Sugar Cravings When You Quit Drinking & How To Deal With Them?
If you’ve been alcohol-free for a few days or weeks now, you might be wondering what’s up with this new sugar bug that has manifested in your life. Maybe you’ve never really considered yourself a “sweets person,” and suddenly you’ve found yourself on a quest to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe on the Internet. (It’s Williams Sonoma’s recipe, halve the chips, by the way.) Or maybe it’s sugary cereal, or a pint of ice cream when the kids go to bed. As a matter of fact, sugar cravings are an incredibly common side effect of removing a habitual alcohol habit from your life.
When it comes to sugar, there are a couple different mechanisms at work here:
Sugar provides a quick serotonin and dopamine spike in our brains, much like alcohol. These neurochemicals make us feel really good in the moment, and if our brains have become accustomed to getting this from alcohol, they start looking for that surge elsewhere. This is called a “transfer addiction” - transferring one addiction to another.
Alcoholic drinks generally have quite a bit of added sugar. Wine, beer, and mixed drinks are all a vehicle for carbohydrates, sugary syrups, and juices - just think about how much sugar is in a glass of regular grape juice. That’s in your wine, too, so your body is missing that. You actually probably were a “sweets person,” you just didn’t necessarily notice it.
Drinking alcohol can actually cause your blood sugar to drop, triggering hypoglycemia and leaving you shaky, lightheaded, and fatigued. This is especially problematic for those at risk for hypoglycemia, like people with diabetes. It’s possible that we were frequently reaching for something to remedy this imbalance, like sugary or high fat foods. (Never mind the questionable food choices we might make under the influence!)