Did you know, quitting sugar is not actually as daunting as you may think? We’re talking about the high GI, free sugars here that wreak havoc with your health, causing disease and illness. We’re not the healthier sugars like those found in whole fruits.
In this post I will show you how I quit sugar in the easiest way possible. Plus, we will take a look at refined sugars and their devastating effects on your body, how to eat for weight loss, and the 6 fool proof ways to curb sugar cravings for good.
The Price Of Too Much Dietary Sugar
We’ve all heard it said SO many times that sugar is bad and that we need to cut down or pay the price. But, the scary thing is, we’ve all become desensitized to the scaremongering. And a high price it can actually be, as too much refined sugar in your diet can contribute to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and obesity.
Knowing all this should be the catalyst for a person to quit sugar for good. But, it’s not always that simple, especially when sweet treats seem so addictive and moreish. It can be a struggle, but cutting down in any way you can on the white stuff really is vital for the healthy life you deserve.
What Are Free Sugars?
Not all sugar is created equal. That’s the first and most important fact you will need to know going forward. There’s good carbs and bad carbs and you will need to know the difference and why.
Firstly, we have the kind of sugars that come under the terms of free, fast or high GI sugars. Thise are basically any sugar that has been fractionated from its original state (such as when oranges are made into fruit juice).
The same refining method applies to white and brown table sugars, icing sugar, coconut sugar, fruit juices, and also syrups such as maple, agave nectar, brown rice syrup and honey.
Are ‘Free Sugars’ Considered Healthy?
As you can see, there are some free sugars on that list that are considered healthy. And, some of them are actually “healthier”. For instance, maple syrup and honey also contain other nutrients. This could be a reason to possibly choose them over other sweeteners, but they still must be used in moderation.
You might be interested to know that brown rice syrup is actually low GI. Though more research is currently being done into its true health benefits and whether or not it’s a viable sweetener for long term use.
Sugar and dangerous belly fat
Although the so called ‘healthier’, free sugars do contain some nutrients, they will unfortunately act in the same way as any other refined sugar in the body. They may cause high sugar spike, and then the subsequent insulin release to clear those sugars from the bloodstream where they are usually they are stored in fat cells.
Unfortunately, these refined carbohydrates are more likely to go on as dangerous belly fat. This means sugar should only be consumed in very small doses if you want to keep your BMI in a healthy range.
Eat ‘whole’ sugars instead of refined
If you’re going to quit your sugar addiction for good then you are going to need some good alternatives to help you through the inevitable cravings.
Unfractured sugar is natural, and also so much better for you. It comes in the form of whole fruits and vegetables, dried fruits, whole grains, and anything else that hasn’t had the fibres and bulk of the plant removed.
The reason whole carbohydrates are healthier is because their natural fibers and other nutrients slow down the release of sugar into your bloodstream. This makes them a much lower GI food (GI is short for glycemic index and is a number associated with the amount of carbohydrates in a given food. The lower the better).
How to Add ‘whole’ sugars to your diet
You can use these whole food sugars in your cooking and to sweeten other foods. For instance; add a semi ripe banana into a super greens smoothie. Or use dates and other dried fruits to sweeten cakes and biscuits. Both will give you that sweetness you crave, but without the nasty side effects of refined sugars.
Dates are a superfood with so many great benefits most people don’t know about. They are deliciously sweet (especially the Medjool variety dates), chewy, low GI and perfect for busting sugar cravings when they strike. They are also a great training food as they will give you a slow release of energy to keep you going even through a gruelling workout session.
In fact, with a little imagination there are so many ways you can use whole sugars to sweeten your diet that you need never use refined sugars again.
All refined carbohydrates (which includes not only sweet things, but also white flour, white rice, white pasta, cakes, biscuits, chocolate, confectionery, and basically anything that contains free sugars) are all considered medium to very high GI foods.
But, and here’s the complicated bit: you can slow these sugars down with the addition of protein and healthy fats if they are in the same meal. By using this method you can have high GI, free sugars and get away with it a lot more than if you were to eat free sugars on their own.
