You’ve got to have a solid reason to try to beat your sugar addiction. If there’s no harm, why stop? We need to know exactly why is sugar bad for your body. How is it hurting us?
Sugar is Destroying Your Brain & Body!
Your brain controls it all and need lots of energy to do it. Having a little bit of sugar stimulates a craving for more, even if your body doesn’t need it. The ‘happy hormone’ Dopamine is released to make you feel good so you will reach for more treats. Sugar essentially trains your brain to want more, leading to addiction.
The excess sugar in your bloodstream damages your ability to learn, your memory, your mental focus, and motor skills. Science has shown it can literally shrink your brain tissues and bring on dementia! Brain damage?! That’s serious harm, folks!
What about the rest of your body? Let’s start with your joints. If you enjoy the pain of inflammation when you try to move, sugar can definitely do that for you. No thanks! I’d rather not feel old before my time.
Too much insulin (caused by too much sugar) makes your blood vessels expand and tense up. Over time, making your heart work harder–leading to heart disease. If 25% of your calories come from sugar, you’re twice as likely to die from a heart attack! Yikes!!
Moving on to the kidneys…excess sugar over time = insulin resistance = type 2 diabetes which can lead to kidney failure. Dialysis, anyone?
Also susceptible to damage are your liver and pancreas. Too much sugar makes your pancreas work overtime to secrete enough insulin (so your body can do something with that sugar) but eventually it will give up. Same thing with the liver. When it gets worn out trying to deal with all the insulin, you get diabetes. Not good news!
Sugar is Messing with Your Emotions!
Not enough reason for you to quit the sweet stuff? I know, it’s your go-to solution when you’re feeling down. Because your emotions have been hijacked! It’s the dopamine talking. A quick fix of sugar sets off a surge of adrenaline too. Then the crash and burn. Irritability, anxiety, and depression are sure to follow. Once you get off the blood sugar roller coaster, your emotions will stabilize also, putting you back in control of your moods.
Sugar is Working for the Bad Guys!
Bacteria – Fungi – Cancer
Need another scary way that sugar bad for your body? It literally feeds disease. The “microbiome” in your gut contains both beneficial and harmful bacteria. Obviously you want the good ones to grow and the bad ones to die off. Sadly, the little boogers that weaken your gut, block nutrient absorption, cause gas and constipation and bloating…they love eating sugar. Too much sugar and they take over leaving you feeling pretty awful.
One well-known fungi that also thrives in a high sugar environment is Candida. It’s the cause of nasty conditions like bladder infections, thrush, vaginal yeast infections, ulcerative colitis, sinus infections, nail fungus, or infections of the skin, bones and joints.
Feeding fungi in your body also increases your chances of developing the disease many of us fear most- cancer. Cancer cells are hypersensitive towards insulin as well. If you don’t want to grow cancer cells, you don’t want to have elevated levels of insulin caused by too much sugar!
Sugar is Making You Uglier!
Ugh! Is sugar trying to kill us or what?! Now I’m telling you that it makes you look bad too! When will it end??
- Your smile: Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your mouth that give you bad breath, cavities, and gum disease.
- Your skin: Sugar causes inflammation leading to wrinkles, saggy skin, dullness, blotching, acne, and stiffness.
- Your hair: Sugar accelerates hair loss.
- Your physique: Sugar turns into fat, fat and more fat!
Kick It To The Curb!
Why is sugar bad for your body and why should you cut it from your life? I think we have plenty of reasons now to say “Bye-Bye, Sugar!”
Has someone you love (or you) suffered from any the harmful effects of sugar? Please share your story in the comments below!
Sugar sure is sneaky! It goes by many aliases and lurks in places you wouldn’t expect. Arm yourself with basic knowledge of Sugar-Lingo to beat the system. Only by knowing the names for sugar on nutrition labels can you protect yourself from the hidden enemy!
How Do I Know if a Product Contains Sugar?
Thankfully, food packaging in the US is required to give us certain information. Learn how to decipher food labels to pick safe products.
