Sugar is EVERYWHERE. Seriously. Pick up a packaged item at the grocery store and you will probably see it. Of course there is a difference between natural sugars and added sugars, but how can you get rid of added sugars in your diet? It’s harder than you think, because you may be addicted and not even realize it.
“Since sugar is in nearly every packaged food item, many people don’t even realize just how much they are eating in a given day,” explains Nadja Pinnavaia, Founder and CEO at Euphebe. “Also, there is a ton of misinformation out there about ‘healthy’ or ‘all natural’ sweeteners, which affects many consumers’ decision making.”
So how can you recognize an actual addiction to sugar and if you should reduce the amount you are consuming? Pinnavaia explains the symptoms.
How to know sugar addiction
“Constant hunger, low energy levels, poor skin, and weight gain can all by symptoms of sugar addiction,” she shares. “Also, if most of your meals are coming from packaged foods or have been highly processed, chances are you may have a sugar addiction. The quality and quantity of food you consume can contribute to overall sugar intake.”
If you feel you need to wean yourself off of sugar, the first step is reducing the amount of packaged foods you eat and by evaluating what you are drinking. Cutting out sodas and artificial sugars/creamers in your coffee can dramatically cut the amount of sugar you consume.
How to quit sugar addiction
“Committing to a whole foods-based diet will remove the bulk of sugar from the diet,” notes Pinnavaia. “This even includes ‘health’ foods like most granolas, packaged cereals, protein or fiber bars and flavored yogurts. Sugar can even be lurking in your bread and condiments.”
Besides eliminating sugar, Pinnavaia notes that whole foods contain fiber. They will keep you full, stabilize blood sugar and prevent those sugar-y food cravings.
“Second, quit drinking beverages that have been sweetened—period—it doesn’t matter if the sweetness comes from agave, organic cane sugar, monk fruit, or what ever new sweetener is on the market,” urges Pinnavaia. “There truly is no way to trick the body into perceiving sweetness without some sort of consequence. If you need to wean yourself off the sugar in your coffee, then do it.”
Shoe notes this includes drinking fruit juices or even vegetable juices that have been blended with fruit juice.
When you first wean off of sugar, you can expect headaches, intense cravings and may feel a bit lousy. Staying the course and working through the feelings is key—as sugar addiction is a true condition.
“Going sugar-free is absolutely sustainable. After a few weeks of avoiding sugar completely, our taste preferences begin to change,” notes Pinnavaia. “If you remove sugar entirely from your morning coffee but then one day the barista accidentally adds sugar to your drink, it will likely taste sickeningly sweet to you. If you once preferred a sweet treat after dinner, fruit or 85 percent dark chocolate will likely satisfy that craving.”