7 Effective Ways to Beat that Sugar Addiction

Hey Super Stars!

Happy Tuesday! This week’s gonna be awesome! I actually FINALLY have a few personal update pics I’ll share at the end!

One of my favorite things to talk about is SUGAR ADDICTIONS! I wrote this post over at my friend’s blog a few months ago and thought I should share it too–since it’s what I teach.



I used to be a sugar addict–aren’t we/haven’t we all been?

I could never turn down a dessert. It was like I had an automatic hand that accepted anything offered to me.

I felt like I was forever doomed to feeling out of control. I would never be able to lose the last 5 lbs I desperately wanted to drop–not when I couldn’t control my eating habits. 300-sugar-addict

My will power was non-existent,  and I could not foresee the day that would change.


Guess what. I overcame that addiction, and I learned that it’s not all about will power, like I thought.

Guess what else. Sugar addiction is way more powerful than you think. Nicole M. Avena, PhD, a neuroscientist and addiction expert said the following:

“There are these pathways in the brain that are known to be activated by substance abuse and they happen to be the same pathways that can be activated by food,” Avena says. “This might explain in part why so many people have a hard time controlling their intake even though you know you’re only supposed to have one or two cookies.”

Sugar affects the brain in a similar way to nicotine and cocaine. Sugar stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain, releasing dopamine and opioids into your body. This creates the happy buzz, or feeling of relief you experience after consuming sugar. It’s a real thing!

And there’s more.

Some people really are more pre-disposed to addictions than others. According to recent studies, we all have different capacities for experiencing pleasure. Some people need more stimulation than others in order to experience the same amount of pleasure.

So there!

If you have had a hard time with you sugar intake, there’s a good reason for it! If it seems like everyone else can magically recover from their sugar addictions, and you can’t, there’s a reason!



Everyone who deals with sugar addictions will have their own stories to tell. Don’t despair if what works for your friend does not work for you. Keep trying and experimenting with ways that will help you individually. Maybe the best you can do is simply lower your sugar threshold, so you don’t need as much to satisfy you.

This whole journey is a processes about learning about how your brain and body work. Be open minded. Be willing to try new ideas. Your best tip may end up being the one you created on your own.

Here’s my list of 10 (tricked you–there’s a bonus 3 haha) ways to overcome a sugar addiction. See if there’s something here you haven’t tried yet, or something you could be a little more committed to.

1. Find out why you personally eat sugar

Do an experiment for a few days. Every time you eat sugar, ask yourself why you want it at that moment.

Are you hungry? Are you stressed? Are you bored? Are you lonely? Is this just out of habit? Is this how you deal with your emotions? Are you missing an emotional connection?

What deep need are you trying to fill with sugar?

Once you get to the root of your sugar addiction, you will find more personalized ways to overcome your own sugar addiction. The solution to overcoming your sugar addiction may be more simple than you think.

2. Create a meaningful reason to break away from sugar

If your reason to break your sugar addiction is problem oriented, it most likely won’t last. Reasons such as, “I am overweight,” or “I don’t have enough energy,” are problem oriented. Once the stress of your problem begins to go away, (or once you lose a few pounds) that inner conflict and drive will be gone. You will return to your old habits until you gain enough stress to motivate you to fix the problem again. And the cycle will repeat itself, on and on.

Try to find a more long term, meaningful reason to break away from sugar. You may want to enjoy optimal health for life, or have enough energy to play with your kids, or live long enough to spend active time with your grandkids. Whatever your reason, make sure you really want it, so that when you are faced with a decision between sugar or your kids, it will be an easy choice.

3. Make it official

Many of us have said, “Next Monday I’ll start eating healthier,” but that Monday never came. If you don’t have an official plan, with someone to hold you accountable, you will always be half-heartedly aiming towards your goals, but never quite reaching them.

Decide if you want to go off sugar completely, or else just eliminate a few sources of sugar each week.Everyone is different (this is where experimentation comes in to play). If you consume extremely high amounts of sugar, it may be safer to reduce sugar sources slowly in order to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Most people do best when they go off sugar ‘cold turkey.’ It just eliminates the decisions every day. You might as well make 1 decision (to not eat sugar) rather than 50 every day.

Know where your sugar intake is coming from, so you know what to avoid. Obvious sources of sugar are soda, fruit juices, and refined sugar. Some breads have high amounts of sugar as well, which is a surprise to some. As you become more aware of where sugar is hiding, you can eliminate those sources as well. Did you know, for example, that mayonnaise has sugar, as well as salad dressings??

