sugar withdrawel symptomsSugar is a bane for those trying to lose weight, and if you have developed a pattern over the years of bingeing on sugary foods, then fasting from them in an effort to lose weight, you may have a sugar addiction. While many still debate whether sugar addiction really exists, many studies have shown that completely cutting sugar from your diet leads to the same withdrawal symptoms as those experienced by drug users. When there is a pattern of sugar binge-deprivation, it causes the opioid and dopamine receptors in the brain to become sensitized, leading to the sugar withdrawal symptoms when your sugar intake in drastically diminished.

Varying Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms

Sugar withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to moderate to severe depending on how strong your addiction is. Mild symptoms usually include shakiness, feelings of nervousness, or even breaking out in a cold sweat if you do not have your usual sugar fix.


Those who suffer from moderate to severe sugar withdrawal symptoms may experience anxiety, sleeplessness, muscle aches and pains, anger, and even depression.Withdrawal from any substance is difficult, and deciding to stop using the addictive substance is imperative to truly recover from it. While most drug users can choose to stay away from their chosen drug, or avoid the places they know the substance is available, avoiding sugar can be much more difficult. Sugar is found in many of the foods you eat, even if you think they are healthy. We all know the obvious culprits are the sugary sodas, cakes, cookies, and candies, but there are many other foods that will keep your addiction going strong.



You may argue that you do not have a sweet tooth because you choose chips, French fries, or other high carb foods. However, foods that are high in complex carbohydrates like breads, pastas, crackers, or bagels are all broken down into simple sugar in the body. When these foods are eaten, they cause the same blood sugar spikes and crashes as the sugar laden foods we usually associate with sugar addiction.

Healthy Sugars

There are many sugars that are given the label of being healthy, but this is just not true. Brown sugar, sugar cane, and honey all cause your body to react in the same way as regular table sugar, even though they may have a somewhat better nutrition content.

Sugar Names

Even though a label may not list the word sugar, it may still be loaded with the sweet stuff. In order to overcome your addiction, you have to be familiar with the other names for sugar so you do not continue eating foods that keep your addiction going. When purchasing foods, read the label to see if they contain any of the following:


  • High Fructose corn syrup
  • Agave
  • Dextrose
  • Rice syrup
  • Cane juice
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup

All of these ingredients are high in sugar, and need to be avoided when trying to break your addiction.


Hidden Sugar

There are many foods that are high in sugar even though they do not taste sweet. Condiments like barbecue sauce, ketchup, and salad dressings are all high in sugar, as well as pasta sauces, breads, and flavored coffees and creamers. These foods are prime examples of why you must read the labels on the foods you buy to make sure you are not hindering your efforts to break your addiction to sugar.

Kicking The Sugar Habit

The first step in kicking the sugar habit is to admit you have a problem in the first place. If you find yourself reaching for sugary foods when you are stressed or dealing with emotional situations, you are using sugar to comfort yourself in the same way drug addicts use their substance of choice. The same is true when you reach for sugary foods to get your afternoon jolt of energy – all of these actions will continue your sugar addiction because your body thinks it needs it. When you have made the decision to stop giving in to your sugar addiction, there are some things you can do to help you lessen the Sugar addiction withdrawal symptoms. Even though you may want to go cold turkey, you may be more successful if you take baby steps. Drastically altering your diet will lead to more strong cravings, which will lead to bingeing.


The best way to avoid this is to slowly cut sugar laden foods from your diet. If there is one food you always use to get your fix, vow to avoid it for one week. When you have reached that goal, begin skipping desert after dinner. You should also make sure to lessen the amount of sugar you add to your coffee or tea every day until you are accustomed to drinking it with no sugar at all. While all of these steps may be difficult at first, keep trying and you will help your body get over the cravings.


You also need to avoid artificial sweeteners like aspartame and other sweeteners commonly found in diet sodas. While these are not “real” sugar, they still taste sweet. For many people, it is the sweet taste of sugar that leads to their addiction, and these substances continue to feed the craving. They have also been known to increase appetite and slow weight loss, both of which hinder your efforts to lose weight.


The best way to beat your sugar addiction is to substitute healthy foods that are high in protein and fiber. These foods give you energy and help you feel full much longer. A diet filled with nutrient rich foods will go a long way in helping your body get over the need for sugar, as well as help you lose the weight.


Sugar addiction and sugar withdrawal symptoms are very real. Obviously a sugar addiction does not compare to the dangers of a drug addiction, but your body reacts to both in very similar ways. Making the decision to kick your addiction is the first step to overcoming the problem.

Doriet von Fircks

About the author

Doriet von Fircks is a health practitioner and a nutrition expert.
She specializes in food related problems, such as food addiction.
After reading many articles about food addiction, especially lots of scientific journals, she realized that there was hardly any discussion about food addiction from a scientific perspective.
She updates the site frequently, ensuring that the latest scientific findings are always featured on If you have questions about this site or suggestions for improvement, please feel free to contact her.