This post may contain affiliate links. See affiliate disclosure here.
That sweet, satisfying taste of a sugary treat… we know it’s bad, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves right? There are weeks or even months where sugar plays a larger role in my diet than I’d like. It might start innocently enough with a piece of Halloween candy or cupcake at birthday party but then spirals into having desserts every night or even desperately grabbing at the supermarket treats and snacks in the checkout line. Sad but true, sugar addiction is real and even worse, so is sugar withdrawal.
Having a little bit of sugar in your diet is normal and acceptable as long as its done in moderation I think and not a regular habit. A good sugar scrub lip exfoliation treatment is awesome. The real problem however, lies within your brain when you start to eat more and more sugar until you actually crave it to the point where it has become an unhealthy addiction.
Many people believe that eating large amounts of sugar won’t have a negative impact on your health. Unfortunately, that is not always the case as a sugar overdose is actually real and can leave your body is a state of high blood sugar for several hours. This can cause anxiety, restlessness, tremors, and more.
Understanding Sugar Addiction
A study has shown that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. The World Health Organization recommends just 6 teaspoons of sugar a day but most get over 22 teaspoons with children having even more than that per day. People can very easily become addicted to sugar and quitting can be tough.
The rate of people suffering from obesity, heart disease, and other illnesses caused by eating too much sugar has continued to increase and there seems to be no slowing down. I don’t believe the chemical sugars and fake substitutes available today are the right answers either.
So how do you quit sugar? How do you get rid of those cravings and urges? A sugar detox is really one of the only ways to get it out of your system completely.
At that point you can see how your body feels and reacts to other foods and see if its something you want to bring back into your lifestyle on a limited basis. This post outlines ways by which one can quit sugar addiction and reduce the nasty sugar withdrawal side affects.
So Where Does Sugar Come from?
Most people think that sugar is simply found in sweet foods like chocolate, candy, ice cream and cake. However, sugar is found in many foods nowadays that we all eat on a regular basis, most likely without even knowing it.
Food that contain carbohydrates like breads, pastas, baked goods, and cereals all have sugar, and some which may not list having sugar on the label itself, actually have sugar in the form of glucose.
A mistake most people think is to assume that detoxing from sugar is all about quitting sweets and replacing it with carbs or other hidden sugar foods that might appear nutritious or sugar free. Those replacements could also have the same effect that sugar has so you need to be very careful what you reach for.
A small cupcake might have 35 grams of sugar and you might assume having a glass of juice or soft pretzel might be a better choice but the truth it that those foods also contain a lot of hidden sugar! Many protein shakes have sugar in them and claim to be healthy alternatives- read the labels closely.
In fact, companies have become so clever now that they will use other names to hide the fact that the foods they promote contain sugar. For instance, you will get companies using names like dextrose, molasses or maltose. All those foods are just other words for sugar.
What Is Sugar Detox?
A sugar detox is a way to help quit sugar consumption. Or simply put, it’s a way of reducing the amount of sugar in your body until your body is actually clean and functioning without the need for sugar, those sugar highs and crashes, and that obsession for something sweet all the time.
Some people may ask, why do I need to detox from sugar? The answer is simple- if you find yourself craving or needing sugar everyday or multiple times a day, you most likely are addicted to sugar. An emotional or psychological dependence on having sugary foods and drinks regularly is present and will continue to make you feel as though you need sugar to satisfy that craving.
Foods containing sugar lack vitamins and minerals which are important components for normal body function. You need to stop eating the low vitamin, low nutrient, high calorie sugary sweets and in turn treat your body to healthy, nutritious meals to repair the body and remove the addiction.
Sometimes foods, and sugar in particular, become an addiction due to a psychological issue. This could take professional therapeutic help as well as a proper sugar detox plan. Be sure to chat with your doctor about your feels on sugar.
A standard sugar detox plan involves eating foods that supply your body with the required nutrients, minerals, and energy. Often times, a sugar detox will help in reducing excess weight as well.
If you have been wondering how you can cut those excess pounds, quitting sugar could be one of the most effective ways to achieve weight loss.
Signs of Sugar Withdrawal
Quitting sugar is a tough thing that can affect the physical and mental state of an addict. Different people will have different symptoms depending on the amount of sugar one has been taking.
The side affect of sugar withdrawal can last up to two weeks. In fact, you may find your symptoms getting worse when it reaches the time you used to eat or drink sugar; for instance during or between meals if you had a soda with lunch. Sometimes when you are under stress, you may feel sugar cravings stronger or late at night when you feel you need that sugar high to make you feel better.
Mental and Physical Symptoms of Sugar Withdrawal
Sugar detox can cause mental and physical symptoms including:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Light-headedness and dizziness
- Fatigue and more.
Quitting sugar can have both worse and mild symptoms which need to be seriously committed to in overcoming it all. Most people find that its more frustrating than anything, while some might physically become ill, others might get a mild headache every now and then for a week or so. It will definitely vary depending on how your body absorbs sugar, how it processes sugar, and how strong your will power is.
Risks of Too Much Sugar Consumption
There are risks associated with being a sugar addict:
- Increased Cholesterol
- Depression and more
- Cancer *Sugar and cancer have been linked on more than one occasion in the medical field and it actually continues to be an epidemic in the United States
Too much sugar in your blood system is known as hyperglycemia. This is dangerous or even deadly for those with type 1 or 2 diabetes. If your blood sugar levels get too high you might become thirsty and tired, have blurry vision, feel sick to your stomach, faint, or even throw up.