You may want to read:

Keep in mind that your body craves what is in your blood. The goal is too reduce the amount of sugar in your blood, and replace it with healthy nutrients, so that your body start to crave something new.

Choose a starting date, and a friend to be accountable to. Better yet, find someone who wants to make healthy goals with you, so you can do it together and find motivation through each other. If you are competitive, find a way to make your sugar-free challenge a competition.

4. Keep your blood levels stable

Research shows that when you are hungry, you are more likely to crave and eat sugary foods. This is simple to avoid if you just take a little time to plan ahead.

Plan to be hungry about every 2-3 hours. Plan out your meals and snacks ahead of time, or at least have convenient options of healthy food nearby.

If you know you will be gone for more than 2-3 hours, plan ahead and bring healthy snacks with you. Add healthy sources of protein or starches to your meals and snacks, to keep you more satiated for longer.

5. Keep your immediate environment sugar free

Why tempt yourself?

Don’t allow any sweets in your home or on your work desk as you begin overcoming your addiction. Once you have more control over your cravings, and have lowered your sugar threshold, you can decide if you can handle having sugar in your home.

This habit may be the best one to start on– and the way to make your goals MUCH easier.

Creating a temptation-free environment allows you to make healthy choices without the fight of will-power. As you may have experienced, will-power is a frequent loser, so don’t rely on it to get you through your addiction.

Kitchen interior Source

6. Plan to fill the void

Sugar is a big part of your life and you can bet that there will be a void when you remove it.

Chose activities that you will do in order to fill that empty void. You may choose to go on a walk, call a friend, write in your journal, drink water, listen to music, dance, or finally face those emotions you have been running from (that’s a tough one!). If you must eat when you are sad or lonely, then substitute that ice cream with a sugar-free, healthier option.

Write down your ideas, and when those cravings come, quickly look at your handy list and follow one of your ideas. This is a great way to break away from emotional eating. Soon, free time won’t mean eat time.

7. Don’t be afraid of sugar

Sugar isn’t good for you, but it sure can contribute to good memories when used in control and moderation.

If you find yourself afraid of sugar and it’s ‘evil’ affects, or if you have labeled sugar as ‘bad,’ then you may be adding to the lure that sugar has over you.

What do kids do when their parents tell them not to do something? Most often they want to do it more, because suddenly it’s alluring, mysterious and tempting.

Try to let go of any labels you have created for sugar, and simply see it as an equal to all other foods. Once it’s as boring as a carrot (not that they are boring…I just haven’t heard of anyone having a carrot addiction), and just like everything else, your brain may relax and just let it be for awhile.

8. Brain wash yourself

Yes, I just said that!!

If you train yourself to see sugar as poison–do you think you will want it as much?

When you see a cigarette, do you want one? Think about WHY NOT?? Do you think about those pictures of black lungs? The cancer? The wrinkles? The rat poison in it? I bet you have a powerful image. Make that for sugar. Try it out!! This WORKS!


When you are around sugar, say things like, “Ew, that’s disgusting!!” or “I can’t believe people actually eat that kind of stuff.” Then imagine what it does to your pooooor body. Your poor veins, your poor insulin levels, your poor liver. Picture yourself gaining weight in your belly…then in your face….just make it good:)

If you want more help in the imagery of how DESTRUCTIVE sugar is for your body, educate yourself!! THIS WILL HELP YOU SOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!! This was the most powerful thing for me!

You don’t need will power if your brain doesn’t even think it’s desirable.

Watch these:

9. Turn to a higher power

Sometimes you just need to let someone other than yourself help you.

Finding faith and hope that you can overcome your addiction is extremely empowering. You may just find the strength that you need through pleading for help, and trusting that you can do hard things with the aid of a higher power.

10. Truly love yourself

I know, it sounds cheesy, but really consider this one.

When has self-loathing ever worked? When has lasting change ever been inspired by hate or guilt?

Stop being so hard on yourself. View yourself as the incredible being that you are. You are amazing!

You are not a sugar addict. You are not hopeless. You do not lack will-power. In fact, if you have labeled yourself in any negative way, let it go. Replace your self-loathing with positive and powerful images and words. Love and accept yourself, and you will find yourself eager to properly care for you body.

Once I found reverence and respect for my incredible body (the most amazing creation on earth!!!), making healthy choices came naturally and easily. It was no longer about forcing myself to be healthy. It was about a sacred responsibility I now had to care for a treasured gift that was irreplaceable.

