Sugar Addiction

I broke sugar addiction, and you can too!

My Story

This is what my sugar addiction was like, and I bet yours could be something like this:

I ate sugary foods every day; every meal; in fact, all day long. I drank soda pop with every meal, with snacks, and all day long. I bought lots of bakery, and I ate at restaurants as often as possible. I made sure that candy was always around the house, and I ate candy every day at work.

How I felt: "jittery" doesn't quite capture it: more like "hopped up." Except when I was out of gas, mentally out of gas, and exhausted. Maybe both at the same time: running on fumes. At best, I was tightly wound.

Most of the long-term effects of sugar are probably familiar to every heavy sugar user: hyperactivity, lack of concentration, headaches, wild mood swings, depression, sleep disturbances, weight gain, and whether we're aware of it or not, malnutrition. I had a very persistent craving for something that sugar did not fulfill, that I could never identify; I now believe that I was hungry for real food.

What's Wrong With Sugar?

And all that time, I thought sugar was a food! After all, I'd tell friends, it's sold in grocery stores! What else could it be?

Refined sugar is a chemical, distilled from sugar cane or sugar beets, that contains no vitamins, minerals, or any other nutrition. In fact, it is an anti-nutrient: to metabolize it, the body has to draw on its own nutrient stores. This eventually causes malnutrition, often combined with obesity.

Refined sugar causes spikes and wild swings of blood sugar, insulin, and adrenaline; it causes major stress to the body. Eventually the blood sugar system malfunctions. Endorphins, the body's feel-good chemicals, are disrupted. The immune system is adversely affected.

Along with white flour, refined sugar is thought to be the ultimate cause of many "Western diseases," such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. This stems from historical observations made when traditional peoples (Inuit, Tahitians, Africans, Australian aborigines, Scots islanders, etc.) began eating Western food.

(Read about Sugar Blues, the book that spells out the shameful history and the devastating health effects of refined sugar.)

Is It Really An Addiction?

Refined sugar is addictive. It meets the classical definition of addiction. When you stop using it, you go into withdrawal. This withdrawal is "relieved" by eating sugar. If you eat it all day long to stop sugar addiction symptoms, as I did, you are technically in withdrawal all day long.

Ending The Addiction

Unfortunately, the use of refined sugar seems foundational to our culture. It's everywhere! Candy, soda, cakes, cupcakes, pastries, doughnuts, "twinkies," desserts, breakfast our supermarkets, cupboards, convenience stores, vending machines, break rooms, parties, restaurants, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What's more, nearly everything that comes in a package, box, bottle, or can has added sugar: read the ingredients list and see.

So how can anyone control sugar consumption?

It is completely possible to:

  • Eat no refined sugar
  • Have no sugar cravings
  • Eat occasional refined sugar without a relapse or binge

I know it's possible, because I accomplished it! I've had no serious sugar cravings for more than five years.

  • I eat the foods that are right for my personal metabolism.
  • I don't provoke the addiction with sugar or related substances.

Breaking Sugar Addiction
How to: add foods to your diet that will help end the addiction and that will not provoke the addiction. These are generally whole foods from a whole food diet, not processed foods. These foods include fruit, whole-fruit smoothies, dried fruit, fruit juice, superfoods, complex carbohydrates, unrefined salt, and healthy fats.

Avoiding Sugar Withdrawal
How to: avoid sugar withdrawal while gradually reducing refined sugar consumption and addressing related addictions.

Sugar Free Diet
How to: identify sugar and sugar substitutes.

Ultimately, maintain a sugar free diet without cravings with a whole food diet.