We all know that too much sugar is bad for you. It’s linked to obesity, sugar-sweetened drinks increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and it can cause all sorts of health problems from liver damage to depression and heart disease. Following these tips to quit sugar, or curb your intake, is the best step you can take towards healthy eating for weight loss.
Quitting sugar doesn’t mean cutting out natural sources of sugar found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods. It’s cutting out all the added sugar in your diet:
- Sugar in soft drinks or added to tea and coffee.
- Fruit juice and smoothies – eating whole fruit is good for your health but fruit juice is concentrated fructose without the fiber. It’s a big sugar hit!
- Sugars are hidden in cakes, biscuits, chocolate, sauces, and ready meals.
- Sugar sprinkled on your breakfast cereals or a bowl of strawberries!
Even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, your sugar intake can quickly add up. Sugar is the hit that gets you reaching out for a second helping. One small chocolate brownie leads to two or three!
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Best Ways to Quit Sugar
- Clear your cupboards of sugary food and go cold turkey.
- Avoid blood sugar crashes and make sure you always have a substitute non-sugar snack to hand.
- Write a list of avoidance strategies such as what to do at coffee breaks.
- Eat regularly and drink water.
- Fill up on vegetables and switch high sugar fruits such as grapes for low sugar berries.
- Exercise and reward yourself with non-sugar treats.
✅ This is my favorite resource for quitting sugar. It was a big help to get through the first few weeks and makes you really think about why you need to quit sugar.
How To Quit Sugar
My post: What To Expect When You Quit Sugar For A Month gives you the lowdown on how you’ll feel from withdrawal symptoms to the change in your taste buds.
For most people, quitting sugar isn’t easy. We have life long addictions to sugar. Our brains are hardwired from a young age to think of sugar as a treat. A comfort blanket. On a bad day curl up on the sofa with your favorite hit!
Yet with a bit of will-power and the help of these tips, you can quit sugar right now!
Clear Out The Cupboards
It’s far easier to commit to a no-sugar regime if your house is free of sugary treats. Start reading labels and clear out everything that contains added refined sugar.
There are a lot of different names for sugar. Names for simple sugars are sucrose, glucose, or fructose, but you also need to check for galactose, lactose, maltose, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
A lot of so-called health foods are laden with added sugar. Maple syrup, honey, and fruit sugars may sound healthy but they all pack a big sugar hit!
Quitting Sugar Cold Turkey
Think you can just cut back on the sugary stuff? Have you tried? Think of eating sugar as an addiction. For most people quitting sugar cold turkey is best. It’s tough but it’s worth it.
The first week is the hard part. Pick a week when you can take things easy. Quitting sugar isn’t something you want to do when you have deadlines at work or a house full of relatives!
Most people have headaches for a day or two and can also feel really tired. Even dizzy or nauseous. It will pass.
You may feel a little low, even anxious, struggle to sleep at night and be irritable. The biggest challenge is managing your cravings. You won’t just crave sugar, you’ll crave carbs especially highly processed foods such as white bread.
Avoid Blood Sugar Crashes
Our bodies are fuelled by glucose. Yes that’s right sugar is essential for our bodies to function! Glucose comes from the food we eat and the level in your blood will vary before and after eating.
If it’s a long time since your last meal, your blood sugar levels can dip and cravings for a quick sugar fix will sky-rocket.
It’s better to fuel your body on high fiber wholegrain carbohydrates which release energy slowly. Wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice, quinoa and porridge oats will fill you up and help to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
Stock Up On Substitute Snacks
It’s easier to resist cravings if you have substitutes to hand. Line up a jar of nuts next to the kettle and make sure you have plenty of go-to healthy snacks to stop you reaching for the biscuit tin.
Experiment with new flavors. Not everything has to be sweet! There are so many wonderful spices to discover. Roast chickpeas and sprinkle with turmeric and ginger for a tasty treat.
Write Your List Of Avoidance Strategies To Quit Sugar
This one comes from David Gillespie. He suggests you write down ways of avoiding sugary temptations. What will you do if you end up in a cafe surrounded by muffins? It’s best to have an avoidance plan!
This was my bible when I quit sugar. David Gillespie’s, The Sweet Poison Quit Plan really works. It’s most effective for a real sugar addict.
It’s easier to stick to convictions, (and avoid that tempting doughnut) when you’re not ravenous. Don’t skip meals and eat every 3-5 hours.
Planning out your meals in advance is a good tip when you’re quitting sugar.
Rediscover the refreshing taste of water. It’s by far the best way to hydrate your body throughout the day. By drinking water, you’re avoiding the temptation of sugar-laden drinks.
Sugar-free drinks with artificial sweeteners may help during the first few weeks of quitting sugar but long-term they can stop you adjusting your taste buds.
When you quit sugar a big plus is the way everything tastes better! Flavors are no longer dulled by the over-riding taste of sugar.
Eat Your Veggies
The nutrients in fruit and vegetables are so important for your health, but when you’re quitting sugar it’s best to favor vegetables over fruit.
Vegetables are a terrific low calorie way of helping you feel full and will help to avoid blood sugar dips in between meals.
Treat Yourself To Berries
Avoid too much natural sugar from fruit whilst you’re kicking your sugar addiction. Compared with some high fructose fruits, berries are low in sugar and high in fiber. They’re a top choice for a natural sugar treat.
Try and avoid fruits such as grapes and cherries which have been grown specifically for their high sugar content.
You may not feel like it, but low intensity exercise such as walking will help you beat your sugar cravings.
Just make sure you eat a healthy snack before and after to keep you blood sugar levels constant. If you’re going out for more than an hour, take a high carb snack with you. Peanut butter sandwiches made with wholegrain bread are my favorite option!
Reward Yourself With Non-Sugar Treats
Instead of thinking about sugar as a treat, remind yourself it’s something to avoid and think of alternative treats. These could be experiences such as walking along the beach, watching a good film, buying a new top.
Write a list of alternative treats to reward yourself at the end of a hard day or when you’ve hit a health and fitness goal. Sometimes just getting together with a good friend is the only treat you need!
I’d love to hear how you get on and what works for you. I lapse now and again and have to go back to cold turkey to get back on track. The effort is always worth it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Quitting added sugar normally leads to withdrawal symptoms. Your body is missing its “sugar high”. Most people get headaches over the first few days. Some people will feel tired and irritable. Most people will experience sugar cravings.
It depends on the person and the depth of sugar addiction. Some people start to feel better after just a few days. Other people will still get cravings after several months. For most people a month is a bout the right amount of time it takes to reset your body and no longer miss added sugar.
There’s a difference between natural sugars in food and added sugar. Our bodies are fuelled by glucose (a natural form of sugar) and will break down carbohydrates into glucose to provide energy. We can get all the energy we need from natural sugars in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains. This is normally slow-release energy and helps to keep our blood sugar levels constant. Added sugar releases quickly into the bloodstream spiking blood sugar levels. The body manages these spikes with insulin but it’s much healthier to try and control blood sugar spikes by avoiding the long-term damaging effects of added sugar.