Is Sugar Really Addictive? [+ Tips for Cutting Out Refined Sugar]

in health •  last year

I can tell you straight away that yes, sugar is very addictive but let's dig a bit deeper into this subject.

About 37 days ago I stopped drinking alcohol and stopped smoking cigarettes cold turkey. Fast-forward a bit and I am buying daiya cheesecakes, vegan cookies, and coconut milk ice cream every other day and devouring them in my bed until I feel uncomfortable. The issue is, I have an addictive personality and if not carefully observed I can take any addiction to the extreme.

Isn't that just a mental addiction though?

No, scientists have actually found sugar to be physically addictive. It stimulates the same the same "pleasure centers" of the brain that go off when people take heroin or cocaine and just like harder drugs you will experience sugar withdrawals after cutting it cold turkey. But, once you have successfully cut sugar for a few weeks you may notice yourself able to appreciate the taste of your food more overall.

But is it really a big deal to be addicted to sugar?

While I don't quite put eating an entire bag of black licorice and then laying around in bloaty pain on the same level as getting so drunk I black out and wake up with a head injury it is still dangerous. Particularly if you have certain health issues. I have PCOS so I need to really do my all to avoid sugar to keep it from worsening my condition. But an abundance of sugar is not good for anyone. High sugar intake along with huge portions, refined carbs, and processed junk food has lead Americans and the rest of the first world into a full-blown obesity epidemic. I've already lost 8lbs in the past 37 days from cutting booze and I am pretty curious to see how much more quickly my weight decreases when I cut out all the refined sugar.

Last week I consumed this much refined sugar:

(for the record my medication also causes increased appetite and sugar cravings)
Also I would like to have a bullet list but for some reason my entire blog is centered even though I closed off my center code.

910 calories worth of black licorice
1,440 calories worth of daiya vegan cheesecake
760 calories worth of coconut milk ice cream
140 calories worth of gin gins

That is 3,250 calories worth of sugary treats. That is almost a pound. I imagine I will lose about 3 extra pounds a month by cutting out the sugary junk. However, I don't have to give up my sweet tooth when hopping onto the low-sugar/no-sugar wagon. No refined sugar is key and then keeping an eye on overall sugar intake.

How I have been dealing with my sugar cravings.

Hot carob if made with stevia and unsweetened non-dairy milk can be very low in sugar.

Hot Carob with Stevia

This nightly treat has been great. Carob is naturally a little sweet but with less than a teaspoon of sugar per tablespoon serving it is much less sugary than chocolate. It also is rich in fiber and soothing for anyone with diarrhea. I simply heat up unsweetened coconut milk, 1 packet of stevia, and 1 tbspn of carob in a pot. I measure out the milk by using my mug of choice. What you end up with is a sweet, low calorie, low sugar hot drink. My big mug full ends up being 80 calories total.

Want something sweet with NO calories?

I have started making my own tea at home and I make different herbal blends and add a tiny pinch of stevia leaf for sweetness. But you don't need to go all rustic like I did and chisel out bits of coconut and dry them in the oven along with blueberries. You can just buy an herbal tea you like and add a little stevia. If you do loose leaf tea I do suggest buying stevia leaf online and just adding it to your tea bag/ball/infuser. But regular tea bags and packets of stevia work just as well.

Have some natural sweetness in your breakfast!

I have rolled oats for breakfast and add a bit of carob and a little stevia along with a few blueberries. This gives me some sweetness without putting me into a sugar coma. If you are going to go for sugar try going for fruit but keep an eye on the sugar content. I used to eat entire watermelons and at that point you are really outweighing any benefits of the fruit by overloading in sugar. There can be too much of a good thing.

Let yourself indulge on special occasions.

I plan to bake one helluva cake for my 30th birthday. I will reserve my right to eat sugary goodness on special days like that. A few holidays out of the year is no big deal. Let yourself have that cake.

Okay but I love my sugar and I don't want to go that crazy on cutting it out. What can I do?

You can make small changes such as cutting your soda consumption in half or cutting your candy consumption in half. If you make sweet tea make it a little less sweet? If you are loading up on sugar every day just cutting that in half can make a big difference.

Welp, looking at all these sugary snacks has made my sweet tooth itch. -An itchy tooth, what!? Creepy- So, I am going to get myself a mug of hot carob and tuck into a spooky movie.

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Not really an addiction IMO. I do like chocolate and candy a lot, but it just takes a bit of will power to eat them in moderation.
Great post, thanks for posting!


Well, according to science it is physically addictive. However, many people probably are not addicted to it. I happen to have to keep an eye on myself because I have a very addictive personality and just cut out booze and smokes. Mind you I am also referring to large amounts of refined sugar. People need a bit of natural sugar in their diet. :) But it has gotten to a point where people eat massive amounts, and their brainsdo react to it the same way they would to hard drugs. You can click the link in my blog where it talks about that and it'll take you to some studies. :)


Thanks! Will definitely check it out.
As a side note, there are some sugar replacement candies and snacks that can help dealing with the addiction. They do taste a bit different but hey, a price to pay for every thing in life.


