I happen to think that breaking a sugar habit is best done one small step at time. Breaking this habit is just exactly the same as breaking any other habit, down to the smallest detail. I found an article in Salon.com that describes a person who did the hard work of breaking an addiction to alcohol, using a technique where he gave himself sugar when he wanted booze. He discovered by personal experience what science is beginning to document through experiment…
A bunch of recent studies suggest that some food chemicals may be even more addictive than drugs like heroin and cocaine. “Refined sugars and carbohydrates are manufactured substances that stimulate the same part of our brains that drugs and alcohol respond to,” Peeke says. “Our brains weren’t made to handle these ‘uber-rewards’.” There is some comfort in knowing that my food problem isn’t just my problem: It’s also, quite likely, America’s problem.
Here is the problem with switching addictions. If you don’t realize that you just have an addictive personality, then you don’t realize that everything you do may become a habit for you. The same person who gets addicted to sugar is very likely to also become addicted to gambling. There is no external chemical involved in gambling, the problem is all contained within the brain of the addict. Addicts are more hooked on the thrill of getting the drug than the actual taking of the drug. Anything that gives you that rush of adrenaline will hook an addictive personality type. It might be shoplifting, base jumping, illicit sex, sneaking drinks or any other behavior that will give the addict the real chemical he craves, which his brain gets a shot of when he does the behavior.
… people with addictive tendencies, especially those of us who have already passed that point-of-no-return with one substance or another, are particularly at risk, says Peeke. “When you take away the drugs or alcohol, the brain is missing its artificially created rewards, these ‘uber-rewards,’ so binge-eating refined sugars happens in an effort to replicate the missing high.”
If you are an over-eater because you are an addict-by-nature, then you must break the habit by breaking the addiction cycle. It does you no good to break the cycle by creating another cycle that you will have to break all over again. The addict must practice breaking habits, even if they are very easy habits to break, and unrelated to his bad addiction. Teach yourself how to quit biting your nails. Teach yourself how to not have coffee in the morning. Any of these tiny things give your brain practice at breaking practices. It is something that can actually be learned.
I came to see that my food and alcohol addictions were cousins—different ways of acting out the same impulses. The programs complemented each other, and my AA recovery became stronger as I got help in OA. “You have to treat cross addictions together,” says Dr. Peeke, when asked whether one addiction is harder to treat than the other. If you try to treat one, and ignore the other, something is going to eventually bite you in the ass—at least, this was my experience.
What I am saying is that “if you try to treat one and ignore the other” is actually telling you that you are not addicted to food or alcohol–You are addicted to being addicted. The thing you have to treat is your propensity for habit, and your addiction to the thrill of giving yourself your forbidden thrill. You have to change one small thing at a time, until you know how to change your mind. Really, change your mind.