The Sweet Truth (Plus Video Recipe)

If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll know about my history with alcohol.

Today’s post addresses another addiction I struggle with; sugar.

Studies show that sugar stimulates the same reward centres in the brain as cocaine and heroin.

If you have trouble saying no to sugar, please keep reading. You are not alone, and I have some information and strategies that may be able to help you.

When I was growing up, my mom didn’t serve dessert regularly. She was an amazing cook and she prided herself on feeding us delicious, home-cooked meals, but dessert wasn’t a nightly occurrence, and we grew up knowing it was a real treat when we’d get it.

I am truly grateful for this. It helped me to learn that dessert isn’t required to complete a meal.

That said, I was raised knowing that something else was required to complete a meal. I wouldn’t have processed this information as a child, but growing up in a home where alcohol was a big part of our dining experience, I was raised knowing that wine with dinner was essential; a meal wasn’t complete without it.


As a kid, I loved chocolate. All of my birthday cakes were chocolate with chocolate icing or else Black Forest. I thought about chocolate. I dreamed about chocolate. I craved chocolate.

It’s no surprise that one of my all-time favourite childhood books was Charlie and The Chocolate Factory! 🙂

If my parents had a party and received chocolate as a hostess gift, my mom would put it in the basement freezer to keep it for a special occasion.

Knowing we wouldn’t be eating it any time soon, I would sneak in to the freezer, pull out the box and hide in a corner of the basement, gobbling down piece after piece of the sweet, velvety deliciousness, replacing the half-eaten box while wiping my mouth of the evidence, praying I would’t get caught.

This went on for years until, as a teenager, I replaced that behaviour with a new one.

As I got older and started drinking, I found I didn’t crave sweets anymore. This is not something that happened consciously, it’s only since getting sober that I made the connection.

But here is what they don’t tell you when you get sober:

You will very likely start to crave sugar. Seriously crave it.

It's my only crutch! My only vice! My one pleasure!

When we give up an addiction like alcohol, we can feel like we’ve given up everything in our lives. We feel like any addiction is better than alcohol addiction, and so we want to justify a sugar addiction saying “well it’s better than drinking!” Or “it’s my only happiness now! How am I supposed to give that up, too?!”

I get it. I feel this way at times, too.

There is a lot of research out there on people in recovery transferring their addictions. Once we give up alcohol, we sometimes go back to smoking or we get hooked on prescription drugs or we become addicted to sugar.

That was the case with me, and unfortunately, no addiction is healthy, and so I have to work hard at staying one step ahead of addiction.

Awareness is key in recovery, and I check in with myself regularly. When I am craving something sweet, I ask myself “why do you want it?” “what are you avoiding?” “what are you feeling?”

I can usually find the answer and it often sounds like this.

“Because I feel overwhelmed.”

“Because I feel lonely.”

“Because I don’t want to do ____ (fill in blank) even though I know I have to.”

“Because I am stressed out over_____(fill in blank)”.

“Because I didn’t sleep well and I am overly tired.”

“Because that person said or did this thing that upset me or made me feel bad.”

“Because I don’t like myself very much today.”

“Because I’m sad.”

“Because I feel ugly and fat and I figure, why not?”

“Because I don’t feel good enough.”

When I answer myself honestly, I can then decide to either eat the chocolate or the muffin or the cookie, or I can try to find other ways of dealing with my emotions, such as:

  • I do the thing I don't want to do.
  • I take a bath with Epsom salts (Epsom salt isn't actually salt. It is magnesium sulfate and can ease sore muscles and induce sleep.)
  • If I am actually hungry, I eat a healthy snack like a green juice or some veggies and hummus.
  • I blare music and dance around my bedroom.
  • I read something that feeds my soul.
  • I write something that bares my soul.
  • I listen to a podcast or teaching that enhances my life. I am in love with the HOME podcast. If you are in recovery, you should check it out. 🙂
  • I get in the kitchen and prepare healthy meals for the week.
  • I clean the house or clean out a closet/drawer.
  • I do yoga or just some simple stretches.
  • I get out in nature.
  • I go to the gym.

Feeling Good

When I was drinking, I was basically downing a ton of sugar in every glass. And in every glass, I received the feel-good hormone dopamine. So drinking raised my insulin along with the level of dopamine in my brain.

