Dealing With Sugar Withdrawal
Sugar withdrawal happens when we stop eating sugar. As I mentioned earlier, sugar is a drug. When you eat it, chemical changes occur in the pleasure center of your brain, not unlike the changes that happen in the brain of a drug addict.
When a drug addict stops using their drug, they go through withdrawal and develop symptoms. They may get shaky and experience cloudy thinking and a general ill feeling. They also crave the drug they are trying to quit because that fix will temporarily take away their symptoms.
The same thing happens in us when we go from eating sugar every day to not eating sugar. Stop your sugar habit, and youll experience sugar addiction withdrawal symptoms. These may manifest as feeling shaky, experiencing brain fog, and being low on energy. Also, your body and brain will crave sugar. Ironically, if you give in to cravings for sugar, you will feel better, at least momentarily, until the cycle repeats itself.
Quitting Sugar: How To Do It Right
You can likely see that I am a proponent of going cold turkey, yet I understand that fears pop up when we think about stopping a habit that is so much a part of our daily lives. Therefore, I want to share a couple of tricks that Ive found beneficial both from my own journey away from sugar and from coaching many people to a sugar-free lifestyle.
What Happens To Your Brain When You Give Up Sugar
Like drugs, sugar spikes dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. Over the long term, regular sugar consumption actually changes the gene expression and availability of dopamine receptors in both the midbrain and frontal cortex. The brain becomes tolerant to sugar and more is needed to attain the same sugar high.
Don’t Miss: How To Control Sugar Ants In The House
Benefits Ive Experienced From Quitting Caffeine
Emotional stability: The most pronounced difference since Ive stopped consuming caffeine is my emotional state. I feel very even keel, much more balanced and consistent, peaceful and calm, throughout the whole day. Im able to allow that space between stimulus and response that is wonderful for preventing arguments and allows me to be a better listener. I feel more compassionate, more in tune, and altogether happier. Quitting caffeine has improved my marriage, I kid you not!
Weight loss: Ive been losing weight, despite not changing my exercise routine any. I have two theories on the cause of this: it could be that I have less inflammation now that Im not triggering stress hormones with caffeine, or it could be that Im not consuming much dairy anymore .
Healthier overall diet: On that note, somehow quitting caffeine changed my diet choices. Ive transitioned from a creamier diet to a more watery diet, if that makes sense. Ive replaced most of my dairy-laden food choices with more broth-y meals. I dont know why, but the change happened very naturally. My new morning beverage seems to set the stage for healty food choices all day. Not sure why, but I like it!
Wondering what I replaced my morning coffee with? .
Are you feeling inspired to quit caffeine, too? Or maybe youre in the throes of withdrawal symptoms this very moment and are looking for support. Feel free to leave a comment below, Im happy to offer support or answer any questions you might have.
Why You Should Cut Sugar Cold Turkey According To The Whole30 Founder
Labor Day is the new New Year. The kids go back to school, routine is reestablished, and the only thing left of summer vacation is the photos. And, well, a few extra pounds. And sluggish energy, restless sleep, and a fire-breathing sugar dragon dragging you to the pantry every night around 9 p.m.
Now is the perfect time to reset your metabolism, energy, and cravings, but how, exactly, do you #cutthesugar? Itll come as no surprise that this girl is going to encourage you to cut 100 percent of the added sugar in your diet for 30 straight days and theres plenty of habit research and science to back me up.
I know, I know, it sounds more like fraternity hazing than a healthy reset, but heres why I think going all in and abstaining may actually prove easier than baby steps or moderation.
Recommended Reading: Does Eating Sugar Feed Cancer
Also Beware Of Naturopaths
Some definitions: “dietitian” is the only term that is subject to professional requirements. Anyone can be a nutritionist. “Naturopath” is what nutritionists call themselves when they want to sound a bit more new-age than they already do. The middle term attracts the most scepticism, based on the presumption that just because your field isn’t professionally accredited, you do not know anything and you can’t process information. People make it about journalists quite a lot as well this presumption is mistaken.
That said, I interviewed lifestyle guru Carole Caplin once, and she asked me to do something the next day, and I said: “Unfortunately, tonight I’m going to get completely drunk, so I most probably won’t want to do Pilates/circuit training/zumba tomorrow.” She fixed me with a beady eye and said: “I try not to eat too much chocolate, but sometimes I go mad. The other day, I ate something like eight squares of Green & Black’s. And afterwards I felt terrible, I had a headache, the shivers, I couldn’t get out of bed. Whereas if I’d only had two squares, I’m sure my body would have coped with it.”
Here’s the thing: I’m not convinced that really happened. I think she was using chocolate as a metaphor for booze, in an attempt to find some joint language that we would both understand.
My Withdrawal Symptoms From Quitting Caffeine Cold Turkey
The first day without caffeine: no symptoms until the evening.
