Sugar Addiction: Why is it so Hard to Maintain a Sugar Free Diet?

Have you ever attempted a sugar free diet only to find yourself slipping into old habits and grabbing for your favorite sugary treat less than a week later? If so, you are not alone. ‘How to quit sugar addiction’ is one of the most common phrases Googled in the world of health & nutrition, but why is it so hard to maintain a sugar free diet?

Sweets Make Us Feel Better

Nutritionists have found that sugar releases endorphins that help calm and relax the body, and offer a natural high. However, just like other drugs that give this feeling, it dissipates eventually, leaving you more tired or moody than before. As a carbohydrate, sugar also releases the feel-good brain chemical serotonin.

Since sugar, in its many forms, tastes good, and makes us feel better, we tend to reward ourselves with sweet treats. The more sugar we eat, the more we will crave it. When these cravings get strong, it makes it hard to believe a sugar free diet is even possible.

Is Sugar Addiction Real?

Scientists and nutritionists around the world have found that sugar (in all forms) and processed foods are as addictive as heroine or cocaine.


Berkeley, California became the first city in America to place a tax on sugary drinks in 2014. The idea was to help residents realize the damaging effects excessive amounts of these drinks were having not only in their town, but throughout the nation. Americans consume more soft drinks per capita than any other country on earth, contributing to our nation’s over inflated obesity and diabetes rates. In their New York Timespiece, James DiNicolantonio and Sean Lucan point out that sugar is found in approximately 75% of packaged foods in the US, and can be just as addictive as drugs. Just as a drug addict goes through withdrawals as they are coming off of it, a sugar addict may also suffer withdrawal symptoms including headaches, lethargy, emotional distress, anger, and even nausea.

If Sugar is Everywhere, How Do I Avoid it?

Christine Gerbstadt, spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said, “The appetite [for sweets] may be hardwired. Sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth.”
If sweets are preferred from birth, and are found in the majority of packaged foods in the nation, how is it even possible to survive on a sugar free diet? The good news is that sugar cravings can be reduced, or even eliminated entirely by being aware of what you are putting in your body. Even small changes like eliminating soda and sugary drinks from the diet can make a huge change.
Other people have turned to fermented drinks to help reduce cravings. The sour taste of these drinks eliminates the desire for sugar and processed foods. Fermented foods and drinks are also high in probiotic content which helps to reduce the damage sugar can do to the body.
If you are serious about quitting your sugar addiction, there are many support groups and ideas to help you maintain a sugar free diet and lifestyle. While you may go through some withdrawal symptoms, in the end it will be worth it as you feel and look better and have more energy to enjoy life, and not miss the sugar missing from your diet.
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