The addition of healthy fats and protein will slow down the sugar release. However, will not make the food healthy as such, just a healthier way of consuming it. But this method is by no means a get out of sugar free card (if only), and all sugar must still need to be used in moderation for good health.
Low GI Carbohydrates
Even whilst eating lower GI carbohydrates such as unsweetened dried fruits, whole fruits, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes and parsnips it is always wise to have some healthy fats and/or protein with them. This can be in the form of a handful of nuts and seeds, healthful avocado, olive oil or coconut oil.
Doing this will slow down the naturally occurring sugars, making for a more filling and substantial snack. This will also keep your blood sugar stable, thus leading to less food cravings later on.
I guess I didn’t really know I was in the grips of a sugar addiction until I tried to give it up. I went cold turkey as an experiment for one month. And, when I say cold turkey, I mean COLD TURKEY!
I didn’t even have any high sugar fruits, milk or cheese (because of the lactose, which is just another type of sugar), and definitely NO free sugars, refined carbohydrates, yeast or alcohol. In fact, nothing that would cause that cycle of a sugar spike and the inevitable crash.
The first few days were just horrendous and the only thing that got me through it was sucking on a few sugar free sweets when things got really bad. I didn’t sleep very well, had terrible brain fog, was highly irritable and had severe cravings. I even had the shakes at one point.
Yep, things got pretty ugly fast, which sounds familiar right? Well these are all signs of an addict coming off of any other drug.
Is Sugar Like A drug?
Recent research has suggested that while sugar is not ‘physically’ addictive like other drugs, it is more an addiction to the ‘high’ you feel from the feel good endorphins that it triggers in the brain. So, I guess in a way that could be called some kind of addiction. My experience of giving it up certainly proved that.
There is also some form of candida type die off involved in that crappy feeling I had. Either way, you can certainly crave sugar intensely for days.
Less sugar = better sleep
But the good news is, after the initial 3 to 4 days of feeling pretty awful, something magical started to happen. I started to notice changes, the most prominent being my sleep. I had always suffered insomnia, but on the sugar free diet I slept more deeply and soundly than I can ever remember. Or, since I was a kid at least.
In fact, I could go to sleep at will, weirdly, which was something that I’d never been able to do before. Other very noticeable things that happened included the fact that my skin looked a million times better and I could think much more clearly as brain fog lifted.
Sugar And Stress
I also noticed I didn’t feel as stressed in situations that would previously have stressed me out. Showing that sugar keeps you hyped up, wired and on edge. And, you don’t even know it’s happening when you know no different. What a revelation!
Yep, the sugar free diet definitely kept me calm and chilled out. But, you probably don’t have to go to the lengths that I did to detox from sugar. Just cutting out the free sugars and keeping in the natural sugars will be fine. You will still notice a huge difference in your health and vitality, plus you wont get the horrid side effects if you don’t go to extremes.
Hidden Sugars In Food
Even people who say they’re not a ‘sweet person’ are more than likely eating way over their daily quota of sugar and not even realising it. This is simply because it can come in under your radar in so many forms.
Just look at most of the so called savoury items in your kitchen cupboards and you will see exactly what I mean. Sauces, pickles, gravy powder, stock cubes, potato chips and most convenience foods ALL contain sugar in some form. They will be more than likely disguised under a different term or chemical name that you won’t recognise.
Astonishingly, there are over 50 chemical names for sugar.
Cut down slowly
I know I may have gone to extremes with my no sugar diet, but that’s just me, and was part of my research into the low sugar diet. I would recommend you cut down slowly, or just cut down your refined sugars and still eat whole fruits for sweetness.
I didn’t stick to this extreme way of eating for good, even though I felt fabulous and learnt a lot about myself. It’s just not practical to give up all sugar forever, however it is VITAL to cut down if you eat the average American diet.
Everything in moderation is a good motto, and 90/10 seems to be the right ratio that keeps me fit and healthy. That’s 90% good stuff and and 10% for treats.
