Guest Post: How to break your sugar Habit (SJ Health)

If you didn’t know I am taking part in Sugar Free February – a whole month of no added sugar or sweeteners to try and kick my sugar habit. I wish I could say that it’s been easy but actually at times it has  been pretty hard not to give into my temptations and  I’ve had to make a real effort to avoid added sugars since it seems to be in almost all convenience meals/snacks.

Today I am welcoming Sara Jackson a registered Nutritional Therapist and Naturopath from sjhealth.co.uk to share her advice and experience in overcoming sugar cravings.

how to stop sugar cravings

Photo credit: SJ Health

 

“I am pretty sure the message has sunk in with most people by now- whether we want to listen to it or not is a whole other question. Eating excess sugar is bad news – it’s directly linked to some of the most prevalent diseases we face in modern life – from obesity, type 2 diabetes, to some cancers. There’s stacks of research out there proving the inflammatory action of sugar on our body systems. Aside from the links to disease, this massive inflammation can affect our bodies in many other ways from ageing you rapidly, and contributing to everything from painful joints, rotting teeth to dry, wrinkly skin.

I work with many clients to help them get off sugar and break their addiction. Scarily it’s been shown that sugar is addictive in the same way that cocaine and nicotine are due to the way sugar interacts with the reward centres of our brain. Sugar addiction also involves the most common stages of addiction – cravings, tolerance (so you’re never able to get enough), and withdrawal.

So what’s the best way to break your sugar habit?

sj health nutritional advice

Photo credit: SJ Health

It’s going to hurt, but the most effective way is to go cold turkey and take out sugar as well as reducing refined carbs in your diet like white bread and white pastas. Like sugar, they provide zero nutrition, and are forms of processed sugars and starches that don’t exist in nature. Don’t fall into the trap of artificial sweeteners because not only do they feed the sugar cravings, but there is mounting evidence that things like aspartame which many consider a neurotoxin due to its strong association with brain tumours and seizures. Scary stuff….

I’m not pretending it’s a walk in the park, but there’s a few things you can do to make it a little easier to stick at it.

  •  Make sure you have plenty of support around you, especially for the first week or so which is definitely the hardest and have plenty of distractions at hand for when those cravings kick in.
  • After you get through the first week though you’ll notice that your palette changes and you can actually taste food and naturally sweet food like fruit suddenly seems sooo much sweeter. If those cravings kick in, grab an apple of some blueberries and after a few weeks, you most probably wouldn’t want that packet of Haribos that you used to happily munch on because they will be so sickly sweet to your newly attuned tastebuds and will make you feel pretty gross and might even give you a headache.
  • If you know that a stressful day usually has you reaching for the emergency chocolate stash, then try to find other ways to deal with those emotions. Simple breathing exercises for even just a minute, but repeated throughout the day can be so effective or taking a quick walk around the block can take the edge off.
  • If you’re eating balanced meals with plenty of lean protein, healthy fats like avocados, nuts and seeds, whole foods and eating rainbow coloured veggies with a little fruit, you will feel full and satisfied, leaving little room for those pesky sugar cravings to set in.

Stick with it. I have seen the most incredible results with clients who are able to get off the bad stuff – blood sugar levels balance, stubborn weight falls off, energy levels soar, skin issues disappear and vitality returns. You won’t look back…”

sara jackson health

If you’d like more advice from sara you can connect with her on her website, facebook, instagram and twitter.

 

My Experience

Throughout Sugar Free February I’ve actually found that my taste buds have changed and as Sara mentioned, I actually don’t want some of the sweet things I used to crave. For example, I saw a video on facebook for ‘unicorn hot chocolate’, which was warm milk with tonnes of white chocolate melted into it and pink food colouring added. I was watching the video because I was interested to see what was in it, but when they were melting all of the chocolate I actually started to feel queasy at the thought of how sickly it would taste!! That said, I did buy a bar of 100% dark chocolate and go a bit overboard and eat half it in one sitting, which also made me feel queasy. So my cravings haven’t gone all together, but they seem to be getting better.

Getting support and having distractions has been very helpful to avoid giving into temptations and breaking my habit of eating sugary snacks in the evening. I’ve found that calling my boyfriend for a chat or doing things such as cleaning really help to keep me distracted, but other activities such as colouring or reading don’t seem to work because I am still thinking about chocolate or whatever it is that I wanted to eat. So I think that you will have to experiment with some different options and see what works for you.

What are your top tips for breaking a sugar habit? Have you ever tried?

 

 

P.S. If you enjoyed this post check out this advice for going sugar free from Jenna Hope Nutrition.

33 Comments

  1. countryheartdeb
    February 19, 2017 / 4:14 pm

    oh these look so good and i am starting C25K tomorrow so will be cutting back on sugar and fatty foods etc too – timing is good so bookmarked for later when i need inspiration too!

    • Heathy & Psyched
      February 20, 2017 / 10:09 am

      Hey Deb, I haven’t heard of C25K – what is it?
      Good luck with your new diet 🙂

  2. February 19, 2017 / 4:30 pm

    I have been trying to cut back this year as wanted to lose weight. However i notice eating healthier and avoiding sweet cravings is linked to mood and motivation x

    • Heathy & Psyched
      February 20, 2017 / 10:03 am

      Hey Jodie – That’s great 🙂 I assume you’ve had a positive experience.
      I’ve actually found myself to be way more emotional than normal this month! I’m not sure if it is to do with the no sugar or work stresses etc.

