You’ve made the decision to further your health and quit sugar. Good for you! Unfortunately it’s a lot easier said than done. It’s normal to crave your old addictions, especially during the early stages of cutting them out of your life.

Sugar and other processed carbohydrates act most readily on your brain. Eating these foods stimulates your hippocampus, caudate, and insula. These are areas that tap into your reward system and give you pleasure. Areas that create emotional associations. Areas that get exponentially stronger the more you indulge in your cravings. Areas that start to require more and more sugar overtime to continue feeling the happy sugar high that is destroying your pancreas. It is a vicious, self-defeating cycle.

I used to be completely addicted to sugar. In fact, I still struggle with sugar addiction. I resisted giving up sugar so hard because I thought I’d feel deprived. Ha! When an alcoholic quits drinking, they don’t think of abstaining as deprivation. They know they’ve made a decision for the good of their health.

I decided to quit.

But sugar is 6 times more addicting than cocaine. There are so many physiological barriers to quitting. We don’t expect drug addicts to successfully overcome addiction without resources. I decided to research what physical barriers I’d face when trying to quit sugar so I could equip myself with as many positive behaviors as possible to make quitting easy on my mind and body.

Please read through these 15 tips to quit sugar and let me know which ones work for you! They have all been included to work with your body and empower you to quit sugar with as little effort as possible.

#1 – Keep Yourself Full

keep yourself full

Yes, everyone knows you should fill yourself up with healthy foods so you don’t eat crap in its place. But it’s not as simple as just eating. In order to curb your sugar craving you need to understand exactly what triggers satiety so you can equip yourself to control it.

Hunger is based on both physiological and psychological signals. Physically your blood sugar will drop. Left alone too long, this will cause you difficulty focusing and leave you feeling sluggish. Your body temperature may lower.

As a result of your drop in energy. the hypothalamus in your brain sends a message to your stomach and your intestines to start releasing acids and digestive juices. Your body is preparing to start eating.

Be careful: only eat if you’re actually hungry. The hypothalamus and your stomach work together in tandem to cause the feeling of satiety after eating. Your stomach will begin to feel full faster than the hypothalamus will begin to feel satiated. We have a biological urge to satisfy our desire to taste sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory foods. Meaning even though you just finished eating and your stomach is full, you may still feel the craving to have another treat.

Our stomach isn’t the only driving force behind satiety. The hypothalamus reacts to the smell, sight, sound, and even the simple thought of certain foods. Just the sight of a slice of pizza triggers a positive memory of the taste of the crunchy crust slathered in creamy tomato sauce, the aromatic smell of the warm fresh toppings, and the texture of the gooey cheese melting in your mouth.

Advertisers take advantage of these associations. They know this hunger happens even if your stomach thinks there isn’t room. If you consume media in any form these advertisements will appear everywhere.

If you’ve eaten recently and you’re still craving more food don’t panic. It’s common to feel hungry at typical mealtimes, even if you’ve just eaten. It’s normal to feel cravings when you see food advertisements, regardless of how full your stomach feels. Allow your hypothalamus about 30 minutes to register your satiety before you make any decisions.

If you’re still hungry after a cool-down period, listen to your body and eat. Just make sure you aren’t eating sugar.

#2 – Avoid Fruit, Honey, and Artificial Sweeteners for the First 30 Days

2 avoid fruit

We’ve all heard about the risks associated with artificial sweeteners like aspartame. These sugar replacements have addictive effects identical to sugar with additional unhealthy risks like cancer associated with them. These poisons shouldn’t just be avoided for the first 30 days, they should be avoided indefinitely. But even healthy, natural  sweeteners like stevia, honey, and fruit should be cut from your diet while you’re getting over an addiction.

For the first 30 days you should cut out all sugar, including fruit. Even though fiber eases the digestion, the sugar still plays on your reward center and can cause your sugar addiction to last longer.

After 30 days, or however long it takes for you to feel your addiction is gone, you should start to introduce small amounts of fruit back into your diet to see how your body handles it.

Everybody is different. But generally speaking our bodies are designed to metabolize roughly 15g of sugar per day. This equates to roughly 3 small pieces of fruit.

