Weaning Off Sugar

Cravings for sugar and not being able to say "no" when you are standing in front of the chocolate shelves in groceries are among the biggest problems for people who try to go on a diet. Even at home, people wonder how to eat less sugar and how they can get rid of the addiction.

The problem: physical and psychological addiction

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When you constantly think about sweet food, whether its buns, chocolate, cornflakes or other quick snacks, it's not you being weak. Instead, your brain is tricking you and your body is working against you. The weakness of your mind is only a result of the helplessness of your body. How do you get out of this vicious circle?

First: Facts explained

Before we resolve your problem and free you from the constant need for sweet, we must look at the facts and consider them calmly.

This is how your sugar addiction starts and how it repeats itself in waves and circles, always coming back to the beginning and starting all over:

1. You eat something sweet

Of course, this is not how it starts. It's the result from the previous cycle of eating sweets and having to eat more and more after that. But let's start here. This is the step where real sugar, not intangible feelings or secret hormones are involved. This is the real deal, the real sugar. So the first step is: Sugar enters your system for whatever reason.

2. Your body has a reaction

Now that you have eaten, your body reacts to the food you just gave. There are many processes taking place right now. Your brain says "thank you" and rewards you with a feeling of inner satisfaction. This is not a trick to make you fat, as your body does not want to harm you. It's a necessary step in order for bodies to tell their hosts that they did something right to ensure survival. Because back in the old days, something sweet like an apple was rare and had to be celebrated!

The next part of the reaction is that your stomach gets involved. There is something to do, and your stomach releases acids to break down the food. Sugar gets released very quickly and goes into your blood.

Now comes the important part: As the sugar goes into your blood, the pancreas is called into action. The reason: The amount of sugar that's entering the body is quite high, and a counter-attack has to be started to lower the blood sugar level. This is done with insulin. It transports the overload of sugar into fat cells to normalize the blood sugar level.

Now comes the final problem: Because the sugar level was so unnaturally high (nothing in nature is sweet enough to compare with foods like chocolate or soft drinks), suddenly the insulin is overdoing its job. It's doing too well to decrease the blood sugar level. Suddenly, you have way too little sugar in your blood! What does your brain think is best? Ask you to eat something sweet again fast!

3. A craving sets in

Now you are feeling really, really terrible. It's as if you were about to crawl on the floor. You have this strong appetite and must eat something fast. You can't even make a choice any more. Your body has made that choice. Before you know it, you are eating again. And at this point, you can't even blame yourself any more. It's not in your hands, another part of you is taking over.

4. And thus, the circle starts over

At this point, we are already at the beginning again. You have just eaten, and what you ate was most likely a quick source of sugar that will make your blood sugar level go up and down.

How to get rid of the craving

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We have now talked enough about the problem and must focus on how to break the circle and avoid these ups and down. Think of your blood sugar level as the water surface of a lake or the sea. Big waves lead to an up and down of the water. But what if there were no waves? What if it was all calm? A smooth surface? This is where we are going.

From bigger waves to smaller waves

Attempting to get rid of cravings from one day to the next makes no sense, unless you are really extremely strong-willed and not afraid of possible setbacks. If you consider yourself a normal person who is frustrated with weight problems and constant craving, I suggest that you get rid of the cravings in a organized, thoughtful manner. Planning ahead is better than trying to be a hero from one minute to the next.

Remember my example about the waves on the ocean. Right now, you are dealing with a heavy storm at sea, and your blood sugar level is going up and down. To make things smooth, allow for the waves to go smaller before the surface is smooth like a mirror.

You can really take your time there. First thing you do, you still satisfy your hunger as before. I am not joking. No need to waste food that's already been bought. The only thing I ask for: When you eat those cookies, chocolate bars, and so on, don't buy them any more. Eat the last ones you have, and enjoy them to the fullest, knowing it will be your last ones. Perhaps you will use them more sparingly from now on.

The next thing on your list: Find substitutes for your favorite "emergency" foods. What would you rather eat when your body is dictating you:"Eat! Now! Do it!"

Here is what I did: I asked myself what the sweetest and most delicious fruits are that I could eat and that I would enjoy if that's the sweetest food I can have at home (because that's the trick: you can only eat what you have bought). So my choices were: Apples, mangos, pineapples.

I brought these foods home and didn't buy chocolate any more. Even more important, don't go to the grocery when you are totally hungry! Because then it's like being at home: Your body tells you what to eat, or in this case, what to buy. It's like the chocolate shelf is YOUR shelf at home! Beware of this!