I can't eat most things due to my bladder disease. I think I have my cravings worked out anyhow. :) With the carob and slightly sweet oatmeal breakfast.



nice to see an article about sugar addiction. I am interested in such topics everyday, not only because it's healthy but for the welness and my nutrition knowledge.

Sugar is a necessary component of metabolic reactions in all cells, but its consumption must be balanced in order not to cause hyperglycemia


Yeah I am mainly talking about refined sugar here. The amount of sugar we need from fruits and natural sources is much, MUCH less than most Americans eat.


Yes, you are right because artificial sugar causes many complications, the most important of which is chronic diabetes
I wish healing to all patients


It definitely causes complications for me! But I am putting an end to the cycle. :) Luckily I know my blood sugar is low and I don't have diabetes. So, I have time to save myself. I am steadily losing weight too which is putting me less and less at risk. ^_^

Great post. You have made so many changes. Replacing with things you actually like and rewarding yourself is important. Sugar isn't evil, it's just a food / energy source. You sound like a very sensible woman. I love carob too. Happy 30th. 😊


It is extra bad for me specifically because I have PCOS. So, for me honestly all refined sugar should be avoided. My body doesn't handle it like regular people and it contributes to me being overweight which comes with other health risks. Also, the amount of sugar most Americans eat is pretty dangerous. But if treated with sense and caution it's not a big deal. Except for people with PCOS. XD But we have to avoid refined carbs and eat low carb too which not everyone does. Everyone has different health circumstances but no sugar isn't evil. :)

Oh, hey I am not 30 for 4 months!!! I am soaking in 29! I mean... "soaking in" as much as a bed-ridden, sick, constant pain person can soak anything in. :) No actually I think 30s will be great. ^_^


@girlbeforemirror nice comment but sugar is better for children that need it more for we grow older is becomes a problem... Natural options like honey is better......

Little has made me feel healthier than massively cutting back my sugar intake. I have way less acne now, and a lot more energy all the time. The sugar cycle is so addictive!


I can't wait to see how my body reacts to cutting it out! :)

We definitely take in way too much sugar. There are many things that people don't even realize contain much sugar like ketchup and some pasta sauces. Wish you the best.


Exactly. I can no longer eat any refined foods really due to all my different illnesses and now I notice how much sugar they add to stuff when I look at it. Salt too. O_O

Congrats to you for getting off booze. I was surprised that they encouraged candy at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings (this was 30 years ago).

Being a sugar addict, I know how hard it is to get off the sweet stuff. I was sorry my friend in AA seemed to be trading in one addiction for another.

Keep up the good work!


Yeah I went to meetings since childhood because I am the child of an alcoholic and they literally said to just eat anything and as much as you wanted if you stopped you from drinking um what?! I will admit I used that strategy for like 5 days during the physical withdrawals but that clearly isn't a good idea if you trade it. O_O


Well, seems like you've got your eyes wide open!

You are doing so much at once cold turkey, you must be really committed.

I'm so curious - what triggered your change and keeps you motivated.?

Nice article! I struggle with sugar. I choose to avoid it because once I have one 'treat' or just the odd chocolate here and there it spirals out of control and I will swap my three healthy meals a day to eat chocolate or anything sweet I can get my hands on! The key for me is to abstain! Life is sweet enough without it/there are many other alternatives.

Processed and refinded sugar is a drug.

Yeah, seeing sugar in so much stuff explains a lot of ailments. I've switched my coffee drinking from a venti mocha at Starbucks, to a vanilla latte, and then down to just a regular coffee with cream and sugar. One month ago I went down even more and drink black coffee with one packet of stevia.. it's been a big change but I'm already feeling better about myself.

It is said that sugar is stronger to kick then cocaine. I stopped consuming sugar a year ago and have lost tons of weight but most of all my energy level has soared, I am on a ketogenic diet love it and feel great. Also I was pre diebetic now all good. Keep spreading the word...awareness is so necessary.

Great post ... thank you for sharing 💕


Thank you.

I think it is addictive....I use about 15 teaspoons of sugar in my coffee every morning and I can't drink coffee or tea without a whole lot of sugar...

Follow me @frgms

Thank you

Another thing you could try for sweetness without refined sugar is honey. Real honey is about as natural as you can get. I'm guessing that the calorie count is pretty high though.

Sugar really is an addiction!! i know because i has happened to me , i can't stop eating candy

Its really difficult to avoid sugar these days. I don’t add sugar to anything and try to buy raw ingredients meaning I don’t get all that sugar from processed food. But it cant be avoided unless you go completely raw, which comes at a big cost. No surprisingly really because they want people to buy the crap so they make it cheap. When I have my land and on off grid thats when I get off sugar :)

Great to hear you are 37 days+ with no smoking and alcohol. You seem to be doing very well with the taking care of the sugar addiction. Keep it up.

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Nice article and full of great info. @lauralemons you did well sharing this... For me I go for natural options... Honey is natural and healthy than sugars... Tks once more


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