How to Stop Eating Sugarby Laura J Hieb, ND on May 27, 2021
How to Stop Eating Sugar
We've been talking about eating less sugar and avoiding sugar. But what's the best way to do this? One way is to just slowly start eliminating sugar and another is to go cold turkey and eat no sugar.
Both ways are valid and have their own pros and cons. Slowly getting the sugar out of your diet is a gentle way to ramp down the sugar without getting too many, or any, withdrawal effects.
Yes, like all drugs, when you stop sugar, especially cold turkey, you can go through withdrawal.
Stopping sugar right away, while typically giving you more withdrawal symptoms, has the benefit of a clean break. You don't have to think about how to decrease your sugar intake and by how much, because it's gone from your diet.
Either way you need a plan.
And you need to know what counts as sugar.
And you need to know yourself.
First, what counts as sugar.
All natural sweeteners count as sugar: sugar (white, brown, raw, turbinado, cane, beet, date, coconut), all ingredients ending in -ose (glucose, dextrose, sucrose, fructose, mannose, etc), maltodextrin, all syrups (maple, agave, brown rice, corn, etc) molasses, honey, fruit juice concentrate, fruit juice, dried fruit and fruit.
Artificial sweeteners (NutraSweet aka aspartame, Splenda aka sucralose, saccharin and Acesulfame K ) are all human made from a variety of chemicals. Believe it or not, some artificial sweeteners started out as pesticides!
Other non-sugar sweeteners are more natural and include stevia (also known as sweetleaf) luo han guo (aka monk fruit) and sugar alcohols such as erythritol (also known commercially as Swerve), xylitol, mannitol (often causes diarrhea) and sorbitol (also used as a laxative).
Sadly, a study by the University of Washington found that anything that tastes sweet, whether sugar or not, causes a release of insulin! And sweet tasting foods and beverages can induce sugar cravings.
Bottom line, it's best to avoid artificial sweeteners. Period. And not-so-artificial sweeteners should be avoided when first going off sugar, and later used in moderation.
Other foods that count as sugar
To slowly wean off sugar, you have to have an awareness of how much sugar you are eating. Look at the sweets/sugar-containing foods you eat, and tally up the grams or teaspoons. Remember that 1 teaspoon equals 4 grams. Then every day or so, decrease your sugar intake by 5-10 grams until you get to no sugar Then stay sugar free for 1 month.
Same with going cold turkey--stay sugar free for 1 month.
After that you can add in fruit and see how you feel. Then if you want, add in small amounts of sweeteners and see how you do. Sometimes adding in sweeteners can trigger sugar cravings, so go easy to start. If you find yourself with sugar cravings, stop the sugar for 1-2 more weeks, then try again. Be sure to be following all the ways to avoid sugar cravings listed in my last blog.