Early in my sobriety, I transferred my addiction from alcohol to sugar. I justified it because I wasn’t drinking; I was working out; I was eating healthy; I was staying fit, and so I thought I deserved that chocolate at the end of a long day.

About 7 years into sobriety, I realized my sugar addiction was getting out of control.

I started gaining weight and I was feeling depressed. I was still working out and generally eating healthy, but I was aware of what I was doing, and I looked within for reasons why.

I realized that I was lonely and frustrated with my life and I was eating sugar in order to numb; to soothe; to avoid. Just as I used to do with alcohol.

Sugar: The Most Accessible Drug On The Planet

Sugar has become an incredibly serious addiction in our society. We have learned that sugar is what is causing many types of cancers, Type 2 diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, the obesity epidemic and more, and yet we are seeing more and more of it, in all sorts of forms, enter the food market.

More than just the usual suspects of cookies and soda and candy and cake, sugar is found in everything from cold cuts and condiments to crackers and yogurt.

Even “healthy” or “natural” sugars like honey, molasses, maple syrup, and coconut palm sugar should be seen for what they are…sugar.

Its presence is pervasive and insidious, and we have to be discerning and vigilant about what we are putting into our mouths.

Don’t look to the food companies or their advertising campaigns for help, either. Food marketers have one goal; to addict us.

And it is working.

They have one mandate: to make money by addicting us; hook, line and sinker.

For the first time in history, children may have a shorter lifespan than their parents and close to one-third (31.5%) of Canadian children between the ages of 5 and 17 (an estimated 1.6 million), are overweight or obese. Obesity causes heart disease, liver disease, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and self-esteem issues, to name a few.

We simply have to get this addiction under control.

The only way to do so is by educating ourselves on the issue. Period.

I found two films especially powerful that take a look at this issue. Here are the trailers, and I encourage you to buy and watch them. You may never look at sugar the same way again, and I guarantee you will look at food labels differently.

They are Fed Up, backed and narrated by Katie Couric (preview):

and That Sugar Film, which is like a present-day Supersize Me, but with sugar (found in so called “healthy” foods!), instead of McDonald’s, as the subject (preview):

Quitting Sugar

When I decided to address my sugar addiction, I spoke to the owner of my favourite health food store, and she suggested doing a “candida cleanse”. She said that most people (about 70%) have an overgrowth of candida in their gut. Even if I didn’t, she explained that the regimented plan would help me kick my sugar habit, reduce or eliminate cravings, and feel better.

I could have gone to my doctor to get blood work done, but I didn’t… I decided to just go for it.

And it was tough!!!!

But it worked really well. It helped me overcome my sugar cravings and helped me to feel much better (after feeling much, much worse for a few days…)

The Cleanse...

There are several great sites and resources out there if you are looking to do a candida cleanse (or a sugar detox).

But here is what I did for 21 days:

No Sugar. That meant no fruit (other than lemon), no artificial sweeteners, no alcohol, no dairy, no starch, no starchy vegetables, no grains, no soy, no vinegar (except apple cider vinegar) and no caffeine (caffeine taxes adrenals and spikes blood sugar).

And here is what the cleanse looked like in my life:

  • Each morning, I would wake up and drink warm water with the juice of a lemon (I still do this). I would take one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar off the spoon (I continue to do this daily), or you can mix it into water and sip it.
  • I would follow that up with 8 ounces of water mixed with 2 tablespoons of psyllium husk (you can buy this at health food stores or bulk stores). I had to drink it quickly or it turned into cement! 😉
  • I would then eat a protein-rich breakfast (leftover chicken of beef, eggs, or salmon with dark green veggies like spinach and kale).
  • I also ate a protein-rich lunch and dinner with lots of non-starchy veggies (I made large batches of meals and stored them).
  • I would drink lots of water all day long.
  • Snacks were usually almonds or veggies with hummus)

Giving up all fruit was extremely challenging (and in fact, I caved a few times and ate berries) but doing the cleanse really helped me get to a place where I didn’t crave sugar the way I used to.

I also found going cold turkey on the caffeine was a bad idea. If you want to do this cleanse, I would prepare for it and wean yourself off caffeine for two weeks ahead of time. During the cleanse, I “cheated” and had coffee several times, sometimes decaf, but even decaf is not recommended if you want to go full out in this.

If you are concerned about the amount of sugar you eat or even a sugar addiction, or if you are in recovery and worried you have transferred your addiction from alcohol to sugar, I would highly recommend eliminating it from your diet, at least for a few weeks.

