Sugar addiction is widespread. The debate still rages as to whether it is a drug (it has definitely been demonstrated to be a drug in mice)but for those of us who have gone cold turkey we know without a doubt it IS a drug. The withdrawal symptoms can be mild to extremely unpleasant. Just like not everyone becomes addicted to alcohol or heroin or cocaine, not everyone has the same reaction to sugar.
However, for those of you who feel that you have an addiction; who feel you are out of control with the need to eat large amounts of sweet things and need/want to get back into control of your life, this page was written for you
The US Sugar Association believes that a quarter of our food and drink intake can safely consist of sugar. Since they stand to make more money from having you believe this and less money if you cut sugar out of your diet, I’ll let you be the judge as to whether they have a vested interest in you eating more sugar.
Sugar addiction - sugar is more addictive than cocaine
Sugar is a dangerous substance. Recently, researchers in the US came out and labelled it a poison and that upset a lot of vested interests. The closest analogy I can come up with is Nitrous Oxide used in cars. Nitrous will ramp up the horsepower in your car to crazy levels making it go really fast but in the process it can destroy your engine. It can crack your pistons, blow out the seals and even in some cases make the engine explode. Sugar addiction can have a similar effect on the body. It burns out your organs and can contribute to a whole host of disease states and lowers the immune system.
The constant raising of blood sugar many times throughout the day by using simple carbohydrates, sugar and drinks containing sugar or HFCS, besides making you insulin resistant, creates an abundance of Advanced Glycation End Products (AGES). These molecules accelerate the aging process in your skin and organs. Another good reason to overcome sugar addiction.
Recent research here in Australia linked high blood sugar levels with increased brain shrinkage which affects cognitive skills and memory. In the study, 6-10% of brain shrinkage was attributed to blood sugar levels. Even though these levels were only in the high end of normal range they had an effect. The head of the study, Dr Nicolas Cherbuin, believed that the study gave support to the idea that long-term consumption of foods like sugar-laden drinks and white flour were responsible.
Sugar was not abundant in the history of the human race and our bodies adapted to a low sugar environment. We are genetically pre-disposed to seek out sweetness to fuel the brain but that pre-disposition also creates sugar addiction when sugar is abundant.
Today every American consumes around 150 lbs of sugar each year. Around 30 lbs is table sugar and the rest is hidden in foods. This includes High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) (which has virtually replaced sugar as the sweetener of choice) and ‘sugar alcohols’ like maltitol, manitol sorbitol, xylitol or hydrogenated starch hydrolysates. The sugar alcohols are a way of sweetening foods without adding calories but they are detrimental to your body.
Stay away from all sweeteners, natural or artificial, wherever possible. This includes sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, icing sugar, fructose, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, maltose. lactose, malt syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), saccharin (trade names are Sweet and Low, Sweet Twin, Sweet'N Low, and Necta Sweet), aspartame (trade names are Nutrasweet, Equal, and Sugar Twin), acesulfame potassium (can also be listed on labels as acesulfame K, Ace-K, or Sunett), sucralose (Trade name is Splenda), and neotame (Trading name is Nutrasweet - a variation of Aspartame with the Phenylalanine blocked from breaking down and causing problems)
Artificial sweeteners are acceptable in the transition period although if you have to use a sweetener use Stevia (a natural sweetener)as the preferred choice and stay away from anything with Aspartame in it. Personally, I think you should cut them all out but this may not be possible. Read labels or pay the price.
Overcoming sugar addiction
Overcoming sugar addiction is not easy. If it was, everyone would be free of it.
It will be almost impossible to eliminate sugar completely from your diet unless you cook and prepare all your food yourself and don’t use any canned or bottled ingredients. However, if you can get your sugar consumption down to only a couple of percent of intake then you will reap the benefits.
Beating sugar requires a lifestyle change.
Here is how to do it:
Plan ahead for a specific date to start and gradually eat or throw out any sugar containing foods like biscuits, ice cream, chocolate, etc (better still donate them - although that just makes it someone elses problem).
Go to a health food store and buy the following – olive leaf extract (liquid form), chromium picolinate capsules (400 micrograms), a large can of whey protein powder. If you are overweight buy straight whey powder, if you are underweight buy a weight gainer that is a mix of whey and carbohydrate (although the carbohydrate will often be maltodextrin, similar to HFCS, it doesn’t seem to contribute to sugar addiction in my experience but if it bothers you, leave it out).
