Throughout my career in addressing nutrition in addiction recovery, this topic of sugar cravings comes up time and time again. After quitting drinking, there are a number of reasons why sugar hits the ‘sweet spot’ and cravings for sugar can be at all time high. Personally, I know this to be true because when I quit drinking, I substituted the glass of wine for a bowl of ice cream… every night. And it took me a long time to break that cycle of craving ice cream.

It’s natural to assume that you crave sugar after quitting alcohol because your body has become acclimated to the high sugar content found in most alcoholic beverages. In essence, it is shown that sweets are a known side effect of quitting alcohol – but certainly not one of the worst ones. With moderation and attention to intake, a little sugar can be pleasurable and healthful if taken in the right amounts. The most optimal way is to stick to fruits and other natural sugars like honey, and to generally enjoy other sweets minimally. A study shows the link between consumption of alcohol and a desire for sweets.

What other strategies can help to manage cravings?

Just as an alcoholic loses control of his or her ability to control drinking, someone who consumes too much sugar may eat uncontrollably, often referred to as binge eating. Similar to alcoholism, those with a sugar addiction can experience similar withdrawal-like symptoms when sugar consumption is suddenly stopped. For instance, heavy sugar users might feel anxiety or shakiness if they abruptly eliminate their sugar intake. For instance, researchers in one study showed women pictures of a chocolate milkshake made with Haagen-Dazs ice cream. Additionally, research suggests there may be a biological connection between having a sweet tooth and an alcohol abuse problem. These children were also more likely to have a family history of depression, which is an additional risk factor for alcohol abuse.

recovering alcoholics crave sugar

However, the same was found to be true with non-carbohydrate substitutes, which have also been shown to suppress voluntary alcohol intake. It may have something to do with the way that sweets stimulate the endogenous opioid system, causing the brain to feel satisfied. It’s no secret that sugar cravings can be a major challenge when trying to recover from alcoholism.

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Normally, the liver stores glucose in the form of glycogen, which is then released into the bloodstream steadily throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. But alcohol disrupts this process, leading to low blood sugar or hypoglycemia. Cravings are just another side effect of the battle with addictive substances like alcohol. Fighting those cravings effectively is one of the main benefits of a long-term treatment plan.

At Southeast Addiction Rehab in Tennessee, we can teach you these strategies. Finally, it is important for recovering alcoholics to have a support system in place to help them manage cravings. Connecting with family and friends, attending support groups, and talking to a therapist can all help to provide a sense of comfort and support during the recovery process.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, sugar fundamentally functions in similar ways. As PubMed finds, sugar consumption releases dopamine in the brain, activating its reward system. This sets the physical foundations for addiction, of course, and begins to encourage substance consumption. Even if the individual can’t consciously feel it, their brain does.

recovering alcoholics crave sugar

This is similar to the dopamine rush you’d feel when drinking alcohol. A replacement addiction (also called a transfer addiction) is when you quit one addictive behavior but feel like you need to replace it with something else. In this case, your mind and body are tempted to replace alcohol with sugar.

Here’s the Deal With Your Junk Food Cravings

People with this disease may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop drinking, which can make it difficult to quit without professional help. Unless you pay close attention to your sugar intake, you likely consume more than the World Health Organization’s recommended 25 grams per day. This is easy to do because of the high sugar content of foods and drinks, such as some low-fat yogurt (45 grams) and a can of coke (44 grams). If you are in recovery for alcoholism or know someone who is, and sweets have become an unhealthy substitute for alcohol, it’s time to get help and make some serious changes. If you’re seeking AUD treatment for yourself or a loved one, noting which treatment providers offer these therapies is advisable. Sugar cravings are extremely common, and can play a crucial role in recovery – as outlined above.

  • In some ways, this digested sugar acts similarly to sugar in the human body.
  • The latter factor explains, in part, why heavy drinkers are much more susceptible to hypoglycemia.
  • Your blood sugar will drop again, landing you right back where you started.
  • Quitting drugs and alcohol is a personal decision and nobody can make that choice for you.

Surprisingly, some scientists believe sugar to be more addictive than drugs, such as cocaine. While there is disagreement on whether sugar can create a physiological or neurochemical addiction, evidence points to at least a strong psychological addiction. If you peruse the World Wide Web, you’ll see plenty of people claiming that you’ll feel so much better if you just stop eating [fill in the blank]. Initially, like all addictions, addiction to alcohol has physical, psychological, and behavioral roots. Now dubbed Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), this type of addiction differs little from the others in these regards. Sugary foods activate the same receptors in the brain as opioids.

How To Pick a Healthy Cereal

If you have a history of anorexia or bulimia, food journaling might be a trigger. If that’s the case for you, either skip this tip or try adjusting your approach. Instead of noting the amount of food eaten and calories consumed, for example, try checking off a box every time you eat a serving of vegetables or drink 8 ounces of water. We already know that a good night’s sleep is crucial to our health.

  • Both substances cause dopamine release and feelings of happiness and pleasure.
  • For people who’ve become chemically dependent on sugar, it’s even harder.
  • At first, it may think hunger pangs are a desire to drink alcohol.
  • Whether you are looking for a drug rehab in Nashville TN for yourself or a loved one, we can help.
  • Additionally, sugar can give a sense of comfort, which can be particularly helpful to those who are struggling to cope with the psychological effects of alcoholism.

We’ve compiled a list of the mental, physical and dietary changes that will help you fend off sugar cravings and help you manage your eating habits. That said, addiction might co-occur with other conditions that affect appetite. An SUD might co-occur with an AUD, or another mental health disorder that brings about sugar cravings. That is to say, sugar cravings may be present for other reasons as well – but typically accompany alcohol addiction.

One reason cravings happen is because of an imbalance in your body chemistry. Things like eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep can help you feel good all the time and without the highs and lows of alcohol abuse— and sugar. Did you know that it’s common for people who have struggled with alcohol addiction to have low blood sugar? The liver, the organ that processes any alcohol you drink, is in charge of releasing glycogen into your blood. Alcohol stops this from happening, causing your blood sugar to drop. That’s why alcohol withdrawal and sugar cravings happen frequently.

Others will need medical intervention to overcome the chemical reactions fueling the craving. Whatever your situation, being kind to yourself and open with your healthcare provider can only help. When it comes to breaking a sugar addiction, there’s no quick fix. You’re making a significant lifestyle change, and it will take time and effort.

If you feel the craving is related to a need for comfort, try to find a healthier way to satisfy that need, such as going for a walk or talking to a friend. Many factors can contribute to the development of alcoholism, including genetic predisposition, environmental influences and personal experiences. Some people may be more susceptible to developing this condition due to underlying mental health issues like depression or anxiety. A sugar detox involves cutting all added sugars from your diet for a set period of time, from as little as a week to as long as a month. The premise is that, after an initial period of “withdrawal,” you’ll no longer crave sweets the way you do now. Exercise is a proven stress reducer and a great way to calm sweet cravings.