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Updated on May 31, 2022
Want to Kick Your Sweet Tooth? 8 Ways to Stop Your Sugar Addiction
What comes to mind when you think of sugar?
Maybe you inwardly cringe, feeling a twinge of guilt because of that last doughnut you reached for in the break room, the one you knew you should avoid but ate anyway. Maybe you start salivating immediately when thinking of that gallon of ice cream in your freezer. Maybe you’re silently patting yourself on the back because you’re sipping on a sugar-free latte rather than the one with 35 grams of sugar in it.
If any of those scenarios sound familiar, you might be struggling with a sugar addiction. And you’re not alone!
Sugar consumption is at an all-time high in modern society, and it’s not just in cereal, pancakes, pre-packaged oatmeal packs, doughnuts, or lattes…
It’s hidden in almost all pre-packaged foods.
Sugar is constantly being added to foods that don’t even taste sweet, and consumers are often unaware of just how much sugar they are putting in their bodies. It’s no surprise, then, that so many of us have struggled with sugar cravings for so long.
Why Do We Crave Sugar?
Most of us know that too much sugar is a bad thing…
We know not to eat dessert at every meal. We see labels reminding us to try the sugar-free brand. And we’ve heard that soda is full of sugar and that we shouldn’t drink it. So then why do we still crave sugar? Why can’t we just knock the sugar habit through sheer willpower?
As it turns out, sugar’s role in brain chemistry has something to do with those strong cravings you can’t seem to beat.
Our reactions to specific stimuli (like sugar) are partially controlled by the brain’s release of a chemical neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is one of the ‘happy’ neurotransmitters that regulate our mood, and its release causes immediate feelings of pleasure (1, 2).
Of course, as the dopamine levels begin to subside, so does the feeling of pleasure, and our brain communicates with us that it wants more of the thing that caused the release of dopamine in the first place. The next thing we know, we’re reaching for that piece of candy, even though we tell ourselves we “know better.”
Is Sugar Addictive?
When it comes to the brain’s neurochemistry, addictive drugs and sugar work in much the same way—by increasing dopamine levels in the brain (3).
As the brain becomes accustomed to these new levels of dopamine, it craves more and needs to increase the drug amount just to maintain the same level of high (4, 5). In fact, 2020 research indicated that even non-sugar sweeteners like Splenda and Sweet’N Low could increase cravings for sweet foods (6).
No wonder you feel you can’t help but reach for that mid-afternoon latte or run to the nearest vending machine for a quick pick-me-up. You’re actually addicted to the substance, and it’s time to change that!
Beat the Sugar Habit: 8 Tips for Overcoming Your Sweet Tooth
The following are 8 simple ways to overcome your sweet tooth and say goodbye to sugar…
1. Don’t keep sugary foods in your home.
As we learned before, sugar has all the characteristics of an addictive substance. We believe that the best way to avoid sugar in your diet is to simply keep it out of your home completely. Just as an alcoholic would be unwise to keep alcohol in the home, it’s just as reckless to keep sugary snacks in the cupboard if you are fighting a sugar addiction. Take the time to clear all the junk out of your freezer, pantry, or snack drawer now. It’s easier to say no when there’s nothing to say no to!
2. Eat more protein and fat.
If you find you’ve got an insatiable sweet tooth, it could be that those cravings are your body’s way of saying it’s not getting enough nutrients at mealtime. Protein and fat work together to keep your blood sugar stable, which leads to fewer cravings between meals.
One supplement that I recommend to my patients who can’t seem to fight the sugar cravings is MCT Powder. By taking a scoop of this each day, you’re giving your body what it needs to suppress your hunger hormone, ghrelin, helping to curb perceived hunger.
3. Limit fruit intake.
While it is true that the sugar found in fruit, called fructose, is natural and a better choice than the sugar found in snack packs or other packaged foods, fruit sugar is still sugar and has the same effect on the body as processed sugars do. Try to limit your fruit intake to one piece per day, and don’t eat it at breakfast. It’s also best to avoid bananas and other tropical fruits, which have high sugar content. Instead, stick to berries and green apples.