Go to the supermarket and buy a variety of raw nuts, sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels) for snacking and mix them together and place in a jar, buy fruit (especially melons, berries and cherries but no really sweet fruits like mangoes - limit your fruit to one serving per day), buy vegetables of all kinds,, meat, chicken, fish (canned tuna and salmon as well as fresh fish).Now is also a good time to scrap bread from your diet completely and be better for it. It is a highly over-rated food and acts like sugar in the body.
In the lead up to the day of going cold turkey start drinking your favourite drink without sugar. This will be hard but you get used to it. If it is a soda, change over to a sugar free cordial. Don't use diet sodas. Beating sugar addiction will take some discipline on your part but it is worth it.
It is easier to break the sugar habit by giving up tea or coffee (if you have them with sugar)but they will create their own withdrawal symptoms, usually headaches for 1-3 days depending on your level of consumption. Be your own judge as to whether you can live without them. Personally, I have a cup of filtered coffee once a week in the Vietnamese/french style (with condensed milk). Condensed milk is very sweet but being my one hit of sugar a week it does minimal harm but boy, do I enjoy that coffee.
On the day of going COLD TURKEY
Take a teaspoon of olive leaf extract and a chromium picolinate capsule morning and night (take the capsule with food)
Have a high protein breakfast – e.g. omelette, sausages, etc. If you must have a cereal, have oats without sugar or find a cereal that has no sugar in it. Take a chromium tablet with water.
Take lunch to work with you and make sure it has protein in it (meat, fish, chicken,or cheese)and a mixed salad
Take some of the protein powder with you in a container and a mix it at work with water.
Whenever you are feeling the need for sugar make a protein drink. Just a note on protein drinks - It may be difficult to find a protein powder that does not have an artificial sweetener. Stevia would be the best choice as a sweetener but they rarely use it so an artificial sweetener is acceptable in the transition period.
However, any artificial sweetener will decrease your seratonin and dopmine levels in your brain and increase your risk of obesity, depression and further sugar addiction.
Eat regularly throughout the day to keep your blood sugar level up but make sure you keep eating protein in small amounts during the day.
Eat a small amount of high protein food or drink protein powder just before bed.
Eat a piece of fruit each day. For some people this will prevent them from giving up sugar. If you feel you are one of them cut out the fruit.
Continue this regimen indefinitely (except for the olive leaf extract which you can stop after finishing the bottle). You will be better for it. Sugar addiction can be overcome but it is also easy to become re-addicted hence the need for a lifestyle change.
What to expect
You may find the first few days relatively easy or incredibly difficult. If you have a habit of going for morning tea with friends then make sure you have unsweetened tea or coffee and no cakes or biscuits. If this is too difficult then cancel the morning teas.
At some point you may exhibit any of the following symptoms, irritability, depression, mood swings, or an inability to focus. This may be partly the brains reaction to withdrawing from sugar and partly the candida (a yeast) in your body dying off since it is not being given a sugar supply. You WILL feel uncomfortable. After all sugar addiction is still addiction and there will always be withdrawal symptoms.
You may even experience a day when it feels like you are swimming through mud. Everything will seem hard and you will be unmotivated and unable to focus on the job at hand. At this point don’t give in as you are almost there. A day or two after this and you will be in the clear.
Make sure you eat plenty of raw vegetables. The fiber contained in them will clean out your digestive system, and the candida as well. You may also want to take Herbal Fiberblend (
) to assist the process.
When that voice in your head starts saying ‘Come on, just a little bit of sugar won’t hurt, maybe a piece of chocolate or some sugar in your coffee’, simply welcome the thought, thank it for sharing and let it go, visualising a door opening and the thought leaving through it.
The process of withdrawal can take from a few days to two weeks but once past the withdrawal phase life will get better. This is a lifestyle change so continue with the diet and make sure you start exercising as well. Sugar addiction is beatable.
A supplement that I have found useful in overcoming sugar addiction is Resveratrol. It shows promise for treating diabetics but has a host of benefits, including blood sugar normalisation. Learn more at my resveratrol page
Sugar addiction is often associated with Candida so you may want to deal with the Candida as well. If you have a particularly bad case you may want to take Lufenuron, which will kill the worst form of candida (when it becomes a fungus). You can find out more about Lufenuron and candida
After the Lufenuron you might want to repopulate your bowel with good bacteria so for that you can use yoghurt, kefir or Threelac. Threelac on its own can be used in mild cases of Candida instead of using Lufenuron and you can find out more about Threelac
People report mixed experiences with using Threelac so you need to research it beforehand to see if you feel it is right for you.
See you on the other side.
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