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How I Beat My Sugar Addiction

Robyn Openshaw - Feb 27, 2013 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl:  I am trying to stop eating sugar, but am SO weak!  I've been reading some recommended books, and trying to exercise willpower, and I still struggle.   I'm curious what your process was, that led to success, and how you’ve been able to stay off sugar.  I could do it before I had kids, but now it seems SO much harder. I'd love to hear your tips of how you are able to enjoy family time, birthdays, holidays, etc, without the sugar.


Answer: You got it, Dixie. First, today, the “how I did it” part of your question. Then, tomorrow, some data download on the artificial sweeteners and why they’re even worse.


I really believe that to truly kick the sugar addiction, you have to go off it permanently, cold-turkey. Can an alcoholic just “cut back?” Can a cocaine addict do lines “just on the weekend?”

I’m not saying you will NEVER eat sugar again. (I can’t handle that thought either. I have come further than most, though, to say, “I will not eat it for a year.” Don’t think too far in the future. Think about a long period of time, though. Something that hurts your brain a little. Something challenging.)

What I AM saying is, as long as it’s going to be a casual indulgence, it’s going to be an addiction.

It doesn’t work like that, casually. Addiction to chemicals hijack the brain. It makes us less than we are. It makes us feel we have no “willpower” and aren’t in control of our weight, our life, our health.

Is it worth it? Is sugar worth the price we pay? Academically, we all know it isn’t.

One day, I got completely out of the sugar rat race. It was Sept. 11, 2011. Matthew Flinders and I bet $10,000 that we wouldn’t eat sugar for a year.

When the option was off the table, I stopped thinking about it. It’s so incredibly rare that I even think about sugar now. Seriously. It takes a matter of DAYS before you just quit thinking about it. (Why think about it? Is there a cookie that’s worth $10,000? There isn’t, right?)

I have other treats I *could* have.

I have honey-sweetened homemade halva balls in my freezer right now. They're legal, I could eat them every day if I wanted, but sometimes they're there for weeks before I reach for one. Ditto a the stevia-sweetened dark-chocolate hot fudge in my refrigerator--haven’t touched it in months.

It’s important to know I COULD IF I WANTED. I just don’t really care, most of the time.

“Ah,” you’re thinking, “now you’ve lost me. You’re not like me. I really don’t see the point in living, if it doesn’t involve my daily treats.”

No, listen. I get it. I don’t know if anyone was a bigger sugar addict than me. Writing that treats sit in my freezer and fridge are a big triumph, since I was a lifelong sugar addict. I have deep fillings in all my molars to prove it. Did I fight it more successfully than most? Yes, by sheer will. Like a daily arm wrestle. But in MY OWN RESEARCH, 65% of green smoothie drinkers have fewer cravings for sweets and processed food.

I, my friend, was in the 35%. I still wanted my damn treat.

But here’s something true. A weird thing happens when you get off REFINED sugar. All sugar seems less interesting.

I’m just not interested in brownies anymore. (OMG! Thank you for asking me this question, Dixie! I’ve been thinking about so many MORE INTERESTING THINGS THAN BROWNIES the past 18 months, I hadn’t even realized…….brownies aren’t interesting anymore, and my brain is occupied by better stuff now!)

At first, I’d go to a family birthday or Christmas or any number of other holiday parties, and just not dare LOOK at the dessert table. Now it doesn’t matter. I might look, but I don’t feel the cravings. Now when I look at mint chocolate brownies (my former favorite), it looks like a bunch of chemicals and food colorings and stuff. While I do have lots of memory of pleasure associated with that food, it isn’t particularly tempting.

readers-favorite-healthy-recipes-vol-1-350x350I enjoy celebrating, still. I eat the dinner, just not the dessert. If I were still in a place of feeling deprived, I’d take my own (raw, yummy, chocolately) treat. You can do that. Get our READERS FAVORITES books, or check out Ch. 11 of 12 STEPS TO WHOLE FOODS.

I’m over halfway through Year 2 on the Sugar Bet. Matthew did Year 1 with me as a test of his willpower--he loves games and contests--and didn’t want to do it forever. So I had to get Natalie Harris to do it with me as my first bet ended.

