Although drug addiction and sugar cravings may seem unrelated, these two things have a lot more in common than expected.
If you, a loved one, or someone you know is battling with addiction, keep in mind that satisfying your sugar cravings has negative impacts on the recovery process. We’ve prepared a guide of the things you need to know about addiction and sugar consumption, as well as a list of ways to abstain from eating sugary foods.
Why Am I Craving Sugar While in Recovery
Addiction is a disease that causes chemical changes in the brain. Alcohol, drugs, and other substances commonly abused activate the brain’s reward system and increase the production of dopamine — the hormone responsible for regulating pleasure in the brain. The use of the previously mentioned substances results in unnaturally high and euphoric surges that the brain gets used to and craves over time. Moreover, addiction makes people psychologically dependent on drugs and alcohol to feel good.
Since you observe and practice sobriety in recovery, you might find other ways to satisfy your psychological needs. This is how drug addiction, alcoholism, and sugar cravings are related. Similar to using addictive substances, eating sweet and sugary foods gives the brain the same euphoric feeling, although not as intense. It increases the dopamine levels in the body and activates the brain’s reward system. This results in more and more cravings and, in some cases, sugar addiction.
Why Break Sugar Addiction Cravings During Recovery
Eating lots of sugary food in addiction recovery has many serious consequences. It’s crucial to avoid it during all stages of recovery due to the following reasons:
1. It increases the likelihood of sugar addiction.
One reason addiction recovery and sugar consumption don’t mix is because of the increased risk of trading addiction. While you refrain from using drugs and alcohol, you may become dependent and addicted to sugar if you always give in to your cravings.
2. It impacts physical and mental health.
High sugar intake leads to many physical health problems, including dental issues, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, some cancers, and liver disease. It is also linked to some of the most common mental health problems, such as depression.
3. It reduces sleep quality.
Although sugar might make you sleepy due to its ability to suppress orexin, a hormone responsible for promoting alertness, it results in poorer sleep quality later at night, causing difficulty in maintaining deep sleep.
How to Stop Sugar Cravings
Sugar cravings tend to be the strongest during the first six months of the recovery process. Here’s what you can do to control them:
1. Eat regularly.
One of the ways to control sugar cravings is to break up meals. For instance, you have two slices of bread, a glass of milk, and a cup of yogurt for breakfast. You can save the cup of yogurt for your mid-morning snack to avoid long intervals between meals. If you wait too long, you might crave sugar to cut your hunger.
You can also break up your lunch and other snacks, so you’ll have something to eat every time you crave sweets. It’s recommended to eat every three to five hours to have a stable blood sugar level.
2. Give in a little.
Fighting your cravings doesn’t mean that you won’t eat any sugar at all. If you’re craving cookies, have a small bite to satisfy yourself. You can also eat fun-size candies or chocolates from time to time.
3. Combine foods.
Sometimes, resisting sugar cravings is impossible. What you can do during moments of intense cravings is to combine small portions of sugary foods with healthy foods. This way, you’re still getting the right nutrients that your body needs during recovery. For instance, you can mix a few pieces of chocolate chips with almonds, macadamia, and peanuts.
4. Choose quality over quantity.
If you’re going to eat foods containing sugar, choose the healthier options. Instead of consuming a few pieces of candy, why not buy a bar of dark chocolate then incorporate small amounts of it into your diet. There are lots of healthy options to consider, like yogurt and snack bars.
5. Eat food that fight sugar cravings.
Some foods can help fight cravings by making you feel fuller. To name some:
- Meat, Poultry, and Fish
- Chia Seeds
- Trail Mix
- Whole Grains
- Fermented Foods
- Sweet Potatoes
6. Do some stretching and exercises.
One good way for you to steer clear of cravings is by distracting yourself with other things. You can go for a short walk, do some stretching, or exercise a bit. These things can help your mind wander away from the thought of craving sweet and sugary foods. You can also do other things, such as gardening, meditating, or reading.
7. Go for fruits.
Fruits are sweet and healthy. They are the best alternative to sugary foods every time you’re craving. They contain nutrients and fiber that can help your body recuperate from the issues brought about by years of substance abuse.
You have to keep in mind, though, that some of them are high in sugar content as well. Eat them in moderation. Here’s a list of fruits with the most sugar:
Some fruits with less sugar include:
8. Grab some sugar-free gum.
Many studies have proven that chewing gum reduces food cravings. To avoid sugar intake, you can opt for sugar-free gum.
How Haven House Recovery Center Can Help
If you’re battling addiction, Haven House Recovery Center is here to help. We believe that men in recovery need to be treated with positive regard, so we provide a nurturing, loving, and caring environment for every resident. We pay close attention to the physical wellbeing of our residents, so expect that we’ll help you fight sugar cravings during all stages of recovery. We also address issues in different aspects of life, including mental, social, and emotional. For any inquiries, call us or visit our drug rehab near Nashville.