Managing Sugar Cravings in Recovery

There are many inside jokes in recovery. One being,

“I put the plug in the jug and the refrigerator door popped open.”

It’s common for people in recovery to stop one addiction and then start another; a common one is eating sugar. Constantly reaching for candy, cookies, frozen yogurt and any other food loaded with sweetness is routine. Physiologically the consumption of sugar stimulates the release of dopamine in the brain, which creates the feelings of pleasure. Alcohol, heroin, morphine and sugar all stimulate the secretion of dopamine. Hence the common substitution of sugar for alcohol.

managing sugar cravings recovery

A diet loaded with sugar can lead to many health issues including diabetes, weight gain and cancer. Here are some tips for managing sugar cravings: 

Pick Wisely – Keep your favorite fruits stocked in your home and at work. When a craving comes up reach for the fruit instead of the sugar. The natural sweetness of the fruit will satiate the craving as well as boost your self-esteem for making a healthy choice for your body.

Mix in Protein – If you’re going to have some sugar have it with protein. For instance, have a handful of almonds with your chocolate. The protein in the almonds will regulate the blood sugar spike of the chocolate.

Eat Regularly – When the body goes without food for too long blood sugar drops. Naturally, one will start to crave carbohydrate rich food and sugars in order to raise blood sugar quickly. In order to prevent this cycle plan out your meals ahead of time. Each night take a moment to think about what you’re going to eat the next day and where you’re going to get it. Regular meals will keep sugar cravings a rare occurrence not the norm.

Take Care – Like alcohol and drugs, sugar can be an unhealthy way to self soothe painful emotions. Instead of driving to buy ice cream, go for a 20 minute walk, take a 30 minute bath, read a book, sketch or do a hobby you enjoy. These activities may not stop your craving as quickly as sugar, but they will soothe it and eventually the craving will pass. With time all cravings do pass-the healthy way just takes a little longer. Remember, the extra minutes required to take care of yourself are worth it. But, they can only be taken by you. Take care.

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