If you find yourself reaching for the box of cookies in your drawer everyday after lunch, or regularly grabbing a donut with your morning coffee – you are probably hooked on sugar.
You may even even addicted to sugar – without even properly realizing it!
Sugar is pervasive in many foods in western society. And unfortunately many people are eating far too much.
Hidden Sources of Sugar
Sugar is found in a huge number of food products – even ones you would consider ‘healthy’. From flavored water, to yogurts, to ketchup, and even ‘healthy’ granola. Sugar is hidden in all sorts of foods.
It is easy to eat too much sugar without even realizing it.
And it isn’t always easy to spot – sugar goes by a number of names. In fact – there are more 61 different names for sugar. And often these are used by manufacturers to confuse the consumer – so it is more difficult to spot the added sugar.
Dangers of Being Addicted To Sugar
Massive sugar consumption can result in obesity, diabetes, cancer cell production, depletion of brain power, heart damage or failure, and shorter lifespans.
The are many dangers and health risks of being addicted to sugar – here are the top 3.
Type 2 diabetes is a little more complicated than just eating to much sugar, but sugar is definitely a main culprit.
This occurs due to the insulin resistance your body develops when you consume large amounts of sugar. When you body tries to digest a lot of fractures, your body actually becomes resistance to insulin.
This cause your blood sugar to be unstable. The unstable blood sugar, and resistance to insulin increases your risk for diabetes, and can accelerate its onset.
Overloading Your Liver
Your liver has many very important jobs when it comes to keeping your body functioning at optimum levels. One of its tasks is to metabolize fructose and glucose – and it can safely handle only a certain amount at a time.
Overloading your liver with too much fructose to process can cause issues later on.
Sugar is a sneaky little thing.It tricks your body into thinking you need more food than you actually do.
When your body has too much fructose, it doesn’t stimulate insulin properly. This then leans to your hunger hormone working in ‘overdrive’.
This is why you tend to actually feel hungrier after eating foods with a lot of sugar. When you feel hungry still, you tend to eat more to try and feel satiated.
Eating more than you actually need will lead to weight gain over time.
Breaking Sugar Addiction: How To Do It
You can do a sugar detox two ways – cold turkey, or gradual.
For some people, it is easier to make the break all one go – kind of like ripping of a band aid. For others, it is easier to do it gradually.
You can take it over a few weeks – for example, stop having drinks with added sugar in week one, cut out processed foods in week two, and so on.
Here is a guide to help you with how to gradually cut back on your sugar intake:
Learn the Names of Hidden Sugar and Read all the Labels
As I mentioned earlier, there are many different names for sugar, and manufacturers often use these different names to confuse the consumer. When reading labels, look for cane sugar, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, barley malt, molasses, maple syrup, honey, and brown rice syrup.
Once you start learning all these different names for sugar, you will see it is found in a lot more foods than you think!
Cut Back on Processed and Packaged Food
Packaged food is generally filled with sugar – along with other unhealthy additives that you are better off avoiding.
It is just about avoiding boxed mac ‘n cheese, for example. You can also avoid added sugars by buying your deli meats from the deli instead of buying it pre-packaged. And buying blocks of cheese and shredding it yourself to avoid the sugar additives found in pre-shredded cheese. And buy your meat and fish fresh instead of buying packaged meats and fish in the frozen food section.
Switch to cooking meals from scratch – it is much easier than you may think. Broiled chicken pieces served with lightly cooked broccoli is a delicious – and very simple – meal.
Choose Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Add in more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. Yes – all fruit has fructose in it – but it is ok if you are eating limited quantities. (Always eat more vegetables than fruit.)
Select fresh or frozen options over canned, as you will often find sugar in canned fruits and veggies. (Just to be share, check the frozen packs, too.)
Look For Sugar-Free Alternatives
My most exciting find this year was sparkling water with natural flavoring. No sugar, no sweetener, and it tastes delicious!
It isn’t necessary to find alternatives to some of your favorite sugar-filled treats, but if you want, there are plenty options. Just keep an eye out for ingredients and try to avoid artificial sweeteners if possible.
Side Effects of Quitting Sugar
There is no easy way around this – quitting sugar is going to be unpleasant. But only for a short while. And it will be worth it once your body has adjusted.
If your body is used to large amounts of sugar and suddenly having much (or even a little) less, it is going to go a withdrawal period.
Here is what you can expect when first cutting back on sugar.
Oh, The Cravings
The strength of the cravings will depend on how much sugar was in your diet before cutting back. The cravings appear when your body realises it is not getting as much as before.
This will probably be the most difficult side effect to deal with.
I tried cutting out caffeine last month – and was stuck in bed for almost 24hrs with the worst headache I had experienced in years. Nothing was helping and the pain was so bad I could hardly move.
Headaches are a very common when going through withdrawal, but they are not often that intense! Be prepared with a pain reliever, and lots of water. The headaches won’t be around for long, and getting through this once is better than trying over and over again.
The mood swings can be caused by a few factors. The headache and aches and pains can be make you a little (or a lot) grumpy. The cravings can also cause you to be a bit moody, especially knowing it can be so ‘easy’ to relieve the craving.
Give yourself a bit of grace – and let others around you know that you have cut back on sugar and ask for their understanding.
Shaking and Trembling
Shakes, weakness, and trembling are traditional signs of withdrawal, so you are very likely to experience them. If you feel that it is getting worse rather than improving, speak to your doctor.
Aches and Pains
As you get further into the withdrawal stage, you will likely experience some aches and pains. Not everyone will experience this. If it starts to get severe, or you get leg cramps, or other strange physical discomforts, discuss them with your doctor.
As you can see, quitting sugar can easily be done. You just have to prepare well for it.
The physical effects of giving up sugar are usually easier to deal with than the mental ones. However, with the kind of supportive community we have at Keto Bootstrap, you should be able to overcome any mental obstacles you may have.