Fruit contains both sugar and fiber. Fiber, alongside other nutrients, slow down the digestion process. This causes less stress on your pancreas than drinking a soda. Fresh fruit contains a lot of fluids. These fluids help to fill us up when we eat them. Not to mention all the antioxidants in fruits that regulate our mood and ward off sickness.

But if you dry or juice the fruits the composition changes in a bad way. Dried fruit removes all of the water and concentrates the sugar into denser, harder-to-digest portions. Unless you’ve made them yourself at home, dried fruits also contain unhealthy preservatives with sulphites and polyunsaturated oils. If you want to eat dried fruit, make it yourself at home. I like this fruit leather recipe from Wicked Spatula.

Smoothies are excellent in moderation, because the fiber of the fruit is ingested. However it does still speed up the speed of digestion, meaning it’s a lot harder on your poor pancreas. Limit how often you consume your fruit this way.

Pure fruit juice is as bad for your liver as a soda. Unless you’ve made it yourself it’s likely that fruit juice also has added sugar to make it even sweeter and more addicting.

Bananas, grapes, mangoes, and watermelons are all fruits with a high fructose to glucose ratio. To maintain a low-sugar lifestyle, you should limit the serving sizes of these fruits.

Blueberries, coconuts, grapefruit, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, lemons, limes, pears, and raspberries are fruits with a low fructose to glucose ratio. The skin of a fruit is an important part of digestion, and it is recommended that you eat it whenever possible.

Fruit is best digested as part of a meal, but if you eat it as a snack it helps to add a fat and a protein. No matter what fruits you eat, the healthiest way to consume them are in their whole form. Always opt for fruits that are currently in season for the best flavor and the most savings.

#3 – Make a List of Healthy Foods to Eat Instead of Sugar

3 healthy alternative

When hunger strikes it gets a lot harder to think clearly and decide on a sugar-free snack or meal. It’s so simple to reach for the easy to access snacks, and it gets boring eating the same healthy recipes over and over again. Robb Wolf’s Food Matrix is the perfect solution to that problem.

To cook your basic meal you just need to follow 5 simple steps.

  1. put some lard or oil in a pan
  2. brown some meat in that oil for a minute
  3. add an herb or a spice
  4. add in vegetables
  5. stir, cover and let set for 5 to 10 minutes.

It’s fast, it’s simple, and it’s nutritious. You can even do it in advance so healthy food is ready to grab and go. And if you review the cooking steps you’ll see you really only need to worry about 4 foods: a fat, a protein, an herb or spice, and a vegetable.

Make a list of every fat, protein, herb and spice, and vegetable that you like. Here are a few healthy options to choose from.

Proteins Vegetables Herbs and Spices Fats
Bass
Flounder
Halibut
Mackerel
Salmon filet
Salmon steak
Shrimp
Snapper
Trout
Chicken Breast
Chicken Leg
Chicken Thigh
Duck
Ground Turkey
Turkey Breast
Baby back ribs
Bacon
Beef ribs
Beef stew meat
Ground beef
Jerky
Lamb chops
Lamb rack
New york steak
Pork chop
Pork loin
Pork ribs
Pork roast
Rib eye steak
Round steak
Rump roast
Venison steaks
Acorn squash
Artichoke hearts
Asparagus
Avocado
Beets
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Butternut squash
Carrots
Celery
Chard
Cherry tomato
Daikon
Dandelion greens
Fennel Root
Grape tomato
Green cabbage
Green pepper
Kale
Napa cabbage
Red cabbage
Red onion
Red pepper
Spinach
Sweet potato
Tomato
White onion
Yam
Yellow onion
Yellow pepper
Zucchini
Allspice
Basil
Bay Leaf
Black Pepper
Cardamom
Celery seed
Chili powder
Cilantro
Cinnamon
Cumin
Dill
Fenugreek
Garam Masala
Garlic
Ginger
Green Curry
Nutmeg
Oregano
Paprika
Red Curry
Red Pepper
Rosemary
Salt
Thyme
Yellow Curry
Avocado oil
Butter
Coconut oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lard
Macadamia oil

Now that you can see all of your options listed out, it’s easy to create meals. You just take one item from each column and mix them together. From here you can start to specify your list and begin creating a list of recipes and their specific combinations that you enjoy.

