Sugar addiction is a big topic for many of us. You can train hard and eat mostly healthy, but you can still be interested in how to quit sugar because it seems like the biggest temptation out there.
I consider myself lucky because I was always a “salty” person (I mean I always prefer something savory over sweet). But when I tried to quit eating sugar it was soooo hard. It happens because we get used to eat sugary things. Even more, we got sugar every day even without knowing it because many processed foods are loaded with hidden sugars. For example, you can find it in sauces and dressings, in juices and cocktails, in canned food. I mean – almost everywhere!
The problem with sweets is that they make you addictive and it can impact our health not in a positive way. In high doses, sugar has proven to be toxic. It can cause obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. If you have PCOS or other hormonal issues, sweet treats can make your symptoms even worse.
That’s why it’s better to learn how to quit sugar as soon as possible. And when you do that, I don’t mean that you will remove all the sweets altogether or that you won’t indulge in your birthday cake ever. It’s not the thing! I believe there should be a balance. It’s okay to have a treat now and then, but you should be mindful and don’t consume excess sugar on a daily basis.
Some people prefer to do a so-called “sugar detox” when they cut out any sugar (even from fruits) from their diet for a short period of time. Others prefer to act more slowly and gradually reduce the amount of sugar they eat.
The most common benefits of quitting sugar are weight loss, improved energy, clarity of mind, better sleep and healthier skin. I’ve also noticed that when I eat less sugar, I usually don’t have food cravings. It gives so much freedom! You no longer feel like a slave to sugar and you feel full for longer.
How to quit sugar step-by-step
Train your brain
The problem with quitting sugar is that sweets often used as a reward. I believe it comes from our childhood when parents gave us treats if we accomplished anything or when we behaved well. That’s why even when we grow up, we continue to use sweets as a reward after a hard day at work or just in order to feel better.
So the first thing to consider when you try to quit sugar is to change the reward system. Instead of eating a chocolate bar choose to do nails, to go for a massage, to go to the beach or think about any pleasant activity. You know yourself better, right!?
If I still can’t think about anything better than consuming food, I choose something healthy – like rooibos tea, fruit-infused water, fresh berries, dried coconuts. They are way better for you that sweets and chocolates.
Use products without added sugars
The best way to reduce sugar consumption is to avoid products with hidden sugars. They include processed foods such as ready-made sauces, cereals, dressings, confectionery, soft drinks and alcohol. I would also recommend you to be careful with artificial sweeteners. Research has confirmed that diet drinks may even increase your sugar cravings which is definitely not what you want.
What to eat then?
Everything else. Fill your plate with plenty of proteins (eggs, fish, tofu, legumes), fats (coconut, seeds, nuts, avocado) and low sugar vegetables, such as broccoli and asparagus. It’s better to eat homemade food. This way you can control how much sugar (if any) you put in your meals.
Add cinnamon to your breakfast or to your tea. This spice can reduce blood sugar and prevent any sugar cravings. Besides, it smells so good you won’t need anything sweet at all.
If you try to quit sugar, focus on increasing your vegetable intake. Veggies have a very small amount of calories and sugar, but provide micronutrients and the additional fiber that will keep you fuller for longer. Big green salads, broccoli and cauliflower, asparagus and eggplant are all good choices.
Do not add extra sugar
Besides checking the labels and avoiding hidden sugar, make sure you control your portions when at home. Usually, people love to add extra sugar to their tea or baked goods. And they do this almost automatically. You need to learn to control portions and skip sugar when possible.
Molasses, honey, and maple syrup are also sugars, and though they have some benefits for health, a large amount of those has the same harmful effect as sugar.
Instead of adding sugar to your meals try to switch it for fruits, berries, nuts, spices. Fruits, for example, are better because they contain natural sugar together with fiber and other nutrients. Other sweet spices and herbs to add to beverages and meals include chicory, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom. Citrus zest also adds an interesting fruity taste to baked goods.
You have to avoid artificial sweeteners because they confuse the body as they provide a strong sweet taste without calories. It may lead to severe food cravings afterward. That’s why use only natural sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit, but in moderation as well.
Be particularly careful with high fructose syrups. Fructose is converted straight into fat in your liver and can significantly contribute to weight gain and cellulite. For this reason avoid agave syrup, ”coconut nectar”, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, glucose, concentrated apple juice, corn syrup, date syrup. Well, basically, all the syrups are even worse than plain sugar so it’s better to eliminate them completely.
Eat a moderate amount of fruit
Fruits are great, they are delicious and contain many nutrients. But don’t forget that many of them are still really high in sugar (even though it’s natural). So if you try to quit sugar or if you have some health conditions like diabetes/PCOS you need to eat fruits in moderation.
Especially, be careful with very sweet fruits such as banana, mango, pear. Choose fruits with lower amounts of sugars per servings. And, of course, you can indulge in berries. They contain powerful antioxidants but at the same time, the amount of sugar in berries is low. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are great as desserts.
How to deal with sugar withdrawal
Many people experience withdrawal-like symptoms when they quit eating sugar. They may include intense cravings for sweets or carbs, irritability and bad mood, low energy levels.
During this time it’s important to provide as many nutrients to your body as possible. It was already mentioned in this post what products you can eat. If your cravings still remain strong try to add a little bit more berries and nuts. They are naturally sweet and full of minerals.
Find healthy substitutes that bring you joy and help to distract your mind. Walking and meditation usually work amazing, but you can find your own activity that makes you happy.
Adding more protein to your meals can help you feel satiated for longer. Protein helps with stabilizing blood sugar levels and reducing the feeling of hunger. So if you feel sugar cravings, try to opt for a protein shake, a handful of nuts, tofu steak, boiled eggs or something similar. It should help you to reduce cravings.
If you want to learn how to deal with food cravings and to get rid of constant hunger you can get my ebook “Curb the hunger” which includes my favorite ways/tactics to combat hunger and excess appetite.
I share my fav recipes that suppress appetite and some supplements that help me to prevent PMS cravings.
This is the only most important thing you can do to lose weight and take control of your eating habits. Check it out!
If you find this post helpful, please share it using the social media links below.