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I Quit Sugar!  13 Motivational Tips to Help You Do It Too

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I Quit Sugar!

So, as health-conscious as I've been all of my adult life, I admittedly have a very persuasive sweet-tooth.  Ya, let's call it what it is:  sugar addiction.  BUT, today is my fourth day off the stuff!  I did it––I quit SUGAR!!!

It's been TOUGH!  I've done it before and it's never easy.  Yesterday I had a mini-breakdown:  a slight––what should I call it––emotional fit.  With confusion and an overwhelming urge to cry for no reason, I just let it happen and I was a bit like a two-year-old:  wanking, exhausted, frustrated, and tearful.  Luckily, no one was around to see it 🙂  But, I got over it quickly and then I realized it was sugar withdrawal.

Those addictive, sweet foods that convert into sugar rapidly, make my body go haywire––my brain fizzles and fogs, my emotions are uncontrollable, my energy spikes and plummets, my face breaks out with acne, and my liver converts everything to fat…and on and on it goes. My body is not really sick, though it feels that way when I’m on a sugar binge––like a bug creeping in to deplete and eventually destroy my cells.

I’ve been feeling “half on” for almost four months now. It’s ridiculous.

As always happens after I quit sugar though, I'm now on the other side of the withdrawal symptoms, and I'm starting to feel much better than before my high-carb, high-sugar, junkie diet that I'd been on for a few months.  Oy!

>> Jump to the  13 tips to quit sugar.

"Sugar Blues", Insulin Resistance, and Diabetes

I think what flipped the switch this time was reading the book "Sugar Blues" the other night––just a chapter or two.  This book was written in 1974, and it's amazing after all this time, as a society, we've only gone backward when it comes to sugar.  The author was trying to wake people up about diabetes and metabolic syndrome.  Nevertheless, here we are, worse off than ever.

Did you know that in the U.S. about 1 in 10 people are diabetic?  And 25% of us have insulin resistance (are prediabetic) and 34% have metabolic syndrom.  This essentially means they are on their way to diabetes or heart disease, or just on the verge.  While genetics is the main factor in Type 2 diabetes, blood sugar plays a major roll in the process.  Sugar––and the glucose-spiking effects it has in our bodies––is no joke.

Worse is the reason these numbers are increasing.  It has mainly to do with companies expoiting the human brain's addictive and dopamine-happy reaction to sugar, by adding heaps of this drug to almost all processed foods.  If you're addicted, you'll eat and buy more!  Yay.  Sadly, America and much of the world now eat most of their calories from these processed, boxed, sugary foods. Maybe it’s time to quit sugar, eh?

Sugar as a Drug

Reading the details of what daily life is like for a diabetic was yet another wake-up call for me.  It's not much of an exaggeration to say that I'm on the road to diabetes, like so many people.  My grandfather became diabetic in later life, and almost all of my family struggles with sugar addiction.

If your family is anything like mine, and statistics say you are, then sugar consumption raises your chances by leaps and bounds for becoming diabetic.  Even if you or I did not become diabetic until age 75, eating junk-food now is what leaves us energy-depleted and hypoglycemic (with blood sugar issues).  I've been battling this yo-yo swing of addiction and trying to permanently quit sugar for over 15 years.

The solution is simple, right?  Just don't eat high-sugar and processed food.  But, sugar truly creates an addiction.  It should be treated more seriously than it is currently.  The brain is often helpless and loses control.  Sugar has very strong effects inside the neurons and cells, making cravings scream and shout.

sugar addiction

Photo Credit: dave_kr8 / CC 2.0

How long will it take before the world treats sugar the way we treat addictive drugs?   I guess the world will need to see the high tide of metabolic syndrome turn into a tsunami before we take it as seriously as illegal drugs.  That doesn't mean we can't do something about it on our own now.



Sugar Addiction  =  A Hungry Brain

vegetable soup

Photo Credit: wolfworld / CC 2.0

My brain and body have been hungry for nutrients and stable blood sugar. Those are provided by low glycemic, nutrient-rich foods––foods like salad, salmon, chicken, tofu, lentils, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, apples, oranges, berries, nuts, coconut oil, fermented foods, and NO sugar.

An addict cannot have just one hit.  It doesn't work.  Soon, they end up back in full-blown relapse.


Motivation to Quit Sugar

I recommend picking up a copy of the book "Sugar Blues" by William Dufty.  Even if you don't get through the entire book, give it a 60 minute read, maybe somewhere in the middle.  The wake-up call is worth it.

I have tons of compassion in my heart for those living with diabetes.  It was motivating for me to read about the scary highs and life-threatening lows in the life of someone with this unpredictable disease––motivating because I can still do something preventative.