Building new neural pathways in your brain
Doing this low sugar diet did stand me in good stead for my future. Learning new ways of eating without added sugar really changed my taste buds and helped me to build healthier food habits for life. It also helps to build new neural pathways in the brain; a crucial thing when it comes to long term changes and forming new habits.
I have never since gone back to eating refined sugars (except on very odd occasions), so something definitely changed for me.
Here are some of my favourite ways to cut down sugar and nip those sugar cravings in the bud. They pretty much always work and have helped me transform my health and body for the better.
How I Quit Sugar In 6 Fool-proof Ways
1. KEEP BLOOD SUGAR STABLE
Possibly the most important rule of all. If your blood sugar is stable, then you won’t be on that roller coaster of sugar cravings. To do this you should always eat low GI foods, meaning minimal refined sugars and refined carbohydrates.
It’s also good to try to food combine correctly. Making sure you eat proteins, low GI carbohydrates and a little fat at every meal or snack will all help slow down the food’s sugar release into the bloodstream.
The Brilliant Avocado!
One of the very best foods for keeping blood sugar stable is the avocado. In fact, just half in the morning or at lunch helps keep you from craving sugar practically ALL DAY. Smash them on sourdough toast or make a delicious weight loss shake with them.
2. DRINK LOTS OF WATER
It’s surprising how thirst can trick you into thinking you need an energy boost from sugar when actually you’re just dehydrated.
When you’re dehydrated your body gives you the signal that it needs energy before it gives you thirst signals (thirst signals seem to be one of our body’s less evolved mechanisms). In fact, we can already be severely dehydrated before we actually feel thirsty.
Try to drink at least 1.5 to 2 litres of pure or filtered water daily. When you do this you may be fascinated to see lots of other little health niggles clearing up, including the banishing of cellulite. And, your skin will be just AMAZING too!
This is another important one, and something I personally notice when I don’t get a good night’s sleep. When you’re tired you will crave quick sugars for energy. And, the cravings are easy to give into under these circumstances as you will also have low willpower when you’re not rested.
Make sure you try to get a good 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night (or whatever amount you know your body thrives best on) and you will keep this problem to a minimum.
Cinnamon has been proven to help control blood glucose levels and reduce sugar cravings. It does this by reducing the insulin spike after meals that can often lead you to craving more sugary foods.
You can add healthy cinnamon to many of your meals, hot drinks, smoothies, baking or herbal teas. (Always buy good quality cinnamon of the flaky bark variety as shown in the picture, and not the hard rolled sticks as they are not the same).
To be sure you know what you’re getting it’s a good idea to buy the bark and grind it yourself either in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar. Unless the packaging specifically states Ceylon, not Cassia cinnamon.
5. PROBIOTICS AND FERMENTED FOODS
Probiotics and fermented foods will help keep your blood sugars under control by keeping your body’s good bacteria healthy and proliferating. When you have too much bad bacteria in your gut (which is the stuff that makes you crave sugar because sugar is what it feeds off) you will feel out of balance and crave more and more refined carbohydrates and fast sugars.
Taking a good probiotic may help this, but eating lots of gut friendly foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, pickled vegetables, kefir and plain yoghurt will also help keep the gut in balance.
It’s actually really easy to make your own sauerkraut at home as you can make it in big batches. Plus, it will have the added bonus of being a completely raw food too (see video below for more details).
In order to quit sugar for good, you will need to eat a low GI diet. This is because stable blood sugar is the VITAL component in the fight against sugar cravings.
Cutting drastically down on sugar may help boost your general health and vitality, alongside a healthy diet and regular exercise. Both of which are very important too!
If you would like weekly, low sugar, whole foods plant based recipes and shopping lists sent straight to your inbox, then please check out our weekly meal plans.
Following the way of eating set out by our Nutritionist will quickly get you off the sugar rain and feeling amazing.
34 thoughts on “How I Quit Sugar – 6 Foolproof Ways to Curb Sugar Cravings”
Thanks for your wonderful article.
I am a type 2 diabetic and you have given very practical ways to come out from sugar cravings. This is the first I have heard about Avacados, Probiotics, fermented food. and chromium picolinate controlling diabetes. I have few questions. What type of probiotics should we take? Does Chromium Picolinate have any side effects?
