2 Reasons Why You Can’t Give Up Sugar

By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff
July 29, 2014


By Kristen Gunderson, Nutrition Educator

“Why can’t I give up sugar?” This is something I hear in many of the different classes I teach. I hear it in our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss Program classes, but I also hear it in our metabolism-boosting class, our mood-improvement class and the gut health class. It’s amazing how sugar affects so many fundamental aspects of health. This is where the science behind the sugar cravings comes in. And it becomes easier to conquer those cravings when we understand that science and realize beating cravings is not simply a matter of willpower. So, why does your body call out for sugar?

Reason #1: An unhealthy gut

Let’s look at gut health first. Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” So ask yourself, “Is my gut health perfect?” What does perfect mean? Take this quiz to find out:

  1. Have you ever had a soda or fast food?
  2. Have you ever taken antibiotics or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like Advil®, Motrin® or ibuprofen?
  3. Have you ever had alcohol?
  4. Have you ever been stressed?

I bet I lost a lot of you on the stress question, if not sooner. Unfortunately, all of these things strip the good bacteria from your intestinal lining. This means there is nothing there to fight off bad bacteria. So, if you have yeast that starts to grow in your gut, you may not have sufficient good bacteria to stop it. If yeast wants to grow, all it needs is SUGAR! You will crave what your body needs because your body is very smart.

Another side effect of poor gut health is a slow metabolism. What does metabolism have to do with cravings for sugar? And what is metabolism, exactly? Metabolism is how well you convert your food into energy. At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we often say that a slow metabolism and cravings for sugar go hand in hand. If your gut health is compromised, you are no doubt having a difficult time digesting your food and absorbing nutrients. If you aren’t absorbing nutrients, you are not getting energy from your food. And if this is happening, you might be looking to the vending machine in the afternoon for candy or a soda to give you an energy boost. Once your gut is healed, you will absorb the nutrients from your food, your metabolism will improve, and the sugar cravings tend to disappear.

GiveUpSugar_Supplements.jpgSimple Solution:

Take bifidobacteria and L-glutamine, a powerful duo to strengthen and heal your gut, and the sugar cravings will go away. Balance will be restored. You will have good bacteria present to fight off bad bacteria and will likely find that your sugar cravings go away.

Reason #2: Lack of protein

Another piece of the cravings puzzle is a protein deficiency. Have you ever noticed that when you are sad, you don’t crave a salad? You want something that will provide a quick pick-me-up like ice cream, candy or cookies. This is not a lack of willpower, it’s actually your body sending a biochemical message. Sugary foods spike your blood sugar quickly so you feel better…temporarily anyway.

Simple Solution:

GiveUpSugar_SalmonDinner.jpgTo avoid these “give me sugar, quick!” messages from your body, make sure you’re getting sufficient protein each day. And by sufficient, we don’t mean a little chicken at dinner, we mean eating protein throughout the day with all your meals and snacks. That protein, combined with all that good bacteria in your gut, will create neurotransmitters for you. Neurotransmitters, like serotonin, make you calm and will give you a take-it-or-leave-it attitude towards sugary foods. You will feel satisfied all day long and you will no longer seek comfort from sugary foods.

Your two-step action plan for kicking your sugar habit

I hope at this point you are saying to yourself, “Why wouldn’t I give up sugar?” If you’re ready to kick your sugar habit, take action with these steps:

  1. Heal your gut: Take bifidobacteria and L-glutamine to strengthen and heal your gut, as well as rev up your metabolism.
  2. Make sure you’re eating enough protein: For women, we recommend 4 ounces of protein at meals and 1-2 ounces at snacks; most men need more. Eating protein at every meal and snack will create serotonin and other neurotransmitters that help you stay calm and satisfied.

Listen to our podcast: Why can’t I give up sugar? for more information on this topic.

About the author

This blog content was written by a staff member at Nutritional Weight & Wellness who is passionate about eating real food.

View all posts by Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff


I am a nutritionist and sugar addict and I am extremely disappointed in this article, which unfortunately, fails to address what the title promises.

The most common, underlying reason why a person cannot give up sugar + has sugar cravings is sugar addiction. Aka, the unstoppable, habitual use of sugar (or other foods) as an outlet for one's emotions, in a manner similar to an alcoholic or drug addict.

No amount of "gut-healing," protein, or pills can fix this issue. Trust me - as a nutritionist and sugar addict, I tried everything like this a long time ago, before realizing the food and my physical body were not the problem. This is not to say dietary changes aren't helpful or necessary - they are! (but pills, not so much) - but knowing what one should eat is different than being able to just do it.

The only cure is avoiding the foods that one binges on and looking to a 12-step food support group, therapy and/or religious belief to overcome this affliction.

February 8, 2017 at 11:43 am


Thank you for your comment and feedback, we’re sorry you didn’t find the article helpful. We work with a lot of people in Overeaters Anonymous and recognize the value that organization provides.

Additionally, we full heartedly agree that most people need to stop eating sugar to overcome their cravings. That said, we believe, and have seen tremendous success, that you can make that process easier by eating real foods in balance and using specific nutritional supplements. 

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