When you get trapped in that zone of “there’s nothing to eat” but there is still food in your fridge and pantry you can consult this basic list. It makes throw-together meals effortless and brainless.

For those of you who want to experiment with new foods, check out How To Cook Meat‘s amazing and simple cooking tutorials.

#4 – Keep Sugary Foods Out of Sight and Out of Mind

out of sight out of mind

The sight, the smell, and even the mere thought of sugar is a powerful psychological trigger to crave. The sugar industry knows this, that is why we are bombarded in food advertisements online, when we watch TV, and on the radio. We cannot get away from this message to eat more addicting sugar.  But if it isn’t convenient or available to us, we’re much less likely to reach for it.

If you live alone or you get to control what food goes into your household then you are extremely lucky. This should be easy for you; just give away or throw away the sugary crap so it isn’t around.

When you’re craving sugar and it’s there to eat you’re more likely to do it. If you have to drive 10 minutes to the store, fight through traffic, search for a parking spot, wait in line… Suddenly the sugar rush doesn’t seem so worthwhile.

But life isn’t always so easy as just clean out the house and it’s done. Most of us have others that live with us and we don’t get to control all the foods that are bought and stored. Even if you do live alone, chances are you may work somewhere that sugar is available to you anyway.

For those of you who have others at home who eat sugar, try to arrange your fridge, freezer and pantry so that unhealthy items aren’t in front. When you’re checking ingredients to choose something to eat, sugar won’t be the first thing that you see.

If you keep snacks at your work station, get rid of all the sugar laden crap. Put it with a sign that says “FREE” in the break room. You won’t have to worry about seeing any of it again! Replace the sugary snacks you normally keep in your desk with healthier foods you listed in step 3.

Anywhere that you would otherwise have sugar as an option, add a healthy alternative that you can take instead. That way when you’re craving and look around you have something healthier to grab instead of feeding the addiction and re-starting the cycle.

#5 – Eat Healthy Alternatives of the Foods You’re Craving

healthier version

Eating a homemade recipe is the best way to control what goes into what you eat. You can still eat the foods you love, but they will be healthier and richer in vitamins and minerals that promote general health.

If you’re craving something specific and it’s not going away or it returns consistently, consider feeding it in a healthier way. Here are a few healthy alternatives to some common downfalls!

Cake and Pie

Baking almost always involves grains, which are converted into sugar in our body, or sugar. Even if you can find alternatives, they almost always use sugar substitutes. Because these things can continue the cycle of addiction, I strongly recommend abstaining entirely for the first 30 days. After that you will still need to limit your portion size.

Deb from An Aussie With Crohns has a delicious Strawberry Cream Sponge Cake recipe made from eggs, honey, coconut, vanilla, and strawberries.

This Vegan Chocolate Coconut Pie by Danielle Walker is probably the healthiest chocolate pie anyone could possibly eat. It’s made with banana, avocado, raw cacao powder, coconut, maple syrup, and a non-dairy milk. Warning: make sure you leave it to set in the fridge 1 to 2 days so the flavors can meld together. It is not ready the first day.

Ice Cream

Banana “nice cream” is the latest craze among vegans, and for good reason! It’s creamy and delicious just like ice cream, but it only contains natural sugars instead of tons of added extras.

Blend 2 sliced bananas, 1 cup of almond or coconut milk, and 2 tablespoons of any creamy nut butter. You can eat it immediately, but it’s better frozen for 30-45 minutes.

Different people have different preferences. Some like to add a few extra spices, or top it with sliced fruits like kiwis or straberries. Experiment until you find the flavor combination you like best.

Potato Chips

If you’re craving crunchy potato chips, don’t eat the preservative-laden chips with sneaky hidden sugar alternatives. Instead of feeding the sugar craving, feed the texture desire to crunch. Try some vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, or green & other colored peppers. They’re delicious dipped in some creamy mayo or cream cheese.

If it’s all about the chips, make some kale chips.  Toss kale in some butter or coconut oil, salt and pepper. Throw them in the oven on a rack in a single layer at around 375 F for about 20-25 minutes. They’re crunchy and healthy and scratch that itch.

There are plenty of other vegetables you can substitute for kale. Thicker vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes turn into chips better with a mandoline slicer and a dehydrator.

