Ten years ago, I quit sugar for good and experienced all the multiple ways to get your body off sugar. Some were easy, some were the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve never been a party girl, never drank alcohol, never touched a cigarette or used any illegal substances, but sugar- it was my vice. As a child and teen, I dined on breads, sweets, pastries, cookies, ice cream, you name it. If it had sugar in it, it was mine. I kept lollipops and honeybuns in my book bag, a box of cereal in my locker to snack on, and usually had one of those large chocolate chip cookies from the cafeteria for lunch. Sadly, sugar was about all I ate. I thought canned peaches soaked in syrup was a health food and often skipped meals in favor of a snack. I didn’t even like vegetables. I developed a seizure condition at age 14 and for years spent my life on medications that didn’t work and that made me depressed. At age 20, I was tired, overweight, had depression, terrible acne and needed an answer, so I turned to research. I discovered that removing all processed sugar and refined starches from a diet could cure and eliminate the type of seizures that I had, from a research study performed by John Hopkins University. After a week, I decided to do it. I got rid of my meds and cut every ounce of sugar and refined starches out of my life. I went on a low carb diet for the first time in my life and was lost at the grocery store at first. However I managed, and not only did it work, but I’ve been sugar-free and seizure-free for ten years now. I’ve also had no medications whatsoever. Though I’m not on a diet now, I still do not eat processed sugars, high sugar foods or refined carbohydrates of any kind. Gluten hasn’t seen its way into my life in ages either. If you’re looking to get yourself off sugar for whatever reason, please know that I’m not a doctor and can’t give you medical advice, but I have learned many ways to get your body off sugar that you might find helpful. If you’re addicted to the sweet stuff, which can cause diabetes, food addictions, weight gain, ADHD symptoms, hypoglycemia, acne and more, then try some of these tips. Also check out the resources in the sources section of this article for further help and information.
1. Go Cold Turkey
Don’t try to wean yourself off sugar, because this is one of the worst ways to get your body off sugar. Sugar is a drug, plain and simple. Yes, your body needs glucose to function, but it needs glucose from whole plant foods like fruits and vegetables, not sugar or anything processed at all. Don’t rely on fruit drinks or fruit juices either. In fact, lower the amount of fruit you eat at first to only berries or no fruit at all if you can for the first two weeks to rid your body of the need for sweets. You can always add in lower sugar fruits like berries and citrus fruits later.
2. Add Protein
This was hard for me since I didn’t even like real meals, much less protein-rich ones. Yet, I found it very easy and also incredibly satisfying. I stocked up on lean meats, fish and eggs, along with plenty of organic, plain, unsweetened yogurt. Later, when I turned to a plant-based diet, I implemented raw protein powders into my diet as well as quinoa, almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds. I also ate mostly fish from reliable sources instead of meat. Whether you’re vegan or an omnivore, turn to whole food sources of proteins. If you use protein powder, do not buy a highly processed one since they are high glycemic. Instead, opt for one with minimal ingredients and preferably one that is raw, organic and sugar-free naturally. Protein curbs your appetite, promotes satiety and fuels your metabolism. You don’t want to overload, but be sure you eat some with each meal so your body doesn’t get a sugar craving an hour later or leave you hungry.
3. Eliminate the Bread
No matter what anyone tells you, you don’t need bread to be healthy. I’m sorry, but I firmly believe we can get every single nutrient we need in the form of carbohydrates from starchy vegetables and pseudograins like quinoa, or even gluten-free grains like oats. All bread, even healthy varieties, contains yeast, and yeast feeds on sugar. Guess what? When you eat bread, you’ll crave carbs like a mad woman, especially sugar. Get rid of the bread and eat a sweet potato with your lunch, or have a side of quinoa instead. Eat oats instead of toast in the morning, and preferably opt for a starch free meal at least once a day. Starches can be healthy, but they also raise your glycemic index, which makes you crave sugar.
4. Add Some Fat
If you fear fat for getting you fat, then please, get rid of that fear right now! Fat does not make you fat, and when you cut out sugar, you need fat to help satisfy you and fuel your metabolism. I also recommend eating only fats from healthy sources like raw virgin coconut oil, unsweetened shredded coconut, raw nuts and raw seeds, avocados, organic eggs (no more than one a day), 100% raw cacao nibs or powder, and even a little olive oil. Healthy fats are important for your heart, your metabolism and they satisfy your need for sweets. They are also great for your skin, which is a bonus!
5. Don’t Go for Artificial Sweeteners
Whatever you do, when you get rid of sugar, don’t turn to artificial sweeteners. Instead, opt for natural stevia in the most natural form you can get, which is liquid or green leaf stevia. Stevia actually lowers your blood sugar and comes from a plant. If you don’t like stevia, don’t turn to honey, molasses, coconut sugar, agave, evaporated cane juice, maple syrup or coconut nectar either. Though these are healthier for you than sugar, they mostly contain the same amounts of sugar as white sugar, and will make you crave it all the same. You need to read labels of everything you buy because sugar is added to everything, along with artificial sweeteners.
6. Add Cinnamon
Cinnamon is great to reduce your blood sugar, aid diabetes and it is wonderful to take care of a sweet tooth. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on anything and can be found anywhere. It will be your go-to when you want a splash of something sweet in your coffee, smoothie, yogurt, etc.
7. Remember the End Goal
There were times when I quit sugar that I wanted to cave in and binge so bad. Yet, I was experiencing a new sense of health. I had more mental clarity, greater motivation, a positive outlook on things again, no hypoglycemia, more energy and my appetite was regular again. My acne even went away and my skin and hair looked healthier overall. Of course, I also lost my added weight that I had gained as a teen addicted to sugar. After one month of being off sugar, I didn’t even crave it and discovered for the first time in my life, my body was actually craving vegetables. You must remember your end goal when getting off sugar. It will not be easy, but it is possible. There were times I literally had to stop myself midway to the candy bowl, but I did. I even remember my one month anniversary of being off sugar was on Halloween! Oh, what torture! Yet now that I’m completely free of the addiction, I’m so glad I stuck it out.
This is in no way intended to be medical advice, but coming from someone who truly was addicted to sugar, I can promise you, it works. I can’t be held liable for any of this advice, but can tell you that my experience change my life for the better and know many other people who have experienced this same freedom away from sugar. If you need ideas for recipes, feel free to visit my blog, The Soulful Spoon, and for more information, visit the sources below. Do you have a sweet tooth struggle?