Now, you only have to check how you are going to keep these foods ready. I don't know which foods you bought, perhaps the same as me, perhaps also strawberries, raspberries, or other sweet fruits. Some of them don't need preparation, others do. I bought entire pineapples, so I have to cut them open and prepare a big bowl of cubes, so I can always get some from the fridge.

You now have food ready for emergencies. The next time you have to eat, you should be able to get your food within only 60 seconds. If you can't have your fruits in time, you will be frustrated and a voice in your mind will say:"see, I told you this is a bad idea. Nothing satisfies you as much as chocolate. Give up already".

So, keep your fruits ready for when you need them. So, this time, it's going to be fruits. The waves get smaller. Your body doesn't overreact so much any more. You are going to notice this. Slowly but surely, you actually satisfy cravings in a way that your body gently accepts the sugars and doesn't send an army of insulin out to make you go crazy.

As the waves get smaller, more things become clear

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As you gain more control over your body and how it reacts to cravings, you can plan ahead again for the next step. The next step is to transfer this temporary craving control into an actual diet. For this to work, new foods have to be added and the fruits that you have used so far (for several days or weeks until you feel you are in control) will also be substituted once more.

The fruits that have helped you get rid of the worst addiction are going to leave your diet. It's now their turn to go. They played a good role, and next up, we are going to get rid of them because they also contain sugars. Fruits are not bad, they are healthy, but you need to become totally independent from sugars, especially if your goal is to lose weight.

Here are the next steps you take...

Vegetables are the new fruits

We now introduce vegetables to your meal plan. Some vegetables are really boring, I know, but you still can choose which ones you like. Tomatoes, for example, go really well with mozzarella, olive oil and herbs. Even salads made of green beans, green leaves and other vegetables can be really tasty. There are no restrictions on things such as olive oil; and cheese or nuts can also be added in small amounts.

Protein enters the stage

Eat protein with your vegetables. For example, salad can go very well with boiled eggs, or with chicken. Fish is also great as a protein source, and even certain vegetables themselves are useful protein sources. If you are vegetarian, click here.

Timing becomes important

Just like the waves in the ocean have their own rhythm, so should your eating cycle have a rhythm. Not only what you eat can play a part in keeping your blood sugar level stable, also your timing. My advice: Don't eat more often than every 4 hours. Even every 5 hours is possible.

If you get hungry or a craving kicks in (Check out the difference between hunger and cravings), you can drink water or eat a clear soup of vegetables. This does not hurt your diet. When you are still getting used to this diet, it's okay if the break between meals is only 3 hours, but somehow you should be able to manage this.

The low carb diet is the goal

We have actually reached our final destination right now. The things I just explained to you are the basic instructions in a low carb diet. If you have followed these steps until here, you should be able to not only control cravings, but wipe them out.

To keep going and to lose weight in the long run very effectively, these steps can be summed up for your future success:

1. You eat every 4 or 5 hours
2. Every meal consists of protein and, if you like, a salad or other vegetables
3. You make sure that what you eat AND drink consists of few sugars/carbohydrates
4. You drink a lot of water
5. You get good sleep
6. You MAY exercise if you like!

Don't cause another tsunami again

Here is something I need to emphasize, and it's only meant well... I am speaking from experience here. The next time someone offers you a slice of cake or chocolate, politely decline. I am not saying that it will make you fat. It won't. There is a difference between delaying weight loss and reversing it. But what will happen is that you are going to make yourself dependable on sugars again instantly. I am sorry to say, but this is how it is. If you are not careful about extreme amounts of sugars as in cakes, it can happen very fast that you have to pull yourself together and start all over with weaning off sugar.

If you don't want to decline someone's offer to have cake, I suggest you bring a box with you (for example, always have a little plastic box at work for those cases) and get some of the cake home. Tell your colleague whose birthday it is that you will either eat the cake at home or give it to your family. Because you really shouldn't eat it yourself until you have at least lost the weight you wanted to lose.


You will be surprised how liberating it feels not to have any cravings. Perhaps you can't imagine it yet, but I can tell you it's a reality. There is no magic involved here. If you get rid of the physical craving by slowly decreasing the addiction until you can dry it out completely, the psychological addiction will disappear as well. You can be completely free of any cravings, and it will be you and only you who decides when to eat and what to eat!

Take this as a piece of motivation to start now!
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