That first evening, I was hit with a severe headache, an all-encompassing fatigue, terrible concentration and a feeling of being really, really dumb. I had a hard time carrying on conversation, putting thoughts together, it was awful. I felt emotionally very vulnerable.
My dear sweet husband gently reminded me that these symptoms are normal for coming off of caffeine abruptly, and not to ruminate or worry over them. Bless his heart, he is so good.
Then, on Day 2 I was feeling better, but still pretty off. The fatigue was still there, but not as bad. I had more emotional stability returning. Then the sluggish digestion stage set in. I was never constipated, but my digestion never felt complete. This went on for about two weeks before it completely resolved, by the way. I had a little bit of a headache and felt a bit irritable, but nothing I couldnt manage with a bit of mindfulness.
After about 4 days, aside from the persistent sluggish digestion, I was pretty much to a normal and balanced state, free from withdrawal symptoms.
This is when things started to get really good
Don’t Miss: What Is The Normal Sugar Level In Human Body
When To Add Sugar Back In
Sugar can be added back into your diet the right way, from real fruit. When you eat a piece of chocolate cake, your body breaks down the white flour into simple glucose in the stomach, which is then absorbed into bloodstream within minutes along with all the other sugar in there. We dont want that, so what you should do is use only fruit and unsulfured dried fruit as a sweetener because it is combined with fiber and pectin. This causes it to be absorbed and digested slower than when you are just eating your typical cupcake. So, the result is that insulin rises slower, and this prevents sugar being stored as fat. It also reduces cravings.
I replace all the sugar in recipes with dried fruits like dates and replace white flour with things like rolled oats and nuts. And then of course, add some beans to the recipes too. You get healthy desserts that taste great too.
Tips For Cutting Back On Added Sugar
If youre used to regularly eating sugary foods like cake, ice cream, sweetened breakfast cereal, candy, and cookies and regularly drink sugar-sweetened beverages, it may take time to reduce your reliance on added sugar.
For some people, cutting all forms of added sugar from their diet is helpful. However, others may find this method too extreme.
Fortunately, even making small changes to your sugar intake can significantly affect your overall health. Follow these helpful tips to slowly reduce your added sugar intake over time.
The tips above can help you slowly cut back on added sugar and improve the quality of your overall diet.
Here are some tips to help you beat the side effects and avoid or at least limit some of the symptoms related to cutting sugar out of your diet.
Fruit Juice With Soda Water
You will always benefit a lot from eating fruit, but you can prepare your own fruit drinks as well. A combination of fruit juice and soda water will work great if you’re dying for something fizzy and sweet. Simply mix fruit juice and soda water in a 50/50 ratio, but be sure to avoid juice brands with added sugar.
The Benefits Of Sugar Detoxification
If youve dealt with fatigue or adrenal issues, youll know that brain fog is a real thing and it sucks. By the end of the detox, my brain fog had cleared up a lot. Not totally, but gave me the motivation to do another detox.
Energy has always been such a struggle for me, and was a big motivator for me to do this detox. The first few days, I felt more tired, sluggish, drowsy, but as the week went on, I felt more energetic and more clear-headed. The final day, I felt AMAZING! We were out an about all day and I never got that energy slump I normally would.
I was skeptical on this because the first part of the week, I didnt notice much better sleep, but as the week went on, it definitely improved.
If you crave sweets, youll notice this one big time. Your cravings just about disappear, its crazy! When you eat something that is sweet, it will taste so much sweeter and honestly, you might not like it anymore.
This wasnt something I was hoping for personally, but I know that a lot of people experience weight loss when they give up sugar. I dont think that I was eating enough before to have made a big difference in my weight. But, a friend of mine gave up soda for Lent one year in high school and lost 15 lbs. from doing that alone.
Also Check: When To Check Blood Sugar
Addicted To Sugar Why You Should Quit Cold Turkey
When it comes to the ability of a poor diet to destroy health, sugar stands out as a chief culprit. Now, before indicting all sugar intake as bad, let me make an important distinction. Carbohydrates are composed of various combinations of sugars, and there are good and bad carbs. Good carbs are complex carbs, unprocessed, high in fiber and nutrients. Examples are fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Bad carbs are simple carbs, processed and loaded with refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. Examples are soft drinks, sweets, baked goods, etc. The good carb, bad carb distinction is important because advocates of foolish high-fat diets have labeled all carbs as bad, which is far from the truth.
Sugar represents a high dose of concentrated energy , and because the body constantly requires lots of energy for survival, we are genetically programmed to enjoy the taste. In addition, any behavior the brain perceives to be helpful to survival will be rewarded as pleasurable. The combination of taste and pleasure ensures that we will seek out and consume sugar at every opportunity. Whats more, some experts believe this powerful combo, and especially the pleasure aspect, can lead to sugar addiction. Not all experts agree, of course, and more research is needed.
