15 Sep 2023
Identify your feelings, then pause and reflect on the action you usually take (such as reaching for a sweet treat). Try replacing comfort food with another comforting, enjoyable activity, such as going for a walk, taking a warm bath, or curling up with a good book. There are some ways you can learn to cope why do alcoholics crave sugar not only with cravings but what is causing them. It’s important to address what’s really driving you to reach for a cookie when you’re upset so you can better care for your mind and body. Nancy Schimelpfening, MS is the administrator for the non-profit depression support group Depression Sanctuary.
The Link between Alcoholism and Sugar Cravings
There also appears to be some common genetic markers between alcohol dependence, bulimia, and obesity, such as the A1 allele gene and the dopamine 2 receptor gene. It’s important for recovering alcoholics to be aware of these links between their addiction and sugar cravings as they work towards sobriety. By managing their diet carefully they might reduce sugar binges during abstinence from drinking thus decreasing chances of relapse due to unhealthy eating habits.
People with severe alcohol use disorders can consume more than 50% of their calorie intake through alcohol alone¹, leaving them at significant risk for nutrient deficiency. Because your liver spends so much time processing the alcohol, other nutrient absorption is delayed. Mixed drinks often contain large amounts of additional sugar, but the alcohol itself does not contribute to your sugar intake. However, all alcoholic beverages contain a significant number of calories and have little to no nutritional value. Too much sugar can lead to gut problems, tooth decay, weight gain, and even type 2 diabetes. So instead of consuming sugar, what other options do recovering addicts have?
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The liver, the organ that processes any alcohol you drink, is in charge of releasing glycogen into your blood. Alcohol stops this from happening, causing your blood sugar to drop. That’s why alcohol withdrawal and sugar cravings happen frequently. High sugar intake can trigger the reward center of your brain to create dopamine and serotonin. I’m early sobriety, these neurotransmitter levels may be below baseline… that means you may be wanting anything and everything to boost your mood!
You may find it useful to keep a food journal, meal diary, or use an app to help you track. Sugar cravings are amplified and most intense when you’re hungry. If you go too long without a meal or a snack, your body is likely to start looking for a quick source of energy. While this might address your hunger now, you aren’t likely to stay feeling satisfied until your next meal.
Mental Health Disorders and Addiction Transfer
The is the biggest reason why sugar cravings appear in early sobriety, especially the first month. That is the most important step towards getting healthy and addressing any mental health issues. Fine tuning your eating habits and lowering your sugar intake is secondary. These spikes and crashes make sugar cravings incredibly common in early recovery from alcohol use disorder.