Are you ready to break your sugar addiction? Good! And because I want you to succeed, I will explain the many reasons why you are making the best decision of your health this year. In case you need reasons.
Ever eat a whole large chocolate bar while bingeing Netflix? How about 2? Or 3? Or half a big bag of Dorito’s? Half a box of Krispy Kreme’s? Or the whole box? Congratulations! You have been part of an experiment to see how much junk food you can buy and eat…without really wanting to!
It is not your fault that you are addicted to a substance that is hidden in many of our foods. But I do know that you have what it takes to stop sugar addiction, because you are here reading this.
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 and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life.
You want a quality long life.
If you are just thinking about quitting sugar, why not grab my FREE PDF guide 25 Hacks That Stop Your Sugar Cravings and be added to my weekly newsletter at the same time. Use the tips to help cut down on sugar or prepare yourself for a full detox.
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 Is Sugar?
Sugar is a crystalline substance created from various plants, most notably the sugar cane plant. It is used primarily for food preparation to add sweetness and/or enhance flavor.
The average person consumes 24 kg (53 lbs) of sugar per year. This is equivalent to 260 calories per day.
As a result, Type II Diabetes, tooth decay, and obesity are all on the rise.
For the purpose of my posts on detoxing from sugar, I am referring to:
Table sugar, granulated sugar, or “regular” white sugar a.k.a sucrose.
Also included is brown sugar, demerara (a dark brown sugar), fructose that is not contained within a piece of fruit, high fructose corn syrup, and any sugars in processed foods.
Avoid all sweeteners until you know whether they trigger you or not
During sugar detox it is wise to stop consuming ‘natural’ sugars like maple syrup, honey, and agave syrups until you get your addiction under control.
These sweeteners are not necessarily ‘pure’ or ‘clean’ and may contain crappy liquid sugars to bulk them up. They can trigger sugar cravings.
As well, avoid artificial sweeteners like:
- Stevia – Stevia is natural, but most packages also contain bulking products that trigger cravings.
- Sucralose – Brand name Splenda. Contains bulking agents.
- Aspartame – Brand name Equal. In many diet foods like sugar free gelatin products or diet/sugar-free soda.
- Saccharin – An old -timey diabetic sweetener, only available in pharmacies in pill form.
- Acesulfame-potassium/Ace-K – A food additive used by food manufacturers only.
- Sugar alcohols – Erythritol, Xylitol, Malitol, Isomalt, Polydextrose, Sorbitol. Natural or manufactured; causes gastrointestinal distress in some people (gas, bloating, or diarrhea)
Watch for maltodextrin, which is an additive used to bulk up foods.
Splenda on its own is very tiny food product, so to give it the bulk to measure “cup for cup” like white sugar, maltodextrin is used. Maltodextrin is a “synthetic polysaccaride“, meaning it is 100% carbohydrate that spikes blood sugar.
Watch for any food ingredient that ends in “-ose”. That is your tip to find hidden sugars like: fructose (fruit sugar), sucrose, lactose (milk sugar), galactose (also in milk), etc.
If you think that you are addicted to sugar, your first step is to read food labels.
That will educate you on how much of the food you eat contains hidden sugars. Answer: a lot.
5 Great Reasons To Break Sugar Addiction
Sugar addiction is very real. Why? How did this come to be?
Of course we expect cakes and cookies to contain sugar but why is it in our microwave popcorn? Or pasta sauce?
The real villain is not sugar.
Nope, it’s food manufacturers. Sugar is hidden in all sorts of foods specifically because of its addictive properties. Eat it once, then buy it forever.
Because how else are food manufacturers supposed to make money??
No, sugar, on its own is not bad. What is bad is hiding sugar in other foods to get people hooked on it.
I quit sugar this past winter and I want to share as many tips as I can remember to help you beat your addiction as well!
First, you need to understand why you should quit (hint: you are being used!).
Then we will look at why sugar is a health problem and ways to cut back before a detox. In case you need specific reasons to quit.
And finally, what detoxing from sugar looks like. So you’re prepared for it. Next week I will have your instructions for a 7 day detox. Ready?
It’s time to cut added sugar from our diet.
1. Consuming Sugar Spikes Your Insulin
As soon as your body starts to digest sugar, your insulin spikes up. This happens when you eat any food containing carbohydrates, like rice, pasta, and of course, table sugar.
Carbs convert to sugar in your bloodstream, so it’s not just table sugar we have to watch for. It’s processed food in general.
Insulin is the hormone that is in charge of keeping blood sugar levels from rising too high. Insulin does this by converting extra sugar into fat for storage. It’s a delicate process.
