Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.– Hippocrates
A Sugar Addict From the Beginning
Sugar withdrawals can be hell, I know. I’ve fought that battle many times before. I think I was probably born with a candy bar in my hand. As far back as I can remember, I have always favored munching on something sweet over “real food”.
At that time, sugar was a normal part of being a kid and it was everywhere. I don’t remember anyone seriously setting limits on our sugar intake. In fact, inhaling the white powdery stuff was practically required anywhere we went….holidays, birthdays, movies, school events, church events, rewards for being good, etc. I remember one Halloween as a teenager, my cousin and I found an up-scale housing development to trick-or-treat in (may as well have been a gold mine in our eyes). We carried pillow cases that year, seriously.
At Christmas time, my mom would always make homemade fudge, which was amazing. I actually remember taking it with me to the morning bus stop and sharing it with my friends. Not exactly the breakfast of champions. I really did love sugar, though….that was, until I realized the devastating effects it was having on my health.
White Sugar’s Revenge
Growing up I was sick…a lot. I always had some form of bronchitis, colds, flus, asthma, you name it. I’ve since come to find out white sugar suppresses the immune system. Hmmm. I also earned myself several cavities, thanks to sugar. Then as I got older, I started gaining extra weight. But, what troubled me the most was my addictive habits surrounding sugar. My college friends just laughed and thought it was “cute” when I told them I was worried about my sugar addiction. But I knew it was a problem. Have you ever had the experience talking to someone at a party, but you can’t pay attention to what they’re saying because they happen to be blocking your access to a bowl of M&Ms? Or, have you ever raided your roommates candy stash…without her permission? Yea, that’s an addiction if I ever saw one.
As I got older, my suspicions were validated. I was a sugar junkie for sure, and now there’s proof. Studies are now showing that not only is sugar addictive, but it may be eight times more addictive than cocaine! (Source) Sugar is the most socially acceptable, readily accessible, and affordable drug there is; and it has a multitude of negative effects on our physical and psychological health. Obvously this is something we need to take more seriously if we want to live well and enjoy our life to the fullest.
Finding a Cure
I won’t tell you I tried everything, but I sure tried a lot, (for many many years) to break myself free from white sugar’s clutches. I tried different diets, supplements, juicing, going cold turkey, fasting, none of which worked for long. The addiction always got the upper hand. That was until I found nature’s cure…which had been there all along….FRUIT. Yes, one of the most colorful, delicious, and nutritious foods on this planet can cure you of a sugar addiction.
Now, for someone who’s addicted to white sugar, it’s not as easy as put down the cookie and pick up an apple. In fact, when I was hard core into sugar, I found fruit to be a very poor substitute for the sugar crack hit I was used to getting. When I would have a sugar craving and someone would tell me to eat some grapes instead, I would roll my eyes and cringe. Obviously, they didn’t understand. So how did I break free from the sugar beast? I took my focus off sugar and focused on changing other areas of my diet instead.
Transitioning to a Healthier Diet
I actually started changing my diet not as a way to overcome my sugar addiction, but simply to eat more healthfully for it’s own sake. I started out by adding more fruits and vegetables into my diet. I also reduced process foods and replaced them with more whole foods. I was still eating chocolate bars at the time, but I noticed something was starting to change. You see, we crave what is in our bloodstream. That’s why all addicts have to go through “detox”.
Cravings are also triggered by nutritional deficiencies. As my diet improved, my body was detoxifying (thanks to all the high quality produce I was feeding it). As a result, my blood chemistry began to change, my taste buds also changed, and my cravings began to wane. The cleaner and more nutritious my diet became, the less sugar I craved. I was on to something.
