Are You Addicted to Sugar?
Well, if you’re like most people we talk to, you have a very long, intimate relationship with sugary treats. Maybe your mom let you lick the cookie batter from the spoon. Maybe there were homemade cakes every birthday. Maybe going to the candy store was an after-school ritual. Or, maybe there was no junk food in your house, and you binged at every other opportunity… Whatever your background with sugar, we now know that it is way worse for our health than we realized. When you quit sugar, you are on your way to improve your health.
Whether you want to feel better now (less brain fog, more energy, better mobility), or avoid disease later (dementia, diabetes and depression to name a few), then you’ll want to cut way back on the amount of sugar you eat. Read below to learn how.
WHY Quit Sugar?
Even though eating sugary treats is pretty normal in our society, that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. In fact, the harms of sugar have been known for quite some time, but suppressed by the sugar industry. In the past 50 years, as our consumption of sugar has steadily increased, so has the incidence of:
- heart disease (the #1 killer in the U.S. is preventable!)
- dementia, and
- depression, among many other diseases.
We now know that inflammation in the gut — which is fueled by eating sugar and other processed foods and oils — is a key contributor to these and many other chronic conditions. Those chronic conditions take years and years to develop (much like lung cancer from smoking), but high sugar consumption can have negative effects on you now, including:
- brain fog
- mood disorders
- poor sleep
- poor skin
- poor digestion
- inconsistent energy, and,
- joint pain, just to name a few.
WHAT’s Involved with Quitting Sugar?
Quitting sugar is as much an “inner” game as it is an “outer” one. What I mean is, sure it has to do with what you eat or don’t eat, but it equally has to do with what you think — your habits of mind and beliefs. Have you ever thought you “deserve” a treat for having a good workout? Do you “believe” that you could never give up chocolate? Well my friend, those thoughts and beliefs are part of your inner game, and you’ll need to address them as much as you will need to learn how to hack your cravings if you want to regain control of your health. One common misbelief that gets people in trouble is that sugar and white flour are just “empty calories.” We think that it may not be particularly good, but that it isn’t really that bad either. This popular misbelief is convenient for justifying treats and binges, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Eating sugar and refined carbohydrates (processed foods) creates fluctuations in our blood sugar and inflammation that are linked to long-term damage to our heart and brain. The good news is, you can start improving your current and future health prospects NOW, by changing your diet (eat more fresh vegetables and fruits) and how much you move (vary your activity and move a little every day).
HOW to Quit Sugar?
In order to be successful quitting sugar, we need to address all of the ways we become dependent on it: physically, emotionally, and habitually.
- Through the dopamine pleasure and reward system
- Through the blood sugar energy roller coaster
- Through the feeding bad bacteria in the gut
- With the avoidance of feelings and boredom
- Through the routines, rituals and beliefs we have about having sweets
When you acknowledge and address all of these different ways that sugar has a hold on you, you can create strategies and diversions and tactics to bolster your chances of success. Another important part of HOW to go sugar-free is to learn where all the hidden sugars are.
As much as 74% of packaged food in the supermarket has added sugar! That pretty much amounts to a public poisoning. Learn which foods have added sugars by reading the Nutrition Facts and ingredient labels. The first few times you go shopping trying to avoid sugar, give yourself extra time — it will take a while! It’s in everything from pasta sauce to chicken stock to bread.
Get your free Quick Start Guide to Reducing How Much Sugar You Eat:
Breaking Free from Sugar is a program that gradually leads you to a sugar-minimal lifestyle.
Welcome to Breaking Free From Sugar
Andrea’s primary work for the past decade has been in public health communications, where she designs marketing/outreach campaigns and programs to inspire healthy behaviors. She teaches about the social and behavioral aspects of public health in the Masters of Public Health program at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont and is also a Certified Holistic Health Coach.
The first steps to improving your health:
1. Remove what is harmful
2. Replace with what is healthful
3. Restore your body’s natural healing systems
In the Breaking Free from Sugar program, you’ll learn:
- How to prepare to go sugar-free
- How to hack your cravings
- How we got this way, and the lengths the sugar industry is going to ensure you become addicted
- Mastering snack time
- All about power breakfasts
- How to move into a sustainable, sugar-minimal lifestyle — that doesn’t mean no more sweets forever.
By the time you’re done with the program, you’ll have the information, tools and support you need to create a transformation in your health.
Breaking Free From Sugar
What the Program Includes
This is where you’ll find some responses to frequently asked questions. If your question isn’t answered here, feel free to reach out to us.
Why a month long challenge?
Some behavioral experts believe it takes 66 days weeks to break a habit or start a new one. Our program 60 days, to give you all the information and support you need to make changes. In the middle of the program is a 4-week No-Added-Sugar Challenge, so we can all go through the detox process on a similar timeline.
