Sugar & Alcohol Addiction: Why Do Alcoholics Crave Sugar? Learn More


People who abruptly stop drinking may lose a significant source of their calorie intake and have disrupted their body’s blood sugar regulation. Recentstudies showthat processed foods like sugar trigger the brain’s reward system in ways that are similar to alcohol and other addictive substances. In other words, it’s entirely possible for someone to become addicted to sugar.

Even if you’re craving a food that isn’t doing your health any favors, in early sobriety your body is just trying to find its equilibrium. By making a few adjustments to your diet and lifestyle, you can help gently restore balance, which will take the focus off sugar. Sugar’s siren call in early sobriety can be hard to resist. Many people who’ve recently ditched the booze have never experienced sugar cravings, and then suddenly have powerful urges to eat anything sweet in sight. I’ve spent the last six years researching and understanding alcoholism, addiction, and how people get sober. When I’m not writing about sobriety and mental health, I’m fully living in my role as wife, mama, and SEO badass. Consuming alcohol leads to spikes and dips in your blood sugar levels.

dietitians confirmed what Teigen said: It’s common to gravitate towards sugar more when you’re going sober

People may find sugar’s ability to provide instant energy, combined with the good taste of sugary foods, enticing. Sugar provides some with a “quick fix” during a long and stressful day.

Change begins with realizing that there is a problem with one’s sugar addiction. Modifying one’s diet and practicing self-control can help, but going cold turkey isn’t ideal.

Depressed After Quitting Alcohol? It’s Normal.

Long-term, alcohol abuse disrupts your body’s ability to regulate your blood sugar. This is partially because alcohol can damage the pancreas, which controls blood sugar levels, and partially due to poor diet and malnutrition. If a person regularly drinks a lot without eating, their blood sugar levels can plummet dangerously low. This is because when someone stops eating, their body breaks down glycogen and turns it into sugar for energy. Addiction is a chronic condition that alters your thinking and behavior. That’s what makes it so difficult to resist urges and cravings.

What foods release endorphins?

  • Cacao. Cacao stimulates the release of endorphins, as well the happy chemical serotonin, and the bliss chemicals Phenylethylamine (PEA) and anandamide for a naturally positive outlook.
  • Spicy Foods.
  • Rhodiola.
  • Ginseng.
  • Vanilla Bean.

Your brain is programmed to seek out things that make it happy, and alcohol addiction occurs as a result of the substance’s ability to create that feeling. Over time, a person can become so desensitized to the pleasure of sugar that they may increase their intake and even experience intense cravings for it.

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Think banana “nice cream,” healthy chocolate mousse, dark chocolate, and homemade granola, to name a few. Including small servings of fruit is another way to modulate a sweet tooth and maintain a healthy, balanced diet. If you’re in recovery, limiting your sugar intake is a smart move because there is a real possibility that sugar could become a substitute addiction.

  • Weird, because I’d never really been into sweet things before.
  • I’ve been taking three a day and I’m afraid of withdrawals.
  • Blatner suggests subbing more fruit, which is a natural source of sugar, into your diet.
  • That’s why treatment centers like Silver Maple Recovery offer trauma-informed care and cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • In other words, it’s entirely possible for someone to become addicted to sugar.
  • When a person stops drinking alcohol, they begin to crave sugar more so for several reasons.

Gradually desensitizes you to the substance’s effects, requiring you consume more to get the same “feel-good” response. From day one, Ria Health has offered support for the Sinclair Method—a medication-based approach to moderate drinking or abstinence with a 78 percent success rate. Ria Health offers several FDA-approved medications for alcohol use disorder. When combined with counseling, this approach is proven highly effective. Seeing a loved one struggle with an addiction to alcohol is extremely challenging, emotional, and painful. Many are left feeling isolated, helpless, hopeless, and confused; full of questions about what they can do to help their loved one. Different types of alcohol contain varying amounts of carbohydrates.

I tried ‘Dry January’ for the second time, and it was terrible again — but not because I craved alcohol

For example, the brain perceives sex as important for procreation. So it produces high levels of dopamine during and after sex in order to reinforce that it’s a good, useful action. And to encourage the individual to engage in that same behavior again. In comparison, drugs cause the brain to flood with dopamine and trick it into believing that drugs are necessary and important for human survival. Over time, the brain loses its ability to produce its own dopamine and depends on substances to create it. A sugar addiction can develop much in the same way that a person develops an alcohol use disorder. They turn to sugary foods when they are stressed, angry, or in need of emotional comfort.

why do alcoholics crave sugar

That thing was replacing copious amounts of alcohol with copious amounts of diet soda . It was my last remaining vice, and I desperately wanted it. About a year into my sobriety, I struggled to piece together what in the world was happening with me and soda, in particular, diet sodas. Practice self-care and stress management (light a candle and take a bath, read a book, etc.). Is a board-certified psychiatrist, professional chef, and nutrition specialist.

Experiencing Sugar Cravings After Quitting Alcohol

Even in recovery, you may still crave sugar often because hypoglycemia takes time to reverse. Unfortunately, sugar is only a temporary fix and doesn’t serve as a healthy, long-term solution to what you’re going through in recovery. To keep your blood sugar levels balanced and avoid sugar cravings, you need to maintain a healthy diet like the pro-recovery diet. However, our brains and evolution haven’t yet caught up with that shift. So, our brains still perceive sugar as beneficial and release huge amounts of dopamine when we consume sugary, high-calorie foods. In the long term, this can mimic the effects of addiction and create high tolerance and cravings for sugar.

The neurobiological pathways of drug and “sugar addiction” involve similar neural receptors, neurotransmitters, and hedonic regions in the brain. Craving, tolerance, withdrawal and sensitization why do alcoholics crave sugar have been documented in both human and animal studies. In addition, there appears to be cross sensitization between sugar addiction and narcotic dependence in some individuals.


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