Sugar Addiction And Alcoholism Link

Sugar addiction


There is consistent evidence linking the consumption of sweets and alcohol in both animals and humans. There are some indications that this connection may be at least partially genetic in nature, although the actual genes that may regulate consumption of both sweets and alcohol have not been identified.

It’s not uncommon for individuals who once struggled with alcohol to turn to food in recovery, especially sugary foods. There are psychological and physiological reasons as to why this occurs. Eating certain foods high in nutrients may help improve mood while foods low in nutritional value and high in sugar may be a hinderance to one’s mood. Eating a whole foods plant based diet can help stabilize blood sugar levels, resulting in a reduction of sugar cravings as well as alcohol cravings. Maintaining a healthy nutritional lifestyle is a form of self-care and is indicative of caring about your wellbeing, in which case you will be more inclined to care about your sobriety.

But different things work for different people and it’s important you find the way that works for you and only when the time is right and you’ve learnt to live your life confidently and happily sober. As discussed above, sugar can be as addictive as alcohol for some people. Excessive consumption of fructose sweeteners, for example, can lead to fatty liver disease—just like alcohol.

Using a functional MRI scanner, researchers found that the same part of the brain lights up every time an individual drinks alcohol or eats sugar. People who are dependent on sugar can experience withdrawal-like symptoms when they try to give it up. These include anxiety, shaking, and obsessively thinking about sugary foods. Sugar cravings are common in alcohol addiction recovery, but can lead to relapse. Association between sweet preference and paternal history of alcoholism in psychiatric and substance abuse patients. And, I have an amazing recipe for a nourishing and healthy smoothie that helps with sugar-cravings and with detoxing from alcohol.

The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider. Some may also benefit from working with a nutritionist, dietician, health coach, nutritional coach, nutritional therapist, or other such professionals in order to improve their relationship with food. Ria Health offers access to prescription anti-craving medications and regular coaching sessions to help you overcome the urge to drink alcohol. We support both abstinence and moderation, so you don’t need to quit all at once, or even completely. Best of all, the whole thing can be done from an app on your smartphone. 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.


In essence, it is shown that sweets are a known side effect of quitting alcohol – but certainly not one of the worst ones. With moderation and attention to intake, a little sugar can be pleasurable and healthful if taken in the right amounts. The most optimal way is to stick to fruits and other natural sugars like honey, and to generally enjoy other sweets minimally. Sweet liking and family history of alcoholism in hospitalized alcoholic and non-alcoholic patients. Of course, when you’re sleeping better, feeling better, waking up clear-headed and full of energy, it becomes much easier to stick to fitness and exercise commitments. When I was drinking, hangovers often got in the way of my workouts. Being sober has given me the freedom to choose what I put my energy into and has given me the resilience and strength of mind to stick to my goals.

Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of fiber that helps with digestion which can make it easier on your stomach when going through withdrawal symptoms such as nausea or vomiting. A person struggling with a substance abuse problem needs to eat well for their body and mind. Proper nutrition gives the individual much-needed energy, making them feel better mentally, physically, and emotionally. A positive mood is also affected by proper nutrition because it can positively affect an individual’s outlook on life–lessening the risk of relapse in some cases. Cravings – The minute you stopped drinking, your brain and body went on the hunt to replace the alcohol with something else. Sugar in all forms – white or raw granules, processed carbohydrates , candy , and fruit – can do for the brain what the alcohol used to.


Those who are not cautious may transfer their alcohol addiction to a sugar addiction or food addiction. As such, focusing on restoring physical health through proper nutrition should be a fundamental component of one’s alcohol recovery treatment plan. This association has not been found in two co-developed rat strains, indicating certain limitations to the predictive value of sweet consumption regarding subsequent alcohol intake. This association appears to be at least partially under genetic control, and there are indications that the genetic component of this association is stronger than the component related to environmental factors. However, the specific genes controlling consumption of both alcohol and sweet substances have not been identified.

The loss of the dopamine rush from drugs can cause the brain to crave a substitute, such as sugary foods that produce dopamine. Contemporary research has shown that a high number of alcohol-dependent and other drug-dependent individuals have a sweet preference, specifically for foods with a high sucrose concentration. The neurobiological pathways of drug and “sugar addiction” involve similar neural receptors, neurotransmitters, and hedonic regions in the brain. Craving, tolerance, withdrawal and sensitization have been documented in both human and animal studies.

  • Dulan lists hard-boiled eggs, avocado toast, protein balls, and almonds as a few of her favorite “cravings busters.” Frozen grapes, which she says “taste like a mini sorbet,” are another good option.
  • These side effects can damage self-esteem, cause feelings of helplessness, and lower self-worth; this in turn leads to more sugar consumption and a more severe addiction.
  • In recovery, many alcoholics find that they have a new and unquenchable urge for the sweet stuff.
  • According to UK government data, 3.1 million people tried to give up alcohol this year, with many going into the new year with the plan of drinking less to salvage their livers and wallets.
  • Once the person’s system is cleared of the alcohol , he or she will experience a crash – and end up feeling worse than before.

Your body needs to right itself as quickly as possible, leading to sugar cravings. A replacement addiction is when you quit one addictive behavior but feel like you need to replace it with something else. In this case, your mind and body are tempted to replace alcohol with sugar. As an essential healthcare provider, We are open and supporting those in need of addiction treatment at all locations.


For example, the following foods have as much sugar as a glazed donut even though they seem relatively healthy at first glance. It is very common for people in recovery from an alcohol use disorder to crave sugar. In fact, you may find yourself wondering if you should be concerned about developing a sugar addiction.