Pizza

There are tons of healthy and low-carb recipes for pizza. It isn’t good enough just to be gluten-free. Making it at home means there are no sneaky added sugars or sugar substitutes. Remember, you’re kicking the addiction.

Cauliflower crust is delicious and easy to make at home. I like to follow this recipe by Detoxinista.

From there you add whatever topics you like on pizza. Check the list from step 3 for some fresh new ideas. Are you starting to see how keeping a list around is useful?

Soda Pop

Sugary drinks are tempting, but they are one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. Water gets boring, especially in the beginning when you’re used to more than 15g of sugar per serving. There are plenty of tricks to spice up your drinks without reaching for poison.

Add lemon or lime to your water. I like to cut up lemons and freeze them in ice cubes. Then when I’m thirsty I just drop one or two in the glass and it has a nice citrus-y zest to it.

Tea comes in a variety of flavors. Drink it hot to relax and open up your throat, or cold for a quenching delight. Just avoid the temptation to add some kind of sweetener!

Sometimes it’s all about the carbonation. It’s bubbly, it’s burpy, it’s fun. I had a roommate in Everett who taught me how to make my own sodas. We added a ton of sugar back then, but it’s still just as awesome without. All you need is tea and seltzer water. Give a few minutes and you have a flavorful, pop-like experience.

#6 – Keep a Food Journal

writing

There are tons of different mediums available to log your diet habits. You can use apps like My Fitness Pal, you can start a blog, or you can get a pen and paper and keep your journal by hand. No matter which method you prefer, writing things down is extremely beneficial.

It allows you to look back on what you ate over the course of a week or a month instead of focusing on one single day. It gives you a wider and more honest perspective of how you’re doing on your diet. If you can look at what you’ve done, you know what sorts of tweaks and changes might be necessary. Without a record you’re flying blind.

You don’t have to worry about what macro-nutrient ratio you ate, or how many calories you had. You don’t even need to write down how many servings you had. All that matters is that you write down what foods you ate and how you felt when you did.

Don’t just log what you do eat. Log when you feel cravings. Write down what triggered that desire. It could’ve been an ad, a smell, a feeling, a memory, or seemingly random. Chances are that over time you’ll start to see a pattern.

Studies suggest that those who keep a food journal lose significantly more weight than those who don’t.  What’s interesting is that they also found that those who had the most success also didn’t skip meals. And when you write down what you eat, you eat differently (read: better).

Be honest with yourself. It’s the only way you can progress.

While you review your food diary ask yourself a few questions. What does the data say about how I ate? Did I eat the way I envisioned myself eating? How do I feel today/this week/this month about how I ate? What can I do to meet my goals tomorrow/next week/next month?

Remember, progress isn’t linear. It has ups and downs, twists and turns, but you are always further than where you started. Keep documenting your personal journey and never give up on yourself.

#7 – Be Aware of Your Cravings

cravings

The more you understand and recognize your emotional and physical triggers, the easier it will be for you to disengage yourself from bad habits. Knowing that going to the theater makes you want a soda means that when you plan an outing to the movies you can take steps ahead of time to ensure that you won’t reach for popcorn and a drink.

Knowledge really is power. Stop and think about situations where you would be pressured or triggered into eating something sugary. Is the situation avoidable? What steps can you take to ensure you don’t cave to addiction?

The longer you keep a food journal, the easier this will become. You’ll be amazed at what you find out about yourself when you read back through 2 weeks of meals and notice patterns of cravings.

Abstinence really is best, but it can feel difficult at the easiest of times. The longer you feed your body nutritious healthy foods and avoid sugar the weaker your cravings will become. Eventually they really will be gone completely.

Parasites, pathogenic bacteria, and yeast feed off of sugar. To keep your gut healthy and uninviting for these gut-wrecking villains, stick to eating seeds, nuts, vegetables, meat, fish, and fowl. As the microbiology of your stomach changes and your body gets used to feeding off of healthier nutrients, your cravings will change for the better.

Most of your cravings are really due to a lack of some vitamin or mineral. Consult your food journal from step 6 to see what you might be missing. Are you getting enough vegetables? Have you had enough protein? Do you need more fats or omega-3s from sources like fish or nuts?