Thanks for your useful article.
Thank you for reading and I am glad you found the article useful. As you are a diabetic you should definitely read my post on low GI foods Low Glycemic Food List as this will help you massively in controlling your diabetes. And yes, I really do urge you to eat at least half a large avocado a day, preferably at breakfast or lunch to help stabalise your blood sugar for the rest of the day. This really works, just try it and see.
As for chromium picolinate, perhaps you should speak to your doctor about it first to discuss possible side effects, especially as you are also diabetic. Usually if you stay within recommended guidelines and stick to quality brands you should not have a problem…but please check first.
As far as probiotics go you should go for one that contains the strains lactobacillus and bifidobacterium as these are both highly effective. I hope this helps you, and please feel free to get back to me with any further questions you may have.
Great post, I absolutely agree with you, I quit my sugar intake about six months ago and I have never looked back. I have more energy, excellent nights sleep, and my weight is stable. Occasionally, I have a sugar craving, but it is not very often.
So I am very happy with my decision. I need to check CHROMIUM PICOLINATE that you mentioned and may start to take this supplement too, Thanks!
Hi there, I’m really pleased you managed to quit sugar as I know what a hard challenge it can be, so I am happy for you. You are having all the same wonderful effects that I have, all of which make it 100% worth the effort.
Yes, you may find chromium picolinate helpful if you are still getting cravings. It may not work for everybody but is certainly worth a try. Please feel free to let me know how you get on. Thanks
Great read! I would like to add that adding good fats like coconut, lard, and your dear avocado feeds our brain thus inhibiting sugar cravings.
Also the first two weeks is the hardest part as we quickly realize how much sugar has been silently added to our foods! Grocery store — all around the perimeter of the store little to no sugar…. the rest of the store all sugar laden!
Hi there, yes you are so right. I find that now I have given up refined sugars and also gone plant based, there is only a small section of the supermarket that I shop in. In fact, I can wizz around and do my whole shop in like 10 minutes. Which is great!
Yes I know, avocados and coconut oil are great for stopping sugar cravings in their tracks. Works every time.
I found this article very interesting. I am definitely a sugar addict and it is exciting to hear about the positive effects on your health when you went cold turkey on sugar. It motivates me to try such a thing in my life.
Hi Radha, I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and yes you really should try giving up, or at least cutting back on sugar. It really is worth it I promise you. And you will be slashing your risks of so many nasty diseases. I wish you lots of luck with this.
The cool thing about cinnamon is that it’s already in a lot of desserts, and so we all have that association with it being a dessert/sweet thing. But it’s not, so it’s a way to trick our brains into thinking we’re getting some. Very cool article, thanks for sharing your experience detoxing from the drug of sugar. I hope to do the same, too – it’s just poison and there’s no reason to keep eating it.
Hi Penelope, yes I just love cinnamon and I always buy the bark and grind it myself because it just tastes a million times better that way. So much fresher and totally different to the pre-ground stuff. I wish you well on your detoxing from sugar, you really should do it as you will feel a million bucks trust me. Just takes a while to reprogram your brain and get rid of the cravings, but with a bit of time and willpower you will. Good luck.
I m a teenage bodybuilder and I must say it is hard to ignore sugar! I can see you put so much effort into this article because you gave so much detail. I will start drinking more water, sleeping more, (I am very inconsistent), and I will add cinnamon in my protein shakes. Thank you for sharing this, will come back for more knowledge like this.
Hi Marques, I’m glad you learnt something new with my post. It’s great you are into body building and looking after yourself from such a young age. You will go a long way. Getting enough sleep and drinking enough pure water are the two most vital tings for life, strength, and health so make sure you focus on those, and yes please revisit any time and if you have any more questions then I am happy to help.
Awesome post with hands-on tips on how to cut sugar cravings and God knows it is needed in this world where everything has sugar added to it!
I would add another way that worked for me: go on a plant-based, natural food diet for ten days.