Caring for my body is now a joy, instead of a chore.

If you would like more help with dealing with your sugar addiction (it’s a real thing!!) feel free to visit my counseling and coaching site to contact me. Sugar addiction is my favorite thing:)


What methods have you tried to reduce your sugar intake? What works/doesn’t work?

How long have you fought a sugar addiction? Any luck?

Does sugar have a stronger pull on you than on your friends?

27 thoughts on “7 Effective Ways to Beat that Sugar Addiction

  1. I gradually become more aware of how much sugar I was eating when I started following a paleo diet last summer, and that got me to cut back alot on refined sugars. I learned to be more satisfied with fruits, natural sugars, and healthy fats. Doing the Whole30 made me even more aware of all the hidden sugar in food, and now I am always checking labels and trying to eat natural foods as much as possible!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine recently posted…Tried It Tuesday: Pure Barre via ClassPassMy Profile

  2. I have always referred to desserts or sugary laden foods as ‘crack’ because I can’t have just a little bit. There is no such thing as a small piece of cake for me. It is either the biggest piece of cake, then another one, followed by one to go, OR none at all. It sounds silly, but addiction runs in my family (drugs & alcohol) and I can see how I have addiction tendencies when it comes to sugar and foods. I have struggled with this for my entire life. What works for me is eating 6-7 small clean meals of about 200-300 calories per day. Keeping your blood sugar stable is such a huge way to help avoid cravings. I also have to keep a food log and be conscious of why I am eating…I can tend to be an emotional eater. This is obviously something I will always have to work on. This is a great post and you gave fantastic tips and information for people that are struggling…(as usual). Thank you!
    Stacy @ Sweating Tulipz recently posted…Luscious Legs for Valentine’s DayMy Profile

    • WOW Stacy!!!!! Such great insight!!!!!! You’re right–I have friends who’s family is predisposed to addiction and they all really struggle with a sugar addiction. That’s so powerful to hear it from you.
      Some people can handle just a little, but some can’t, like you said. You need to know yourself and be honest with yourself when you are making those health goals. You’re so great!

  3. Great article! I really liked the link to the article about all the other names for sugar. I try to eat as much unprocessed food as possible, which means I control the sugar. I let myself have treats on the weekend and I definitely try to NOT keep it in the house.
    I absolutely notice how much better I feel with less sugar in my system. I do believe in a balance though.
    Julie @ Running in a Skirt recently posted…Spinach Salad with Homemade Poppy Seed DressingMy Profile

  4. what timing for this post! So as I’ve mentioned, I’ve decreased my carb intake significantly for the past few months. I don’t miss the breads, rice, pasta etc BUT THOSE SWEETS! I am having the hardest time, and I didn’t really have the biggest sweet tooth before I cut my carbs. I think my body just misses glucose, ha! I try to stick with mostly fruit for sugar.

    These tips are great, and I’ve already begun to think about WHY I want that mini- Reeces that’s sitting right over there…. or WHY I feel I NEED dessert after dinner. I think its mostly habit, but I deff want to work on training this brain of mine!

    Wanted to share- I recently listened to a podcast episode by Primal Potential… they talk a lot about sugar and the real addiction that comes with it. THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! 🙂
    molly rose recently posted…Best Damn Race 5k: Safety HarborMy Profile

  5. I love this post, Kirtley! I clicked around on your blog and read some of the awesome pieces you’ve written. I was wondering if you would consider writing something about eating healthy while pregnant and breastfeeding? I know that’s not really where you are at this point in your life, but I know many women who claim that pregnancy and motherhood (goodness it’s difficult to have the time to eat healthy and exercise when you are in demand 24/7 by little ones) is what caused them to gain a bunch of weight. I am terrified of it happening to me, too. HOWEVER, doctors, my mother, etc are always telling me not to go on any special “diets” while pregnant and breastfeeding because you need extra calories since you are the sole source of nutrients for your baby. SO. my real question is how to eat healthy (and convince others you are) while not compromising the health of your baby. THANKS!

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  9. I am absolutely addicted to sugar, of that I have no doubt! I have tried to cut back or eliminate it from my diet in the past and failed. After reading this article, I think the reason I didn’t succeed in the past is because I didn’t plan to fill the void. I just tried to avoid the sugar, but didn’t have something else to eat or do instead. I’ll have to try again and use these tips to see if it will make a difference this time! Thanks!

Serious! I would love to hear what you think about that!

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