When cravings are emotional and not physical they come on suddenly and intensely. Give yourself enough time to process your feelings. The cravings will typically pass just as quickly as they came. Give it 20-30 minutes.

Don’t just sit there dwelling on your craving and watching the clock. Do a chore you needed to get done, or put on some music and browse the internet. Focus your mind elsewhere for a while before revisiting your feelings.

It’s easy to let guilt set in if you give in to your cravings, but don’t let yourself get caught up on your failure. Document what happened and consider ways you can avoid it next time. Always use your set backs as a learning experience.

#8 – Avoid Associations That Make You Crave Sugar

assosiations

It’s easy to fall into routines and gain bad habits. It’s so much harder to break them, but it’s worth it and you’ll thank yourself for it later.

If you always have a popcorn and soda when you go to the movies, then eat a healthy meal beforehand and go without purchasing any food items. If you absolutely have to have soda every time you go, try avoiding the theater for a while until your taste buds adjust.

If you go out for desserts with your co-workers every payday stop going to those events, choose healthier options from the menu, or bring your own healthy snacks to eat while you enjoy your social outing.

Advertisers are predatory and know that you can’t help but respond to their psychological triggers. You just need to know what triggers associations by paying careful attention to step 7. Visual stimuli is forced on us at every opportunity. The foods these ads promote are far nicer versions than what you see in reality. Ads are sexualized to make them even more enticing. Don’t pay them any attention at all.

Install ad blockers on your computer and smart phones. Don’t allow invasive ads to make themselves a part of your life. Turn down the radio when food commercials come on. Get up and stretch instead of watching commercials when you’re watching TV live.

Don’t eat meals that you normally eat sugar with, especially during the initial quitting phase.

The initial 48-72 hour period when you drop sugar is the hardest. If you often fall victim to these traps, keep yourself locked up inside until the haze clears and you can tackle aggressive advertising and peer pressure with a sound mind.

It’s a great period to meditate, relax, and get to know yourself. Go grocery shopping for the healthy new foods you’re going to eat instead of sugar, and meal prep for the next few days. Make your transition as convenient and easy as possible for yourself.

#9 – Change Up Your Everyday Routine

change up your routine

Commit fully and don’t back down. Your daily routine is full of little sugar pit falls. You can try to resist the familiar urge to indulge or you can start mixing up your daily routine.

By completely avoiding the normal routine of indulgence you’ll be able to start building healthier habits. Because everything is so new to you, you will naturally be more aware and refreshed. Start living your life in the moment. No more going through your day on autopilot.

Go easy on yourself if you stumble. Each trip up is a learning experience. Figure out what went wrong so you can plan for it next time.

Some easy habits to change are bedtime routines. Do you usually scroll through your phone for the last few hours before bed? Try turning off the phone and do something to make your day tomorrow easier instead. Plan out the outfit you’re going to wear, prep breakfast so it is either ready to grab or ready to be tossed in the oven.

Research shows that bright lights, like from our smart phones, inhibit our ability to sleep. By giving yourself a period of winding down you may experience more restful sleep. If you prepped an outfit or breakfast or anything else for your morning, you’ve saved yourself time in the morning that you won’t have to spend running around hurried and stressed out. I’ll get more into reducing stress in step 11.

Are you beginning to see a pattern? All of the behavior changes recommended work together to make each of the others easier. As you incorporate one behavior, the others become much easier to follow and add as well.

Don’t rush through all 15 and stumble. Start with one or two at a time and slowly begin to integrate more as you become more comfortable with each step.

#10 – Exercise to Get Your Endorphins Instead of Eating Sugar

exercise for endorphins

You’ve heard the old mantra “nobody regrets working out.” It’s true for a couple of reasons. Right now, while you’re addicted to sugar, you get endorphins and rewards from food. The more you indulged the more you taught your brain that was what it wanted when you were looking for a serotonin high.

You can deprogram your brain and teach it that exercise is what it wants instead.

When your body is under stress, like when you’re doing your third set of squats, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in your brain produce neurochemicals called endorphins. Endorphins activate opioid receptors, which when activated minimize the feeling of pain and can cause feelings of euphoria and well-being. While your blood is flooded with endorphins based on movement stress, a neurotransmitter called anandamide is traveling between your bloodstream and your brain. This is what’s responsible for the feeling called runner’s high. This can set in pretty quickly, often within 30 minutes of working out.