It's day 4 off sugar, and I'm sharp, vibrant, and happy.  And, I want to exercise!!!  This is because my brain, body and cells have the energy they need to be "up" and do what it takes to stay awake through the day.

Below are a few suggestions for getting motivated to quit sugar and weaken your addiction.


How To Quit Sugar

  1. Try Quitting Sugar Cold Turkey.
    Like I said before, an addict can’t have “just a little”. Even if it works for a while, he or she is sure to end up back in binge-mode, where all meal choices include food that spikes blood sugar. Go all or nothing.
  2. Make a Commitment and Recruit an Accountability Buddy.
    A supportive friend or family member can be a big help when you’re trying to break a habit or form a new one. Ask someone you feel comfortable with, who is reliable, to be your go-to person when you need to talk it out, confess, emote, or wank. Make a commitment to yourself and to this person to quit sugar.

    The person should be prepared with the understanding that their role is not necessarily to offer advice, but just to be there, listen, and encourage.

  3. Throw Out All Sugar-Containing Food.
    Seriously. In the trash. I’d say give it to the local shelter, but it’s way better to donate health-giving food to those truly in need. If you’re serious, throw away your junk-food. When you quit sugar, it’s too tempting to see trigger-foods in front of you and then still try to eat the healthier choice. If you are an addict, get rid of the trigger.

    Talk to your family or roommates if you need to, and if they’re resistant, ask them to hide the food completely out of site at all times.

  4. Plan Meals.
    Try planning your day’s meals ahead of time. This takes the thinking out of it. When we’re hungry, we have less will power, so decision making relies more on whim. Better yet, prepare meals ahead of time, so you can just grub the healthy choice immediately when hunger strikes.
  5. Grocery Shop Right After a Meal.
    We all know we’re way more likely to buy tons of junk-food if we grocery shop when we’re starving. So, take that temptation out of the equation. Shop after a meal, so you’re not triggered by a famished brain.

    Also, make a list before you go to the store. Before you write the list, try thinking for three minutes about the differences in your mood, mental clarity and energy when you’re eating a refined-carb, high-sugar diet and when you’re eating a diet full of veggies, whole foods and organic protein.

  6. Read All Food Labels.
    You might be surprised. Look for cane juice, fructose, corn syrup, rice syrup, maltose, dextrose, glucose, maltodextrine, lactose, molasses, honey, agave nectar, etc., etc.
  7. Artifical Sweetners Are Just As Bad.
    Avoid these, too. More and more, science is finding them to be terrible for the brain and body, as they are very acid-producing. It may be that they even lead to blood sugar problems themselves.
  8. Keep Sweet Tooth Substitutes Around
    Instead of sugar, eat fruit or perhaps try a sweet vitamin C tablet or gummy-vitamin when your cravings hit. It will curb the craving but it’s not a cheat. There’s little sugar in these items, and the fiber in the fruit will help slow down glucose conversion in the blood.

    That said, because the fiber is removed from fruit JUICE, it’s just like all the other sugar foods, so stay away from fruit juice. But veggie juice is perfect.

  9. Brush Your Teeth Right After A Meal
    It helps rinse salt or other flavors out of your mouth, so you’re not as likely to start craving sugar and sweets to balance them out. Plus, you get a bonus of fewer trips to the dentist!
  10. Keep a Food Journal.
    Write down your moods and energy highs and lows and find out what’s triggering them.
  11. Get Used to Stevia.
    Stevia is a plant-based sweetner that is shown to have no effect on blood sugar. I use it in my morning green tea and iced tea, and in plain greek yogurt and all my smoothies. It’s not the best in baked goods, but flour is high-glycemic anyway. So even with stevia, baked goods spike blood sugar and are best avoided.
  12. Meditate.
    You don’t have to do it “right”. Just sit with your eyes closed, focus on your breathing and aim for consistency. You may be surprised by what comes up. It’s no secret that addicts often use an addictive substance to mask an underlying, buried emotion that they’re avoiding. Addiction then takes over the brain and is reinforced by that very feeling. “Oh, it’s time for more sugar” says the brain. Meditation can help center the mind and gently coax any buried issues and restlessness out from their hiding spots. It also softens impulse and breathes awareness around unconscious behaviors. It’s a beautiful thing.
  13. Try, Try Again.
    If you relapse, start again tomorrow. It’s not failure. You can decide to pick up where you left off.  Just keep going. It doesn’t have to be a binge and it doesn’t have to mean that your no-sugar lifestyle is over.  You’ve got this.  Re-commit.

    What are your own experiences with sugar and sugar addiction?  I'd be interested to hear your top strategies to quit sugar.

    Thanks for reading and comments are welcome below.


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