How Do I Quit Sugar and Avoid Withdrawal Symptoms?
Reducing your intake of sugar is one of the best ways to clean up your diet and improve your general health. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know when it comes to limiting your sugar intake (including sugar withdrawal symptoms, benefits of cutting down, and tips for success). We’ll also point you towards some of our favorite sugar-free diet shake protein powders (that are also extremely healthy and delicious) to help you make the switch much easier.
Are you ready to hop on the fast-track to improved wellness by quitting your sugar addiction once and for all?! Let’s go!
Side Effects of Too Much Added Sugar
If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance you’re concerned about the amount of sugar you consume daily. And you likely have a good reason to be, as added sugars are hiding in so many of the processed foods Americans eat on a daily basis – even unexpected ones.
Research shows that added sugars (which are much different from the natural sugars you find in fruit and dairy products), can contribute to uncomfortable symptoms such as:
- Dry skin (plus skin aging and wrinkles)
- Low energy (from blood sugar spikes and crashes)
- Weak immune system (making it easier to get colds)
- Poor sleep
- Weight gain (and bloating)
Not to mention more severe health concerns, such as:
- Heart disease
As you can probably guess, gradually cutting out the amount of added sugars in your diet is therefore one of the best things you can do for yourself. Ultimately, once you get over the hump of sugar withdrawal symptoms stemming from addiction, you’ll likely feel amazing, and learn how to satisfy yourself with healthy, wholesome foods instead.
Ready to learn more? Let’s talk about some of the major sugar withdrawal symptoms you may experience when you start to cut down, and what you can do to alleviate them…
Common Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms + Action Steps
1) Increased appetite & cravings
We highly recommend you cut down on your sugar intake a little at a time, since when you first reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, your body is going to miss it… a lot! This is mostly because your brain is “hooked” on the good feeling you get from sugar – especially if you typically consume it in large doses. Therefore, when you reduce how much sugar you eat, you’ll most likely become hungrier and get intense cravings for sugary and carb-like foods.
What to do:
To curb this sugar side effect, simply opt for healthy carbs that satisfy and provide lasting fullness. These may include oatmeal, plain Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, or a small apple. This will help keep your blood sugar levels balanced and curb your sweet tooth at the same time.
2) Mood changes
As mentioned, sugar is very addictive. Just how addictive? Some animal studies show that rats actually preferred sugar over some of the most addictive drugs. This is because it activates pleasure pathways in the brain, and creates a reward sensation that later on your brain craves again and again. When you stop giving your brain its “drug”, you’re going to feel pretty bad at first… and may become angry, irritated, or anxious, but the feelings will pass.
What to do:
Look for healthy ways to reactivate pleasure pathways in your brain, such as exercise – which also releases feel-good hormones. You can also go for a walk in nature, which is calming for the spirit and can help satisfy and relax your mind and body.
3) Trouble sleeping
Dependent upon how much sugar you’re used to consuming daily, you may even experience trouble sleeping or insomnia when you reduce the amount in your diet.
What to do:
Try adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to your pillow, or to a tissue near your bed. Also, before going to sleep, do something relaxing to help calm your mind, and make sure you don’t eat too close to bedtime, so the digestion process doesn’t affect a good night’s rest.
Sugar withdrawal headaches are very common, as this is simply a side effect of the detoxification process of sugar from your body. You can actually look at added sugar (or refined, processed sugar) as a toxin in your body. Therefore, though sugar makes you feel good initially, the addictive quality can cause physical symptoms when you stop consuming it… the most common one being a headache.
What to do:
To help minimize physical symptoms of sugar withdrawal, especially in the beginning stages of cutting out sugar, have a healthy sugar substitute, like Stevia, instead. This can satisfy your brain enough to hopefully cut down on physical sugar side effects like headaches.
When you eat a lot of sugar, you’re used to a constant up and down of energy bursts followed by crashes (in which you then might have more sugar to lift your energy again). Your body gets used to this cycle, and when you no longer give it the sugar for that “boost” of superficial energy, you’re likely to feel pretty tired and fatigued at first.
What to do:
Increase the amount of protein and fat in your diet. This will not only help reduce cravings for sugar, but it will give you a steady supply of energy and help to keep you full. It can therefore help get you through the sugar withdrawal detox phase, and can also positively affect your weight loss goals.
Tips for Success When Reducing Your Sugar Intake
Although it may not be smooth sailing at first, reducing the amount of added sugars you include in your diet is extremely rewarding – and, as mentioned, one of the best things you can do for yourself. Here are some tips for success when curbing your sweet tooth:
- Get a healthy, sugar-free meal replacement shake that’s packed with protein and fiber, and uses a natural sweetener like Stevia (which doesn’t increase sugar cravings), to help satisfy you in a healthy way.
- Replace sugar-sweetened beverages with sugar-free protein shakes, herbal teas, green juices and more.
- Switch out sweetened yogurts for plain, Greek yogurt and add fresh fruit.
- Check all the condiments in your fridge and only keep the ones with zero added sugars, then restock based on this guideline.
- Add more healthy, satisfying fats into your diet (like MCT Oil).
- Familiarize yourself with the 61 different names of sugar, so you can check product labels and make sure they aren’t on there!
- Replace white and brown sugar in recipes with a small amount of raw honey or pure maple syrup.
- Use extracts like vanilla and almond and spices to flavor foods/desserts instead of sugar.
Ready to clean up your diet and kick sugar to the curb? A great place to start is a daily sugar-free diet shake containing high-quality protein, good fiber, vitamins/minerals and more. Not only can this product help improve your health, but studies show that it really does work for weight loss – and it can also help fight sugar withdrawal symptoms. Check out our in-depth shake reviews now including our top-rated shake, 310 Shake.