This year, I’m allowed to have sugar one day a month. Honestly, in 2013, thus far, I haven’t seen anything I wanted to eat enough to “use” my day. I’m banking them.

I’m not saying I’ll never eat sugar again. If I go to Las Vegas and get to the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan? Totally worth it. Ditto a five-star all-inclusive resort in Mexico, on a vacation.

But I am saying, it’s the nicest feeling in the world to (a) have sugar cravings no longer intruding into my thoughts, demanding my brain functions I need for higher things, making me ridiculously obsess about WILL I OR WON’T I TODAY?

And it’s the nicest feeling in the world to (b) discover that not only is life worth living without sugar? It’s just better.

My life is so much better without sugar.

I didn’t lose weight when I ditched sugar. (I ate little of it anyway. But I spent far more time THINKING about wanting to eat sugar and BATTLING it, than actually DOING it. This might be the definition of ANNOYING.)

I weighed 135-137 then, and I weigh 135-137 now.  I don’t really feel any different. I felt great then, and now.

(I had learned MANY years ago to never, ever do it on an empty stomach. That made me sick from the time I was a hypoglycemic kid. I finally wised up and stopped doing it by my mid-20’s. Then I had a long phase of still eating sugar, but only after a healthy meal. Then a long phase of not eating sugar regularly, but still sometimes.)

So why am I still THRILLED that I’ve been totally “off sugar” for 18 months, if I didn’t lose weight or feel any different?

Because now I am in charge of my life. Only after getting free of the sugar demon am I able to look back and realize how CONTROLLED I was by Sugar’s pushy, interruptive, bossy presence in my life.

It was a gradual process, to realizing that I don’t hate my life without sugar.

You won’t either. Promise.

Posted in: 12 Steps To Whole Food, Green Smoothies, Lifestyle, Recipes, Relationships, Tools & Products, Whole Food

16 thoughts on “How I Beat My Sugar Addiction”

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  1. Carol Lombard says:

    Why isn’t coconut palm sugar considered sugar?

  2. Heather Mosher says:

    I didn’t find the how you did it in there? I was hoping for more of a way to get off sugar, some sort of trick…..

  3. Lisa Brinkerhoff says:

    Hi Robyn, I have only been off of sugar for 5 months and some days it is still very hard. I made the decision for my health. I was underweight and suffering with Fibromyalgia (along with other things). Sugar really affects me, it is the difference between me being able to function or not. I am curious about the Cocoa Mojo doesn’t that have coconut sugar? Thank you for your mission on health, I have been a Green smoothie girl now for 2 years in May. Thanks for keeping it real.

  4. I Love your straight-forward writing.
    Writing and health — two favorite worlds of mine — and you put the two together wonderfully with your inspiration, your realism, your humor, and your down-to-earth accessibility.

    What struck me is that what you said made perfect sense…. hits home in the “addictive mind-set” part of my life, which seems to be even more insidious than the eating habits with which I struggle. I truly am sick of focussing on “foods to not eat” — whether or not I eat them regularly!
    Something both deep, and lightening-up, about “letting go” for real — thx for expressing it.

    I’m sure that so many people appreciate your contribution to helping change the way the world eats!! (is that too much to lay on you? 🙂
    Please keep on keepin’ on!!!
    All the best and thanks again — ongoing —
    Patricia (“the berry lady” in Rochester, VT)

  5. It’s true…’s really true. People have a really hard time believing that I don’t really get cravings or think about it much. And that just being off the refined sugars helps with most all sweet cravings. Give it a try you’ll see that Robyn’s right. I didn’t realize how addicted to sugar I was until I wasn’t addicted any longer!

  6. Hi Robyn, great article! Sugar is deifinitely addicting, the more you have it, the more you crave it & it’s amazing how good you can feel once you stay away from it….Frank

  7. Dr. Patryce A. Smith~PhD says:

    The chemical makeup to your brain and the self-talk of you and your body become very important when breaking habits that one is ‘addicted’ to as you progress to a healthier lifestyle know there is much help out here for you. Congrats on taking the first step…knowing you need to cut that sugar & worse the artificial ones our of your daily choices.

