The benefits to quitting sugar are enormous. You may not realize it if you do not know just how many food products have added sugar.
Dextrose is the sugar liquid that french fries are bathed in prior to cooking that gives them a golden color and extra crunch.
Lab-created sweeteners are cheap and easy to make and cause us to become addicted to them and are added to most processed foods. So yes, there are many health benefits to quitting these foods.
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic.
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food, getting some sunshine, and purging unhelpful thinking is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life.
You want a quality long life.
Are you thinking of doing a sugar detox? I have a helpful guide for that. Get my FREE guide 25 Hacks to Stop Your Sugar Cravings and start prepping for your sugar detox! Your health with thank you!
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. As well, there may be affiliate links in this post. Read more here.
What Happens When You Quit Sugar?
When you quit or cut back on sugar, your body and mind will go through many changes.
These stages are similar to when you cut anything out, though the withdrawal period might be worse than other lifestyle changes if you relied a lot on sugar-laden foods.
Here are some stages you can expect when you first cut back on your sugar intake.
This is probably one of the first things you will experience, though some people will have the headaches from withdrawal first.
Cravings occur when your body discovers it is not getting the same amount of sugar as it used to.
This could occur on day 2, or not for a week or so. It will depend a lot on how much sugar you were consuming before starting the sugar detox diet.
If you have ever tried to quit something cold turkey, like smoking or drinking caffeine, you know what the withdrawal headaches are like.
While they can affect what you are trying to accomplish during the day, be strong!
Take some pain relievers and just try to get through this phase. If you cave, you will just have to keep going through these withdrawal symptoms over and over again.
Aches and Pains
Another stage of quitting sugar is when you get further into the sugar withdrawal period and you experience some aches and pains.
Like other symptoms, this might not be something everyone deals with.
However, if you start experiencing leg cramps or other odd physical discomforts, it may be your body’s way of reacting to lack of sugar you are consuming. If it becomes severe, it is a good thing to discuss with your doctor.
Moving further into the later stages of sugar detoxing and the withdrawal is the mood swings.
These can come from a few different sources.
You are uncomfortable and might be having some bad headaches, so that will create some irritability.
The cravings are definitely making it worse, and when you feel like you are being told you can’t have something, it can play a lot of tricks on you.
This will pass just like all other stages of quitting sugar, you just have to be committed.
Body Shakes and Trembling
Some people will also experience more traditional withdrawal symptoms like body shakes, weakness, or trembling.
It is important that if you feel uneasy about it, you talk to your doctor to rule out other possible causes.
What You Should Know About Natural VS Added Sugar
When you think about going sugar-free, you will quickly realize that whole, fresh foods also contain sugar.
These natural sugars are not the same as the highly addictive sugars added to processed foods.
The most addictive form of sugar is fructose, which has been isolated and turned into high fructose corn syrup and is the main sweetener for processed foods.
Frutose triggers the pleasure center of the brain.
Using a concentrated form in virtually all fast and processed foods mean people get a variety of hits throughout the day, which keeps them hooked.
Contrast that with natural fructose, which comes from fruit. The amount of fructose in fruit is miniscule compared to what is added to packaged foods.
If you have a lot of sugar cravings, you may want to cut back on fresh fruit until you know that it will not trigger cravings.
The Basics of Natural Versus Added Sugar
People often get confused when they are told to give up sugar or reduce it in their diet, because when you add fresh, clean foods and look at the nutrition, it seems high in sugar.
One thing to keep in mind is that natural sugars should be perfectly fine.
It is the added sugars that are bad for you.
The basic difference between natural and added sugar is that natural sugars already exist in certain foods, while the added sugars do not, and are added later to change the taste of the food.
You might think of added sugar as plain old table sugar, but there are many other variations as well.
These are all considered to be added sugar, since they are using the sweeteners to add sugar to other foods.
You should really try to keep your daily added sugar amount under 20 grams a day.
With a teaspoon of sugar weighing in at about 4 grams each, 20 grams is 5 teaspoons.
Some added sugars include cane sugar, brown sugar, golden sugar, date sugar, and coconut sugar.
