A Quick Guide To Understanding Sugar Withdrawal
If there is a positive note with respect to the difficulties experienced in going through sugar withdrawal, it's that sugar withdrawal is far easier on your system than is either nicotine or alcohol withdrawal. There are definitely some similarities, which could lead one to believe that sugar is addictive. Medical studies have more or less proven that sugar is not physically addictive, certainly not in the way nicotine is.
Still, breaking up with your sweet tooth can be hard to do. Some may be successful at going cold turkey, but that method usually doesn't work well for the most of us. We're usually not successful the first time we try, and maybe not the tenth time either. Making a list of all of the harmful effects sugar may have on your body may not work either. You'll still have the cravings, and still want to feed your sweet tooth. You just won't feel very good about yourself when you do it.
The “Feel Good” Chemical
Sugar stimulates the production of dopamine in our body. Dopamine is a chemical that transmits “feel good” messages throughout the brain. Dopamine has a lot to do with our feelings of enjoyment in life, and when eating something makes us feel good, we naturally are reluctant to banish it from our diet. Alcohol and nicotine also stimulate the production of dopamine, one reason having a smoke or a drink at the end of the day can often make one feel good.
What then are we supposed to do with respect to any craving we may have for sugar? Are we supposed to quit eating sweet foods entirely, and not feel good as often as we've been used to? The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Going cold turkey is really the quickest way to get through sugar withdrawal, but the cold turkey method doesn't always have the highest success rate. You can try it, but if you should fail, you can't allow yourself to just give up. Try Plan B - cutting back gradually. Cut back on sugar gradually, and as you do so, replace sugary foods with other foods that make you feel good. You can probably think of many foods that give you pleasure, foods that don't contain a molecule of sugar, or at least not many molecules. Any food that tastes good can make you feel good, and knowing that what you're eating is good for you can make you feel good as well. There's more than one way to stimulate dopamine.
It's A Habit, Not An Addiction
When you try to quit smoking or drinking, you are trying to overcome both a physical addiction and a habit. When you try to avoid sugar, you don't have to worry about the physical addiction part of it, because there is none. It's the habit that you need to be working on, and if you go about it right, it shouldn't be all that difficult to replace an old habit with a new one, one that will still give you pleasure.
When you go about reducing you sugar intake, faster is better. You want to really feel that with each passing day you're sugar intake is becoming less and less. Soon the actions you're taking to reduce your sugar intake will become habitual, and sugar withdrawal will become easier and easier. Learning to drink coffee without sugar in it is easier than your think, although learning to drink a cappuccino without sugar can be a bit harder. You may want to switch breakfast cereals. That may seem difficult, but really has as much to do with habit change as it does with taste.
The Value Of Protein And Liquids
Adding protein to your diet can help too. One of the better ways to cut down on your cravings for sweet foods is to eat a hearty breakfast, one rich in protein. Add to that a snack that's high in protein at mid-day and you'll probably find your desire for something sweet will lessen significantly in a very short time. Increasing the amount of liquids you drink is another way to ease any sugar withdrawal symptoms. Drinking lots of sweetened sports drinks doesn't count, and of course a can of soda now and then won't help you any either. Water is really best. Take a look at those who exercise regularly, and exercise hard. What do they mostly drink? Bottled water. Getting plenty of exercise is another thing that will help. You'll find that after a good workout, the last thing you want to put in your mouth is something very sweet. Sugar withdrawal usually requires a few changes in your lifestyle, but those changes are for the most part rather minor, and you'll find they are almost always rewarding.
While you're at it, consider taking stock of your overall health. It could be your sweet tooth is the only thing that needs working on. Chances are however, there are other areas you could work on as well to improve your overall health. If not, that's fine, but at least by kicking the sugar habit you'll find yourself feeling better, and probably looking a bit better as well.