Going Paleo: 8 Ways to Walk Away from Sugar Forever

Sugar is the emblazoned in bold on the Paleo no-go list. There’s no use for it in any easy Paleo meals or paleo treats. It has almost no redeeming value. Even fat can boast that it keeps you full, but all sugar has to offer is that rush.

The truth is that the temporary high we feel from drowning our troubles in a pan of traditional brownies is not very different from the one addicts feel when they score some heroin. A Princeton University study found that brain changes in lab rats that ingested sugar were similar to brain changes in rats that had been hooked on heroin an cocaine.

Anyone who has lost track of time over a box of Oreos can confirm that sugar has addictive properties, especially when we are feeling tired or depressed. Of course, the crash from a sugar binge causes a vicious cycle to form.

The real question is not why we eat so much sugar. What we really need to know is how we can break the cycle. Here are eight sugar-busting tricks that just might work and allow you to transition smoothly to easy Paleo meals.

1. Eat real easy Paleo meals.

Many people who binge on sugar have low blood sugar or blood sugar levels that swing erratically. When you eat easy paleo meals that are filled with healthful foods, you give your blood sugar a chance to regulate.

2. Retrain Pavlov’s dog.

A lifetime of self-medicating stressful situations with a bowl of Ben and Jerry’s has conditioned you in the same way Ivan Pavlov conditioned his dog. When you feel stress, the hormone cortisol is released, and your body says, “Ice cream!” It’s time to retrain your “dog.” The next time you feel stressed, walk away from the freezer and pretend to be happy. Try listening to upbeat music. Researchers have found that many people, especially women, respond so positively to their favorite tunes that their stress level actually diminishes allowing you to embrace easy paleo meals filled with whole and healthful foods.

3. Give it time.

Leo Reynolds/Flickr

When a craving hits, the intensity can be overwhelming. Often we give in because we imagine that the craving is like acute pain and will build in intensity until it is treated. This assumption is untrue. Cravings come in waves. If you can put some time between the stress trigger and a trip to the refrigerator, the craving will dissipate.





4. Celebrate each victory.

Think about Pavlov’s dog again. The dog heard a bell, and then it received a treat. This process was repeated until only the sound of the bell caused salivation — even when no treat was present. Why not retrain your brain by giving it a different kind of treat each time you beat a craving? Remember how much your puppy responded to praise when you first taught her to potty outside? She loved the attention as much as the treat. You are like that puppy. You like praise, too. Therefore, celebrate each time you win against a craving, and you will retrain your brain.

5. Eat more calories.

Eating fewer than 1,000 calories causes your hormones to work against you. After only a few days of severe calorie restriction, the satiety hormone, leptin, decreases by as much as 22 percent. Your feel “starved,” and, of course, the brain begs for sugar. Eating easy Paleo meals with a healthy balance of good fats should help keep you feeling full.

6. Pour a cup of tea.

cup of a tea
Daniel Go/Flickr

This may not be the most common way to beat a sugar craving, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Often, when you reach for that cookie, your body is trying to fend off fatigue. You can’t fix sleep deprivation while you are at work, so grab some caffeine instead of sugar, and reward yourself for choosing to kick the sugar habit. Just don’t use this method so often that you create a caffeine addiction to replace the sugar addiction. Address the real problem, and get some sleep tonight.


7. Quit obsessing.

According to Prevention Magazine, chronic dieters are not necessarily thinner than the general population. When you have a self-imposed list of foods that is “off limits,” you are far more likely to binge once you get a taste of one of those foods.

8. Be kind to yourself.

Drug addiction is driven by emotions like loneliness rather than by character flaws. Sugar addiction is the same way and choosing easy Paleo meals may not come easily. It often takes practitioners two or three tries to fully embrace eating Paleo. So try offering yourself some empathy even when others don’t. Ask yourself what’s really wrong and either verbalize or write down your answer. Respond to your hurting parts with kindness and understanding. Treat yourself as you would a child. When a child has hurt feelings, you help heal those feelings with a shoulder and a hug, not a cookie. Don’t you deserve that level of care as well?

Sugar addiction may be hard to break, but it can be done. Steal a lesson from Alcoholics Anonymous and face this problem one day at a time. Just for today, you can stay away from binge eating sugary foods, especially if you apply one of these eight strategies when the cravings hit.

As always, eat Paleo and enjoy!

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