What is detox?
The detoxing process, which can happen any time you stop doing something your body has gotten used to (hello coffee!), can result in headaches, lethargy, and just feeling lousy for a couple of days. Just drink lots of water, and soon you’ll be on the other side of it. In our programs, we give lots of helpful tips for getting through it. Physiologically, detoxing is when your body flushes out dead cells and generally cleans up (this processes mostly happens at night when you sleep). When you stop eating sugar, or any stimulant, your body will start flushing out all the toxins that have been accumulating, so part of feeling lousy (sometimes headaches, lethargy, achy) is your body doing it’s work to release the chemical dependency.
What kind of support is there?
Currently, the program has weekly coaching calls: we support each other, trouble shoot, and share wins. The weekly calls are also an opportunity to dive deeper into the concepts presented in the program materials, and often include experiential exercises. We are committed to your success! With weekly interactive sessions you are less likely to give up when hit resistance, and more likely to stick with it when you’re in a group.
Do I have to give up dairy?
Not unless you want to. This program isn’t quite as rigorous as some other detox programs. That’s because if you give up all the “bad” things at once — sugar and starchy foods, plus coffee, alcohol, dairy — there’s going to be such a steep learning curve about what to eat that it can be overwhelming. And, that sort of revolution of your diet and habits would be hard to turn into an ongoing, sustainable lifestyle. We’re encouraging you to take small steps to improve your health, starting with removing added sugar and simple carbs from your diet.
You do, of course, need to eliminate all the dairy with added sugar, including flavored yogurts and flavored milks.
Do I have to give up sugar forever?
Nope! But you really do want to limit it. The more you have it, the more you need it. If you can do a one-month challenge, you can feel the freedom that comes from really being able to choose what you want to eat. If you can un-hook yourself from sugar (and simple carbs), you’ll find a whole new level of energy, and freedom to truly eat what you want..with choice and control.
What is the format of the program?
The program is hosted on a web-based learning platform, which you can get to by clicking on the Programs tab. Once you create an account, you can go directly there to login and access the course materials for the month you sign-up for. Each week, new course materials become available to you, and consist of video, text, and downloadable handouts. Most of the people who took the pilot program said they preferred reading to watching videos, so we designed the program mostly as text (with several exceptions).
"Life changing." "Eye opening."
The next program will be starting soon.
Join our mailing list below, and get your FREE Quick-Start Guide to Reducing How Much Sugar You Eat, so you can identify where all the sugar is hiding in the foods you eat.
To date, over 500 people have taken the program, with the following results:
97% said they succeeded in cutting back on sugar very much or somewhat
95% said they plan to continue with a sugar-minimal lifestyle
100% said they would recommend the program to friends and family
Here's what people are saying about the program
❝When I get hungry, I less often feel the shakes of hypoglycemia. My clothes feel like they fit me differently around the middle of my body. This is the first time that I've gone no-added-sugar for any length of time. I've found some new ingredients and food staples that I will continue to incorporate into my diet, moving forward.
It was supportive.❞
❝Being free of daily sugar is a game changer for my health and life, and the program support is a really great way to do that!❞
❝I have a long list of new recipes and food ideas, and my kitchen is better stocked.❞
❝It’s a lot easier than you think. In the end, you feel great and you can learn a lot. Break those bad habits! It was super fun, especially as a teen.❞
❝The No-Added-Sugar-Challenge raised my awareness of the hidden added sugar in the foods I was eating and drinking. I've changed by shopping and eating habits for the better after completing the challenge. Thanks for creating a very worthwhile experience for me. I am very glad that I participated.❞
❝Enlightening and not nearly as hard as it sounds. It will change the way you think about sugar and all food in general.❞
❝This was a real wake-up call to the amount of sugar in our food. I did not think of myself as a sugar addict but I was surprised by how much sugar is in the foods I eat that I consider healthy (Go Lean cereal, Chobani fruit yogurt, fruit and nut granola bars). This one month challenge was a great way to make changes I plan on keeping.❞
❝When I first heard about this program, I was definitely in the "I don't know if I could live without chocolate" class! I've known others who have given up sugar and I never understood why, and/or felt it was something I could ever do. All the more reason to sign up and try! I couldn't believe--after the first week--that it wasn't as hard as I had always imagined. Learning more about why sugar is toxic for our bodies and comparable to addictive substances (that companies capitalize on) has changed how I think about it. A LOT! Plus, I feel great and proud of myself for staying off completely for a month+.
This experience exceeded my expectations and I very much appreciate you letting us be your guinea pigs! We're the ones who benefitted!❞