Cold Turkey or Weaning Off: Pros & Cons

There are two schools of thought with sugar addiction: The first, and most popular one is to go cold turkey, because, as with alcoholism, trying to moderate is a killer.

Ever heard the saying “one is too many and a hundred’s not enough”? It can be the same with sugar. So, going cold turkey works really well for a lot of people and can offer a “re-set” for your body.

It worked really well for me and I reintroduced sugar slowly, adding fruit first, and then learning recipes to make my own sweet treats, later. But it was tough for the first few days. Really tough. It did get easier after day 4, though.

The second school of thought is to wean off sugar slowly. Start to notice all the ways sugar hides in your food and start logging the sugar you eat in a day. The best way to start avoiding added sugar is to eat a real-food diet.

Opt for foods that don’t have labels at all.

Because if it is in a box, it is very likely to be filled with sugar.

Start to double the amount of vegetables you eat and cut the number of fruits in half.

Start to reduce treats like chocolate or cookies or cake and replace refined sugar treats with real-food treats like this recipe for Banana Bread that has become a staple in my kitchen.

Made By You With Love For Your Body

Doing the cleanse really re-set my body so that I didn’t crave processed sugar anymore. In fact, any sugar tasted SO much sweeter after the 21 days were up. It was really incredible how my taste buds had changed.

I started researching healthier sweet recipes and came across many experts like Joy McCarthy of Joyous Health, Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows, and Megan Gilmore of The Detoxinista. Their work is amazing and I highly recommend getting to know these ladies. 🙂

Now, whenever I crave sweets, I try to choose something I have made, so that I know it has nutritional benefits and I can control the amount of sugar that’s in it. To this day, I often find sweet treats waaaaay too sweet, and making things with natural sugar, and very little of it, often satisfies my sweet tooth.

That said, over the last year or so, I have noticed my sugar intake increasing again. Even with home- made treats, I can overdo it.

I’m going to be doing another cleanse to give my body a re-set. Comment below if you want to join me, and I will seek out and create recipes for 21 days that we can enjoy together. 🙂

But before I go on the cleanse, I want to share this yummy recipe for the SIMPLEST, most delicious Banana Bread that I LOVE to make when I am craving something sweet but want it to be real, nutritious and satisfying.

It is an adaptation of The Detoxinista’s Banana Snack Cake, but instead of a cake, I just love having a slice of banana bread with a cup of tea when I want a sweet treat. It also makes the perfect hostess gift, wrapped in parchment or butcher paper or a pretty dish towel and tied with ribbon or twine.

With NO added sugar (the only sugar comes from the bananas!), it is indulgence without the guilt, and a great way to start weaning off refined sugar.

I love it. And I hope you do, too.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.




P.S. Sarah Wilson, founder of I Quit Sugar provides excellent resources for people wanting to cut out the sweet stuff. She has some plans to help us kick the habit including an 8-week program that starts on February 4th, Plus, her blog is filled with yummy recipes that I think you will love. 🙂

P.P.S. Remember to comment below if you are interested in doing a detox with me! I will start compiling more information and developing or seeking out recipes we can enjoy together.

P.P.P.S. Let's be friends! Connect with me on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram. 🙂



  • Anna

    Reply Reply January 26, 2016

    Hi Sarah, I will be making this today!!! Looks so good!!
    My son being diabetic from a very early age dictated healthier food choices in our kitchen. This is a great blog.
    Keep sharing!!!

    • Sarah Roberts

      Reply Reply January 26, 2016

      I can’t wait for you to try it! Diabetes is such a tough disease to manage, but really keeps one aware of “hidden sugars”. It is amazing what we put our bodies through eating a “standard” diet. 🙁 We simply must take matters into our own hands if we want vibrant health. 🙂 xo

  • Roger Deveau

    Reply Reply January 26, 2016

    You know I’m in! I Would love for there to be a support group 🙂

    • Sarah Roberts

      Reply Reply January 26, 2016

      Yup! You are IN, Roger!! 🙂 Working on the plan as we speak. 🙂 Get ready….. <3

  • Tasha Curry

    Reply Reply January 26, 2016

    I am in!

    • Sarah Roberts

      Reply Reply February 2, 2016

      Amazing! Sign up on the blog and you’ll receive further instructions. 🙂

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