Many of us grapple with a serious addiction to sugar, a substance proven to be four times more addictive than cocaine in recent studies. Alarming figures from the USDA indicate that the average person consumes over 158 pounds of sugar annually. However, breaking free from this sweet addiction is possible with some mindful steps and the incorporation of natural sweeteners. Here are ten strategies to combat sugar cravings and a list of healthier, natural sweeteners readily available in health-food stores and supermarkets.

10 Steps for Dealing with Sugar Addiction:

  1. Reduce or Eliminate Caffeine: The ups and downs of caffeine can lead to dehydration and blood sugar swings, intensifying sugar cravings. By cutting back on caffeine, you can mitigate these fluctuations and reduce the urge for sugary treats.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Sometimes, sweet cravings indicate dehydration. Before succumbing to sugar, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes. It’s worth noting that soft drinks have become the primary source of added sugar in the United States, so opt for water to quench your thirst.
  3. Opt for Sweet Vegetables and Fruits: Satisfy your sweet tooth with the natural sweetness of vegetables and fruits. The more you incorporate these into your diet, the less you’ll find yourself craving processed sugars.
  4. Choose Gentle Sweeteners: Avoid artificial sweeteners and foods with added sugar. Instead, opt for natural sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dried fruit, stevia, barley malt, and agave nectar to sweeten your food without the negative effects of refined sugars.
  5. Get Physically Active: Engaging in physical activities like walking or yoga helps balance blood sugar levels, boost energy, and reduce tension, eliminating the need for sugary pick-me-ups.
  6. Prioritize Sleep and Relaxation: Address the root causes of sugar cravings by ensuring you get enough sleep and relaxation. Chronic tiredness and stress can trigger the body’s desire for quick energy, often in the form of sugar.
  7. Evaluate Animal Food Consumption: Balancing your intake of animal foods is crucial. Both overeating and undereating can contribute to sugar cravings, so experiment and find what works best for your body.
  8. Avoid Fat-Free or Low-Fat Snack Foods: Eliminate fat-free or low-fat packaged snacks, as they often compensate for flavor and fat content with high quantities of added sugar. This can lead to the notorious sugar roller-coaster effect.
  9. Experiment with Spices: Naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings by experimenting with spices like coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom.
  10. Find Sweetness in Non-Food Ways: Satisfy your body’s desire for sweetness without resorting to sugar by engaging in non-food-related activities. Hugs, time with friends, outdoor activities, workouts, and massages can make life sweet enough without the need for sugary additives.

Best Natural Sweeteners:

  1. Honey: A sweet and ancient natural sweetener with various flavors, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins.
  2. Maple Syrup: Adds a flavorful touch to foods; choose 100% pure and organic varieties.
  3. Coconut Sugar: A natural brown sugar substitute with a low glycemic index.
  4. Brown Rice Syrup: Sweet with a molasses consistency; made from ground, cooked brown rice.
  5. Stevia: A natural herb that is 100 times sweeter than white sugar, with no impact on blood sugar.
  6. Xylitol: A natural sweetener derived from fruits and plants, suitable for recipes.
  7. Date Sugar: Made from dehydrated, ground dates, rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  8. Molasses: The most nutritious sweetener derived from sugar cane, with brands like Sucanat retaining more vitamins and minerals.

Conclusion: Breaking free from sugar addiction involves adopting a holistic approach, incorporating healthier lifestyle choices and natural sweeteners. By following these steps and choosing alternatives like honey, maple syrup, and stevia, you can enjoy sweetness without compromising your well-being.

Adapted from “The Cane Mutiny,” New Age Magazine, March/April 1999.

1. USDA Sugar and Sweeteners Situation and Outlook Yearbook, Economic Research Service, July 2004, www.ers.usda.gov.