6 Ways to Bust the Holiday Sugar Habit

If you’re like me you ate too much sugar over the holidays.  And now you’re likely craving more.

Sugar is addictive. Studies show that it’s actually more addictive than cocaine! Crazy, right? Both stimulate dopamine in your brain. That craving for something exciting or new is dopamine. You can also feel it from the constant new info streaming on social media; there’s always something new and interesting demanding your attention.  Researchers call this “The Pleasure Trap” and there is a great TEDx Talk about it explaining that it can take 3 weeks to shift out of this pattern.

Here are a few tips to get back on track after the sugar onslaught that is the Christmas season:

  1. Eat sour foods – sour is the opposite flavor of sugar so it can squash cravings. Eat olives, pickles and fermented vegetables. (I like the Ozuke brand if I’m not making my own).
  2. Balance your blood sugar – by eating meals of protein, fiber (vegetables, beans, whole grains) and fats (nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut). This stops the internal blood sugar rollercoaster which causes a sugar craving to pull you out of the low blood sugar down swing. Avoid the low, avoid the cravings.
  3. Exercise – makes you feel good and gives you some dopamine so you don’t crave it from food. Plus movement helps your body use up that extra sugar you ate over the holidays.  If possible, get outdoors where sunlight, fresh air and nature can work wonders on rebalancing your body.
  4. Eat naturally sweet foods – assuage the craving with sweet potatoes, parsnips, sweet herbal teas like Vanilla Rooibos, Egyptian Licorice or Throat Coat
  5. Balance your microbiome & soothe your gut – this is a good time for probiotics, prebiotics (lentils, garlic, onion, and green plantains – make these into pancakes), and bone broths. Sugar wreaks havoc on the microbiome feeding the “bad guys” which crave sugar as their fuel source. If you feed the “good guys” harmony can be restored decreasing those cravings. The amino acids in bone broths are very soothing and healing on an over-sugared gut.
  6. Acupuncture – my colleague Beth Kearns at LWC has an effective craving-buster technique. Worked great for me.

You may feel a little low during the 3 weeks while your body switches over, but the above tips will help.  Take this time to get focused on New Year’s projects and having some outdoor fun.  That’s my strategy!

Going cold turkey is best, but do what you can handle.  I like the approach of giving your body the nutrients it needs and the opposite tastes (sour).  Then you won’t want the sugar any longer.

Cheers to a healthy New Year!



Disclaimer: Nutrition therapy is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, prescription, or cure for any disease, or as a substitute for medical care. Jen Marshall and Stacy St Germain are not licensed medical providers. Nutrition plans are not intended as a substitution for traditional medical care, nor should be interpreted as medical advice, but instead is an adjunctive and supportive therapy.