My version of healthy living always used to be simple: try your best to eat a balanced diet, treat yourself, stay active, and consume everything in moderation. However, these lackadaisical guidelines left me desperately needing to overcome a sugar addiction.
The nightly serving of ice cream I consumed continued to grow as my running and training increased, until insatiable sugar cravings became part of my daily routine.
I had developed a full-blown sugar addiction.
After years of joking about my diet, I finally came to terms with the fact that my daily sugar consumption was unhealthy. While I still believed that everything could be eaten in moderation, it seemed that the only way to truly break my sugar addiction was to complete a sugar detox.
Many weeks and months passed before I found the willpower to finally give it a try, and even once I did, it was certainly harder than I expected. However, quitting sugar for 40 days was one of the best things I ever did.
The process of overcoming a sugar addiction taught me so much about healthy living, proper fueling, and my body as a whole. I was finally able to curb my sugar cravings and do the seemingly impossible: quit sugar.
While my diet has changed and evolved since giving up sugar completely, I still maintain a great deal of the habits and use many of the strategies from my sugar detox.
These 7 steps allowed me to finally overcome a lifelong sugar addiction, and take control of my eating habits once again.
7 Steps to Break a Sugar Addiction (and Stop Sugar Cravings)
Cut out all processed sugars.
The first step in overcoming a sugar addiction is to completely cut sugar out of your diet. Rather than taking baby steps to get there, the most effective way to do so is with a complete sugar detox.
While it might be tempting to gradually reduce your sugar intake, continuing to consume small portions of sugar will probably cause your sugar cravings to feel stronger and more overpowering than ever. Before you know it, you’re sugar intake might plateau and you’ll give up trying to quit sugar altogether.
If you’re serious about breaking your sugar addiction, you’ll have to make those initial drastic changes. Sort through your pantry, refrigerator and freezer and throw away all foods containing processed or added sugars.
This first step is certainly tough, but with enough determination and willpower, it will set you up for a successful sugar detox journey.
Find sugar-free treats that you love.
Once you’ve cleared out all of the sugary foods you had in your kitchen, you might be surprised by how empty your pantry and refrigerator have become.
Rather than have a constant reminder each day of all of the foods you can’t eat, now is the time to stock up of plenty of delicious foods that you can eat. You might have to try a few snack options before settling on some that you enjoy, or you might already have a few healthy treats in mind that you love.
Related: 10 Delicious, Sugar-Free Snack Ideas
Whichever the case, the key to success here is finding snacks and treats that you love. Settling for a mediocre snack each day will only leave you missing those sugar-filled desserts and snacks you used to enjoy.
When you begin your journey to overcome your sugar addiction, those first few days are going to be challenging. Help yourself out by stocking up on snacks that can fill the void when a sugar craving arises (which it will – probably with a vengeance during those first few days).
Eat smaller, more frequent snacks.
As you navigate those first few days after quitting sugar, you’ll probably find yourself feeling hungry and unsatisfied for a majority of the day. Depending on the depths of your sugar addiction, you might also experience mood swings and overall lethargy.
During this time especially, eating smaller, frequent snacks is key to maintaining a healthy energy and attitude. A sugar detox wreaks havoc on the body as it attempts to find a new balance, so the best thing you can do now is maintain fuel levels to help it regulate.
Snack frequently, in smaller portions, throughout the day. Filling up on large meals and waiting for hours before the next one leaves too many opportunities for sugar cravings to reappear.
Stay full and busy as you overcome your sugar addiction by snacking on those delicious treats you stocked up on after clearing your kitchen. Creating a healthy routine for your mind and body is crucial for your success.
Fill up on protein and plenty of water.
Although you may be snacking regularly during your sugar detox, you might still find yourself feeling hungry or unsatisfied. This is likely due to the fact that you are not filling your body with the right types of fuel to keep it satisfied.
Drinking water and eating filling snacks will help keep hunger and sugar cravings at bay once you quit sugar. Even just a single glass of water might be enough to curb your appetite and keep your mind occupied when you are craving a sugary treat.
Make a point to fill your day with protein packed snacks and plenty of water to set yourself up for maximum success when overcoming your sugar addiction.
Related: 4 Essential Tips for Healthy Eating
Create a plan for when sugar cravings arise.
No matter how confident you feel in your self-control and willpower, sugar cravings are bound to arise. The key to success during your sugar detox is creating a plan in advance for those moments of weakness.
What will you do to occupy your mind when sugar cravings arise?
Filling the void that is left without desserts and sweet treats might be more challenging than you expect. However, there are plenty of options to keep you occupied and just as satisfied.
Think of activities that you enjoy doing and list out a few options for moments when you are tempted to give in to sugar cravings. When you feel yourself wanting to reach for the candy dish, head out for a walk, listen to your favorite playlist, read a book, call your friend, or anything else that keeps you busy (and happy).
Having a plan in place before starting your journey to overcome a sugar addiction is crucial for your success during.
Give the sugar detox time.
Making the time to overcome a sugar addiction is certainly a journey worth taking – however, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.
When you quit sugar for the first time, you’ll probably experience a wide array of emotions, temptations, and struggles. Some of these challenges may be exactly what you expected, but others may take you by surprise.
Remember that any true sugar detox takes time. Quitting sugar is not a simple decision that you make, it is a journey that continues throughout life. As you begin your journey to overcome your sugar addiction, accept the fact that it will take time.
There will be plenty of highs and lows throughout the process, especially in the beginning, but remember – it does get easier.
Designating a certain amount of time to try quitting sugar is a great way to stay motivated in the beginning. And by the end of your “trial period” you might be surprised to find that things have gotten easier and you are willing to maintain this new lifestyle.
Reward yourself in various ways.
Giving up sugar is a challenge – there’s no way around it. And while most of us understand the benefits of eating less sugar, it often doesn’t feel like enough to keep us motivated.
Rewarding yourself throughout your sugar detox journey is another key step for success. Each day that you say no to sugar cravings is another step towards overcoming your sugar addiction – and that’s definitely something worth celebrating.
Buy some new clothes, spend time doing something you love, plan a trip, or anything else you can think of to reward yourself for the work you have put in.
Breaking a sugar addiction certainly takes time and energy, but it is well worth it in the end. If you are hoping to curb sugar cravings or complete a full sugar detox, know that you are more than capable of success.
With a little willpower, determination, planning and prioritizing, you might be surprised what all you accomplish.
More tips to break a sugar addiction:
- What Happened When I Quit Sugar for 40 Days
- Healthy Snack Ideas to Curb Sugar Cravings
- 5 Ways I Plan to Overcome My Sugar Addiction