Sugar consumption causes the same happy feeling. Your blood sugar is too high and if left unchecked it will kill you. Your genes are hardwired to ensure your immediate survival, regardless of your long term health. It wants your body in homeostasis and it wants it now. Your pancreas releases insulin. Insulin ensures that sugar is consumed by your brain, muscles, and organs first. It connects sugar with your serotonin neurotransmittor to make you feel giddy and happy. Your muscles have limited storage space for carbohydrates, so they use as much of it as they can to make room for more and you get jittery and want to move. You are currently high on sugar.

After about an hour of working out the endorphins in your blood begin to convert to endorphins in your brain. There you begin to to make neural connections that reinforce rewards. Exercise is one neural connection closer to feeling like a fulfilling activity every time you do it. Exercising increases 2 of the 3 neurotransmitters that tell your body you’re happy: nonrepinephrine and serotonin. But your body doesn’t just increase the levels of happiness chemicals, it also enhances your bodies abilities to handle stressors that can cause depression.

Sugar only affects serotonin. The endorphins in your brain reinforce how great it is to eat sugar: after all you just felt happy and active. But after a few hours your energy drops suddenly. You are lethargic and tired. You can’t think very quickly. Your muscles and your organs just burned off all of the sugar energy and they need more. Normally your fat cells would release triglycerides between meals, but because the sugar load was so hard on your pancreas it over-produced insulin. Insulin is shutting your fat cells down and not allowing them to release energy. Your muscles and organs are out of energy. You’re hungry again, and only one thing will satisfy you: more sugar.

I know what I’d rather teach my body to do.

Basically, exercising allows your body to “practice” getting stressed just like another muscle being worked out without actually stressing it like sugar. And while you do that you’re simultaneously feeding your body chemically rewarding good feelings that encourage you to do it again.

Don’t get caught up in the trap of thinking you need to spend hours at the gym. Choose a routine with short but intense bursts that you enjoy doing. If you want to lift weights, stick with 2 to 3 sessions a week of no more than 30 minutes. Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program is high-intensity but low-time commitment, and is highly recommended for beginners who want to gain practical strength efficiently.

The same goes for cardio. Stick with shorter, high-intensity workouts and lower the frequency of long-distance hour+ sessions. Every 10 days or so, when your body feels up to it, go for an all-out sprint. It doesn’t have to be running, any activity or sport that you’re performing will do. Give it your all! 110% maximum effort for as long as you can possibly sustain it. (Tip: this is probably only a few minutes… it’s supposed to be short.)

Never underestimate the power of simple walking. Walking at a leisurely pace has a multitude of benefits. After you’ve eaten, walking lowers your blood sugar and reduces your body’s likelihood of storing fat. Your muscles are stretched and prevented from decaying into sarcopenia. Walking also improves cognitive function. It can improve memory, academic performance, and enhance creativity. It lowers stress significantly; walking leisurely while breathing only through the nose can achieve the same benefits as meditation. The more natural the setting of your walk, the more significantly it will reduce stress.

You don’t have to go fast. You don’t have to go intense. You just have to go.

#11 – Eliminate as Much Stress in Your Life as You Can

stress

Our bodies reaction to stress is known as fight or flight. This is an efficient use of energy that promotes our survival on a visceral level, but physically it begins to wear our bodies down when overtaxed. And we do a lot to overtax ourselves.

Sugar taxes our fight or flight system like no other. Stress can cause premature aging, weight gain, and plenty of other negative effects. You need to do everything you can to keep that system healthy.

The response to stress starts in our brain in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus kicks on your nervous system and your adrenal-cortical system, but it comes at a heavy price.

When you’re stressed, you may begin to feel the physical symptoms of sweating, muscle tensing, heart palpitations, or sharpened hearing. Your body is completely alert, but concentration and awareness of anything else becomes all but impossible.

That’s because your nervous system has flooded your body with adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Meanwhile your pituitary gland activates your adrenal-cortical system. The pituitary gland secretes adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) into your bloodstream. From there, ACTH travels to your adrenal cortex, where up to 30 different hormones are released based on the stressor.