There are also other sweeteners sometimes added to foods with different names, also included in the added sugar rule, such as:
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Maple syrup
Why Are Added Sugars Bad for You?
Added sugars affect different people in different ways, but in general, they have quite a few adverse health effects, such as:
- Weight gain
- Hard to lose weight
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Spike your blood sugar levels
- Lower your immune system
Your natural sugars are those found naturally in foods without being added to them.
The two main forms include fructose and lactose.
Fructose is often found in fresh fruits and vegetables, while lactose is found in milk.
If you want something sweet, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and dairy products, and skip all those added sugars.
Foods with Hidden Sugar
When you are avoiding sugar to improve your health, you should understand the different names that manufacturers use for this sweet substance.
Note that the suffix “-ose” is one indicator of some type of sugar, either natural or added; you can see it on the list below.
- High fructose corn syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Crystal dextrose
- Regular Corn syrup
- Cane sugar
- Brown sugar
- Fruit juice
- Maple syrup
- Agave nectar
This is a partial list of the names for sugar because manufacturers create new types of sweeteners occasionally.
To determine if a product at the grocery store has any type of sugar, you must read the small print on the package’s label.
Remember that the beverages and foods that are labeled as natural, organic, healthy or low-calorie can still have added sugar.
In addition, some foods contain natural sugars, but these types of foods frequently have high levels of minerals, fiber and vitamins.
Why Should You Detoxify From Sugar?
There are several reasons why you might want to detoxify from sugar.
- If you have a health condition such as diabetes mellitus or fibromyalgia, then avoiding sugar can improve your health.
- A good enough reason to quit is if you feel like you may be addicted to sugar
- Consuming sugary foods or beverages to lift your mood will change the pattern of your brain waves, affecting the emotional area of your brain.
- Sugar can damage your cardiovascular system because it increases your cholesterol levels, and it can lead to high blood pressure.
- When you consume a lot of sugar, it can also increase the uric acid levels in your blood, leading to conditions such as gouty arthritis.
- Excessive amounts of sugar can also cause tooth decay because bacteria thrive in the plaque that forms on your teeth after you consume sugary foods.
- If you are consuming sugar-filled foods and beverages instead of healthy vegetables and lean proteins, then you may have bone loss that leads to osteoporosis.
- Experts also believe that sugar damages the collagen in your upper skin, leading to fine lines and wrinkles at an earlier age.
Best Ways to Quit Eating Sugar
You already know that foods such as boxed cereals, cookies and ice cream are loaded with sugar, but this sweetener is also in many unusual food products.
Consider this list of beverages and foods that have added sugar.
Most peanut butter along with the foods made with peanut butter will have added sugar. And many brands use icing sugar because is creates a smoother product.
Various forms of sugar are added to peanut butter so that the product remains fresh for several months.
The sugar helps to keep the peanut butter from discoloring or becoming rancid.
If you want to eat peanut butter, then buy natural peanut butter that only contains ground peanuts and peanut oils.
You will find that natural peanut butter has a layer of oil on top that you need to mix in, but it is worth it for sugar-free peanut butter.
Stop Buying Packaged Foods
Most packaged foods now contain some form of sugar. Food manufacturers use sugars to not only flavor their products but also to create repeat customers.
Even foods that might seem healthy, like multi-grain breads, contain sugar.
If you require these foods in your home, consider making them from scratch so at least you have control over the ingredients.
Reduce Your Condiments
You may pour a large amount of ketchup on your healthy homemade hamburger that is made with a homemade slice of whole-wheat bread, but by doing this, you are adding a huge amount of sugar to your food.
Instead of using condiments such as ketchup, barbecue sauce or mayonnaise on your sandwiches, switch to sugar-free versions.
Or just add lettuce and mustard to the food.
I hope that I have helped you to see that if you are hooked on sugar, it is not your fault. When food scientists discovered how to add the highly addictive fructose to everyday foods, they did it on purpose. And they knew you would come back for more!
If you are considering a sugar detox, be sure to grab my FREE guide 25 Hacks to Stop Your Sugar Cravings and start prepping for your sugar detox! Your health with thank you!
Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit.
Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!