Raw Foods Give a Major Boost
Around that time, I found out about the raw food diet. I was inspired by so many people’s amazing stories of healing and transformation on raw foods, and I knew intuitively there was something to it. So, I started moving in that direction. I discovered that the produce aisle is a rainbow of living foods, and I brought that vibrancy into my kitchen and my life. I started adding in more and more raw fruits and vegetables along with my regular cooked meals. Then, I just kept increasing the percentage of raw foods, making green smoothies and giant salads, juicing and eating more fruit. And that’s when the magic happened.
Through this transition, I was enjoying fruit more than ever, and I was also losing the extra weight (a welcomed side-effect of eating raw foods). I felt better than ever, had more energy, and my mood improved as well. Now, several years later I am the healthiest and most satisfied I’ve ever felt in my whole life. It has been several years since I’ve had any kind of cold or flu, and I’m off all asthma medications. Best of all, I’m no longer ruled by white sugar.
Could it be True? The Real Test
Somewhat in disbelief of this “miraculous cure” from sugar addiction, I decided to test it. I went to the grocery store and stood in the candy aisle, looking at all the tricksters who used to call out my name. I even gave myself full permission to indulge. Nothing. Not even a hint of desire or craving. Then I moved over to the ice cream aisle taking in all the flavors with my eyes and trying to tempt myself by imagining the taste. Nada. I was totally amazed. I really was free! If you knew me well, you would know what a miracle this truly is. It didn’t happen overnight…but it did happen…and it can happen to you.
Has sugar got a hold on you?
How would your life change if you could free yourself from sugar’s grip?
I’d love to hear your story in the comment’s section below!
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36 thoughts on “How I Beat My Sugar Addiction”
I eat healthily. I LOVE healthy food. I love exercise. I’m a bit of a health freak, in some ways… BUT I’m “addicted” to dried fruit for the sweetness. Raisins and sultanas, especially. I can eat hundreds of grams of raisins in a day. I have them with cinnamon, or mixed into porridge, or just by the handful. I don’t have much refined sugar at all – ever. Nor fruit juices. (I only have whole fruits.) But raisins… They’re my weakness and they’re FULL of sugar, allbeit natural sugar. How can I stop eating SO MUCH DRIED FRUIT??? I’m serious; it’s getting ridiculous!
Good for you! Dried fruit is much better than candy…it’s a great move toward improving your health. But I understand where you’re coming from (all too well). One thing that I didn’t go into in my article is that I have been doing a lot of cleansing along the way. Not only do I eat a cleansing diet (mostly raw vegan), but I have also done some internal body cleansing (colon cleanse, parasite cleanse, juicing, etc.). So this is definitely a factor.
There are many things that can be contributing to your dried fruit addiction. Some things to look at would be candida, parasites, and your diet overall. Certain foods can contribute to sweet cravings (like garlic). You may also have a very real nutritional need that the fruit is fulfilling. And, of course, there can be an emotional component as well. In order to address the root cause, we would need to dig a little deeper. If you are interested in doing that, I’m offering a 10% discount on my Private Coaching for people who are commenting on this article . You can check that out here: http://highvibelife.org/private-coaching/
In the meantime, here are some tips to help you. Its a good idea to soak your fruit in pure water (not tap) for a few hours to reconstitute it before eating. This will help your body metabolize the sugars more easily and will likley satiate you with less. The time isn’t so important. You just want to plump it up. If you want to soak it overnight you can put it in the fridge.
Another thing is your teeth. Dried fruit is very sticky and it sticks to your teeth (this is made worse by eating it with nuts). Soaking the fruit will help with this some, but it’s still an issue. So, it’s a good idea to rinse your mouth out with water….or eat some GREENS…after your fruit. The greens are key because, not only do the fibers help scrub your teeth, but greens are very alkiline which will help balance the acidity of the fruit sugars. Also, greens are high in minerals, which help to curb sweet cravings. You can also increase the amount of fresh whole fruit in your diet. Don’t be afraid to eat two mangos in one sitting! :)
Here is a blog I wrote that you might enjoy called, “Fruit: The Why’s and How’s of it”: http://highvibelife.org/fruit-the-whys-and-hows-of-it/
You’re on the right track. Diet refinement is a process of evolution in which you just keep getting better and better as you learn what works for your body. If you’re interested in the personal coaching, just let me know. I would be happy to work with you… I love working with “health freaks”! ;-)
Wish you all the best! ~Sara
Hello again Sara,
I just had to butt in and say how impressed I am with the depth of your knowledge along with your generosity in sharing it with Ruth. That’s really heartening!