Don’t pay any attention to the front of the package! Those tasty photos and misleading promises on the front aren’t regulated like the nitty gritty info on the backside. So flip that baby over.
Check out the Nutritional Facts. Especially paying attention to the line showing “Total Carbohydrates” and the indented lines beneath. You’ll be able to quickly see that there are 12g of sugar in one serving of this example product.
Next, you want to check out where those sugars are coming from by reading the ingredients list. They may be naturally occurring (as in the case of lactose in milk) but most often they are added.
Sneaky Names for Sugar
Our enemy goes by many names. To seek him out you’ll need to know these synonyms:
- Cane Juice
- Fruit Juice
- HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)
- anything containing the words ‘sugar’ or ‘syrup’
Be Your Own Detective
Did you know that the ingredients list is written in order with the highest quantities shown first? If any of the first ingredients listed is a sugar alias, you better beware! That ‘food’ is mostly made of junk. Make smarter choices with your money and your health.
What About Carbohydrates?
In the example label above, you can see there are 37g of Total Carbohydrates. Part of this total includes 4g of fiber. Because fiber isn’t easily broken down in the body into sugars, you can subtract that amount to get a more accurate idea of how much sugar your body will be absorbing when you eat this. In general you’re going to want lower carb products to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes.
It Starts at the Store
Knowing how to choose the right products (and avoid hidden dangers) at the supermarket is an easy step towards better health. Knowledge is power and the processed food manufacturers hope you don’t use your power to see through their tricks. By looking closely at the facts, you will be able to make smarter choices. The groceries you buy today will be the fuel for your body tomorrow. If it’s a product you know will be a temptation, leave it on the shelf. If it’s in your kitchen, you will succumb. Make your life easier by taking away the option.
Have you ever been shocked at the amount of sugar in some “health” foods available? Personally I think cereals are the worst tricksters! Share your thoughts below with our community.
Exactly 4 days ago I made the snap decision to quit eating sugar, cold turkey! What?!?! That’s pretty extreme!
Why “Cutting Back” Won’t Work
I know I have a problem. So do I stop eating sugar completely or should I just try to cut back? If I cut back, I could still enjoy my favorite treats once in a while. After all, cookies and chocolates are old friends. I can’t turn my back on them. Can I?
Besides, NEVER having any sugar is too hard to actually do, right? I don’t have the will power to keep it up forever. I should just abandon this crazy idea now. It’ll never work.
The thing is, I have tried “cutting back” on sugar before. You probably have as well. Did it work for you? I hope so, but I failed miserably! Briefly depriving myself just made the urge to binge later on even stronger. If you were a recovering alcoholic, would it be ok to have just one drink? Of course not. You’re fighting to quit and you know one drink could lead to a relapse. Same thing with sugar. If you’re going to quit the habit you CANNOT allow an indulgence because it will lead to a relapse. You want to quit for a reason. Don’t let one fancy cupcake make you forget your goals.
Can you really just eat one cookie and be satisfied? The food industry has worked long and hard to make sure we keep eating. That package of Oreos will quickly disappear because they’re designed to be irresistible! In another article I’ll tell you the secret way food manufacturers sabotage our efforts to “cut back” and pull us into addiction.
What Can I Still Eat?
Deciding to quit eating sugar can be tricky. Sweet treats aren’t the only foods containing added sugar. Most processed foods, especially low fat items, had added sugars. With names like “dextrose”, “maltose”, “fructose”, and pretty much anything ending in -ose. Not to mention corn syrup! It’s hard to avoid if you aren’t careful.
What about starchy foods like bread or rice? Or fruits? Carbohydrates in any form are turned into sugars when your body digests them.
Deciding exactly what to exclude and what to still include is going to have to be a personal choice. Do some research on your own and consider what foods will genuinely be safe for you to keep in your diet without becoming a problem. Be truthful with yourself. Listen to that inner voice. Is it leading you on a path to better health or are you listening to the inner addict who doesn’t WANT to give something up?
I chose to stop eating sweets because that’s where my addictive behavior lies. Chocolates, cookies, cakes, sweetened coffee drinks, and ice cream are all a NO.