So how do you Quit the Sugar Addiction?
There are some simple things you can do to make your detox go quicker and reduce your sugar withdrawal symptoms. Eating healthy foods and staying away from sugar might be obvious, but eating the right types of foods, encouraging healthy habits, finding ways to reduce stress, and overall uncovering methods to be kinder to yourself and your body. Check out our 8 top tips below.
1. Add More Protein to Your Diet
Proteins are not quickly digested in your stomach. That means you can stay full longer before feeling the urge to eat a sweet treat right after a meal. A high protein snack will provide your body with proper energy levels and help you stay on track with your plan.
Remember, when you feel the urge to eat frequently, you will likely get tempted to reach for a candy bar or other fast foods that contain glucose or sugar.
To add protein to your diet, eat eggs, avocado, natural turkey sausage for breakfast, nuts, berries, goat cheese for snack, and fish, poultry, and lean cuts of meat for dinner. Try a goat cheese turkey burger with some veggies. You could also enjoy a nice caprese chicken breast for lunch with tomatoes, cheese, basil, and a little olive oil. There are more options than you think.
2. Eat High-Fiber Foods
High-fiber foods, same as proteins take long to digest, so when you eat foods that contain high-fiber, you will stay full long before you get hungry again. Carbs are a source of fiber, especially the complex ones.
Therefore, eat foods rich in fiber such as fruits, grains, veggies, nuts, and seeds.
The same plan you follow when adding protein to your diet should apply here as well. That means you will need to add high-fiber foods to your breakfast, lunch, and super.
Try strawberries, Avocado, apples, raspberries, blueberries, and beets. Other items you might include are broccoli, artichoke, Brussels sprouts, chick peas, quinoa, and oats- all great high fiber foods.
3. Stay Hydrated
When you feel thirsty, you can get tempted to eat sugar. Remember, the liver needs glucose and water to manufacture glycogen, a source of energy. Thirst may hinder the liver from producing glycogen and that’s when you will start to feel sugar cravings.
Also, as you increase your fiber intake, your body will need more water for absorption purposes else you could experience constipation.
Sometimes you may think you are hungry and yet it’s just thirst. So, staying hydrated can help reduce the urge to eat and minimize your sugar cravings.
4. Be Mindful of What you Drink
Water, Caffeine free tea, sparkling mineral water are all great choices. To quit the sugar addiction, you need to mind the drinks you consume. Those packed fruit and vegetable juices, energy drinks, soda, and others contain large quantities of sugar so avoid those. Even lightly sweetened and flavored waters or zero sugar/calorie sodas are a no-no here.
Sometimes companies claim that their juices are sugar-free, but is it really true? Unfortunately- No. Most of them have added chemicals to alter the flavor making them seem sweet. These fake sugars and chemicals are just as bad for you as sugar and in different ways. It will also trick you into thinking you can go back to having some sugars when you really need to be free of such during this time period. Its best to just stick to drinking water when on a sugar detox plan.
5. Shun Artificial Sweeteners
Sometimes people think that replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners is the best way to quit a sugar addiction, but it’s not helpful at all.
A study has shown that artificial sweeteners can increase sugar cravings. It does the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish in the moment.
6. Get Quality Sleep
A study has shown that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 years need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Older adults, 65 years and above need 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
This is important for your body to heal and re-energize for the next day. Similarly, lack of sleep can increase the sugar detox symptoms like cravings, depression, fatigue, obesity and it can also increase the stress levels. Getting quality sleep can help to lower the stress levels, reduce sugar withdrawal, improve memory concentration, and prevent you from eating emotionally.
7. Eat Bitter Foods
The opposite of sweet is bitter. That means when you eat something bitter, you’re changing the brain receptors that trigger the urge to eat sugar by repressing them. Bitter foods can also inhibit the absorption of sugar thus blood sugar level is controlled.
Bitter-tasting foods include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, radishes, arugula, dandelion greens, citrus peel, cranberries, black coffee and green tea. Try eating an orange with the peel on- its way better than you think and healthier for you!
8. Learn How to Cope With Stress
Stress can make you eat emotionally. Also, stress has been shown to affect food preferences and maximize cravings for sugary things. Sugar is also said to have a calming effect on stress hormones which increases the urge to eat it whenever you are under stress.
You need to know yourself and understand what triggers a stress response in your body so that you can quit the sugar addiction.
To make it through a sugar detox without serious sugar withdrawal, you need to be committed. It is also important to understand that any negative symptoms you come across while detoxing will only last for a short period of time.
Once you have kicked the sugar addiction, you will start to feel better in a number of different ways. You might start to notice that your aches and pains go away or that your acne or irritated skin disappears. It can be a pretty dramatic change once you actually get sugar out of your system for an extended period of time.
Some people go sugar free forever! I admire them for doing so. While, I still enjoy my slice of cake every now and then, I am very much aware of how sugar can control your thoughts and cravings. Happiness is the ability to have control over your own body and its needs- not cake.
Have you gone through a sugar detox? How did it go for you? Did you have sugar withdrawal side effects? What types of things did you experience? We would love to hear your thoughts and tips!