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How to Stop Binging on Sweets— From Cravings to Control

Find compassionate support and steps to break the sugar binge cycle. Learn how to stop binging on sweets and build a healthier relationship with food.

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Have you ever wondered if you could ever consume enough sweets? I have.

Sweets used to be my driving food factor. I craved them to deal with emotions, to celebrate, and to savor. 

I clearly remember a Christmas celebration at the school where I taught. 

My secret Santa gave me sweet treats every single day. Everyday, I would eat them without saving any. 

The last day, my secret Santa handed me an oversized container of chocolate peanuts (they were my favorites). It must have been a good 5 pounds in the container. I was all smiles,and I thanked her. 

All I could think about was eating that chocolate.

One of my colleagues mentioned putting it in the teacher’s room and sharing. No way. That chocolate was mine

I didn’t care that I didn’t get the beautiful gifts all the other teachers received from their secret santa, mine knew me best. 

Those chocolate peanuts were gone before the next day. I did bring them home, and my children wanted some, but I didn’t share

That was part of my awareness of how much this needed to stop. I couldn’t even bring myself to allow my children to have some of the 5 pounds of chocolate. 

Have you ever hidden sweets, consumed sweets quickly so no one else could have any, or refused to share because you needed all the sweets? You are not alone.

Have you ever felt such shame and disgust in yourself after sugar binging? Yes, I was there too.

Have you ever been frustrated with yourself, because you know what you should do, but sugar always tastes better than doing what you know is correct? Oh yes, I have been there as well.

Sugar binges stem from more than just a lack of willpower. 

Have you ever thought that you just don’t have enough willpower? Well, it isn’t just about willpower. 

Sugar cravings and binges are a complex mix of physiological and psychological factors. 

Keep reading, this article provides a compassionate, science-backed approach to breaking this cycle of sugar binges. 

We will also explore that our bodies are gifts from God and we have a responsibility to care for them. 

Caring for ourselves is not selfish, it is doing what God wants us to.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Understanding Sugar Cravings

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Why Do We Crave Sweets?

Craving sweets can be attributed to a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

We crave sweets because they are a concentrated, quick source of energy. 

That 2pm time comes and we feel depleted and tired, then we have a candy bar and perk up. 

This perk only lasts a short time, and then the tired returns with a vengeance, leading to needing more sugar to get that quick source of energy again.

We all have various neurotransmitters in our brain, dopamine is one. Dopamine is associated with pleasure and reward, and guess what triggers the release of dopamine… Yes, sugar. 

So we get a “high” when we eat sugar, which leads to cycles where every time you are down you have sugar and get a “high.” 

Nourish by WebMd did a slideshow on this sugar addiction cycle and spoke about ways to kick the addiction. They explained that the “high” doesn’t last long, and we crave that feeling again, and like the mouse in the maze, we learn that sugar equals pleasure.

Not only do we crave the dopamine feeling, but we also crave emotional comfort. 

Many people associate sweet foods with comfort and pleasure. Eating sweets can provide temporary relief from stress, anxiety, and sadness.

Also, as we grow we realize that sweet foods are rewards. 

A parent, sitter, or teacher tells children that if they are good, they will earn M&Ms, chocolate bars, jelly beans. We become adults with these lessons learned, and if we are good, we have earned sugar.

Then there is the fact that sweets are readilyavailable,e and we hear about them in all marketing in all modalities. 

We hear about Reeses over television, articles in the internet, YouTube, anywhere you could see a commercial. 

We even have tied sweets to celebrations. What do you have for birthdays, weddings, and graduations? cake and ice cream. 

Society has not only made sweets acceptable, but has encouraged them.

Let’s put this all together:

You are tired after a hard day at work – You need some energy to make dinner, so you grab a quicksweet,t knowing it’ll give you a burst of energy. You also did a lot of hard work at your job today, so you did earn the candy, and the sugar makes you smile and feel good. 

It sounds like the perfect time, but this time only lasts a short time, and then you are low, very low. 

Well, it worked last time, How about trying 2 candies instead of one – immediate energy and feeling good. 

Does this sound familiar? 

Sugar would get me through a day. 

At 349 pounds, my energy was always low. Sugar would allow me to feel good while being able to do something and feel energetic. Then I wanted a nap. 

