This article was originally published in May of 2021. I’ve added new insights and information for 2023 – I hope this updated guide to how to stop eating sugar helps you kick it for good!
We’ve all been there before. Exhausted after a long day at the office, you drop your hand into a bowl of M&Ms the second you get home. Immediate waves of comfort wash over you as you grab a few more to hold you over until dinner- after all, you’ve earned it right?
Though sugar can quickly satisfy a sweet tooth, it’s as temporary as the flavor in your mouth and the urge for more pops quicker than you can imagine!
I know because I used to be hooked on sugar, but after having kids, my energy levels dropped, and my pre-mom waistline wasn’t bouncing back like it did before. I knew something had to change. Since then, I’ve been researching sugar and its effects on weight loss.
Today I’ll show you how bad sugar actually is and how to kick those cravings to the curb once and for all!
Why is sugar so addictive?
Sugar is highly addictive for a few reasons. When we eat sugar, neurotransmitters called dopamine trigger feelings of pleasure and associate the experience with a reward system. This unsatisfied pleasure results in more cravings, tricking your body into wanting more. In fact, research shows that the experience is the same as taking addictive drugs. So, with so many unhealthy options out there, it’s no surprise that we eat more sugar than ever.
How sugar affects your body
When I discovered the ways sugar affects the body, I couldn’t believe how I was subjecting myself to so many dangers.
- Heart problems
The heart is an essential organ in the body, pumping blood, providing nutrients and oxygen, and removing waste. Without proper nutrition and by eating too much sugar, the way your body functions, especially the brain, can be thrown out of whack. This could lead to weight gain, Type 2 Diabetes, and heart disease to name a few.
- Weight gain
Sugary foods are packed with empty calories and cravings encourage you to eat more. Before you know it, your waistline starts to expand, exercise becomes more difficult, and the risk for obesity increases.
- Teeth problems
When you consume sugary food and drinks, the bacteria in your mouth feeds on the sugars and produces an acid that attacks the enamel of your teeth. Over time, your teeth weaken and erode ultimately causing cavities, gum disease, and even tooth loss.
Consumed in large amounts, sugar triggers inflammation throughout your body. Your body senses toxic chemicals and then the immune system sends out inflammatory cells to destroy the culprit. This causes lasting health effects like arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.
- Mental health and wellbeing
Research shows that consuming too much sugar has been linked to an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety. Men typically have a higher risk of being diagnosed with these conditions compared to women, especially if they consume more than 40 grams of sugar per day.
- Memory and productivity
Consuming large amounts of sugar can have negative impacts on both your memory and productivity. When you eat sugary food or drinks, your blood sugar levels spike quickly, causing a surge of energy and a feeling of alertness. However, this is usually followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar level which can leave you feeling tired, sluggish, and unfocused.
- Energy levels
Sugar also affects your energy levels. As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin, which regulates how cells absorb blood sugar for energy or storage. When they absorb blood sugar, levels in the bloodstream decrease. If you eat sugar in high amounts, you’ll notice your energy go up, only to fall rapidly afterward from the rapid increase in insulin production.
- Skin problems
Before you spend all that money on moisturizing creams, lower your consumption of sugar. Excessive amounts of sugar can negatively impact your skin by not only dehydrating it, but also causing acne, eczema, and psoriasis, ultimately aging your skin.
- Sleep problems
Studies show that sugar causes people to sleep lighter and wake up more often. This can be a vicious cycle since sleep deprivation can make you actually end up craving sugar more.
Are all sugars bad for you?
Not all sugar is bad for you. In fact, natural sugars are actually healthy. The sugars found in grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables, combined with other nutrients and spices, help stabilize your blood sugar levels and make you feel full longer. However, it’s important to eat the proper portions and combine your foods in a way that can lower those blood sugar increases that can still come from digesting natural sugars.
How do you break your sugar addiction?