Talking of which I wish you both a memorable St. Valentine’s.
I love helping people get healthy. There are so many overweight, sick and miserable people on this planet. It doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why I do this work.
I love helping people to get healthy and transform their lives for the better. There are so many overweight, sick and miserable people on this planet. It doesn’t have to be that way. That’s why I do this work.
I’ve been doing research on sugar addiction lately, and the most recent findings are that fructose i.e. fruit sugar, is the culprit in sugar addiction (ie. high fructose corn syrup etc). So a lot of fruit is not great, unless they are berries which contain low fructose and some other fruits, can’t remember which ones now. White sugar has a high proportion of fructose in it. Stevia is a better option for sweetening food ,if you feel you need it. Raisins will just keep giving you your hit.
You bring up a very important point, thank you!
There is a huge difference between high fructose corn syrup (which is derived from corn, often genetically modified) and whole fresh fruit. Although fruit does contain some fructose, it is in very small amounts compared to refined sugars. Fruit also contains fiber, water, antioxidants, and minerals which BALANCE the sugars in the fruit. Refining and cooking the sugars from corn, beets, or even fruit (e.g. syrups or juice), disrupts this balance. It gives your body a “hit” of sugar far more concentrated than it would receive naturally from eating whole fresh fruit. Here is an article published by the University of California, Berkeley which highlights this with research: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/dont-be-afraid-fruit
However, all research studies aside, you need look no further than your own personal experience to understand the difference. Here is a fun little experiment you can do: Try eating zero refined sugar for two weeks. That means no candy, cakes, soda, sweetened coffee, muffins, ketchup or any other processed foods with sugar added (which includes most fast food, by the way). This will be tricky, since sugar is hiding in most processed foods now days (especially in the U.S.) so you have to look carefully. Instead, eat only eat fruit (even dried fruit). In fact, you can eat “lots of fruit” just to make it a fair experiment. ;-) After abstaining from refined sugars for two weeks, have a salad for lunch or dinner, then have yourself something containing any kind of refined sugar, such as soda with high fructose corn syrup or a candy bar. I think you will discover for your own self the very real difference between refined chemically altered sugars and pure wholesome fruit.
P.S. I agree, stevia is a great natural sweetener. I recommend getting the unprocessed green stevia which has not been chemically altered.
I do not think there is anything wrong with eating endless amounts of fruit, so long as you exercise. I consume a ridiculous amount of fruit daily. At times, I feel full and bloated. However, when I wake up the next morning, I look and weigh the same as the previous morning. I run between 10-12 miles per day, so that probably helps, too. Go ahead and eat as much as you want, it is so beneficial.
Thanks Joe! =)
Just a quick thank you and to congratulate you on your triumph.
I still find it shocking that so many highly qualified medical professionals are indifferent or ignorant of the concept which you have discovered. More often than not, building healthy and happy habits helps to build a firm foundation from which we can then tackle whatever problem we have.
Complex and highly emotional problems aren’t always best tackled head-on – too much pressure on us. So well done you.
I am sure lots of us will be able to adapt that lesson.
Thank you and kindest regards for your future success.
Thank you! And I really appreciate the point you are making in your comment. Processing emotions (often deep painful emotions) is MUCH easier when your body is balanced and properly nourished. When you are Healthy….everything works better and life gets easier. :-)
I have struggled with sugar addiction all of my life, it is good to hear that there is a way to work toward a cure. Thanks for sharing your success story.