When sugar addiction co-occurs with eating to soothe anxiety, the end result is typically weight gain. Despite sugar initially boosting serotonin levels in the brain, sugar can worsen anxiety as sugar lows create feelings of fatigue and depression. Overcoming alcohol addiction requires strength, determination, and commitment.

The problem is that poor nutrition can lead to a variety of mental and physical health issues. Weight gain is a common problem for those new to recovery from alcohol addiction, and subsequently can lead to low mood which may then trigger a relapse to alcohol. At that time the individual’s mindset can become, “when I was drinking I wasn’t eating all this food.” The alcohol numbed their depression and quieted their negative thoughts about their self-image. These spikes and crashes make sugar cravings incredibly common in early recovery from alcohol use disorder. People who abruptly stop drinking may lose a significant source of their calorie intake and have disrupted their body’s blood sugar regulation. Additionally, people who suffer from constant tiredness may reach for carb-rich sugary foods for a boost.


Adding a dash of cayenne pepper will give you an extra boost on your journey out from under addiction. Not only are these types of foods rich in nutrients and easy for the body to digest, but they can also be hydrating. This is important because hydration helps get drug metabolites out of the body during early recovery and can ease detox symptoms like feeling sick or lightheaded. Certain foods are good for everyone when they are recovering from alcohol detox.

The individual may eat constantly, eat to combat boredom, and become hyper and crash. They may even talk about craving sugar after stressful or irritating life experiences. You’re not alone, it’s actually common for recovering alcoholics to crave sugar. Eating ice cream or a donut every once in a while is okay, but there may be cause for concern if you’re constantly snacking. Fortunately, understanding why you’re craving sweets and finding ways to avoid sugar can help you maintain a healthy recovery. It is not uncommon for individuals who have a history of substance abuse to not take care of their physical health.


As we strive to provide site experiences for browsers that support new web standards and security practices. “NIH Study Finds Heavily Processed Foods Cause Overeating and Weight Gain.”National Institutes of Health. Start your morning with a glass of water, and it will help you stay hydrated during the day. The Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies is a multidisciplinary institute dedicated to addiction research, education and training. We are a center in the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology . If you are reading ingredient lists, remember that sugar has many names. Added sugar can be listed as high fructose corn syrup , sucrose, fructose, dehydrated cane juice, glucose, dextrose, syrup, cane sugar, raw sugar, and more.

  • Addiction can be hard to overcome, especially when it is built on a lifetime of dependency.
  • While these symptoms don’t have the potential to cause physical harm , the fact that someone experiences them indicates their brain has been altered in such a way that they feel the need for more of the substance.
  • Other indications of sugar addiction for emotional relief are weight gain and difficulty focusing on daily responsibilities.

Eating sweet foods can reduce the intensity of these drug cravings by giving a short dopamine boost, which could be the difference between remaining in recovery or experiencing a relapse. A chocolate bar is far less harmful than returning to active addiction. Alcohol tends to have the same effect, making our brains release dopamine in the short term. But alcohol is also a depressant, and this happy feeling only lasts for so long. For regular drinkers, it can take more and more alcohol over time to reach the stage of the dopamine release, which is one explanation for why people continue to drink too much. Several published studies claim that sugar is just as addictive as drugs like cocaine and heroin.

For those seeking addiction treatment for themselves or a loved one, the helpline is a private and convenient solutions. If you or a loved one is feeling trapped by an addiction to sugar, alcohol or a cycle of both, don’t wait to get help and enter recovery. Gradually, the urge to drink alcohol will replace the yearning for sugar. This is because the effects of alcohol are more immediate and often feel much stronger. Drinking suppresses many systems in the body, such as the frontal lobe. This portion of the brain is responsible for emotions, decision making and inhibition. Another problem with this process is that it greatly disrupts the brain’s natural cycle.

If you dump sugar into your morning coffee or tea, gradually reduce that amount over a period of weeks. Over time, you will be able to significantly reduce — and even eliminate — the sugar in your diet. It may seem as though developing a sugar addiction is relatively safe compared to alcoholism. However, eating too much sugar can trigger why do alcoholics crave sugar serious consequences for an alcoholic. Furthermore, excess sugar can increase belly fat, which is a risk factor for heart disease. In addition, an addiction to sugar may play a role in the development and feeding of some cancers; high sugar consumption in breast cancer patients has been linked to lower survival rates after diagnosis.


If you do find yourself reaching for the sugar initially, your clothes might get tighter and you might feel like you haven’t got things quite right yet and that’s okay – give yourself a break. Having a short love affair with sugar is still healthier for you than if you had carried on drinking. When you’ve dealt with the drinking, you can deal with nutrition and eating healthily. It is important to eat healthy snacks like fresh fruit, vegetables, low fat cheese or nuts to keep yourself satisfied. This will help increase your metabolic rate, and will keep you feeling good about yourself. So be sure to start your day with a healthy substantial breakfast, and supplement this with healthy snacks to keep your cravings in check.

That’s what makes it so difficult to resist urges and cravings. Put sugar cravings in check by avoiding situations that will test your resolve to reduce or eliminate the substance. For example, if members of a particular 12-step meeting always gather around a table packed with doughnuts and soda pop, find another meeting where sweets aren’t present — or at least not the center of attention.

We have witnessed our son’s healing from the inside out and are grateful … For the time Tommy and Dennis and others have invested into his life. This year, though, I’ve been much more aware of how much I’m drinking, and what I’m drinking, simply because I don’t want to slip back into my habit of weekend binges just for the sake of it. Last year, after a couple of weeks, I was back to my old ways without thinking much about my sober experience. However, addiction research has shown there could be deeper biological link than that. Is a nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef, nutrition specialist, and author of This Is Your Brain on Food .

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