Cutting out sugar can be challenging and nearly impossible to avoid. After all, sugar is added to almost everything. By eating sugar in moderation and following the steps below, you can create a healthier lifestyle.
- Eat the right foods
Eating nutrient-rich foods with natural sugars results in nutritionally packed meals! For example, foods like salmon, white fish, chickpeas, and beans can boost your metabolism, regulate blood sugar, and are stocked full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — keeping you full for longer and energized throughout the day.
- Try infused debloating water and flavorful spices
Instead of reaching for a bottle of sweetened iced tea, that could hold as much as 25 grams of sugar, try infused debloating water. You can also add some spices and seasonings to your morning yogurt to punch up the flavor. Cinnamon, mint, and ginger are just as tasty and can add sweetness without all the unnecessary calories. Check out this article where I provide 15 foods to put in your greek yogurt to lose weight.
- Plan your meals
Eating small, frequent, and healthy meals can even stabilize your energy levels giving your body the fuel it needs to finish the day strong. Plan and package portioned, well-rounded meals for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for nutrient-rich foods every time.
- Stay active
Research shows that staying active throughout the day can help people reduce cravings for sugary foods. In the study, overweight people were shown to be less likely to eat sugary snacks after a brisk walk.
- Get enough sleep
How much sleep you get affects your sugar cravings. Consuming more sugar can cause you to wake up more regularly and sleep lighter. Anywhere between 7-9 hours is best.
- Stay hydrated
Another contributing factor is dehydration. If you drink too little water, your food and sugar cravings go up.
- Cut back on sugary drinks
Instead of reaching for a bottle of sweetened iced tea, that could hold as much as 25 grams of sugar, supplement with infused water. Not only will you reap the benefits of rehydrating, but adding lemon, kiwi, blueberries, even some fresh mint will give healthy sugars to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Gradually adjusting your diet helps your body settle into a new routine and will guarantee long term benefits your mind, body, and soul will thank you for.
Clients who stopped their sugar habit
As an online weight loss coach, I’ve worked with hundreds of women who want to lose weight and keep it off. Many have found success (check out these motivating success stories from clients who have had weight loss from fat). From day one of my 8-Week Slim Down Jumpstart program, we dive right into diets and see where we can cut unnecessary calories. More times than not, sugar is the main culprit.
My client Lindsay signed up for the 8-Week Slim Down Jumpstart program, identified sugar as a trigger to avoid, and lost 15 pounds. By mindfully transitioning into the program and curbing sugar cravings Lindsay found the process “very easy”.
“I was out of control with the sugar. I knew I needed help and accountability. I needed something serious, like an intervention.”
-Lindsay, before my 8-week slim down program
“Honestly, I didn’t expect how easy weight loss was going to be.”
-Lindsay, after my 8-week Slim Down Jumpstart program
Louise was another weight-loss client who found herself addicted to sugar. With a hectic schedule that resulted in lots of airport travel, she overindulged on sugary sweets due to the lack of healthy options. After going through my program, she ended up losing 13 pounds in 10 weeks and found her sugary temptations disappear.
“When you’re eating things you shouldn’t be eating, you’re really just hurting yourself.”
– Louise, after my 8-week slimdown program
Acknowledging triggers and temptations is the first step to curbing those sugar cravings. Since sugar is common in so many foods, moderation is key. Eating plenty of nutrient rich foods will keep you fuller longer and leave less room for those sweet cravings.
Every day, we find ourselves making choices that affect others, leaving little time to focus on ourselves and our well-being. Next time you get home from a long day’s work, instead of reaching for those M&Ms, ask yourself if eating those will really be a reward you can be proud of.
My clients come to me for a lot of reasons, but they all are determined to rediscover their best selves and get healthy doing it. Check out my other motivational weight loss stories from my clients who have transformed their bodies through personal online weight loss coaching programs.
Then, book a call with me and share your goals and curb those sugar cravings once and for all. After all, you deserve to live a healthy life in the body you’ve always dreamed of.