I swear I’ve been addicted to sugar for at least ten years of my life. I’ve recently tried the Daniel diet, which consisted of eating raw food for ten days, and my addiction to sugar has vanished. I’m in awe of how quick it was for me.
I’ve also, like you recommended, increased my intake of probiotics and I love cinnamon in my herbal teas and morning oatmeal.
Thanks for those great tips!
Hi there, I am glad you enjoyed my post. I am a plant based eater too and it definitely helps with sugar cravings (though I do like my dark chocolate on occasion I must admit), but raw is a whole new level and does make you feel awesome. I actually did a fully raw food diet for about 2 weeks once and it totally changed everything about the way I felt and looked. I don’t know why I couldn’t stick to it for longer but I remember it being winter and I was craving hot foods. It’s hard to do I must say.
However more and more now I have started adding raw foods into my diet, I often go raw all day until dinner so I’m getting there. it’s a big change emotionally as well as everything else.
Thank you for your input, it is much appreciated!
Hi Stefanie. I’ve just come from your banana page to this one.
Gosh you have a lovely site with some great (and honest) info.
I just don’t get how people cannot understand that sugar is a big problem in our world. I think it is the #1 poison and the cause of many illnesses and of course obesity.
Don’t even get me started on artificial sweeteners!
We need more people like you spreading the word of health.
Thanks once again
Hi Lawrence, yes I totally get where your’e coming from about sugar – it really is a poison, but unfortunately a very powerful and big business and so they will keep spinning it out to the masses with no regard for the consequences. I gave up sugar myself and adopted a more plant based diet and the results just blew me away!
I cannot even put into words how much better I feel and I know this feeling is something most people have never experienced, which is why it is my absolute passion to help others to feel great too. So yes, I am spreading the word as much as I possibly can and hopefully I can help to slowly be part of the change which I know is going to happen as we all start waking up.
Another great post filled with great information. I didn’t know that the avocado was so good for keeping the blood sugar level stable. I also love yogurt so two great options for me. My son tends to have too high of blood sugar, and again he loves avocados. Glad I found this information!
Yes avocados are definitely the way to go in terms of blood sugar. I’ve found a great combination of things that I do every day now that all culminate together to keep me slim and I know this is down to blood sugar as I haven’t changed my diet at all. I always have every day half an avocado (at least), half a grapefruit, apple cider vinegar, and cinnamon.
All of these work together to keep sugar cravings under control and burn fat. I have left a few links so you can delve further into how these work.
As I much as I hate to admit it, staying away from sugar is exactly what I need. These days there is sugar in everything!!! Going to a supermarket is a nightmare for me. I try so hard to pick the right foods, vegetables and fruits to keep my family healthy. I definitely learned a few new things from this post, thank you. Knowledge is power to change if you choose to.
Hi Agnes, I know how hard it is to give up sugar I’m afraid. We just don’t realise how addicted we are until we try to stop eating it, well that was my experience anyway so I’m presuming it will be the same for everyone. The trouble with sugar is because it is everywhere and we’ve always always been conditioned to eat it and think it’s fine we don’t even think about what it’s actually doing to our bodies. What a nightmare!
Anyway, I’m glad you learnt some new tips and information and hopefully you can get your family on board. Good luck.
Thanks Sarah, that’s a great compliment and I m glad I am of help to you. It’s unfortunate that your parents and sister are diabetic as this could mean it runs in the family so you should for sure take extra care with your diet to be on the safe side. I too have this disease in my family and I am always nagging them to eat healthier.
It is now known that type 2 diabetes is not only preventable, but also may be completely manageable and even curable through diet and exercise alone. This is an astounding finding and it just goes to show that we can have the ultimate power over what happens to us. Yes, it would be really great if you could share this article with your family as they may find it useful. Thanks.
My trainer suggested that I should eat low GI carbohydrates and after reading this I think I can include these in my diet. However how long before a workout I should eat these?