I learned quickly that if I could ingest sugar every 30–45 minutes, I could sustain energy. Not really, if my energy was tracked, I would have seen huge spikes and then huge dips and then huge spikes. 

I was destroying the body God put in my care.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”

Romans 12:1 

The Emotional Connection to Sugar

Eating sugar often becomes a coping mechanism for dealing with stress, boredom, sadness, and other negative emotions. 

It is easy to see how this happens when it releases dopamine and causes feelings of happiness and energy almost immediately, even though these are temporary.

Eating sugar can also provide a distraction from emotional stress and unpleasant feelings.

When faced with stress from not clearly understanding a work assignment, I would often turn to something sweet. 

I could enjoy a delicious sweet and forget about work. The problem was that this only lasted a short time, and then the choice was more sweets or dealing with discomfort.

Sweets can also become a habit of how to deal with emotions. 

My mother would tell me often about how she would give me a cookie every time I would cry as a 2 year old. She said, as a joke, that my mouth was always open, either crying or having a cookie. 

I learned that when emotionally uncomfortable, a sweet would help. It was a type of replacement for the comfort of my mother.

Heather Yoshimura AGNP-PC examines the complex relationship between sugar and emotions.

Relying on sugar as a coping mechanism can have negative consequences,including weight gain, increased risk of diseases, a cycle of emotional eating, and a distance from God and the purpose that He has designed for you. 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

I needed to find a way, other than sweets, to deal with the discomfort. 

I needed help to find this way. I knew God was the key, but I didn’t know practical ways to put God first. 

The Faithful Finish Lines membership guided me to the practical way to find God and put Him first.

Turning to prayer and scripture helps to constantly remind me that God is here to provide the comfort I need.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10

Sugar and Addiction—Fact or Fiction?

Is sugar really addictive

Consider what we have already discussed; that we crave that “high”, that good feeling and so we either increase the amount of sweets or decrease the time between the sweets to keep the “high” going. 

Doesn’t that sound like a drug? 

I know I became dependent on having the energy I needed to just survive. That energy came from sugar, and the more, the better. 

I have an adult child, who has been addicted to drugs and is now in the recovery stage. 

How she presented, mimicked my time with sugar, but sugar was endorsed by society. 

I was destroying my body the same as she was; we just chose a different substance to do it with. 

Strategies to Curb Sugar Cravings

Mindful Eating—The Key to Breaking the Binge Cycle

Mindful eating is so beneficial, especially for someone struggling with binge cycling and sugar addictions.

Many of us sit in front of a television set to eat, work at our desk while we eat, or complete tasks around the house as we eat. Few of us sit at the table and enjoy our time as we eat.

I have sat down to watch a show with a sharable bag of M&Ms and told myself I’ll just eat some and then put the bag away. 

I go to reach for another handful and the bag is empty. How did that happen? I have even been seen to look around the room to see who must have taken my M&Ms. 

Surely I didn’t eat the whole thing. I don’t even remember eating them or how they tasted. I know M&Ms taste good, so I want more so that I can enjoy them. 

I now eat mindfully, most of the time. 

I sit down and look at my food. I appreciate that all the colors mean I am getting healthy sustenance. 

I take a bite and chew many times. I enjoy each bite. 

I talk with my family at the table. If this is a snack and I am alone, I will pray as I eat, asking God to bless my food and to bless me for trying so hard to treat the body He gave me with respect.

It now takes me 25–30 minutes to eat 1 cup of food. This used to be gone in minutes. At the end of my meal or snack, I am satisfied both in the enjoyment of my food and in its fullness. 

Practicing mindfulness is a way to enjoy every minute that God has given us. 

When you are next at a party and the brownies on the buffet table are calling you, go to them and look at them. 

Ask yourself, if you really want one. Especially in the beginning, your answer will probably be, “Yes”. 

Portion control is very important. Cut one in half. Take your quarter, roll it around in your mouth, savor it, enjoy the experience, and thank God you can taste it. 

Then walk away and go enjoy another experience that God has provided, like visiting with colleagues and friends. 

Make yourself fully present in each moment, positive and negative, and food will start to take a backseat in your experiences.

Sara at The Holy Mess talks about 20 ways to eat more mindfully in a practical way. There is also a free printable guide with this linked article.