You certainly can get free! Wishing you the best. : )
I admire your strength to keep going to find what works for you! Great work!
Thanks Christine! : )
Help! I continue to struggle with a sugar addiction and just can’t seem to find the motivation to stay away from it. It’s similar to your M&Ms that you just could not overlook. Maybe I need to begin with baby steps? Any recommendations on how to start slowly?
Aside from the advice in my article above and on my website http://www.highvibelife.org, I will give you my honest perspective on “starting slowly”. First, let me say I completely understand where you’re coming from and how difficult it can be to get off sugar. Refined sugar is highly addictive. This is proven. So understand that it is a powerful addiction. What do we do when dealing with addictions in other areas? If we look at alcohol or other drug addictions, we can see that a baby steps approach doesn’t usually work; total abstinence is the only remedy. I know…you probably don’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. Believe me, I’ve spent many years trying to have a “little” of the drug. Which always spiraled into a landslide in the long run.
My honest advice to you is to quit the drug cold turkey. Educate yourself about the destructive nature of white sugar (this will help motivate you). Check out my short list here (you can find much more on the internet. Also, plant reminders in your environment (fridge, workplace, car, etc.) which reinforce your commitment. For example, you could put a picture of a slim waistline, or healthy teeth, or a serene person who isn’t experiencing “sugar crashes”. Whatever works for you. It’s also a good idea to have a back-up plan….like raw organic honey…fruit…etc. But be firm on the white powder. If you increase your intake of minerals (think vegetables, esp dark leafy greens, and juices), that will help. Also, exercise and sunshine are super helping factors. I have found that the most intense cravings come on day 3. So, if you can make it that far…you’re over the physical addiction hump and just need to work on the “mind cravings”, which are connected to fond memories and attachments to certain foods. (By the way…there are “healthier” ways to make everything….even fudge!)
Really, it all comes down to your level of commitment to your health. And knowing just how destructive white sugar is will help motivate you. If you want more personal one-on-one coaching you can send me a message through my website via the Private Coaching page. And remember, no matter how many times you fall down…just pick yourself back up and keep going. Never stop striving for optimal health. You CAN give up white sugar, and your life will be all the better for it. I wish you the best of luck!
oh yeah, we need more people talking about how they were able to stop their addiction, this way we can start to say “if he/she can do it, i can do it too”, i can relate to this of course, i had an addiction before and i was able to break free.
I agree….and good for you! =)
Hi Sarah, I really enjoyed your article. I have recently decided to face my sugar addiction head on…for good! I’ve tried so many different approaches and failed. I talk more about this in a recent blog post here: http://mochambers.org/2015/10/28/confessions-of-an-addict/
I am really hoping to find encouragement and resources through your blog in support of my recovery. I am slowly transitioning, but at the point where I think I may need to cut cold turkey…again, and increase my accountability for sustainable results. I hate my addiction! But I’m praying God gives me the will power to combat it this time around, once and for all! Thanks again for sharing Sarah!
I completely understand your frustrations.
Though overcoming sugar addiction can be a disheartening battle, it doesn’t have to be. One thing to remember is that when it comes to addiction, will power rarely serves us. What we really need is a recovery plan in the form of “detoxification” (just like other addictions) and nutritional & lifestyle support. You are welcome to sign-up to my email list. The content focuses around natural health & wellness, as well as conscious living. There is a lot of great information to support you with developing a sugar-free lifestyle that’s rich with a deeper sweetness. ;-)
Email List sign-up link: http://forms.aweber.com/form/29/1053870929.htm
Wishing you all the best!
Wow Sara, thanks for sharing! I chuckle as I write this comment because it seems as though I am the only guy writing here! I actually work in the health/wellness industry as well and I am surprised how many women are OPEN to sugar addiction and how many men seem to sneer at it. I have theories as to why this is the case but for now I will continue to educate people and send them great material like this to read. I appreciate your post and I plan on subscribing and sharing. Keep up the great work!