Your adrenal cortex produces DHEA, testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol among other hormones. Cortisol is great for rapidly releasing glycogen stores for emergency energy, but it comes at the cost of vital mechanisms in our body like our immune system, digestive system, and healthy endocrine function.

Your body thinks there is a threat and shuts down. All of your resources are dedicated to your nervous and adrenal-cortical system. All your body cares about is your immediate survival, even at the cost of your long-term health.

Take time to reflect on what stressors exist in your life. Accept right now that you cannot control everything. But there are changes you can make to your life if you take a moment to honestly consider what types of changes you can make. The simple practice of self-reflection can be a de-stressor in and of itself!

Eat plenty of antioxidant rich vegetables to give your body what it needs to manage stress. Pair those with healthy, beneficial fats to provide your body with the tools to utilize those antioxidants.

#12 – Keep a Clean Environment

clean environment

Keeping your environment clean and orderly can have beneficial impacts on your diet efforts. But we often resist switching from a cluttered environment to a clean one, for a few different reasons.

Material objects seem to make us happy, so we hold onto them and resist letting them go. But in reality it’s the experiences associated with the materials that we enjoy, not the things themselves.

A psychology professor at Cornell ran a few studies and found that buying experiences made people happier than buying materials. This is because what we have is separate from us, but what we experience becomes a part of us and tells a story of who we are.

Food is just food, but once we’ve prepared it it becomes a meal. A quality chef’s knife allows us to prepare food so we can enjoy that meal.

You don’t need 4 chef’s knives, nor do you need your only knife sitting dirty for days or weeks at a time. If you keep your environment clean when you’re ready to chop vegetables you can expect to find your knife in one particular spot instead of having to search all over.

Research also shows that trying do something in a cluttered and messy environment is harder than doing something in a clean environment. Clutter and mess inhibit your brains ability to focus, process information, and avoid distractions. Evidence shows that your physical space mirrors your mental space, making organizing your thoughts and completing goals much more difficult.

Cleaning nearly any space can be broken down into 4 steps per room. Focus on one room at a time instead of jumping all over the house.

      1. Section each room into areas. For example:

        Bedroom: Bed, Floor, Desk, Other Surface Areas, Closet, Dresser
        Kitchen: Sink, Counters, Table, Appliances, Cupboards, Fridge, Floor
        Bathroom: Toilet, Sink, Shower, Counter, Cabinet, Floor
      2. Garbage or not – Go through one area at a time. The floor, the desk, a box you’re using as a second desk, your bed, etc. Throw away all garbage you see. If an item is not garbage, ignore it during this phase.
      3. Does it belong here – Designate one area to collect items. In the bedroom I would use my bed, in the kitchen I would use the table. Go through each area and collect all items that do not belong in that area. Put those items in the collection area. If an item is where it belongs, ignore it during this phase.
      4. Accessibility and aesthetic – Now that everything is where it goes, you can organize each area to have easy access to each item it stores and to look nice. In your bedroom this might mean organizing your desk and bookshelf, in the kitchen it might mean doing the dishes now that all the dirty dishes are in one easy place.

Don’t push yourself too hard. The less often you clean and the messier your home, the longer this will take. Don’t think you have to do all rooms in one day. Focus on the room you spend the most time in first so you can reap the most benefits.

#13 – Get Good Sleep

sleep

We always seem to find some excuse to stay up late: a party, a sports event. Whatever it is we just had to be there.

Even if we don’t sacrifice sleep for entertainment, life still pokes holes in our plans. Babies wake up, project deadlines keep us up later than we wanted, bills need taken care of… We use the evening hours to hurriedly do all of our daily chores.

Others do sacrifice their sleep, seeing night as their only time to have to themselves. But there’s a high price to pay for cutting out sleep.

Sleep is the time our bodies use to grow and repair through a complex series of dynamic biochemical processes. It supports endocrine balance, immune system function, musculoskeletal growth and repair, and neurological performance. Sleep releases human growth hormone (HGH), which assists in cellular regeneration including both growth and healing.

You need a full night of sleep to enhance your athletic performance, stabilize energy, and to improve memory, mood, and problem solving skills. Sleep cuts your risk for the common cold and other basic illnesses by keeping your immune system resilient and strong.