The government food guidelines recommend 300 grams of carbohydrate foods per day.
This is equivalent to more than 1 cup of sugar going into your bloodstream.
Consuming sugar in such large quantities will cause your insulin to spike and insulin must bring it back down to normal levels. That is it’s job.
Over time it becomes less and less effective and you can become insulin resistant, which is the precursor for Type II diabetes.
2. Consuming Sugar Makes You Gain Weight
This is basic math, because your body will burn calories from carbohydrates first.
If you are eating carbs all day, you will not be able to burn the carbs from breakfast before you eat that mid-morning muffin. You won’t burn off that muffin by lunch before you then eat your lunch carbs.
Excess carbs are converted to fat and stored for when the body needs energy.
Non-stop carb eating = ever increasing fat storage. The advice to eat six small meals daily works against our health and makes us fatter.
3. Sugar is Hidden in Unlikely Foods
In the late seventies, health authorities advised consumers to watch and lower their fat intake. The food industry jumped on that to provide us with a large variety of low fat and fat free food options.
To make these low fat foods taste okay, they had to add a lot of sugar and starches to get the same texture and taste.
Take a look at regular and low fat or fat free salad dressing. The lower fat options have a lot more carbs and in particular, sugar.
You may not taste it, but it’s there. Since sugar is much more quickly digested than fat, you’re hungry sooner after consuming a low fat meal and you eat again.
The end result is weight gain.
4. Consuming Sugar Increases Your Risk For Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
With all that increased sugar and weight gain comes a higher risk for diabetes and a condition called metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic Syndrome is a group of symptoms and behaviors that put you at a much higher risk of developing heart disease and Type II diabetes.
Thankfully both conditions are reversible and the first step toward better health is to cut out the sugar. Eating a low carbohydrate diet, like Keto, keeps your blood sugar normal and is far less likely to cause metabolic syndrome.
Related Post: Keto Made Easy
5. Sugar Doesn’t Have A Lot of Nutritional Value And It Makes You Hungrier
Last but not least, it’s important to remember that aside from a little boost of energy, sugar doesn’t provide a lot of nutritional value to your body.
If you want something sweet, you’re much better off grabbing a piece of fruit than a cookie. At least with a piece of fruit you’re getting some vitamins and fiber with your sugar fix.
On that note, don’t replace whole fruit with fruit juice, which is basically liquid candy. #nothelpful
If you want or need to lose weight, the first thing you should cut out is sugar.
It causes spikes in your blood sugar, that then make your body produce a large amount of insulin to pull the sugar out of your system (and convert it to body fat).
The sad little side effect of that process is that your blood sugar goes on a roller coaster ride that will leave you hungry and craving more sugary treats.
What Sugar and Cocaine Have In Common…
Here’s a scary fact. When scientists took MRI images of the brains of people consuming sugar and highly addictive drugs like cocaine, the same pleasure centers in the brain started lighting up.
Sounds pretty, scary, doesn’t it? But what does it actually mean to your brain and your overall health?
Sugar is truly addictive. And its not your fault that you are hooked…that is the plan.
Excess sugar will alter your brain chemistry and over time you start to crave more and more sugar. You don’t know why you want it, just that you do.
Most processed and sweetened foods contain either straight fructose or high fructose corn syrup.
These items go right to the pleasure center of your brain, which is why food manufacturers use it…a lot. Your brain “thinks” that these foods make us happy, so our brain will encourage us to eat more of it.
Because we want to be happy….right?
I have talked to so many people who cannot stop eating some sugary food once they start. It could be a large size chocolate bar, a package of cookies, or a whole pie.
Does that sound familiar? That loss of control is confusing for many people, who do not realize that they are being manipulated by a food company!
Food manufacturers use these addictive sweeteners to keep you buying their products! It’s not your fault; you are being willfully sabotaged. They are using us to line their pockets! It’s shocking really.
The urge for your next sweet fix comes more and more frequently.
You need to consume it in larger quantities and like any other drug, it comes with some pretty scary side effects.
Not being able to fit into your favorite pair of jeans because of your cookie addiction is going to be the least of your problems.
Yes, there will be weight gain, but with it, and particularly because this weight gain is brought on by consuming too much sugar,
You’ll increase your risk of developing Type II Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke.
Any sugar that is not a whole food also causes inflammation in your body. This is because these foods are not real food; they are lab created pseudo-food.
Yes, fructose is the natural sweetener in fruit. However, you get fiber and nutrients packaged with the sugar, which helps you digest the sugar more slowly. Processed foods have none of that, so you get a quick high followed by a crash.
This is unnatural for your body, hence the inflammation.