Hi Griff, a man’s voice on the subject is very welcomed! Thank you for your perspective and support. I think you’re right about women generally being more open about sugar addiction (and many other subjects). Unfortunately, men in our society are programmed not to express themselves as openly….and of course they have to be “tough”. However, acknowledging an addiction (aka weakness) is far braver than hiding the truth from ourselves and others. It’s the first step in healing. I’m happy to see you pushing those boundaries and paving the way for other men to follow. Namaste, Sara
I am struggling with sugar. I haven’t eat sugar for the longest time. Nearly 12 months but I had the odd piece of cake & sweet stuff & the cravings have just grown out of control. Of course it’s a vicious cycle of hating myself then eating sugar etc. I’m feeling powerless. All I do is sit on the couch watching tv feeling as though sugar & tv are the 2 things controlling my life. Help
Dear Andy, I apologize for not responding earlier, I just saw your comment today. You are certainly not alone. So many people battle sugar addiction, and the worst part is that it’s hardly recognized as an “addiction”. There are no 12 step programs (that I know of) or in-patient detox treatment programs for sugar addiction…but we certainly need some. And you’re right, it’s a vicious cycle that can totally take over our lives. I understand your frustration, but please know that if you truly want to overcome this addiction, Self Love is an Essential requirement. That doesn’t mean that you say, “okay, now I love myself” (our soul isn’t fooled so easily). Self Love (like self respect or any other profound relationship with Self) is something that has to be cultivated, developed and nurtured. It can be a lifelong journey, but the rewards are beyond measure. For many of us (if not all), Self Love is not automatic…yet it is our True Essential Nature. We just have to Re-Connect. There are many tools to help with the physical and psychological side of sugar addiction. If you are serious about healing, there are some programs I can recommend to you. Please feel free to contact me through my website: http://www.HighVibeLife.com I wish you all the best on your journey and for your ultimate healing. All love, Sara
Hello, I also really struggle with sugar addiction and it was really interesting reading your article. Every time I try to go cold turkey on refined sugar it is quite often the social pressures in daily life which make me feel obliged to eat it again. I know that may sound like a lame excuse and that I’m just weak but a few examples are when friends bake you cupcakes, your mother in law brings you a dessert she has made especially, your friends all want to go for afternoon tea to catch up, grandma has made her traditional Christmas pudding and you don’t want to offend her by not having any. I know I should just inform people that I’m ‘off sugar’ and suggest alternatives but the world revolves around sugar! I also get the impression it won’t be taken seriously as people just think it’s a fad diet to lose a few pounds rather than a genuine health concern, and people always retort ‘ oh go on just have one’. How did you tackle this?
Dear Sval, Yes, I can understand and relate to everything you are saying. You are absolutely right that “sugar addiction” is not taken seriously. My friends use to tease me in college as I lamented about my addiction and tried to “get clean”. They all ate sugar and had no idea that for me it was not just one cookie. It didn’t help that I was thin at the time (but all those cookies caught up with me – and them – in my 30’s). If you tell someone you’re an alcoholic, most people are instantly respectful and wouldn’t dare try to tempt you with a drink (although there are still some unconscious people out there who will anyway). I did a video on peer pressure that you may find interesting. Here’s a link to that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROy4yxUkQqQ
So, what’s my solution to the social pressures? Just say no. Seriously, it’s that simple. You can go into the details about your health or addiction if you want to, but the reality is that you have the right to put whatever into your body that you wish. The real question is why are friends and family not taking no for an answer? If someone doesn’t respect your choices (in whatever area of your life), that may be something you want to look at a little deeper.