  8. Melissa says:

    This is the truth! It’s not what most people want to hear, but it is TRUE. I couln’t have heard this a year ago, but I hear it loud and clear now! For the last 3 months I have been almost 100 percent sugar free (I’ve had some dark 60-85% chocolate on 3 occasions). I’m a chocolate lover, so I’m learning to get that “chocolate fix” without the sugar. There’s lots of options, one of the simplest is frozen bananas + cocoa powder in the Vitamix blender = yummy chocolate icecream. I’ll tell you what really did it for me was learning (at a Green Smoothie Girl event – and I can’t remember if Robyn said this or if Brian Clement said it) that cancer cells have 19 insulin receptors and healthy cells have 2. SUGAR FEEDS CANCER. I’m thinking if I have cancer cells or “pre cancerous” cells anywhere in my body, I don’t want to feed them. So, I stopped eating sugar. 🙂 Easy as that. Whose in control now, sugar!? LOL!

      1. Dr. Patryce A. Smith~ says:

        I think by the question you are on the ‘wrong’ page for health. Or you could come up with the non-sugar (thereby non-alcohol) cocktail you are seeking.

  9. JP Edwards says:

    After reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (listed in the recommended reading from gsg) I added, yes ADDED fat into my diet on a more regular basis, not the poly unsaturated, but saturated, especially butter, cream, and coconut oil. I realized about a month later that not only had i not been scrounging the house for ANYTHING sweet out of desperation, but I was walking through the store isles completely unfazed by (but still enjoying) the smell of fresh doughnuts, Halloween candy, and every other thing i battled. I hadn’t craved sugar for at least one week, probably closer to two, and i wasn’t craving chips, crackers, or bread in general either. It changed everything!
    It used to be when my chronic stress would spike those cravings took control, all bets were off, but now the cravings during those times are mild, but most of the time they just don’t exist any more. Also, don’t under estimate the consequences of chronic stress (usually emotional) in your life playing into those cravings. What is going on in your life and your emotions when those cravings are the strongest? Address that and you will be better able to prevent new episodes. =)

    1. Dr. PARS says:

      Who is this woman trying to help this young woman deal with traumas in her childhood? There are other natural health modalities that can assist her to grow into her healthier self. These types of mind, body, spirit and environment issues will need more than a bit of guided-imagery?

      1. Rebecca says:

        I know this was originally posted several years ago, but I just came across it here on the GSG website. To help others who are reading it now, and wondering the same thing, I will answer your question. The woman who is helping in the video is Carol Tuttle. She is the author of 5 best selling books, had an energy therapy practice for several years, and is the creator of the energy profiling system. That is why you hear the two women briefly discussing energy types. Her website,, has a huge following. In fact, Robyn (the green smoothie girl) was one of Carol’s live your truth makeovers!

    2. Lynda Kilfoyle says:

      Someone please clarify the definition of sugar. Cocoa Mojo has organic coconut palm sugar in it how is that much different than other types of sugar. I thought sugar free include all types of sugar but fresh fruit? No, pure maple syrup, no raw honey, no agave? Please correct me if I am wrong but a nice warm cocoa drink doesn’t really sound sugar free.

  10. Amanda Evans says:

    I would really love to know what you mean by being sugar free because there seems to be so much information now that I’m totally bamboozled by it all. Agave as far as I understand it is every bit as processed as sugar; nutritionally it’s similar to high-fructose corn syrup; in fact it can be as high as 90% fructose. When you add fruits, berries, bananas etc to your green smoothies and then blend them, the all important cellular fibre that helps our bodies absorb the fructose slowly when we eat the fruit as a whole is totally destroyed, ensuring that we are just drinking high sugar content (Robert Lustig in his book Fat Chance). Having just bought a high-speed blender thinking I was heading for a healthy lifestyle, I now feel totally confused in a way that I never did before. Would love to know your answer as I’m keen to get this right. Thanks!

    1. Robyn says:

      Amanda, you can define it any number of ways. The only thing I’ve “beat” is my REFINED sugar addiction. I still like treats. Blending is fine and the fiber is not destroyed. However, it’s important to chew foods high in fiber as well, where the fiber isn’t as broken down. I do not like juicing fruits for the reason you mention—too much sugar, fiber thrown away.

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