Eliminating this inflammation can give you the appearance of weight loss, even when no weight has been lost.
Just from stopping the inflammation!
Added weight puts stress on your joints and tendons and makes it harder to get enough oxygen pumping through your body. That is why you feel crappy as you put on weight.
All these various health conditions are referred to as metabolic syndrome and it’s just one of the things you can look forward to as you continue to feed your sugar addiction.
To Overcome Sugar Addiction Is A Challenge
Like with a cocaine addiction, harming your body and compromising your health doesn’t really matter all that much when you’re faced with a box of donuts.
That’s a serious problem. Then, as with any highly addictive drug, there will be unpleasant withdrawal symptoms as you start to wean your body off of sugar.
Don’t believe me? Give it a try. Cut out all added sugar for a couple of days.
No more soda, no more sugar in your coffee, no candy, no cookies, no donuts.
You’ll also want to avoid all foods with added sugars like bread, most salad dressings, ketchup etc.
Cut all those foods out and don’t eat anything without checking the label for added sugars. See how you feel after a few hours:
- It starts off with a little headache that won’t leave.
- You’ll start craving something sweet and then you can’t stop thinking about it.
- Next, that little headache will start to grow into a full blown pounding head along with joint aches.
- Some people also experience nausea and mood swings.
- People will even have flu like symptoms and start to shake a day into their sugar detox.
Doesn’t that sound a lot like the withdrawal symptoms of a “serious” drug addiction?
That’s because sugar addiction is just that. A serious addiction.
3 Easy Ways To Start Overcoming Sugar Addiction
The average American consumes about 126 grams of sugar every day (almost 9 tablespoons!). Think about that for a minute. That’s a lot of sugar.
We know all this sugar isn’t good for us, and it is in all processed foods, all low fat foods, and hidden in other foods.
We also get a ton of sugar from high carbohydrate foods like rice, but if we start with sweetened foods, we will improve health right away.
Sugar is rotting our teeth, giving us Type II Diabetes, and contributing to the obesity epidemic in the western world.
The bad thing is that added sugar has found its way into all sorts of foods we consume on a daily basis and it isn’t just the sugary breakfast cereal or the ice cream that is the culprit.
There’s sugar in our salad dressings, our frozen dinners, and pasta sauce to give you just a few examples.
What can we do to cut back on the amount of sugar we consume on a daily basis? Let’s start by cutting out some of the big offenders.
Cut Out Sugary Drinks
Let’s start with something easy that will also have a huge impact.
Stop drinking soda and other sugary drinks.
That includes seemingly innocent things like the sweet tea you’re enjoying or the fancy coffee drink but, it could also be your favorite juice beverage.
Many food manufacturers have online nutrition information.
Look at the labels and figure out how many teaspoons of sugar you’re drinking each day.
Then cut them out.
Stick to water, black coffee and herbal tea for a few days. It’s not an easy transition, but it will be well worth it in the end.
Stop Indulging In Sugar Laden Treats
Consider ways to add in more whole foods while transitioning away from sugar:
- Breakfast can be scrambled eggs instead of sweet cereal or a muffin. You can prep the eggs the night before and cook in the morning.
- Avoid the break room if it normally contains cake, cookies and candy. Instead reach for a piece of fruit or cut up some fresh veggies.
- Find sugar free or low-sugar replacements for your favorite treats (Only in the beginning. Some people get addicted to these as well).
- Fix a sandwich if you’re hungry in the afternoon instead of raiding the cookie jar.
- Or grab some cheese and crackers. Protein is a great replacement and is very filling.
Do your best to train your brain and taste buds to not crave sweet treats all day long.
Try to make one positive change each day or two, instead of going cold turkey. This makes long term changes easier.
Last but not least, work on reducing the added sugars that sneak into your diet via all sorts of convenience foods.
Avoid anything that’s labeled:
- Low fat: Fat gives food a specific density and flavor; sugar and starch are used to replace fat. Read the ingredients for low fat yogurt or sour cream to see this.
- Fat free: Even worse because of more sugars added. 15 grams of sugar is equal to 1 tablespoon.
- Gluten free: This food is meant for people who have issues with specific grains. Gluten free does not also mean sugar free, so of course it’s loaded with added sugar.
Your best bet is to stick to real food. Stick with single ingredients and cook your meals from scratch. This allows you to control what’s going into the food you eat – including the sugar.
Related Post: Clean Eating Food List for Beginners
Are You Ready To Beat Sugar Addiction?
There’s been a lot of talk about how bad sugar is for your health and that you should to go through a sugar detox.
But are you ready for it?
If you’re consuming quite a bit of sugar each day (and who isn’t?), this isn’t going to be easy.