  3. February 19, 2017 / 4:52 pm

    It sounds really hard to reduce sugar intake; it’s surprising how much sugar creeps into the foods we eat on a daily basis!

    • Heathy & Psyched
      February 20, 2017 / 10:02 am

      Agreed. It’s crazy how many products have added sugar!

  4. February 19, 2017 / 6:53 pm

    Eeeeeekkk you are one brave woman! I have a very sweet tooth but actually I could definitely take some of your tips on board!

    Em T

    • Heathy & Psyched
      February 20, 2017 / 9:59 am

      Haha thanks Em. It was hard at first but it’s getting easier – I’m finding that fruit tastes sweeter now I am I having less cravings 🙂

  5. February 19, 2017 / 8:50 pm

    I have cut back on sugar, but really don’t think I could cut it out all together, I am on a low carb diet now so don’t eat white bread or pasta so that is also a plus x

    • Heathy & Psyched
      February 20, 2017 / 9:52 am

      Have you noticed any benefits since removing the white bread/pasta from your diet?

  6. danasiafantastic
    February 20, 2017 / 12:23 am

    These are great tips! I desperately need to cut out sugar, but the thought terrifies me!

    • Heathy & Psyched
      February 20, 2017 / 9:48 am

      Hey Danasia, I know Sara suggested to go cold turkey, but you could always do it gradually, for example replace one sugary snack/meal per day or half your portion size (e.g. just eat half a chocolate bar rather than the whole thing).

  7. lolitambonita
    February 20, 2017 / 2:40 am

    I would love to go sugar free especially after watching sugar free farm I think I would just miss fruit so much… or is that ok. When it comes to chocolate I can crave it badly but if I dont have it in the cupboards I wont go and buy it which helps not curb into my cravings! X
    Lola Mia // www lolitabonita.co.uk

    • Heathy & Psyched
      February 20, 2017 / 9:46 am

      Haha, I actually decided to do Sugar Free Feb after watching Sugar Free Farm. After talking to a few nutritionists I get the impression that adding some fruit to your diet is great because of the nutrients, but not to go overboard (stick to 2-3 pieces per day), but if you’re craving sugar its’s okay to eat some more fruit (rather than sweets or whatever else you wanted!).
      Snap about not having it in the cupboards- I’ve had to clear out everything so I’m not tempted.

  8. February 20, 2017 / 10:01 am

    I’ve never tried to go sugar free but I’m so tempted by it x

  9. February 20, 2017 / 10:09 am

    You’re a lot braver than me! I would cave and end up in a little ball in the corner without sugar!

  10. February 20, 2017 / 12:50 pm

    I try not to have it extra in anything I eat and I don’t put it in tea or coffee, but it is amazing how much of it there is in food x

    • February 20, 2017 / 8:54 pm

      That’s a really good approach not to add extra sugars. Agreed it’s amazing how many things it sneaks into. I’ve been looking on packets religiously this month, but at least now I know which brands/items don’t have added sugar so I can choose those in the future.

  11. February 20, 2017 / 3:43 pm

    I’ve done it with help of Thinking Slimmer, all sugar cravings were gone within a week or so. I would highly recommend it for anyone who needs to reduce sugar intake.

  12. February 20, 2017 / 8:41 pm

    I’ve managed to cut back sugar slowly but don’t think I could go cold turkey. I don’t take sugar in my lattes anymore where I was taking 2 before and we stopped using white pasta a while back for most meals.

    • Heathy & Psyched
      February 20, 2017 / 8:50 pm

      Hey Melanie, That sounds fantastic from 2 sugars to none is amazing. I actually nearly wrote at the bottom that going cold turkey isn’t for everyone – different things work for different people 🙂

  13. February 20, 2017 / 9:00 pm

    Whenever I try give up sugar I crave it more and more! I try so hard to cut down though! xo

  14. February 20, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    Such an interesting post, I could really benefit from going cold turkey! 🙂

  15. February 21, 2017 / 7:33 am

    I have gradually cut back on sugar over the years. Mine is basically giving myself alternative options.

  16. February 21, 2017 / 2:14 pm

    HI Rachel! So great to have this encouragement about going sugar-free. I’ve been amazed at how the cravings disappear after going without. It feels so liberating! What’s helped me the most is simply not having it in the house, and using bananas and dates when I really feel the urge.

  17. February 21, 2017 / 8:33 pm

    I haven’t tried to cut out sugar before as I think as part of a balanced diet you do need some. I don’t add sugar to anything though – just have natural sugars in fruits and other foods x

  18. February 21, 2017 / 9:49 pm

    All I hear about is cutting out sugar! I don’t eat a lot of sugar to begin with, but I’d love to experiement with a 30 day no sugar challenge to see how it feels. Great post!

  19. February 22, 2017 / 8:56 am

    Great tips, my mummy really needs to break the sugar habit but she’s addicted to sweet treats. Might try and substitute it with something else x

  20. February 22, 2017 / 5:57 pm

    Great post! I really need to cut down on my sugar intake!

  21. Jess
    February 25, 2017 / 8:47 pm

    These are really interesting suggestions. I always think my sugar addition is wayyy to strong to comat with breathing techniques, but I guess it’s all about dealing with the triggers. I’ve literally never thought about it like that until now. I didn’t even know Sugar-Free Feb was a thing, I’d deffo benefit from something like that cause my energy levels throughout the day just plummet!

    • Heathy & Psyched
      February 26, 2017 / 8:07 pm

      Hi Jess, I know what you mean – sometimes I don’t want to try different techniques because I don’t think they will work. But then I try it and am surprised (although not all the time haha!).

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