4. Focus on breakfast.
American consumption of sugar is particularly high at breakfast, especially because we rush through the meal and often don’t take time to think about what we’re eating. Try to sit down at breakfast, chew slowly, and make time to cook a breakfast that will set you up for the rest of your day. Avoid processed foods and most typical breakfast items like cereal, muffins, doughnuts, smoothies, fruit, and pancakes. Instead, focus on protein, fat, homemade yogurt, and organic super greens, and be sure to check the labels of bacon, sauces, and nut butter for any added sugars.
There’s a popular morning ritual within the NativePath Community: Adding a scoop of Collagen + MCT Creamer to your cup of coffee. With just one scoop of this, you’re starting your day off with 5 grams of energizing MCTs and 2 grams of grass-fed collagen protein.
5. Avoid sugar in your coffee.
If you prefer a latte or cappuccino instead of a regular cup of joe, try adding a scoop of collagen creamer and a spoonful of coconut oil or coconut milk to your coffee. You’ll get the same creamy effect without the added sugar or associated coffee creamer weight gain. Here at NativePath, we love mixing up our morning caffeine with drinks like the Matcha Collagen Latte—it comes together in just a few minutes and gives you jitter-free energy all morning.
6. Experiment with allowing occasional sweets.
Transitioning from a high sugar diet to a Paleo-type diet can be difficult. You may experience some of the symptoms of withdrawal that we discussed earlier, and it can be hard to break long-time habits like eating doughnuts at your Monday morning meeting or stopping for a Frappuccino on your way to work.
Instead of giving in to these cravings completely, try allowing yourself a sweet treat once or twice a week, especially at the beginning of this new diet. A great way to make this happen is by making homemade treats that you know are healthy, like our Thin Mint Fat Bombs or Paleo Matcha Collagen Cookies. Knowing that you have a treat waiting for you might make it easier to say “no” to other sugary foods throughout the day.
For some of us, though, it’s better just to abstain altogether. If you know that you won’t be able to just eat one of those gluten-free cookies you have hidden in your desk drawer, just get rid of them altogether.
7. Cook at home.
Research has found that households who consume the most sugar were least likely to cook their meals at home, leading to an increase in pre-packaged foods and ready-to-eat meals (9). If you’re used to eating out or having take-out delivered, start slowly. Try to learn one or two healthy, no-sugar recipes each week. This can be a great time to get the whole family involved as you try new foods!
Here are a few healthy snacks you can quickly make at home to stop that sugar craving in its tracks:
- Sauté apples in coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Spoon coconut milk over fresh blueberries or raspberries, which have a lower sugar content than other fruit.
- Spread nut butter on a small piece of dark chocolate.
Each of these options is full of healthy fat, which should help to satisfy your cravings and keep you satiated until the next meal.
8. Commit to a whole-body and lifestyle reset.
Feeling overwhelmed? The process of eliminating sugar from your diet, while simultaneously fighting your own cravings, can seem daunting.
While it’s possible to implement diet changes on your own, we’ve created the NativeBody Reset to make the transition smoother, simpler, and more fun. It’s not a diet either—it’s a full lifestyle reset program that will give you the exact recipes and step-by-step strategies you need to beat your sweet tooth and recognize your full health potential.
Here’s what you’ll get in the NativeBody Reset:
- A food journal to track what you eat so that you can get key insights as to how your body physically reacts to certain things (i.e. rash, bloating, indigestion, breakouts).
- A 30-day meal plan full of delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes that have been carefully curated to serve both your enjoyment in the kitchen and your health.
- A done-for-you grocery list so that you can stay focused at the grocery store and not swerve off to the chips and candy aisles.
The Bottom Line
Sugar is addictive. So much so that it’s often compared to addictive drugs like cocaine. This is because of its ability to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Which leads to the brain craving more sugar in order to maintain the same level of high.
A diet rich in sugar leads to a wide range of chronic diseases including obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, and more (10).
That said, are you ready to break free of your sugar addiction?
I’d love to show you how with the NativeBody Reset. Over the course of just 30 days, you can forge a new path for yourself. A path where you feel better, have more energy, and look like your glowing, youthful self again.
You don’t have to fight those sugar urges forever. Click the banner below to sign up.
As a doctor of Physical Therapy, Senior Wellness Expert, and co-founder of NativePath, Dr. Walding has helped millions of people improve their quality of life from the inside out—by speaking, writing, and educating others on how to live life a little more #OnThePath.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.