It’s no secret that many people today suffer from sugar addictions and their subsequent weight gain. But can you blame people for loving sugar when almost every food contains it in some form? Even if you renounce sweets, you may inadvertently eat hidden sources of sugar in packaged or processed foods.

For instance, honey, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, and molasses all contain sugar. But advertisers know they can trick people into consuming foods if they don’t list sugar in the ingredients. Of course, we need sugar to survive, but only from whole food sources. Added sugars have contributed significantly to the disease burden because of their toxic effects on the mind and body.

Sugar acts like a drug in the mind because it increases dopamine and serotonin levels. Once our reward system becomes activated, we associate the stimulus with feelings of happiness and comfort. Our brains don’t know the difference between sugar, drugs, food, or other rewards. Therefore, beating a sugar addiction becomes difficult when you crave it, much like a drug.

Sugar even causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, irritability, and fatigue, just like prescription pills or hard drugs. In addition, studies have shown that fructose, in particular, can alter brain activity and intensify hunger. With all this stacked against you, it might seem easier never to give up sugar. But continuing to consume high amounts of processed sugars can wreak havoc on your health and weight.

7 Ways to Conquer a Sugar Addiction

If you’re serious about limiting or avoiding sugar in your diet, we’ll offer a few pointers on beating your sugar addiction.

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1. Drink plenty of water to beat your sugar addiction.

Did you know some people mistake the feeling of thirst for hunger cues? If you don’t drink enough water, it can make you feel hungrier than usual. Clinical studies show that this often happens, with around 37% of people confusing hunger and thirst. Since our hunger signals are much stronger, they overpower cues to drink water. So, stay hydrated throughout the day to help beat cravings, satisfy your appetite, and control your weight.

2. Get regular exercise.

When you want a quick dopamine hit, why not walk around your neighborhood instead of reaching for a candy bar? It may take longer to exercise, but your brain will still release the feel-good hormones you crave. When you realize our brains are hard-wired for rewards, you can understand how to manage primitive instincts. The modern world capitalizes on our base desires, but that doesn’t mean we have to give in to them.

Exercise provides a healthy way to balance your neurotransmitters without unwanted side effects. Plus, once you begin a workout routine and start seeing results, you look forward to physical activity.

3. Eat regularly throughout the day.

Did you know one of the causes of sugar addiction involves irregular eating habits? When you don’t consume balanced meals throughout the day, you set yourself up for intense cravings. The body demands quick energy sources when it feels depleted, so your mind naturally searches for convenient options. That’s why you see people lining up at fast food restaurants after work since they have no energy left.

But you can combat cravings for sugar by regularly eating throughout the day and not skipping meals. This habit helps keep your blood glucose levels balanced, making it easier to control your sweet tooth.

4. Please don’t cut out sugar cold turkey.

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Beating a sugar addiction won’t happen overnight, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Gradually cutting back on sugar consumption will ensure healthy habits stick around longer. If you gave it up immediately, you would likely return to your old ways after a short time. The body and mind need time to adjust, so give yourself some leeway when beating a sugar addiction.

Start with something simple, like skipping your morning Starbucks with three pumps of syrup. Or, opt for a breakfast of eggs and toast rather than a donut. Swapping out unhealthy foods for nutritious ones can help you form better habits and prepare you for giving up sugar altogether.

5. Eat high-protein snacks to overcome a sugar addiction.

It helps to eat as much protein as possible when overcoming sugar addiction. Protein increases satiety and gives you stable energy throughout the day. Where carbs provide quick bursts of energy, protein offers long-term nourishment. Foods such as nuts, seeds, cheese cubes, or beef jerky make great snacks to munch on throughout the day. If you’re vegan, consider trying plant-based jerky or protein bars.

Also, consume protein with every meal, such as tofu, eggs, fish, chicken, or beef. Make it a balanced meal by combining it with a grain like quinoa and a hearty serving of vegetables.

6. Avoid buying foods with added sugars.

If you want to overcome sugar addiction, you shouldn’t keep tempting foods around the house. Eating candy, cookies, and sugary snacks will only hinder your progress and may lead to weight gain or diabetes. You can eat these foods in moderation, but you should avoid them for a few weeks. Allow your palate to readjust to simpler foods so that you won’t crave sweets as often. Then, you can reintroduce them into your diet when you feel ready.

7. Prioritize sleep to beat sugar addiction.

People in the modern world suffer from sleep deprivation in record numbers. We stay up too late, wake up far too early, and don’t sleep soundly in between. As a result, we feel sluggish and reach for convenient calories to boost us. A lack of sleep intensifies sugar addictions because it stimulates the hunger hormone ghrelin, making you crave calorically dense foods.

So, make sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night and stop eating about two hours before bed. Your mind and body will thank you later when you can easily overcome cravings, thanks to a restful night’s sleep.

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Final Thoughts on How to Overcome A Sugar Addiction and Consequently Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you’re addicted to sugary snacks or drinks, you might feel helpless to change your deeply ingrained habits. But you can feel free of pressure about giving up your favorite foods overnight. Gradually cutting back on sugar can help you make healthier decisions about what foods to eat. Also, regular exercise and prioritizing sleep make it easier to curb cravings and maintain a healthy weight.

Finally, eating a balanced diet full of protein, fat, and complex carbs will fuel your body with the proper nutrients. When you feel satisfied, you won’t succumb to sugar cravings so often.