How can I kick my sugar addiction?

Nicole Avena, PhD
Nutrition & Dietetics
To kick a sugar addiction, you must be aware of the sugars in the foods you eat, and know all the different names for sugar. Watch research neuroscientist Nicole Avena, PhD, explain why reading food labels and having a plan for cravings are both key.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Sugar addiction can undermine even the best weight loss and exercise routines. To learn how to curb your sugar addiction, watch this video by Dr. Oz.

Doreen Rodo
Nutrition & Dietetics

It's best to start by learning what items have sugar and how much. For example, a 32 oz Classic Coke from McDonald's has 104 grams of sugar or 26 teaspoons. Imagine yourself eating 26 teaspoons of sugar-most people couldn't do it. Figure out what items are your downfall and don't buy them because if they aren't in the house, you will be tempted to eat them. Find products that you like with sugar substitute and have them instead. Better yet, try fresh fruit because it has a natural sweetness. Have it available whenever you usually eat sugar. Find ways to divert your mind when having a craving. You could read, exercise or call a friend. If you do have sweets, have a cup of tea afterwards because it changes the taste in your mouth and you are less likely to eat more.

William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism

With your foot.

OK, sorry about that. I couldn’t resist. But in all seriousness, addictions, any addictions, are difficult to kick. I guess the first thing I wonder about is, why are you addicted to sugar in the first place?

Are you stressed out?




For many people sugar is a comfort food. For others a quick rush. Either way, if you are addicted it seems to me that you are trying to fill an empty void that cannot be filled. Addiction suggests that no amount of sugar is succeeding in giving you what you need or want.

If you can, you should look inside yourself and find out what’s the hole you are trying to fill with sugar. If you can’t tell, or if the problem is beyond fixing right now, then let’s look at some options.

The first is replacement therapy. Instead of sugar, could you addict yourself to something more healthy? This is a patch, not a solution. But it's not a perfect world. For instance, if you are addicted to sodas, switch to diet sodas. It only takes about two weeks to acclimate and then you won’t even notice the difference (although I confess, those first few diet sodas are naaaaaaaaaasty when you’ve been slugging down the sugar-filled stuff). If you are chewing gum all the time, switch to sugar-free. If you’re eating fruit-flavored gum drops maybe you should try real fruit.

The next option is reduction. If you are diving into chocolate, switch to smaller bars. If you’re eating ice cream, get smaller bowls. You’d be surprised, once you adjust, most people find a smaller portion of their forbidden pleasures gives them as much bang for the buck as larger portions.

The last option is quitting cold turkey. Being addicted to sugar is not unlike being an alcoholic. And if you’re an alcoholic all the other options are off the table. Drinking whiskey as a replacement for vodka is pointless; and trying to drink only a little bit isn’t an option for most alcoholics. If you’re addicted to sugar this severely, you need to quit, period. And to do that you’ll need help and support to do it.

Check with your social networks. Does your church, club, school, or work place have any support groups that you can join? If not, start one. There’s a lot to be said to sharing a sinking boat with others of your own kind, rather than facing going down alone; and I’ll bet you’ll find that you aren’t the only sugar addict out there wanting to kick the habit.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.