I have never had much of a sweet tooth. I always opted for starters rather than desert, savoury snacks over chocolate bars and cheese plates over cheesecakes. Sugary treats just did not interest me. That was until I gave up alcohol 8 months ago. Only a few weeks in to my sobriety and I started to crave sugar in a big way. I was grabbing biscuits for elevenses, cakes in the afternoon and would gorge on chocolates in the evening. I figured this was fine as I had binned the booze and this was just something that would pass.
I wasn’t drinking my calories anymore, giving up alcohol was really fucking hard, and therefore why not have a few odd treats.
The next couple of months I carried on gorging without thinking any thing of it. It was not until the Christmas just gone I realised that I was eating an insane amount of sugar. I would polish off an entire box of chocolates in one sitting and that would be on top of the cakes and cookies I had eaten throughout the day. I was consuming over 1000 calories a day in sugary treats. It was no wonder that my skin was taking a hit. I was feeling lethargic and I was starting to find it hard to drift off to sleep some nights. All the amazing benefits I had discovered with giving up drinking were slowly disappearing again.
It turns out that there is a very simple scientific explanation for my new found sugar addiction and that many people who give up alcohol experience sugar cravings. The body converts alcohol to sugar, which causes a spike in blood sugar levels. When big drinkers quit drinking, their blood sugar levels drop, and they develop sugar cravings.
Not only do those that give up alcohol crave sugar due to a drop in blood sugar levels, they may also experience addiction transfer. This is
when you stop one compulsive behaviour for another behaviour, as you are not addressing the underlying source of what’s driving the binge behaviour and cravings in the first place.
Now i know what is causing me to behave like Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the chocolate factory its time for me to address it. Just as I binned the booze I am now kicking sugar to the curb.
There are so many ways that you can combat the sugar cravings that come from binning the booze so that you can start to reap the health benefits of alcohol free living. Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me and may also work for you.
Eat in regularly to stabilize blood sugar- Make sure that you eat regularly. I try to eat something every 4 hours. Skipping meals will cause your body to release stress hormones which causes a spike and crash in blood sugar levels. This will result in those sugar cravings we are trying to get rid of and leave you feeling irritable.
There are so many healthy snacks that you can make and take with you to work to prevent you tucking in to the biscuits. These are just a few ideas;
– Crudites and Homemade Hummus
– Mixed Nuts
– Sliced apple with Meridian peanut butter
– Almonds with a high cocoa percentage dark chocolate
– Homemade guacamole and tortilla chips
– Hard boiled organic quails eggs
– Edamame beans
– Piece of fruit
– Coconut bars
– Frozen grapes
Avoid Caffeine – Caffeine aggravates hypoglycemia and disrupts blood sugar balance. I know it is hard but try to avoid caffeine where possible. If you cannot cope without your daily coffee make sure you have it before midday!
Also avoid Nicotine- Nicotine has the same affect on the body as caffeine so it also best to avoid this if you can. I have recently given up cigarettes as my occasional cigarette when drinking had become a couple of cigarettes in the evening when I binned the booze. I bought myself a vape which has really helped me.
Exercise- Exercise can trigger metabolic processes that make more blood sugar available to the brain, This reduces the craving for sugary foods. Try a new class, pop to the gym or go for a short walk.
Get some sleep- Sleep is one of the most critical factors for helping recovery, for hormone balance and blood sugar balance. See earlier post for tips on how to get a good nights sleep. https://www.sober-style.com/the-perfect-nights-sleep.
Start your day the right way – When you sleep your body is fasting and your blood sugar levels are very low. A breakfast that contains healthy fats, protein and little carbohydrates will set you up for the day ahead and stop you from craving sugary foods throughout the day.
Stay Hydrated – Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will keep you hydrated. Dehydration is one of the the most common causes of sugar cravings. without liquid your body finds it more difficult to metabolize glycogen (stored glucose) and as a result of this our bodies crave sugar to provide us with a quick energy source. Try to drinks around 8 glasses of water a day.
Eat your greens- Including lots of vegetables in your diet will not only help you to reduce your sugar cravings it is also one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Vegetables are high in fibre and low in calories whist containing a lots of beneficial nutrients.
Be Patient- You have done amazingly well to bin the booze so don’t be hard on yourself or get overly frustrated. It takes time to re-balance your brain chemistry and you will get there in the end and all of the hard work will be worth it.