Nutritional Strategies to Tame Your Sweet Tooth

As mentioned earlier, we crave sugar for that wonderful energy boost, even though it is temporary

As Faithful Finish Lines taught me more about balanced meals and planning meals, I found that protein gives me that same energy boost. The boost is not always immediate, but it lasts much longer. 

Now, when I crave energy, I reach for foods higher in protein, such as a hardboiled egg, Greek yogurt, or some cottage cheese. If I really want sugar, I will add berries to these for a sweet boost, without the negative health consequences.

I also include protein items, such as protein shakes. I love Fairlife protein shakes. 

I include an occasional protein bar, but I am very careful about which ones, as many are just glorified candy bars.

The main emphasis is to balance meals

My meals are:

  • rich in protein, 20–30 grams a meal and 10–15 grams a snack; 
  • high in fiber, about 5 grams a meal; 
  • include healthy fats, such as olive oil, salmon, and olives; and 
  • healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, sweet potatoes, and vegetables. 

The foods God provided for us will keep us healthy. The balance will keep you satisfied. 

The Holy Mess also has some wonderful resources on very simple well balanced meals. If you search her website you will find many more than just the one article I linked.

It is also important to stay hydrated. Your body needs water and when we are dehydrated or even under hydrated our body will start craving things we shouldn’t have. 

When dehydrated or under hydrated, you will feel depleted and tired and we all know that when that happens we reach for the quickest “feel good” food. 

What does God say about nourishing our bodies:

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 

Smart Swaps and Satisfying Substitutes

Instead of turning to sugar for comfort during difficult times, you may benefit from healthier coping strategies, such as:

  • Turn to God through prayer, meditation, and Scripture reading.
  • Practice mindful eating, take a small bite and really enjoy it and then walk away.
  • Be preventive and make sure you are well hydrated, having balanced meals, and planning your meals.
  • Go for a walk. The walk will release endorphins, which are natural mood lifters.
  • Have a list of healthy snack options in your refrigerator (especially protein) to grab. You can include sweet options such as fruit, yogurt, or dark chocolate (1 ounce). 
  • Join support groups, such as the Free Christian Weight loss Community.
  • Consider joining Faithful Finish Lines 2.0 for guided, science-based, Christian help with conquering sugar addictions and losing weight.

You can get more practical tips to control your sugar cravings by visiting this article from So Very Blessed. 

Distraction and Self-Care for Craving Management

As was discussed earlier, sugar can also provide a distraction, but to move in a new direction, when you feel you need a distraction, you could.”

  • Work on something new. When I am overwhelmed at work now, I will stop and do a game of solitaire online or read one chapter in a novel. Then I return to work and my mind is usually more able to deal with what is going on.
  • Take a short walk. I work outside my home for the first time in a decade. When I get the “in a rut” feeling around mid-afternoon, I walk around the building. It puts me in front of people, I get my steps in, and endorphins begin their work of lifting my mood.
  • Listen to music. Praise music will immediately lift me up. Because I am concentrating on praising God and not concentrating on what is bringing me down or the need for sugar.
  • If you can get out in nature, do that. As spring and summer approaches, I will be walking around the outside of my building, we are in the country. I also have a back deck at home where I can go and sit and enjoy the pine trees and fresh air. Nature will help to de-stress me and it may work for you as well.
  • Take time to do your nails, take a relaxing bath or do a face mask. Do something that will enhance you and make you feel good. Start changing the habit of feeling good from sugar to something more positive.

Overcoming Emotional Triggers

Identifying Your Triggers: When Do Sugar Binges Strike?

Sometimes it seems as if sugar binges come out of nowhere. There are triggers that we may not be recognizing.

Tracking your food  and journaling can help you stay present and mindful. 

Some professionals recommend to pre-track, plan your day ahead, and track at the beginning of the day for the whole day. That works great when you are further along. 

In my experience, you should track what you eat as you eat when you are first beginning. This “forces” you to be present with what you eat, and as you track, also journal what you are feeling prior to eating and after eating.

At the end of each day, look back at your journal and self-reflect, Ask yourself:

  •  How did your day go? 
  • What were the positives? 
  • What can you work on for tomorrow? 

This will help you identify your triggers, so that you know ahead of time what to watch out for as you are overcoming sugar addiction and binges.