Starchy carbs like bread aren’t something I enjoy. Usually I pass on bread anyway and use lettuce for sandwiches or just make a salad. I also don’t eat much pasta. Those things will be fine for me in moderation because I don’t feel any mental or physical dependence on them.
Fruits are also going to be included in my diet. Although they do contain natural sugars, their vitamins and fiber are great for our bodies. But only in their whole form. Juices are a NO because they have been stripped of fiber and many of those vitamins. Applesauce will also be a NO because the peeling and cooking process has removed most of the apple’s health benefits, leaving behind a dense sugary sauce.
Fear of the Future
I am aware of how extreme it sounds to completely quit eating sugar cold turkey. Truthfully, it’s scary. I’m letting go of habits that have brought me comfort. Treats that make me feel happy. I’m afraid of a relapse. Afraid of bingeing again. Scared of letting sugar continue it’s powerful hold over my life.
How will I get through the holidays? Will the joy be lost if I don’t have our traditional special treats? I’ll soon find out because Thanksgiving and Christmas are mere months away.
Is This Sustainable?
So much of our culture and traditions include sugary treats. Pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, Grandma’s fudge at Christmas, cake and ice cream for birthdays, morning meetings with coffee and donuts, chocolates from our sweethearts. It’s impossible to avoid. I know it won’t be easy to sustain my resolve for a lifetime.
It will be hard but it won’t be impossible. Maybe years from now, when I’ve lived sugar-free long enough, perhaps I’ll be able to enjoy a slice of pie without fear of backsliding. First I have years of bad habits to break. I have to work on creating new healthy habits that will be permanently ingrained in my thoughts and behaviors.
For now, I’m saying NO. No to the sugars, yes to a healthier future!
How do you know if you’re an addict? What are they symptoms of sugar addiction? And is this even a real addiction??
What is an addiction?
Insert dorky dictionary definition here — If you’re addicted to something it means you are “physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.”
OK. Let’s take that apart. An addict is:
- Physically dependent
- Mentally dependent
- On a certain substance
- Not able to quit
- Bad things happen when you try to quit
Got it? Good.
Does this sound like you?
Your coffee is dripping in the morning and it needs a glazed donut or danish to go with it. You were looking forward to that donut as soon as you woke up today. Just like yesterday. You know you should eat an egg with some sauteed spinach instead, like you had planned, but now you just want to the donut. Cooking is too much work anyway. You eat 2 donuts because one just wasn’t enough. Maybe your coffee is a salted caramel mocha instead of black coffee? While you work throughout the day, you have your trusty bag of candy on your desk. Somehow it disappears before lunch (you don’t even remember eating it). You grab another from your bag to keep you focused on work. Yesterday you forgot to bring any snacks and you were a grouch all day. Later you remember you have to stop at the store to pick up something for dinner. Which store should you go to? You pick Ingles because they have a better ice cream selection. The candy bar you snagged in the checkout line is devoured on the car ride home. And you still want that ice cream after dinner. The bowl you scoop out is 5 times the suggested serving size. Yet when it’s gone, you wish you’d gotten another scoop.
Any of this scenario resonate with you? I know it does with me.
- I often find myself thinking about what healthy breakfast I can make so I can feel justified in eating a sugary pastry afterwards.
- I never write snacks down on my grocery list, yet they always make it into my cart.
- I drool over Pinterest dessert boards.
- We make dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies “for the kids” every year yet most of them end up eaten by me. Late at night when the kids don’t see me.
- I sometimes eat sugary things in secret so nobody knows just how much I’ve had.
- I sometimes binge on huge amounts of candy or cookies at one time. Cartons of ice cream seem to empty overnight.
- I love coffee, but I think I love the snack I always have with my coffee even more. I drink coffee as an excuse to eat another snack.
- If the only sugar in the house is something I don’t really like (such as Peeps, ewww) I will eat them anyway!
- I’ve tried to ‘cut back’ and end up bingeing later.
- I feel ashamed at my lack of control.
- I’m secretly OK with my kids not finishing their meals because that means they aren’t allowed to have dessert. More for me.
