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10 Tips for How to Beat the Symptoms of Sugar Detox

By Fitoru | 12 June 2019
person holding broccoli and donuts together

You go on a sugar detox when you cut your sugar intake to lose weight, feel better, or guard against diabetes.

People often wonder, “Is it healthy?”

Rest assured, there are very few things healthier than cutting refined sugar and artificial sweeteners out of your life. However, it’s not all sunshine and roses the second you stop your sugar intake. You have to make it through the sugar detox readjustment period as your body adapts to these new changes, and the symptoms can be quite unpleasant. Here are 10 tips you can use to fight back against sugar detox symptoms.

Why Does Sugar Detox Feel So Lousy?

The symptoms of sugar withdrawal aren’t entirely different from the symptoms of any other kind of withdrawal, be it from pain medications, alcohol, or carbs. It’s definitely worth it to scrap unnecessarily added sugars from your diet, because doing so could significantly reduce your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and dangerous obesity. However, the backlash is real. Americans consume as many as 22-30 teaspoons of sugar per day when the recommended maximum is 6 teaspoons tops.

Studies have shown that sugar affects your brain in the same ways as addictive substances like cocaine, nicotine, and morphine, and withdrawal symptoms are a part of quitting addictive substances. Though scientists hesitate to call sugar addiction a medical condition, studies have shown that sugar triggers dopamine release in your brain in the very same areas that respond to cocaine and heroin. Sugar is also known to cause the release of endogenous opioids in our brains, which is not unlike the rush experienced with heroin injection. When you cut sugar from your diet, at first you may experience certain withdrawal symptoms.

Sugar detox symptoms and solutions.

The Symptoms of Sugar Withdrawal

Sugar detox can make you feel like garbage. Depending on how much sugar you were used to consuming regularly, the withdrawal symptoms might be mild, or they could be a real interruption to your life. Here are the symptoms, both mental and physical, that you may experience during sugar detox.

Mental Symptoms of Sugar Detox

Sugar detox’s mental side effects could include:

  • Anxiety: Feelings of anxiousness and worry may accompany other stressful symptoms like restlessness, irritability, and nervousness. You may feel more impatient than usual, or like you’re on edge and about to snap.
  • Depression: Feeling depressed is a common symptom of sugar withdrawal. Not only is this due to your body’s readjustment, but you are also now denying yourself the pleasure of a sugar high.
  • Changes in sleep patterns: Some may find that it’s harder to fall asleep and/or stay asleep each night while their bodies are detoxing from sugar.
  • Cognitive issues: You may experience difficulty concentrating after you quit sugar, causing you to lose focus, forget things, or fall behind in work or school.
  • Cravings: Alongside the expected cravings for sugar, you may find that you’re craving other foods that aren’t considered sweets but still contain simple sugars like carbohydrates, including pasta, bread, or potato chips.

Physical Symptoms of Sugar Detox

The physical side effects of sugar withdrawal may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or feeling light-headed
  • Tingling
  • Fatigue

Keep in mind that in time these feelings will fade; in fact the Cleveland Clinic says you can break sugar addiction in as few as 10 days. In the meantime, here’s what you can do to combat the symptoms of sugar detoxification.

10 Tips for Fighting Sugar Detox Symptoms

Here are some tips and tricks to help you alleviate sugar detox symptoms and keep from backsliding into eating sugary foods.

1. Quit Cold Turkey

While cutting down on sugar gradually may help you lessen withdrawal symptoms, it also invites them to stick around for longer. When it comes to sugar withdrawal, just rip the band-aid right off: the sooner your body realizes it must adjust to living a life without sugar, the better you’ll feel. Do this by eliminating all forms of sugar, including those found in white flour, prepackaged foods, and sweetened beverages.

2. Eat More Protein

By adding protein to every meal you eat, you can avoid hunger cravings, as protein helps to increase feelings of satiety and fullness and can contribute to healthy weight loss. Poultry, fish, and lean cuts of meat will work. Vegetarians and vegans can nosh on high-protein vegetables, beans, seeds, and nuts.

3. Increase Your Fiber Intake

High-fiber foods can increase satiety too, much like protein. They also help to regulate your blood sugar levels and promote comfortable digestion. High-fiber foods include vegetables, legumes, and beans, which can feed your good gut bacteria as well as subdue your symptoms of sugar detox.

4. Drink More Water

Staying well hydrated while dealing with sugar detox can help you feel fuller and increase your energy intake, especially when you drink water before a meal. Not only that, if you’re eating more fiber, staying hydrated will help guard against constipation, keeping your stools soft and your digestive system running smoothly.

5. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners

It might seem like a good idea to trade sugar for artificial sweeteners, but it can actually sabotage your sugar-free efforts. Research has found that artificial sweeteners encourage your sugar cravings instead of satisfying them, making it more likely that you’ll backslide into old habits. Avoiding all sweet foods, whether they’re sugar free or not, will help you stick to your new resolution. This includes foods like sweet potatoes and fresh fruits that are full of natural sugars, but just until you get through that 10-day sugar detox period.

6. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress eating: it’s real and it can ruin your efforts to cut sugar from your diet. Sugar has a calming effect on your stress hormones, and if you’re stressed out, your cravings could be amplified. Cutting sugar itself is helpful in managing stress, but until that benefit manifests, try relaxation techniques like meditation to subdue your stress until you clear this sugar detox hurdle.

7. Exercise

Talk about a stress manager, not only is exercise good for your heart health and your weight levels, but it also helps increase your energy and relieve stress. This study from 2015 found that even short bouts of exercise no longer than a 15-minute walk helped reduce cravings for sugary foods. Try yoga for increased mindfulness, flexibility, and healthy weight loss.

8. Drink Your Greens

Green drinks and smoothies can help reduce sugar cravings, according to a 2014 study made up of 38 women observed over 3 months. The women given 5 grams of spinach extract before their breakfast each morning reported a decrease in cravings for fatty and sweet foods, starting right away on the very first day of the trial.

9. Get Sufficient Sleep

A lack of sleep can exacerbate sugar detox symptoms like depression, fatigue, and cravings for sugary and other unhealthy foods. Getting enough sleep has been linked to lowered stress, increased energy levels, improved mental functioning, and better food choices. To make sure you get enough sleep each night, check out these tips, avoid napping during the day, and follow the same bedtime ritual at the same time each night.

10. Eat Something Bitter

Literally bitter medicine, bitter foods shut down the receptors in your brain that crave sugar. Bitter foods also slow down the absorption of sugar, protecting your blood sugar levels and helping you avoid the unwelcome side effects of sugar detox. Try arugula, dark chocolate, black coffee, broccoli raab, or any other bitter food that tempts your palate.

Sweeter Than Sugar

Even just a 1-month sugar detox can improve your health, reset your body, and help you get rid of unhealthy weight. Sugar consumption is off the charts in most American diets. Meals full of processed foods dripping in corn syrup and refined white sugar are putting us in real danger of developing type 2 diabetes and other serious health conditions.

Though your sweet tooth may ache, a sugar detox diet could help save you from a lifetime of bad health, and on the day detox is finally achieved, you’ll feel great and know you made the right call.


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