Sugar shows up in everything from the obvious like candy and chocolate to the less evident like yogurts, sauces and cereals. Breaking a sugar addiction can be very difficult, but by planning ahead with nutritious snacks and developing the willpower to overcome cravings, you'll be sugar-free in no time.
Eliminate sugar-filled foods from your house. Empty your kitchen pantry, cupboards and refrigerator of any foods that have sugar listed in the ingredients. Read labels carefully as sugar also hides under other names including glucose, sucrose, fructose, honey, cane syrup, dextrose and high-fructose corn syrup, among others. You are less likely to eat it and give in to sugar cravings if it's not easily accessible and ready to eat.
Make a grocery list of foods that contain no sugar or are low in natural sugars. Items on your list should include: fruits and vegetables; lean proteins including poultry, beef, fish, eggs and legumes such as beans and peas; and whole grains including quinoa and brown rice. Take this list with you shopping and pin it to your fridge. Filling up on healthy, nutrient-rich foods will help regulate blood sugar levels, preventing the spikes and crashes that lead to sugar cravings.
Avoid swapping sugar with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose. Artificial sweeteners trick your body into believing it's receiving sugar, which causes blood sugar levels to rise, then fall, leading to more sugar cravings. Avoid most sugars while trying to beat a sugar addiction because you are trying to retrain your taste buds to favor nonsweet tastes.
Substitute processed foods that have added sugars with naturally sweetened foods instead. Beating a sugar addiction does not mean you cannot eat any sugar. Sugar is naturally found in many nutritious foods, and the brain and body need it for energy. Fruits are an ideal sweet snack as they have no added sugars, are low-calorie and low-fat and are a source of essential vitamins and minerals. Fruit also contains fiber, which aids in slowing down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, decreasing the subsequent sugar highs and lows that often lead to overeating more sugar and weight gain.
Focus on eating healthy, balanced, nutritious meals every day. Instead of thinking about what you can't have, think about what you can have. Fill half your plate with vegetables, one quarter with lean protein and one quarter with whole grains. Include a serving of healthy fat such as avocado, olive oil or nuts with meals to satiate your appetite and prevent those typical after-meal sugar cravings.
Drink lots of water throughout the day to help curb sugar cravings. Water fills you up, helping satiate your appetite when you feel cravings for candy or cake come on.
Enlist the support of friends and family to help you kick your sugar addiction. Serve up sugar-free family meals and ask friends to go for a hike on the weekends instead of to the movie theater or stores where candy is easily accessible.
Quitting sugar cold turkey can bring on headaches, irritability, fatigue and cravings. These side effects typically last for a few days before you start to gain more energy again. Always consult with your physician and/or a dietitian prior to making any changes in your diet plan or if you experience side effects affecting your ability to perform daily activities.