Replacing Sugar with Healthy Coping Mechanisms

There are ways to cope with your emotions other than food, here are some suggestions:

  • Move daily, walking, strength training, dancing, anything you enjoy.
  • Talk to your friends, plan a meet up in the park or at your church.
  • Read the Bible.
  • Listen to worship music.
  • Pray.
  • Find a way to serve others through volunteering.
  • Read a good book.
  • Journal.
  • Join a support group, such as the Free Christian Weight loss Community.
  • Join a supportive, friendly challenge, such as The Holy Mess May (2024) weight loss challenge.

When to Seek Professional Help

Professional help is needed when any disorder takes over your life and stops you from living your life. 

If you have an eating disorder that has become your life and is keeping you from living, seek professional help. 

Some suggestions of professional help:

  • Psychologist
  • Counselors
  • Christian counselors
  • Bariatric surgeons (which will require psychological visits)

I consulted and worked with all of these professionals to overcome my eating disorders. 

I had a binge eating disorder, emotional eating disorder, and sugar addiction.

I tried everything to lose weight ,but nothing worked until I found Faithful Finish LInes 2.0

They reintroduced me to God and helped me to put Him first in my life through practical steps and guidance. 

Once God was securely in place in my life, I then found that diets were still not working for me. I didn’t know why. I prayed, I sought psychological counseling, and went to a Christian counselor.

When bariatric surgery was recommended to me, I thought, “No, that is not trusting God to do this.” I prayed for weeks, months, and yes years. 

Then I stopped talking to God and started listening to Him. Praying is a two way street. I needed to listen.

For me, bariatric surgery was needed. It is not the solution for all, but for me, God provided this opportunity. 

Once I decided to follow God’s lead, it still took almost one year of psychiatrist visits, nutritional visits and continued following of Faithful Finish Lines 2.0 guidelines.

I had the surgery on March 15, 2023 and as of today, I have lost 146 pounds. I have 30 more pounds to go, but God will see me through. 

I had to follow every guideline from Faithful Finish Lines to be successful, the surgery was just a tool to get my body moving in the right direction.

I turn to God daily, multiple times in a day, actually all day long. 

I now have food freedom. Yes, I want sugar occasionally, but it does not rule my life. 

I now give God control in my life, not food.

Building a Support System

Surround Yourself with Supportive People

It is key to have supportive people around you. I had mentioned that I worked from home for over a decade until just recently. 

I have been blessed with a husband who supports me, but he struggles with overeating and doesn’t curtail his eating in front of me. My whole family supports me, but still eats all the foods I wish not to eat. 

I found that I was fighting constantly with myself to not partake of what they were eating. 

I turned to Free Christian Weight loss Community and Faithful Finish Lines 2.0 for the support and encouragement I needed.

I participate in challenges with Ashley Basilio through Get Fit With Ashley. I do the challenges with The Holy Mess. I do challenges with Erin McMichael, “Shrinking Tribe”. 

These challenges help me to stay on track and to focus on God as I take care of the body He gave me.

Patience and Self-Compassion

Progress, Not Perfection

There are a lot of practical tips in this article to help you find food freedom, but even if you do every one of them, it is not unnatural to have a setback. 

Setbacks are normal, we are human, we do make mistakes, and that is okay. Mistakes are what cause us to learn and grow.

Through prayer and mistakes, we can grow into the Christians God wants us to be.

As we experience setbacks, and we will, just remember to get back on track right away. God has never left your side, even during a setback. Lean on Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 

Be Kind to Yourself

We are often our own worst enemy. Accept God’s grace and forgiveness. Accept God’s unconditional love, yes unconditional.

Show grace and forgive yourself as God forgives you.

Shame is believing there is something inherently wrong with us, there is nothing wrong with you. 

You are normal, you may be struggling, but you will overcome. Ditch the shame spiral and live the purpose that God has for you.

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength”

Philippians 4:13

FAQ’s About How to Stop Binging on Sweets

How long does it take to stop binging on sweets?

The time it takes to stop binging on sweets can vary significantly from person to person. 

Several factors can determine the time involved with this process, including if someone has a binge eating disorder and how severe it is, the social support someone has, and the access to resources for managing cravings and promoting healthier eating habits.

For some individuals, breaking the cycle of binge eating on sweets may occur relatively quickly, especially if they are able to use effective strategies and seek support from professionals and support groups. However, for others, it may take more time and effort to overcome binging on sweets.