Keep reading to make sure you know what you’re in for, so you’ll be prepared. That alone will help you tough it out and make it through your sugar detox days.
Getting Rid of Sugar Addiction Takes Willpower
It’s going to take some willpower to make it through a sugar detox.
You’re going to want that candy bar or doughnut. Are you ready to not give in and make it through a few days of sugar cravings?
One of the key factors in setting and achieving goals is understanding your motivation for reaching the goal. You must understand “why” you want it.
If you’re doing this for an important reason – to improve your health, lose weight, look better, feel better and reduce your risk of developing Type II Diabetes, you can focus on that.
Focus on your “why” on the days that it feels really hard. It will help you succeed.
Keep reminding yourself that you can do this and that it will be worth it in the end. If you want it bad enough, you will find the willpower to make it through your sugar detox.
Of course, keeping all sugar treats out of the house will help with temptation as well.
It’s Not Going To Be Pleasant
This isn’t going to be easy and it isn’t going to be pleasant. In addition to craving your favorite sugary treats, you’ll likely experience headaches and possibly nausea, joint pain and dizziness.
Knowing this ahead of time will keep you from being shocked and surprised when these detox side effects start to pop up.
It helps to start your sugar detox on a Friday.
You can make it through your work day before the headaches start and then have all weekend to detox.
By the time Monday rolls around you should be through the worst of it. Just keep yourself busy or spend a good amount of time sleeping as you make it through to the other side.
The Side Effects Will Be Temporary And You’ll Come Out Of It Feeling Much Better
Speaking of that, keep reminding yourself that this is only temporary.
Make yourself tough it out ‘one more hour’. Go watch a movie, call a friend or go for a walk. Distract yourself and before you know it the hour will be over.
Keep it up hour after hour and you’ll get through your sugar detox before you know it.
Remember that this is only a temporary feeling. I promise that you’ll feel much better after a few hours. The worst of the symptoms should be over in 2 or 3 days.
After that your cravings are mostly all in your head. You will need to keep reminding yourself why you are doing this.
The health benefits of freeing yourself from your sugar addiction are well worth the making it through the unpleasant side effects of a sugar detox.
Not Really Sure If Sugar’s Bad For You?
We’ve been talking a lot about the addictive properties of sugar and why it often takes a sugar detox to get it out of your system.
If you still don’t believe me that this addiction to sugar, ice cream and soda is real, do yourself a favor and just cut out all added sugar for 48 hours.
Here’s what’s going to happen as you try to break your sugar habit going “cold turkey”
You’re doing fine and think you’re just about ready to prove me wrong about this sugar addiction.
Sure, a bowl of cereal would be nice and that cup of coffee tastes better with flavored creamer, but you’re doing just fine without it.
Then those sugar cravings start to get a little stronger and you’re feeling a headache come on.
This is getting a little uncomfortable but manageable. Maybe there is such a thing as sugar detox, but you’re sure you’re only having a mild case of it and will get through this in no time.
A few more hours pass and things start to get a lot harder.
You’re starting to feel the real detox side effects including body and joint aches, chills, nausea and that headache is getting a lot worse.
It’s hard to focus on anything. That’s when it hits you that there may be something to this whole sugar addiction thing.
Here’s the thing; consuming that much sugar isn’t natural for us.
A hundred years ago, we consumed a small fraction of the sugar we eat today. Our food wasn’t as sweet and sugar was a rare treat.
Today, it creeps into everything we eat including a lot of foods we don’t think of as sweet like bread and sour cream for example.
Sugar used to be an occasional treat.
People would eat ripe fruit or use it to make jelly or the occasional cake. The human body could handle the occasional bit of sugar just fine.
What it can’t handle well is the 160+ pounds of sugar the average American now consumes.
We’re addicted to the sweet stuff and average consumption is still going up, thanks to food manufacturer’s using a ton of it to keep us hooked.
And as it goes up we see more cases of obesity, Type II Diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
And each of those bring with them a bunch of other health conditions.
Sugar is making us fat and sick and since it’s so addictive, it’s hard to quit it. The only way is to realize and truly understand just how bad it is for you.
That will give you the willpower to break free from your sugar addiction, say no to that cookie and opt for a healthier choice instead.
Well I hope that you understand what you are up against if you want to break sugar addiction. My next post in this series will show you what else to expect as I walk you through a seven day sugar detox. You got this!
While you are waiting, why not grab my free PDF guide 25 Hacks That Stop Your Sugar Cravings. See how easy it is to create newer, better habits around how you consume sugar and be added to my weekly email newsletter of health tips. Just click the image to learn more.
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!