The amount of sleep we need varies person to person, but most of us need about 7-9 hours. Babies require the most sleep, while adults tend to require the least. Even a single hour of missed sleep can have significant impact on your daily well-being. You’ll die of sleep deprivation long before you’ll die of starvation.

Sleep gives us our energy, and without it our body tries to find it elsewhere. When you miss sleep, you’ll find your appetite goes way up. Your body wants energy as quickly as possible, and it knows it can get that in the form of sugar.

Short-term effects of lack of sleep include loss of working memory, suffering emotional mood and well-being, lack of ability to regulate mood, exacerbated effects of conditions such as depression and anxiety, and dissatisfaction with personal relationships.

Long-term sleep deprivation causes decay of long-term memory and impaired nerve cell generation, increase risk for conditions such as depression, and a lack of ability to create social connections.

Stop making excuses to stay up late just “one more night.” Start prioritizing your health. Make sure you have plenty of time to get enough rest so you can wake up naturally and refreshed and ready to make good choices.

#14 – Ask Yourself What You Really Need To Take Care Of Yourself

what do you really need

Cravings can hit at the worst of times. But as we’ve discussed, craving isn’t always physical. Sometimes it’s psychological, and the reason we want to eat sugar has nothing to do with hunger or food.

Ask yourself if you really are hungry. Have you eaten plenty of healthy and non-sugary foods recently? If not, you should, because keeping yourself full reduces hunger. Remember that cravings come on quickly and intensely, but pass within 30 minutes.

Have you written down how you’re feeling? Sometimes you just need to get it out of your system, and keeping a food journal is a good idea. What are you craving right now, and how are you feeling? Hypothesize about what is causing this if you don’t already know.

Did you participate in any activities where you normally consume sugar? Are you craving based on association? Will your craving pass in the next 15-30 minutes?

These are all essential questions you should be asking yourself before you eat. Because this might not have to do with food at all.

Have you gone for a brief walk to get a quick surge of endorphins and energy? If you’re a bored eater or someone who needs an afternoon pick-me-up, try a 10 minute walk instead of a candy bar.

Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Without it your cravings are stronger and tend to be for foods that are bad for you. Set aside time to take a nap. As little as 20 minutes and as many as 2 hours is beneficial.

Are you really hungry, or are you just stressed out? Have you participated in any de-stressing activities like deep breathing or stretching recently? Is your environment neat and clean? Are you neat and clean?

Be sure that you assess how you’re really feeling. When sugar cravings strike, you often don’t really even want to eat and the source is seemingly unrelated.

#15 – Get a Support Group

group

The value of community cannot be overstated. Dieters who connect with a support group lose 3 times more weight in the first year. Likewise, participants who enroll in a group with friends or family do a better job of keeping the weight they lose off.

Talking about your problems can be a big stress reliever. Knowing that you aren’t alone gives you another coping mechanism.

Not everyone has a support system of family and friends available, but by joining a program or a group you get access to a community of individuals with similar goals. These support groups are structured, effective sharing grounds to tackle diet problems you are faced with in your daily life.

Support groups are reliable and they help to keep you accountable. Everybody needs someone to pick them up when they fall, and it’s nice to have someone to lean on when you’re struggling.

You don’t have to attend meetings face to face. There are plenty of online forums and blogging platforms where you can join dieters like yourself from the comfort of your own home. I can’t recommend the 21 Day Sugar Detox enough. There is a community forum full of like-minded individuals who understand the importance and the difficulty of quitting sugar. For those of you lucky enough to live in high-population areas, there are also sometimes local meetups.

You can also create your own personal blog on social media sites like Tumblr. Reblog posts that call for active “fitblrs.” Tag your first few posts as Dietblr, Fitblr, and/or Healthblr to start connecting with the community. And make sure to follow Health By Eating!

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I hope these 15 tips help you to work with your natural body chemistry to be successful in cutting your sugar addiction. Have any of these helped you? Let me know which ones in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Ultimate Guide to Quit Sugar

  1. wow… well written article. I literally stumbled across this earlier on today and I already knew about a few tips but what you mentioned about keeping a journal is so true and such a great idea. The psychological stuff you’ve mentioned is a really all true when you think about it and I’m going to start doing a lot of things you’ve suggested here :). Thanks for the tips!

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