Alcohol and Sugar – Ugly Stepsisters

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Hi, I’m Andrea, and I am a cake addict.

Having just passed the 3 month mark of no alcohol, I feel proud of my achievement, and also surprised at how easy it has been!

Although typically met with gasps and utter horror by others at the mention that I am not drinking, my life has remained remarkably normal and, in fact, even more awesome than ever before.

Positive aspects from not drinking:

  • I have picked up several hobbies again (drawing/ hooping/ Pilates/dance)
  • I’ve developed an interest in trying new things (giving up booz means you start becoming more creative in how you spend your time)
  • I have saved about R3k a month on alcohol and alcohol-related expenses – boozy dinners/cocktails/ Ubers/ late night food attacks and of course the hangover munchies/ (that’s R12 000 in the last three months in case you weren’t counting folks)
  • I have not experienced one hangover
  • As a result my weekends start early and are packed with exciting activities
  • I started this blog 😉

Having read several success stories before I would have expected to add weight loss onto the list (as many people drop tons of weight after quitting drinking) – but alas, I started to experience the opposite! It seems I had developed a strange side-effect during the process:

An addiction for cake.

After looking into this bizarre phenomena it quickly became apparent to see how this is in fact incredibly common – in that those who try to drink less often start craving and eating more sugar to substitute alcohol.

I am no exception to the rule and over the last few months of not drinking it seems I developed a massive and insatiable sugar addiction.  I wanted cake. I needed it. Every day.

Delving into the research on sugar addiction it becomes incredibly apparent how massively our lives are dictated and influenced by this seemingly innocent white substance.

In fact, it is suggested that alcohol (and other drug) dependency can be strongly determined and influenced by ones relationship and dependency with sugar – a relationship which is often instilled in-utero before we have even entered this world [i].

Having never been the most massive cake fan – this was a hugely surprising shift. The cravings were intense and not ones I was prepared to fight. After all I had given up alcohol – what could be wrong with a bit of sugar here and there right??

Curious (and somewhat concerned) at my new cake-consuming pastime I decided to do some research on the link between alcohol and sugar, and was surprised to find that these two substances are, in fact, ugly stepsisters.

Alcohol and Sugar:

  • Both have no nutritional content
  • Both are linked to a myriad of health diseases including cancer/heart disease
  • Both have an identical molecular structure that alters the brain in similar ways
  • Both are highly addictive substances
  • Both are socially acceptable and normalised substances in our society

So, it would make sense why one might overcompensate on sugary treats once alcohol is removed.

article sugar cartoon
Cartoon credit: Mike Adams,

Taking this even a step further, it has been proved that sugar is even more addictive than cocaine with 94% of animals tested choosing sweet substances over cocaine in trial studies[ii]. Simply put: cocaine is refined from coca leaves, opium is refined from poppy seeds and white sugar is refined from cane sugar. It just so happens that sugar, like alcohol, is a socially acceptable drug in our society.

Having established the link and cause for my cake addiction I felt slightly more empowered understanding the physiology behind my behaviour. However, getting to the 3 month mark of no alcohol felt my primary focus, and that tackling my sugar addiction would come next.

So here I am, three months alcohol free, and 10 days sugar free! Having gone through the first week (the hardest in terms of withdrawal and cravings) I am feeling great, and my scale seems to hate me less!

I think one thing that often comes up in conversation when talking about giving up alcohol (or sugar for that matter) is that by default this must mean giving up on enjoyment and pleasure in life.

For me, the massive learning is in the realisation that in fact we do not need to rely on substances to find excitement and enjoyment in our lives.  The enjoyment, excitement, fun, love and life is always there.

I mean here we all are, floating around on this weird ball-shaped thing in the galaxy together. Life is pretty ridiculous and awesome as is, wouldn’t you say?





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2 Thoughts to “Alcohol and Sugar – Ugly Stepsisters”

  1. Mandla Nkululeko

    Hey you’re not alone. The last time that I had been utterly sloshed was almost(or rather more than) 3 years ago. I had picked up a beer last year but I plan on kicking the habit entirely. What you’re doing is awesome, keep it up. And Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Mandla – 3 years – that’s brilliant:)

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