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The Secret To Breaking Your Sugar Addiction

Let me see if I can paint this picture about right. So you’ve made a decision to eat healthy and start a diet to lose weight. For a while you do really well and your choices are excellent.

But then all of sudden out of the blue you get mad sugar cravings and the wheels completely fall off!

It’s not that you just slipped up and had a few pieces of candy out of the dish at work…it was more like one little deviation in your diet somehow created an avalanche of cravings. As soon as sugar hit your system you wanted more…and more…and more!

I call this getting on the “sugar wheel” and once you get on, the vicious cycle of cravings and crashes just repeats itself over and over.

The first rule of success in any weight loss program is breaking your addiction to sugar. The problem is this is easier said than done for most people. There is no question that excess sugar in the body is one of the primary reasons that people struggle with weight issues.

However, it’s not the calories in sugar that poses the problem but rather the impact sugar has on the hormonal systems in the body.

Consuming a diet high in processed sugars, refined foods, and starch carbohydrates combined with a lack of exercise is a direct route to insulin resistance and metabolic X syndrome.

Understanding the role of insulin…

As you may know, one of insulin’s main jobs is to regulate blood sugar levels by transporting glucose (blood sugar) the body doesn’t immediately need to the muscle cells and the liver for storage.

When blood sugar levels remain elevated over long periods of time due to the above mentioned reasons, the cell receptors start shutting down to insulin. This is how insulin resistance is caused.

The resulting acidic state in the body and inflammation due to perpetually elevated insulin and cortisol begins to degenerate tissue around the pancreas, adrenals, and other glands. The body becomes literally flooded with sugar and insulin with devastating health effects.

Left unchecked the individual will eventually open up the door to type II diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses.

Few dietary changes will have more impact on your health than cutting out sugars…

I tell you all of this simply to get your attention on how important it is to get control of blood sugar levels in your body. Cutting out processed sugars, refined foods, and starches is priority number one if you’re overweight and want to take control of your health.

As a fitness trainer and nutrition consultant for the past twenty years, I’ve coached hundreds of individuals on strategies for reducing sugar in their diets. During that time I’ve learned first hand what works and what doesn’t.

Common mistake with trying to break a sugar addiction…

Here’s a mistake I see being made all the time. An individual with sugar issues will replace all the processed and refined junk foods in their diet with so called “healthy carbohydrates.” They do this by replacing white bread with whole grain bread, white rice with brown rice, and so forth.

The assumption is that if they start eating “healthier” whole grains and other starch carbohydrates that they’ll naturally start losing weight. When that doesn’t happen they’re left perplexed on why it’s not working.

The problem is they were just replacing one form of sugar with another. With continued high blood sugar levels that the body is not able to regulate, hormonal imbalances remain unchanged.

This is the root of the problem and you’re not going to fix it unless you condition your body to use something other than sugar as energy.

The most effective dietary approach to breaking a sugar addiction…

The best approach to accomplish this is by following what’s called a “Primal Blueprint” or Paleo type diet. This is not really a diet per say, but rather a way of eating. Natural foods are exclusively consumed and all processed and refined foods along with starches are cut out for a while.

The diet is reflective of what our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have consumed with lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and various types of fats/oils. It’s the primary strategy I use in my Charleston weight loss programs in conjunction with burst training exercise.

This is a naturally “low carb” diet with the sugars coming mostly from fruits, vegetables, and other greens. The natural sugars (glucose and fructose) from the fruits and vegetables help to regenerate damaged tissue around the pancreas and other hormonal glands.

Unlike starches and refined sugars, these natural sugars are quickly used by the body for energy and aren’t left to flood the bloodstream.

How to get your body to use fat as energy instead of sugar…

More importantly, with naturally low blood sugar levels the body begins to call on other substrates like fat for energy. What you’re doing is basically re-programming the cells and healing the body from the inside out.

If you don’t address the hormonal imbalance problem, any weight loss you might achieve with severe caloric restriction or excessive exercise will eventually come back.

The withdrawal symptoms from pulling out processed sugars in your diet…

Anyone who has tried to pull all the sugars out of their diet before has probably found that after a few days irritability, cravings, headaches, and other side effects start kicking in with a vengeance.

This is where most people cave in and go back to eating starches and other sugars. What this does is just keep you stuck on what I call the “sugar wheel.” The more sugar you consume, the more you crave it, and the harder it is to get off.

The secret is riding out these side effects for 7-14 days then a magical thing happens. All of a sudden the cravings subside as your body becomes conditioned to using other fuels for energy.

