Why You Crave Sugar When You Quit Alcohol
Do you participate in Dry January?
Dry January is a public health campaign aimed at eliminating the consumption of alcohol during the month of January. Dry January's challenge began in 2013 by the U.K. non-profit Alcohol for Change.
Studies have shown numerous benefits to reducing the intake of alcohol from improved sleep, lowered blood pressure, and reduced risk of liver disease. Other benefits of Dry January or eliminating the intake of alcohol may include losing weight, eating healthier overall, reducing anxiety symptoms, and saving money.
You may be thinking, this all sounds great! However, removing a habit from our lifestyle is not always easy, even if it's an unhealthy habit if it also brings us happiness.
The Sugar and Alcohol Connection
When reducing or eliminating alcohol, it’s not uncommon for someone to gravitate toward sugar. After all, alcohol and sugar both can be delicious and make you feel good, at least temporarily! Yet we know that overconsumption of both alcohol and sugar can have a negative impact on our health.
So why do you crave sugar when you quit alcohol?
The reason is that sugar and alcohol both stimulate dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and is responsible for allowing you to feel pleasure and satisfaction. Research has shown that sugar has a similar influence on the brain’s reward center as alcohol and drugs. Therefore, when giving up alcohol, a person may seek another source, whether it’s food or something else, to elicit that same feel-good response they are no longer experiencing from alcohol.
For more information on sugar and its impact on our health, check out the following blog posts from the Purecane blog:
- 10 Myths and Facts About Sugar
- The Sugar and Brain Connection - How Sugar Affects Cognitive Health
- The Sneaky Way A High Sugar Diet May Be Contributing To Hormone Imbalances
Tips For Healthy Dry January
If Dry January is your goal, here are some tips for setting yourself up for success! Remember, with any health challenge, focus on progress over perfection! Aim to make personal improvements you feel good about that are also realistic for you! Here are some habits to focus on this month to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success while taking great care of your body.
- Nourish the body well with real, whole foods
- Stay hydrated
- Prioritize quality sleep
- Don’t keep high-sugar foods in the house
- Exercise or move your body every day
- Focus on adequate protein, healthy fats, and fiber at each meal or snack to balance blood sugar levels
- Add more fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks
- Meal plan to ensure healthy options will be available
- Find healthy ways to reduce stress, such as a bath, reading, music, or talking to someone
- Focus on habits for mental health, such as exercise, movement, art therapy, time in nature, talk therapy, a hobby you enjoy, acupuncture, and more!
Habits are hard to break, especially ones we enjoy! When the time of day approaches when you’d typically make yourself an alcoholic beverage, try one of the following healthy habits instead!
5 Healthy Habits To Replace Alcohol In January
A Hobby That Uses Your Hands
If your routine is to pour a glass of wine at the end of the day, try replacing this habit with a hands-on hobby that is relaxing and brings you happiness, such as knitting, painting, drawing, gardening… even reading! The hope is that you’ll replace one habit with another that both bring your pleasure to help stimulate the “feel-good” dopamine response within the body.
Moving the body can release endorphins, a feel-good hormone that makes us happy. Instead of pouring a glass of wine or making a cocktail, go on a walk after dinner, engage in yoga, or try any other type of movement you enjoy!
Swap Sugar for Purecane Sweetener
Don't deprive yourself when you just need something sweet and nothing else will do. Instead, look for alternatives that align with your health goals so you can enjoy a sweet treat that is good for you too. For example, try cooking and baking with a better-for-you sweetener alternative such as Purecane. Purecane is an incredible swap for regular sugar because it is sugar-free, has zero net carbs, and a low glycemic index, so it has no effect on blood sugar levels. This calorie-free sweetener contains no artificial ingredients and also tastes great! Purecane's Zero Calorie Sweetener Packets are perfect for your morning coffee, afternoon iced tea, or as a replacement in your favorite lemonade recipe! When baking or cooking, try Purecane's baking sweeteners, such as traditional sugar, brown sugar, and confectioners sugar.
Sip on Something New and Fun
Try sparkling water with a splash of juice in a wine glass, kombucha, or a hot cup of tea, or there are many non-alcoholic craft drinks as well! If you look forward to sipping on a delicious beverage at a certain time each day, use January as a time to explore the many non-alcoholic beverages available.
Sometimes alcohol is used as a way to help the body physically unwind from a stressful day. While this is true, it may not help us actually learn healthy coping and management techniques to process our daily stressors. There are many benefits to journaling for our mental health, such as helping to identify and process fears, concerns, or thoughts and track symptoms and feelings. The very act of journaling requires us to slow down and think about our thoughts and feelings and transfer them from our minds to paper. Journaling can be a very therapeutic and healthy habit.
Cheers To A Dry January!
Dry January can be an eye-opening month for many as they can experience what it feels like mentally, emotionally, and physically to go without alcohol. As you embark on this journey, remember that your mental and physical health matters. You may find this a challenging month, or perhaps you find that you feel better off without alcohol. Whichever discoveries you have… know that your health matters and that taking the time to care for yourself and your health is never a wasted effort!
Wishing you a delicious, healthy Holiday season!