Are you someone who can’t stop eating sugar, once you start? Are you plagued with constant food cravings, especially for sweets or refined carbohydrates, such as pasta, bread or potato chips?
Here are five steps to break your sugar addiction:
1. Add self care
Before you attempt to eliminate anything from your life – even something negative, such as sugar bingeing – it’s important to add to your life, so that you are operating from an overflow, not a deficit. Eliminating sugar will create a vacuum; better to fill it with something positive – self love and self care – than something that is hurtful, like self sabotage. Care for your tender self so that you feel nourished, capable, rested and strong.
Try this simple shift: instead of eliminating your sugar habit, try shifting it to something that isn’t related to sugar – read a novel instead of eating ice cream in front of the TV; indulge in a hobby instead of baking; go for a walk when you would normally grab a treat.
2. Keep your blood sugar stable
Eat breakfast, eat protein with every meal or snack, eat low GI foods, and eat at regular intervals. Why? All of these things will stabilize your blood sugar, so that your moods and energy are at an even keel. Much of the time, I craved sugar because I was hungry (I was always dieting because I was chronically unhappy with my weight). Eat enough so that you feel satisfied, and regularly enough so that you feel stable, and you won’t crave as much junk. Learn more about what and how to eat from the sugar addiction reading list.
3. Treat yourself like you’re in detox
The first week of sugar abstinence can be uncomfortable, when the cravings are at their most powerful. Be kind to yourself: this is not the time to tackle a large project, to implement lots of changes, or to work overtime. Why do people go to a spa when they’re detoxing? Because they need extra support. Likewise, give yourself extra support.
Go to bed earlier. Take naps. Cook simple meals (and don’t make the same mistake I did: don’t cook meals for your family that have ingredients in them that you are trying not to eat. Don’t make sugar abstinence any harder than it needs to be.) Spend time in prayer or meditation. Call on others for support and encouragement.
4. Don’t focus on weight loss
While weight loss is usually a natural consequence of giving up sugar, please don’t make it your focus. It’s better to channel your energy towards one goal at a time. So put aside your weight loss goals for now and focus your energy on healing your sugar addiction. Then, after you’ve found healing with sugar, you can decide how you want to approach any extra weight you’d like to lose.
Weight loss is often a pleasant, natural side effect of taking loving care of your body and freeing yourself from food addiction. In my experience, making it the focus puts too much pressure on your tender heart to lose weight quickly and easily – which can lead to a binge/restrict/binge/restrict cycle with sugar.
Furthermore, you might be delightfully surprised to see how much easier it is to lose weight when you’re not eating so much sugar.
5. Know your true value
While yes, your body may be sugar sensitive, and while, yes, you may gorge on sugar, it’s not “you.” It’s just a coping mechanism: how you learned to care for yourself when life felt painful, overwhelming or scary. This is probably something you learned when you were very small. It’s not your fault. Being addicted to sugar or bingeing on sugar is not a character flaw – proof that you’re a terrible person. It’s simply a form of self protection, how you’ve cared for your tender heart.
And if you use sugar to care for your hurts, there’s hope – the story doesn’t end there. Your brain is remarkably malleable – you can retrain your brain and learn new ways of caring for your needs, feelings, emotions, and hurts without sugar.