You have to go through that uncomfortable period before you can experience the dramatic change on the other side. Your energy levels will increase, fatigue fades away, sugar cravings subside, and the weight starts slowly coming off.

You just have to hold on long enough for the changes to happen on the inside first. It’s important you understand this battle with sugar is just as much physiological as it is psychological.

How sugar acts like a drug on the receptors in your brain…

Sugar is a very addictive substance and works on the opioid receptors in the brain the same way drugs do. You’re dealing with strong neurotransmitters and chemical signals that no amount of willpower alone can overcome.

The only way to win is to change the signals by dramatically altering the way you eat. Cutting calories and eating Lean Cuisines won’t ever help you break a sugar addiction. Neither will replacing processed sugars with so called “healthy” whole grains, breads, low-calorie wraps, etc.

To defeat the sugar addiction once and for all you’ve got to declare all out war. Make a commitment to following a Primal Blueprint diet for a mere thirty days and I know you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Over time as your body begins to get a handle on regulating blood sugar levels you can start integrating things like potatoes, rice, and other starches back into your diet. Just take it one step at a time and be patient with yourself.

You won’t be perfect but if you stick with it you’ll win. Don’t let small slip-up’s cause you to fall of the wagon completely. Stay the course and get right back on track if you crash and give into a craving.

Avoid being drawn in to the lies that permeate marketing messages with claims like “eat all your favorite foods and still lose weight if you simply take this pill, powder, etc.” If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

There’s simply no substitute for healing your body with natural foods and regular exercise. Everything else is a short-cut and sooner or later you’ll have to address the root of the problem.

Additional tips on breaking a sugar addiction…

#1: Substitute sugary “after dinner snacks” with frozen berries

This is one of my favorite ways to subside sweet cravings. Instead of snacking on ice cream, chocolate bars, or other processed sugar foods after dinner, try some frozen berries instead. Frozen blueberries and cherries are my favorites. There’s just something about these fruits being frozen that does the job. I don’t know if it’s the texture or what, but it definitely helps me.

#2: Try drinking black coffee to subside sugar cravings

You may have heard me talk about this before. While moderation is certainly in order here, there’s new research that shows a lot of promise in using black coffee to fill the same opiod receptors in your brain that sugar would hook up to.

Black coffee can literally be one of the most beneficial tools in your arsenal to break any addiction. Make sure to go with whole bean coffee and grind it yourself or at the store. Look for organic varieties when possible.

#3: Keep a food journal and be conscious about everything you consume for 30 days

This is without a doubt one of the most under-utilized and most effective strategies in helping to break a sugar addiction. I won’t go into all the psychological reasons why this works so well, you’ll just have to trust me on this one. The more conscious you are with what you’re ingesting, the less likely you are to make deviations in your diet.

#4: Get extreme with your meal and snack preparation for 30 days

Poor choices in your diet are frequently made when you’re not prepared. The drive through become an attractive option when it’s late at night and you don’t have anything at the house for dinner.

The vending machine at work becomes the source of your mid-morning or afternoon snack when you don’t have something already prepared in your cooler. Go to the grocery store and get loaded up for the week. Plan out your meals and snacks in advance.

From my experience, clients who do this are far more successful with their weight loss goals than those who do not. Preparation really is half the battle.

Final thoughts…

Breaking a sugar addiction is no easy task, the cravings are real and they can be very, very strong. Understand this is just as much physiological as it is psychological. You really do have to reprogram your body for how it receives energy.

This will take time and patience with yourself. In all likelihood you’re going to slip up from time to time as you work on breaking the addiction. Know that going in and don’t be overly hard on yourself. The only failure is giving up and completely abandoning your efforts.

The best thing to do after a slip-up is to put it in the rear-view mirror and get right back on track with supportive nutrition foods. New habits and routines take some time to develop and you won’t be perfect. Stick with it long enough though and you can BEAT your sugar addictions once and for all.

The last bit of advice I’ll give you is don’t try and fight this battle all on your own. Get the help of a personal trainer, find an accountability partner, or join a small group where others  are trying to break a sugar addiction.

Support will be an essential component in your game plan for success. We’ve got a wide variety of one-on-one and group programs at Shaping Concepts and our sister company, Charleston Group Fitness to help you.

Please don’t hesitate to drop me a line or fill out a web-form for the FREE trail on my website. I’d be more than happy to meet with you and discuss how we can help.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston fitness trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Fitness Training Studios. If you’re looking for a personal trainer in Charleston, you can receive a FREE, no-obligations (2) session trial and consultation without risking a dime. Over 1000 Charleston area residents have transformed their bodies following our unique burst training workouts and simplified nutrition programs.

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Category: Nutrition.