How to Quit Sugar

One particular family holiday stands as the one when we ate. And ate. And… ate! I was 14 years old and had my first experience with self-induced, over-indulgent vomiting. Yeuch! I just remember eating non-stop on all the good stuff. Chocolate bars, pastries, ‘caramel’ chocolate, more junk food that was safe to consume in probably a year! I’ve never forgotten that feeling of total ‘freedom’ where we just basically all gorged ourselves into sugar comas. My parents still laugh about how every Jewish celebration I attended centred around me scavenging for chocolates. How I maintained my skinny bod is a mystery! Exam time in year 12 revolved around me scrounging for coins to run to the video shop to buy as many chocolates as I could afford to ‘fuel’ my studies. Addicted much?!

Mmmmm Ryan....

There are some brilliant books written about sugar but since it’s come up lately I’m going to paraphrase what I’ve learnt and hopefully pass on some tips. It’s a fair statement to say that we all know that sugar isn’t great for us. That we should all be making plans to reduce or eliminate it. That it is highly addictive and that this is very hard to do! Before you dive in though, there are a few facts you should know that will greatly increase your chances of kicking sugar for good!

Sugar flow chart

First all, I don’t think ‘sugar’ as a general term should be demonised as there are many natural sugars which can be very nourishing and delicious with minimal impact on your insulin and energy levels. White, refined sugar, however,  is 99% sucrose and is produced by extracting the molasses (which is then fed to horses and other animals, which is ironic since that’s the component which contains all the nutrients – lucky livestock!) and highly processing what’s left behind. The sheer volume of processing involved in transforming sugar cane to white sugar is what’s makes it so highly refined and therefore super addictive. It’s simply not in its whole form anymore not mention that all it’s nutrients and minerals have been completely stripped resulting in a non-nourishing ‘food-like substance’.

Too much sugar?

If not white sugar, what natural sweeteners can I have? Raw sugar to me, is the same as white sugar, just not as bleached so I group those 2 together – the only thing I use it for in my house is to ferment my beautiful Kombucha, yum! Here’s a few nutritious alternatives which we use chez Hot Pink Chilli:

  1. Raw Honey: Teeming with anti-bacterial properties which have been used to treat several conditions naturally including acne, cuts, coughs and more. If you can get hold of organic raw honey, your body is in for a treat. The regular heated & treated product which you can buy at most shops has had so many of its health properties eliminated and is merely for taste. Try source it raw.
  2. Palm Sugar: This is the sap collected from the tree trunk of a sugar palm tree, much like maple syrup is collected. It has a beautiful fudgy texture and rich caramel flavour which lends itself well to Thai cooking
  3. Coconut Sugar: Often confused with palm sugar, coconut sugar is the sap of the flower of a coconut palm tree. It has a very low glycaemic index of 28, less than honey even and comes in a nectar form or is dehydrated in the form of sugar granules. It tastes like tropical caramel! I LOVE this stuff, a bit too much 😉
  4. Stevia: Stevia is a plant which you can grow in your back garden quite easily. It’s 300 times sweeter than sugar so to replace a teaspoon in your coffee you’d only need 3-4 drops! Not all stevia products are created equal though. I stay away from the white granulated commercial brands – I always ask myself, how do they get it so white and so perfectly granulated? Plus they’re generally full of other chemical ingredients masquerading as ‘healthy’ ones like maltodextrin and Erythritol. I sell Sweetleaf liquid stevia which I’ve found to be really pleasant without that bitter after taste that stevia products leave. It’s cold-expelled using purified water without alcohol and chemicals that other brands use.
  5. Rapadura sugar is how cane sugar should be produced. It looks like dark brown sugar but is infinitely tastier and more nutritious with all the beautiful molasses still intact. It’s usually dehydrated to form granules so you can spoon it but you can also buy it before it’s been granulated and this is known as panela or jaggery. It’s like a big block of fudge, sooooooo yummy! I get mine from my local Indian spice shop – very cheap too!
  6. Other nutritious natural sweeteners worth mentioning are molasses, real maple syrup, yacon syrup, rice malt syrup and mesquite powder

Onto quitting. how do you do it? Here’s how I did it:

  1. Be prepared. Clear your cupboards, fridge and freezer of any and all sugars and sweeteners including very high carb foods like bread, crackers, pasta etc.
  2. Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates are more often than not the result of a protein deficiency. Fill your kitchen with high protein and high fat foods.: hummus, eggs, tinned tuna, avocado, full fat (unsweetened) Greek yoghurt, cheese and fresh veggies
  3. Pick a date. This draws the line in the sand and gives you a deadline to get organised by. Bingeing on anything and everything in sight in the days leading up to it though, will only make your detox symptoms worse so be careful how you approach that.
  4. Get support – tell your wife/hubby, parents, whoever you think will be a good support for you when you’re feeling weak and the cravings hit.
  5. Stay off even the natural sweeteners for now including dried fruit. If you are going to eat fruit, eat it with some nuts or nut butter so as to slow down the release of sugars which will result in less of a blood sugar high, then low.
  6. Your gut will need support to repair damage that all the sugar has done so stock up on fermented foods and/or a good probiotic. And I’m not talking about Inner Health plus which has so many strains but few of which are even active or applicable but like kombucha, kefir, homemade sauerkraut or a dehydrated fermented foods powder which you know is alive. You can also get probiotic drinks from health food stores which are very gut healing.
  7. It’s cold turkey time. Step away from the sugar and fill up on fresh, whole & unprocessed foods.
  8. When a craving hits, eat more protein & fat – I remember stuffing my face with veggie sticks in homemade hummus, boiled eggs and nut butter
  9. Water. Water. Water! Drinking lots of water during the initial detox period will not only help to alleviate some detox symptoms like headaches but it will also fill you up so that when cravings hit you will be so full that you won’t be able to fit anything in!
  10. Get your hands busy – whatever floats your boat: cooking (not baking!), sewing, knitting, gardening, gym, long walks on the beach, puzzles, playdough.
  11. Avoid mindless TV watching. It makes you tired and less likely to make smart food decisions. You’re also more inclined to eat through sheer boredom so try get your hands busy so you they’re too occupied to reach for sweets
  12. Detoxing shouldn’t take longer than 2 weeks. I really  struggled for 4 days: headaches, total & utter fatigue, itchy skin and the foulest moods I’ve ever experienced! Then it settled down for a few days but then flared back up again before going away for good. When the going gets tough you just have to put your big girl panties on and get on with it. Build a bridge and get over it. Take a spoon of concrete & harden up… basically just do it. You’ve decided to do it. Now do it. Be the adult you want to emulate to your kids. This sounds harsh but we live in such an instant gratification society where we get what we want when we want , often without having to work too hard for it that when the going gets tough and a craving hits, we just cave without putting up any kind of a fight! It’s just SUGAR!

I’m a huge fan of Sarah Wilson’s ‘I Quit Sugar’ programme so if you’re wanting a step by step 8 week guide with even more support, recipes and how-to’s then I would definitely recommend downloading her ebook

So who’s game to kick it once and for all? I’d love to know how you’re going so please keep me updated and if there’s any other support I can offer, just let me know 🙂

❤ Jodi

4 Responses to “How to Quit Sugar”
  1. Nicole says:

    Hi Jodi,
    I quit sugar a few months ago, including dried fruit, honey, rapadura, and pretty much all sweeteners except rice malt syrup (no fructose). Its been amazing and I feel great. The detox sucked. Last weekend I had some apple cider and the sugar in it was overpowering. In the next few days, I was cranky as all get out, fatigued, nauseous, bloated, sore. It really reminded me why I did it in the first place.

  2. Chantelle says:

    Hi Jodi,

    I also quit sugar quite some time ago, not that I was ever an addict and didn’t have a lot in my diet and I really didn’t find it difficult to do as fruits and all the natural sweeteners you mentioned as well as dates were enough for me. However I am now on a strict anti candida diet and it is tough. I have done it before but problems have arisen again and I am back on it. I am very interested in getting some fermented foods into my diet but don’t know how to start (I also live in an isolated, small mining town so supplies are harder to get). Therefore, do you have some advice on what is a good probiotic to take or where to get it? (Inner health is usually what I’ve been told to take).
    Thank you!

  3. Nadia says:

    What would you recommend to use instead of sugar when baking? I have a 3y/o, so of course I bake things for her every once in a blue moon, and Stevia has that odd aftertaste. Also, can you make your own bread or should bread be cut out of your daily eating? I normally have eggs and quinoa and flaxseed toast for breakfast, and hadn’t really considered that if I quit sugar, I would have to stop eating bread.

    • Hey Nadia,
      In the initial stages of quitting sugar I avoided all the heavy type carbs like bread, pasta, potatoes and rice as the body treats it like sugar anyway spiking your insulin as well as your blood sugar levels. I use dates quite a lot in baking with lots of success, as well as honey or coconut nectar. Coconut sugar is my fave though – yum! Jodi 🙂

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