Week 3 Was The Turning Point In My Sugar Detox
By week three, everything started to settle down. I discovered some healthy snacks to eat during the day that kept me full and helped avoid any cravings.
I was proud of myself for making it through the beginning of this sugar challenge without cheating, and wanted to continue giving up sugar for the rest of the 40 days.
Grocery shopping started to feel more like an achievement, as I finally found myself getting most of my groceries from the perimeter of the store rather than the prepackaged middle aisles. I was beginning to feel really proud and satisfied.
You May Like: Can Sugar Cause Gout Flare Ups
How Long Should You Detox From Sugar
This will depend on your personal goals. Just need a reset after too much indulgence? 5 days is fine.
However, if like mine, your relationship with sugar has become a habit or physical addiction, 30 days is a good start. Many people find that it takes about a month to break a habit, however, other research suggests it may take much longer. Furthermore, to break a habit, one must replace it with another behavior.
The Solution Don’t Cut Cold Turkey
A gradual plan, by contrast, works from the inside out. I want you to let go of pitfall foods only when you feel ready todo so. Keep eating sugar, flour, pro-inflammatory soybean oil, grains, and fried foods. I’ll go furtherI don’t want you to cut back. Just up your fruit and vegetable intake. All the vitamins and minerals you’ll be consuming will help your body to convert amino acids into feel-good serotonin and dopamine, and it’s a potent way to begin shifting from a pro-inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory diet. The letting go of your old ways of eating, thinking, and feeling will practically happen by itself.
Adding food to your diet will tackle the root of sugar brain. Tackle food addiction through boosters that will help you balance your brain chemistry, so you can have the body, the brain, and the life you want.
Suddenly, adhering to any dietary restrictions will be doable because you’ve worked from the inside out. Since you’re now feeding your brain chemistry, you’ll probably find yourself wanting to eat less in general.
Nothing will be off-limits forever because, as the research shows, occasional exposure to pitfall foods doesn’t cause addiction. Not to mention that saying “I’ll never eat sugar again” sometimes can make you want it more!
Recommended Reading: Is There Sugar In Pedialyte
How To Detox Sugar From Your Body
Rules for the Sugar Detox
No ADDED SUGARS. This means cane sugar, stevia, coconut sugar, anything that ends with -ose in your packaged foods . Ditch all the sugar-y drinks, soda, kombucha . I also avoided natural sugars like honey, maple syrup and dates. I think those are definitely healthier, but for the detox, I stayed away from them. Another subjectartificial sweeteners. I think this goes without saying, but these are a big no-no, whether youre on a sugar detox or not, just stay away!
No alcohol. This was the hardest part for me, which makes me sound like an alcoholic, but hey, I love a good glass of wine!
Very little gluten and very little dairy. Next time around, I wont have any dairy or gluten. I dont really eat them much, but did have a piece of sprouted toast with avocado one day, but that was it.
Lastly, fruit! I personally believe fruit is really healthy, and I would never suggest eating no fruit. There are so many amazing health benefits! But, for this detox, I did cut back a bit. Mostly because I usually eat a LOT of fruit. If youre not a big fruit eater, dont worry about it! Its also perfect when you get a craving for something sweetjust grab a handful of berries.
Clean Out your Fridge & Pantry
This is a good step to take BEFORE you start. You dont want to have chips, candy, granola, sweetened creamer, flavored yogurt, etc. sitting around tempting you while you do your detox. If anything, consider this a good time to clean out your fridge and pantry!
Eat Protein And Healthy Fats
Healthy fats from avocados, seeds and nuts also promote satiety and ward off sugar cravings.
If you are used to eating lots of simple carbs, replace them with healthy fats and protein.
Read Also: Is Maple Syrup Better Than Sugar
Sugar Withdrawal: Cold Turkey Vs Cutting Back
The hard truth is that sugar withdrawal will happen when you stop eating sugar, but having that knowledge can work in your favor.
The most severe sugar withdrawal symptoms only last a few days. So, if you decide to go cold turkey, meaning you go from eating sugar one day to not eating it the next, you can choose a time when you dont have any significant events to attend.
In other words, dont go cold turkey the day before a major presentation at work thats going to determine the trajectory of your career. Instead, pick a time when you can afford a little downtime to allow your body to adjust.
What about cutting back on sugar slowly? If you gradually reduce your sugar intake over time, can you avoid withdrawal symptoms? You can make an argument for that method producing less intense symptoms, but it has been my experience in coaching people to a sugar-free life that you dont do yourself any favors by prolonging the shift.
Your body and brain need separation from the intense sweetness of sugar to reset. This is also why I dont recommend relying on sugar substitutes to get off of sugar.
You wouldnt advise a heroin addict just to reduce how much of the drug they were using or switch to cocaine to get past their addiction because neither of those options is going to solve their problem. What those options will do, however, is keep the addicts biochemical addiction active.