20 Ways to Kick the Sugar Habit Forever (and Without Going Crazy)

20 Ways to Kick the Sugar Habit Forever (and Without Going Crazy)

As the saying goes – everyone is talking about sugar, but what are they doing about it? It’s my fervent wish that they – and you – are working on quitting the stuff. Why? The short answer is that sugar is an extraordinarily destructive substance that most people eat far too much of. The longer answer is that virtually every day, more studies are proving what we in the optimal health community have always believed: that sugar plays a pivotal role in the development of many of the devastating illnesses we fear most, namely heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s to name a few. Granted the body does need trace amounts of sugar to function, but the average American is eating sugar by the pound, not the molecule.

Some estimates put the average adult intake at close to 130 pounds of sugar a year – an astonishing amount of any substance, much less one which such disastrous health implications. So what do we do now? In a nutshell: kick sugar to the curb – your life absolutely depends on it.

Read more about hidden sugar

Tips on how to kick the sugar habit

Here are a few thoughts on how to break free and get sugar out of your life now – so you can live a sweet life for years to come:

1. Eat regularly.
Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry, and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.

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2. Choose whole foods.
The closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. Food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables, usually presents no metabolic problems for a normal body, especially when consumed in variety.

3. Have a breakfast of protein, fat, and phytonutrients to start your day off right.
Breakfast smoothies are ideal for this. A typical breakfast full of carbs and sugary or starchy foods is the worst option since you’ll have cravings all day. Eating  a good breakfast is essential to prevent sugar cravings

4. Try to incorporate protein and/or fat with each meal.
This helps control blood sugar levels. Make sure they are healthy sources of each.

5. Add spices.
Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.

6. Take a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamin D3.
Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Certain nutrients seem to improve blood sugar control including berberine, chromium, vitamin B3, and magnesium.

7. Move your body.
Exercise, dance or do some yoga. Whatever movement you enjoy will help reduce tension, boost your energy, and decrease your need for a sugar lift.

8. Get enough sleep.
When we are tired we often use sugar for energy to counteract the exhaustion.

9. Do a detox.
My experience has been that when people do a detox, not only does it reset their appetites but it often decreases their sugar cravings. After the initial sugar cravings, which can be overwhelming, our bodies adjust and we won’t even want the sugar anymore and the desire will disappear.

10. Be open to exploring the emotional issues around your sugar addiction.
Many times our craving for sugar is more for an emotional need that isn’t being met.

kick the sugar habit

11. Keep sugary snacks out of your house and office.
It’s difficult to snack on things that aren’t there!

12. Don’t substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar.
This will do little to alter your desire for sweets. If you do need a sweetener, try Stevia, it’s the healthiest.

13. Learn to read labels.
Although I would encourage you to eat as few foods as possible that have labels, educate yourself about what you’re putting into your body. The longer the list of ingredients, the more likely sugar is going to be included on that list.

So check the grams of sugar, and choose products with the least sugar per serving (I teaspoon of sugar is roughly equivalent to about 4 grams). Become familiar with sugar terminology and recognize that all of these are sweeteners: agave, corn syrup, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, cane sugar, cane crystals, fruit juice concentrates, molasses, turbinado sugar, and brown sugar.

14. Sugar in disguise.
Remember that most of the “complex” carbohydrates we consume like bread (including whole wheat), bagels, and pasta aren’t really complex at all. They are usually highly refined or act just like sugars in the body and are to be avoided.

15. Scare yourself straight.
While I won’t say our national love affair with sugar is all in the mind – there is a strong physical component to sugar addiction – one way to kick off your sugar-free journey is to re-frame the way you think about sugar. Treat it like an illicit drug, a kind of legal form of heroin, a dark force to be avoided, and a substance whose use leads to physical ruin. Next, take a look at CBS’s 60 Minutes “Is Sugar Toxic?” story – it’s a potentially life-changing report for anyone who needs just a bit more inspiration to help them kick sugar.

And if you have acute sugar cravings, try these:

16. Take L-Glutamine, 1000-2000 mg every couple of hours as necessary.
It often relieves sugar cravings as the brain uses it for fuel.

17. Take a “breathing break”.  
Find a quiet spot, get comfortable and sit for a few minutes and focus on your breath. After a few minutes of this, the craving will pass.

18. Distract yourself.  Go for a walk, if possible, in nature.
Cravings usually last for 10-20 minutes maximum. If you can distract yourself with something else, it often passes. The more you do this, the easier it gets and the cravings get easier to deal with.

19. Drink lots of water.
Sometimes drinking water or seltzer water can help with the sugar cravings. Also sometimes what we perceive as a food craving is really thirst.

20. Have a piece of fruit.
If you give in to your cravings, and have a piece of fruit, it should satisfy a sweet craving and is much healthier.

Read more about how to stabilize blood sugar

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on DrFrankLipman.com.
Image: rpavich


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Dr. Frank Lipman
After my initial medical training in my native South Africa, I spent 18 months working at clinics in the bush. There I became familiar with the local traditional healers, called sangomas, which kindled my interest in non-Western healing modalities. In 1984, I immigrated to the United States, and became the chief medical resident at Lincoln Hospital in Bronx, NY. While there, I became fascinated by the hospital’s addiction clinic, which used acupuncture and Chinese medicine to treat people suffering from heroin and crack addiction. Seeing the way these patients responded so positively to acupuncture made me even more aware of the potential of implementing non- Western medicine to promote holistic wellbeing. As a medical student, I was taught to focus on the disease rather than the patient, and as a doctor I found myself treating symptoms rather than the root causes of illness. Frustrated by the constraints of my training, and the limitations in helping patients regain true health, I began a journey of discovery to search for the path to meaningful long-term health and wellness. I began studying nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, functional medicine, biofeedback, meditation, and yoga. In 1992, I founded the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in the heart of downtown Manhattan – one of the first-of-its- kind clinics to integrate these varied modalities. As one of my patients, the chef Seamus Mullen told The New York Times, “If antibiotics are right, he’ll try it. If it’s an anti-inflammatory diet, he’ll do that. He’s looking at the body as a system rather than looking at isolated things.”