chocolate that were loaded with processed sugar, I knew I needed to come up with some healthy alternatives.
- Homemade Chocolate: Since chocolate is my favorite treat, I decided to come up with a healthy version that did not contain any processed sugar. I would grab a piece of healthy, homemade chocolate when I was really craving sugar and it helped stop my cravings. Follow the link to get my recipe for Homemade Healthy Chocolate.
- Fresh Fruit: Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and green apples are all fruits that are lower in sugar content but will still help curb sugar cravings.
- Fruit Leather: Fruit leather is an easy to make, portable snack that helped satisfy my sweet tooth. Strawberry and spinach fruit leather is delicious and can be made using a dehydrator or over.
- Water flavored with lemon or lime.
Staying Full with Healthy Foods
You are much less likely to reach for sugar filled foods when you are full. Hunger makes it difficult to resist sugar cravings. I made it a point to eat healthy, filling meals with tons of protein and vegetables.
It is important to have healthy foods readily available. For me this meant cooking healthy meals in large quantities so that I had leftovers ready for lunch the next day. I also kept the refrigerator and pantry stocked with all the ingredients I would need to put meals together quickly.
Having healthy snacks when I was at work or on the go was an absolute must to keep me from being tempted by sugar packed snacks. Some of my favorite filling snacks include hard boiled eggs, carrot sticks and cucumbers, homemade muffins, healthy cookies, protein balls, fresh berries, and nuts.
I won’t lie to you, a huge part of my success came from sheer willpower. After trying and failing many times I knew how important it was for me to finally break my sugar addiction. I set my mind to it and was determined to be successful.
Every time I felt like caving in to my sugar cravings, I remembered the goal I had set for myself. After cutting it out for a period of time, I found that sugar didn’t even hold the same appeal to me that it used to.
Don’t forget that YOU, and only YOU can fulfill the promises you make to yourself. No one is perfect and taking steps (even small ones!) towards a healthy lifestyle go a long way.
A combination of these methods helped me beat my sugar addiction. That’s not to say that I don’t still have struggles but for the most part my sugar cravings are gone and I only eat processed sugar on occasion. Putting these tips into action can help you beat your sugar addiction too!
- “The Sweet Danger of Sugar.” Harvard Health Publishing, May 2017, www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar.
- DHHS Health Promotion in Motion, www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/documents/sugar.pdf