- I will eat sugar until I make myself physically sick. Yet knowing the consequences doesn’t stop me.
Decide for yourself
Do you feel like you physically depend on your sugar hit? Does the infamous afternoon slump make you run for the nearest candy bar to boost your energy? Maybe you get ‘hangry’ or irritable if you can’t have that snack when you want it.
Are you mentally dependent? I love the calm, relaxed, happy feeling I get when I sit down with my coffee and cookies. It’s soothing for me. Does the thought of giving up your habit make you feel miserably depressed? Do you use sugar as your antidepressant?
This goes for any carb loaded foods, even things like potato chips, pasta, and bread. They all turn to sugar in your bloodstream. So if those are your weaknesses, you’re in the same sugar-addict boat as the rest of us.
Have you ever tried to quit, or even cut back? Get ready for some sugar withdrawal symptoms! Headaches, irritability, weakness, low energy, and digestive issues are some fun thing to look forward to. Somehow we always come back for more.
Looking at the evidence in my own life, I believe that sugar addiction is indeed a very real condition. The effect of sugar on our brain chemistry is similar to cocaine. That’s not something we can easily walk away from. Even when we know we should.
Sugar Addiction is being mentally and physically dependent upon excessive amounts of sugar, and not being able to stop eating it without suffering debilitating withdrawal symptoms in our body and emotions. My definition anyway.
Only you can take a realistic look at your life, your habits, your secret indulgences, and decide if you have a problem. Deep down inside, you know if this is you. And if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you want to do something to change.
Maybe you’re like me and you’ve tried so many times to change, only to fail every time. That’s OK. It doesn’t have to always be this way. No matter how many times we fail, we can always choose to try again. Face your demons and call your addictions what they are. Hiding will only make the problem worse. Come out into the light and take your victory! We CAN beat this!
I want to share with you all my sugar addiction story. Maybe you can relate to some of it? I’d love to read your story too so feel free to leave a comment below and tell us all how you came to be here!
My Story Begins
How much of our habits begin in our childhood? I really can’t say. But I’m sure my upbringing had some negative influences on my food choices today. My mom suffered with depression and low self-image. Our family also struggled financially so the foods we ate reflected that. I remember lots of hot dogs, mac & cheese, Little Debbie snack cakes, white bread pb & j sandwiches, things like that. I can’t blame my mom; she was doing the best she could to feed us on our tight budget. I also remember that my mom was always yo-yo dieting. Over the years, she’s probably tried just about every diet out there. With no lasting success, sadly.
First Introduction to Healthy Living
By middle school, I was a heavy girl. Around 175 pounds. I didn’t really think about what I was eating or why I was fatter than most of my peers. Until my teenage hormones ramped up and I wanted to be thin and attractive for the boys. I discovered a book that my mom was reading that talked about gluttony. “Oh, I should only eat when I’m hungry and I should stop eating when I’m full.” That was a revelation surprisingly! Around that same time I decided to stop drinking soda and lay off the snack cakes. And my aunt introduced me to Billy Blanks Tae Bo. I enjoyed working out for the first time. In just a couple years, I dropped 50 pounds.
Going into high school I was now ‘skinny’. I remember being able to wear a size 0 pair of jeans once. My food choices were far from healthy. I worked at McDonald’s and ate tons of fast food. Pizza was my lunch choice every day. But I walked a lot and did aerobics videos so my metabolism kept up with the junk I put in. When I finally got married, I was a hard-fought 120 lbs so I could fit in my dress.
Sugar Addiction Creeps In
Marriage, financial difficulties, working overtime at a job I hated, all added up to crushing loads of stress. At work I kept a jar of chocolate candies on my desk. Always. Plus a perk of the job was free restaurant lunches every day, pastries and donuts for breakfasts, coffee and snacks always available. I was consuming carbs all day long. I also wasn’t getting enough sleep.