It is important to be clear on what you want most in life…in this case, good health or the approval of others and/or pleasing the minds of others (notice I said “minds” and not “souls”, big difference). You will find that as you respect yourself and follow your own Truth, you will attract people into your life who respect and honor you for who you Are and not what you eat. You will also be raising your vibe and thus attracting more conscious people into your life who understand that white sugar really IS poison. Thank you for sharing. Peace, Sara
You know what works for me? I just say something like OMG I love your home-baked whatevers, but I’ve just eaten an xyz so I can’t fit anything in right now – but I really don’t want to miss out – could I take some with me to eat later instead? Works like a dream. You don’t actually have to eat it later – either – give it away. No pressure, no explanations, no discussion. If it’s plausible I may use a different excuse “Oh yum! But I just cleaned my teeth before I came over here”.
At work I just gracefully accept whatever has been pushed at me and slip it into a container in my desk drawer when no one is watching. Same deal, remove it later, take to someone else or just toss.
Because people will push, and sometimes, will try to derail you. They have their own reasons.
Sara…eating more fruit has definitely helped me with my sugar addiction, as well as eating more veggies. Vegetables can be remarkably sweet and gratifying! My recent diet is The Whole30 diet. I do not eat complex carbs at all. My diet consists of fruits, veggies, meat/fish, eggs and nuts and seeds. It’s been remarkably healing. I love to mix lemon juice with tahini and a bit of water and put on vegetables. Once the addiction is broken you truly never look at sugar with longing again. It really is so toxic, and destructive to the body!
I feel so much better mentally now that sugar is under control. Thanks for your article Sara!
Dear Michele, You are a great example of how people get results eating more of a whole foods diet, free of processed junk like white sugar. This is why so many of the current popular diets seem to “work”….people feel better because they’ve removed some of the worst health offenders. However, I do recommend you read The China Study (one of the largest epidemiological studies ever done) to understand the science behind how animal protein is not only detrimental to health in the long run, but a major accelerator for cancer growth. Knowledge is power, and the more you educate yourself the better and longer you will live dis-ease free. Wishing you the best! ~Sara
What a great article about sugar addiction. The thing I noticed on myself – welcome, I’m a sugar junkie myself – is that addiction cannot be fixed. It can be pushed away and forgotten, but just one taste of it will return everything back.
I was on a detox for quite a few times and it’s very tricky to know when it’s gonna come back. Frankly, my longest one lasted for 2 years. Although, I didn’t really think about it as a detox and had one or two chocolates here and there.
However, since I found out that it was an addiction and not just a random need of sugar, I took it quite seriously. It did take me quite a few tries and I kept lying to myself about this addiction. I kept telling myself it was not real.
Long story short, I’m on a complete detox for 46 days now. NO SUGAR, whatsoever. And I was willing to sacrifice the sweetness for the good of my own. I think my future self will thank me for it.
Hi Arnold, Good for you! You are right it IS an addiction and once you know this you are Empowered. Doing a detox program is an excellent way to break the addiction. I hope your program incorporates methods to “pull” the toxins from your system as well as increased nutrient uptake (esp. phytonutrients). This is important, as sheer cold-turkey-will-power is much more difficult. This is really how I was able to kiss sugar goodbye….detoxification, hyperalimentation and keeping my fruit intake high. In fact, when my consumption of fruit drops below a certain level I start “eyeing” carbs in other forms…bread, pastries, candy, etc. So for me, fruit was a major part of the equation.
Hey! I just wanted to reach out and say how much I appreciated your “add things in” approach, rather than touting the typical “self-control” model of lifestyle change. We really do need to crowd-out things that aren’t working for us.
By taking your focus off of the thing you wanted to change, you were able to approach it from a different angle, and that is very much my philosophy if health improvement.
Thanks for the great article.
Hi Teddey, Happy you liked the article. Mind-set is so important, and focusing on the Positive is a much more effective motivator for change than dwelling in negativity. Cheers, Sara
Thanks for sharing your story. I am sure many sugar lovers will learn to overcome their obsession after reading this.
Sugar can hide in so many different food items. This article is full of great information to help you overcome the craving for sugar. Thanks for sharing! -Ryan