In my experience, once I had surgery, this happened overnight. I had cut out sugar in the past, but turned right back to it. The surgery prevents me from ingesting much sugar, which is a tool I need.

What happens when you stop eating sugar?

There are some negatives and a lot of positives that happen when you stop eating sugar. When you stop eating sugar, especially if you’ve been binging on sugar for a while, several things can happen, both in the short term and the long term.

You can experience withdrawal symptoms: These can include headaches, fatigue, mood swings, irritability, cravings, and even nausea. These are temporary and usually disappear within a few days to a week. 

Remember our discussion of sugar addiction being like drug addiction. Sugar withdrawal happens as does drug withdrawal, but not typically as severely.

Improved energy levels: Your energy levels will stop crashing after the sugar and be better leveled. If you need more energy, make sure protein is in every meal/snack you eat, and make sure you are hydrated.

You may have more stable moods and improved overall emotional well-being. Sugar affects the neurotransmitters, leading to mood swings and irritability, so without sugar, these begin to level out.

Weight loss or maintenance: Sugar is a high-density food and can contribute to weight gain, but by cutting sugar out or down in your diet, you may find that you lose some weight.

Improved dental health: Sugar is a significant contributor to tooth decay, cutting back on sugar can reduce the risk of oral health problems.

Reduced risk of chronic diseases: Sugar binges can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers. By lowering sugar you may lower your risk of these conditions.

Better skin health: Sugar is associated with skin issues such as acne and premature aging. Cutting back on sugar may lead to clearer skin and a more youthful appearance.

Improved overall health: Sugar is associated with lowering cardiovascular health, immune function and inflammation, which is associated with various chronic diseases. Cutting back on sugar can improve your heart health, immune system, and reduce inflammation.

I began my journey with high blood pressure that was not well controlled, even through medication. 

I was diagnosed as borderline diabetic within days of being diabetic. My fasting blood sugars were in the 200s. 

I have dentures due to having to have my teeth removed. 

My skin had chronic issues that even dermatology could not identify. 

I also have an autoimmune disorder known as hemolytic anemia (my body destroys its own red blood cells). 

Since stopping sugar and losing weight:

  • I no longer have blood pressure problems and do not need to take medications.
  • My fasting blood sugar levels are in the 80s and on target, I am no longer borderline diabetic.
  • My skin has significantly improved. I still have outbreaks, but they are minor and go away quickly.
  • The autoimmune disorder has been in remission for 7 months now, and I feel fantastic.

Is it better to quit sugary cold turkey or gradually?

This is a question I really can’t answer. For me, quitting sugar cold turkey worked, but for others that will not work.

If you gradually cut back on sugar the withdrawal symptoms will be much less, you won’t feel deprived, and it could be a lifetime behavioral change. You may experience cravings for a period of time and will see progress at a slower rate.

If you quit sugar cold turkey your progress will be seen almost immediately, you don’t have to guess how much sugar to eat (the answer is none for refined sugar), and your cravings should stop within a short time. 

Your withdrawal symptoms may be very obvious and unless you choose to never have sugar in your life you will need to work on how to and how much sugar to add back into your life.

Because my physical body can no longer handle much sugar, I know I have to make that a lifetime behavior, so quitting cold turkey went well for me. 

I eat under 15 grams of refined sugar a day. I do eat fruit and do not count that as my sugar.

Can I still have sweets in moderation?

For most people, the answer is yes. Plan on a sweet treat, 1 serving, a couple of times a week and pray before you eat. 

Pray for strength and support as you eat one serving of M&Ms and then walk away. It will probably be challenging at first. 

For some it is easier to completely give up sugar and then add in small amounts once the addiction is muted.

You are not alone with binging on sweets, there are a lot of us in the same boat.

Remember when Jesus was in the boat with the disciples and the waves kept crashing. He was awoken to save them and with one wave of His hand the water calmed. 

He can do that for you as well. 

Lean on God and ask Him to calm your cravings and help you implement the strategies we discussed in this article.

Dear God, 

Grant me strength to overcome my struggles with sugar. Guide me towards healthier choices and give me the willpower to resist temptation. Help me find peace in your presence and the courage to overcome this challenge.

Amen.
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