Then we moved, I got to quit that job and stay at home, but I was isolated from family and friends. Food was an easy comfort. Thankfully I was able to get a discounted YMCA membership and enjoyed going there to work out as my “me time”. I slowly learned more about nutrition, tried a couple different diets, started buying organics and shopping at Whole Foods for ‘healthier’ groceries. My favorite was their indulgent chocolate raspberry cupcakes! I made a lot of mistakes and wasted a lot of money on expensive grocery shopping trips.
I grew and gave birth to 5 beautiful babies (not all at once thankfully!!). Life took its ups and downs. Always sugary desserts were there as comfort or reward. I lived a double life nutritionally. I learned about Paleo, organics, ketosis, and all the reasons to eat a whole food diet. Mostly I followed a healthy diet. Slowly adding more fruits and veggies. Slowly reducing the amount of processed foods we bought. Except for the sugar. Sigh. I just couldn’t let it go.
Where I Am Now
I tried doing a Whole30. It worked for a while until the last week when I caved in. And you aren’t supposed to make desserts with approved ingredients but I did anyway.
At holidays, I make and eat insane amounts of cookies and pies. At Easter, I sneak chocolates from my kids’ baskets. Same goes for their Halloween bags. At social functions I think about how I can get more cookies or cake without drawing too much attention. I always want dessert at restaurants even when I’m stuffed.
For my daughter’s birthday I bought cupcakes. Then I had to buy her another cake because I ate the cupcakes (secretly when nobody was looking). I’ve hidden candy bars in my desk. And my purse. I’ve given my kids snacks just so I could eat them too without feeling guilty. I’ve consumed entire cartons of ice cream in one day. Yeah, sounds like an addiction to me.
I’ve talked to my husband about my problem. If sugar is in the house, I will eat it. It’s like I just can’t stop myself. He suggested I only eat one a day. Hmmm…okay. Nope, didn’t work. I ate it anyway.
Where Do I Go From Here?
I’m not grossly overweight but I’m far from healthy. In another post I’ll tell you about the things my sugar addiction is doing to my body. And what happened this week that pushed me to finally decide to quit. For good. I know I need to finally, once and for all, make my stand.
My sugar addiction story isn’t over yet. If this is a true addiction, it can be broken. Alcoholics can do it. Smokers can do it. So I can do it too. Like a heroin addict, I cannot go back for a hit. For me, it must be a clean break. Cold turkey. All or nothing. Is that extreme? Yes. Am I worth it? YES!
Will you come along beside me? I’m here for you too. Just drop a comment below if you’re struggling (or overcoming) sugar addiction too.
Welcome fellow sugar addicts! I’m psyched to start my sugar-free journey and to have you along for the ride!
I’ve gotten through 35 years of life so far. And I’m fairly average. I’m a wife, a mother, a new homeowner. I like to garden and raise chickens. We homeschool our kids and survive on one income (and only 1 car!). But I’ve just got this ‘thing‘ with sugar. It’s my demon. My cryptonite. My addiction. Sometimes I get to the point where I think about what kind of desserts I can eat today as soon as I wake up. I consume so much in a day that it literally makes me sick. Diabetes is looming…cancer is probably inevitable…unless I do something now.
Why follow me?
If you’re like me, I hope you follow my journey here. I want us to share our struggles and our victories. I’m not going to ‘sugar coat’ (haha) anything for you. This. Is. Hard. But I know we can beat our sugar dragons together and live happier, healthier lives! Community is where we can thrive.
Over the years I’ve slowly discovered bits and pieces of the puzzle we call a ‘healthy diet’. It’s so confusing and frustrating to try to sort through all the conflicting information out there. Even worse, once you think you know what your healthy diet should look like, actually following it every day forever is just plain HARD.
We need a solid plan. We need support!
So let’s cut through all the bologna and be real here. I’m going to share what I find that works. I’ll tell you what I tried and failed so you can learn from my mistakes. Can we do this?? I think we can. But there’s only 1 way to find out! Jump In!
I’m here to create a supportive community of like-minded genuine folks, ready to take steps to break their sugar-coated chains. I need your support to break my habits. Maybe you need mine too? I’m here for you!
If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below and I will be more than happy to help you out.
All the best,