If you’re reading this, you probably have taken the first steps to give up alcohol and are on your way to recovery. Let’s take a second to celebrate that! We are so proud of you and rooting for you on your journey. Some days may be challenging, but we wholeheartedly believe that you will come out on the other side stronger.
So, let’s talk about those sugar cravings you’ve been having. You may be like, why the heck am I having these crazy cravings? Maybe you’ve never even had a sweet tooth before. But we can assure you, experiencing sugar cravings is completely normal after giving up alcohol.
However, what may surprise you is that what you’re experiencing is actually a result of chemicals deeper in the brain. Eating sweets causes your brain to release dopamine, a reward-based chemical that makes you feel good. Sugar affects the same neural pathways as alcohol. After you quit drinking, your body looks for that same feel-good vibe and knows that it can reach the same feeling through sugar.
Another culprit to those pesky sugar cravings? Your blood sugar. It’s common for people who have struggled with alcohol addiction to have low blood sugar. Alcohol stops the liver from releasing glycogen into your blood, which causes your blood sugar to drop. When your blood sugar is low, your body will naturally crave sweets, whether in the form of alcohol or dessert/candy.
Now we know that overcoming alcohol addiction has its challenges. Fighting addiction is both a body and mind process. The more you become conscious of the effects, the more you’ll take back control. When you quit one addiction, it’s easy to pick up an addiction to something that seems less harmful. You’ll find yourself wanting to replace your addiction with something else because addiction itself is a lifestyle. To break that lifestyle, it’s a good idea to investigate treatment centers to determine the underlying cause of your transfer addiction.
It may be overwhelming to learn all of this new information, so here’s your reminder to take a deep breath. You’re doing great! You’re doing the best you can. (And we’re here to empower you.)
Becoming aware of why you have these cravings is the first step. And remember, sugar in moderation is OKAY! The good news is you DO have the ability to overcome sugar and alcohol cravings.
Here are some ways to overcome cravings:
Document your feelings in a journal – take note of when you are having cravings and how you are feeling
Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night – this may seem obvious, but sometimes we all need a reminder to get some rest
Create a meal plan that limits the amount of sugar in your diet
Find a support system – like anything we do, having someone to support us along the way, helps to go a long way
Celebrate each win, no matter how big or how small!
Another essential thing to note is changing how you reward yourself. In the past, you may have used alcohol to celebrate or help you unwind after a hard week at work. Now you may be finding yourself substituting sweets for your reward. Now don’t get us wrong, a sweet treat in moderation is ok. What we want to help you do is overcome the addiction lifestyle. Instead of rewarding yourself with a substance, try meeting up with a friend as a reward or plan a trip. Replace your addiction rewards with a memory-making activity! Anything coming to mind?
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
First of all, we want to remind you that this is a journey. Don’t compare yours to anyone else’s. Let yourself soak in this knowledge and take it one step at a time. Just like you won’t lose 50 pounds overnight, the process of recovery takes time. Go easy on yourself. You’ve got this!!
When you start on the path to recovery, allow yourself whatever you need to feel better. Eat some cookie dough and allow yourself to feel. From there, begin to be conscious of what you’re feeling. As we mentioned earlier, take a journal to note your feelings. The more you become aware of your thoughts and actions, the more you’ll be able to make conscious decisions not to indulge or revert to alcohol.
To sum it up, you are freakin’ AWESOME. You’re crushing every single day – even if it doesn’t feel that way. Always remember it’s ok to not be ok and to reach out to someone if you need to talk. Don’t focus on being embarrassed about your addiction, but instead, focus on being proud that you’re taking steps to live a healthier and longer life.
Here at Doughp, we want you to know that we care about you and are here to support you along your journey! We are totally committed to ending the stigma around mental health and addiction recovery. After all, it’s our “why.” Cookie dough is just one small part of our story, and we want to be a part of yours, too.
If you are ever in need of help, you can always call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357. It’s a free and confidential hotline that can help you find treatment and support.