Hi Furkan, yes I would definitely advise low GI carbs before a workout for the slow release of energy to keep you going. If it’s a big meal you will be having then probably 3-4 hours before; smaller meals 2 hours before. Be sure not to train when either too full or too hungry; both aren’t nice, or good for your body. I sometimes have a snack like a banana or some dried fruit right before just to give me an energy boost. Please read this post
Hi there Stefanie, fine post here. The sugar, yeah, it’s bad. It’s literally poison in disguise. As for avocado and the coconut oil, oh you better believe that they are good and delicious! They are both my favorite. Anything with avocados involved and anything coconut related is a plus for me! And I also agree with you on sleep. For me, it’s actually between 9-10 hours per night. 8 hours for me? You can expect me back in bed! Thanks for a really great post!
Ha ha, that’s great you like your sleep Evan! And you know what, if you need it then you should have it. We are all different, and some people can thrive on 5 hours (weird, I know), but I know people that do.
You are a man after my own heart as coconut oil and avocados are on my menu every day too, I especially love to use coconut oil for cooking as it remains stable at high heats. It is also great to bust sugar cravings too, as is avocado, just takes them right away.
Thank you very much for your fantastic website. It is amazing that you show people where to start and what steps to make towards their healthy living. I hope more people will know about your website and follow your guidance.
Hi Audrey thanks for reading, and thanks for the compliment about my website. My aim is to help others into a healthy lifestyle with minimum effort. I like to show people that it isn’t as hard as they think to boost their health to a point where they drastically lower their chance of disease, which is totally possible with a little knowledge.
Wow – Thank you Stephanie for the wealth of information shared here in sugar cravings. The thing that really caught my attention are the withdrawal symptoms that you went through when you stopped “Cold Turkey”. It’s amazing that sugar is considered a drug and basically have the same withdrawal symptoms as other illegal drugs. Really amazing and I never knew of the destructive forces of sugar on our bodies.
It’s very true that moderation is the key – especially for those who simply won’t cut sugars completely from our diets. I really like your 90/10 measure. That seems to hold true for many other things in our lives as well.
And thank you for providing ways to cut down on our sugar and cut down on cravings! I am definitely a huge fan of meditation – so totally on board with that.
Every time I hear something sweet, it will bring me back to this article and help me do this in moderation.
Thanks so much Stephanie
Wow, what an amazing response, I am so glad you enjoyed the article. Yes, sugar really is that destructive and I’m glad I got the point across about just how bad I felt when I gave it up, and the thing is I wasn’t even a big sugar eater before that as I’ve always eaten healthily. I can’t imagine what it would be like for somebody who already eats a lot of sugar!
I stick to the 90/10 rule these days and it serves me well as I do love my dark chocolate ha ha, and that’s just what I always use my 10% on.
Great article. This is an area that I really struggle with in trying to maintain healthy life-style eating habits.
Wonderful use of images to stimulate thoughts and inspire continued reading.
Keep posting these great and helpful articles
Hi Barry, yes eating a low sugar, or ideally, sugar free diet is the most effective way to keep yourself healthy. Changing your sugar habits will literally transform your life and healthy, and I hope that this post offers ways to help others accomplish this.
I’m glad you enjoy my images, it always makes a huge difference when it comes to inspiring others to try something out.
Thanks for this informative and detailed article. Its really hard to cut down on sugar, especially when you are used to eating white rice all the time. I have lessened the amount of my white rice I eat lately and I’ve seen significant change in my body; I also substitute it with quinoa.
Hi Kit, I know exactly how hard it can be to cut down on refined sugars as they are just SO addictive. The great thing is the cravings stop really quickly after you stop it completely, sometimes within a matter of days. But those days can be hell so make sure you have some good substitutes to hand. Some say that eating a teaspoon of coconut oil can help quash a craving in its tracks.
When I did my no sugar diet I found sugar free sweeteners to be a life saver in the beginning stages. Natural ones like Xylitol or stevia, not nasty chemicals – they just seemed to take the edge off.
It’s great you are substituting with quinoa as it is just such a versatile little seed and can be used with literally any meal. You should check out my quinoa breakfast bowls for some inspiration Healthy Quinoa Breakfast Recipes – My Top 5 Favorites
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