So, you decided to cut the sugar intake but you don’t know how to handle the sugar withdrawal symptoms. First of all, congratulations! Not only sugar is linked to several medical conditions from obesity to heart disease but it can also increase affect your energy levels and affect your mental health.
Secondly, we’re here to help you understand more about sugar addiction and its negative effects on your body and to guide you through this journey, in case you experience several bumps on the road.
Why giving it up can feel lousy
Just like nicotine, cocaine or even morphine, sugar affects the brain causing you to require a higher intake just to get the same effect. Sugar stimulates its reward system, triggering the release of dopamine and activating the same area of the brain that is activated by these drugs. In the same time, the brain becomes tolerant to sugar which leads to a vicious cycle of cravings and an increased quantity if you want to feel good. In fact, studies have shown that Americans consume up to 30 teaspoons of sugar a day, instead of 6, the recommended intake.
So, if you decided to cut out sugar, expect for intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms that are similar to the rush people experience when they have a drug addiction.
The symptoms of sugar withdrawal
Although the severity of these symptoms may be different from one person to another, depending on how much sugar they were consuming and how their body reacts to quitting, most people experience both physical and mental manifestations. Withdrawal symptoms last for about two weeks and they can become more intense during times of stress. But let’s see what happens to your body when it goes without sugar.
- You might feel depressed, have a low mood and lose interest in things you found pleasurable before.
- You might experience anxiety symptoms, feel restless, nervous and have less patience than usual, feeling as if you are on edge.
- You might suffer from insomnia or have troubles falling or staying asleep through the night.
- You might feel tired, forget things and find it difficult to concentrate on your everyday tasks.
- You might experience cravings for unhealthy foods such as carbs, salty snacks or fried bites.
The most common side effects of sugar detox are headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, light-headedness and tingling. However, if you stick to your plan, all these manifestations should disappear after maximum 10 days. But there are also some tips that can help you beat these side effects of sugar detox easier:
Quit cold turkey
If you want to lessen the intensity of your symptoms you can try to cut sugar gradually from your diet but expect for them to stick around a bit longer. On the other hand, if you cut out all forms of sugar including those in sweetened beverages, white flour or prepackaged foods, your body will get used to living without sugar faster.
Eat more protein
Sugar detox leads to decreased energy levels and a constant hunger sensation so if you want to avoid reaching for a sugar-packed quick fix, you can add more lean meats like fish or poultry or more high-protein veggies in your diet.
Increase your dietary fiber
High-fiber foods can help you control blood sugar and keep some of the symptoms like nausea or headaches at bay. So try eating more beans, legumes or other high-fiber vegetables to stave off hunger.
Drink more water
If you increase your fiber intake, don’t forget to stay hydrated in order to avoid constipation or other digestive issues. Water can also decrease the sensation of hunger so if you want to keep your cravings under control and your stools soft, have a glass of water before every meal. This way you will resist the urge to overeat but also improve bowel regularity.
Avoid artificial sweeteners
If you believe that you can replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, think again. This idea will derail your efforts and encourage your dependence instead of warding it off. So if you want to cut our sugar from your diet for good, stay away from all sorts of sweet foods.
Manage your stress
Because sugar can have a calming effect, most people increase their sugar intake when they are stressed. Sugar can lower the cortisol levels and keep your stress levels in check but it also leads to a vicious cycle of cravings. So, the next time you feel stressed, better read a book or take a walk in the park.
Exercise can also help you reduce stress because your body releases endorphins when you’re working out. More than this, it can increase your energy levels and combat the sensation of sluggishness and fatigue.
Drink some greens
A greens supplement can help you cope with the sugar detox symptoms, reducing your sugar cravings in the same time. Look for natural products like Green Elixir that don’t contain added sugar or artificial sweeteners. This supplement from ALLKME contains over 29 garden-fresh greens in the exact quantities your body requires. Once you add this nutrient-rich formula in your diet, your taste for the sugary stuff will fade away naturally.
Get enough sleep
If you don’t get enough sleep, you might feel the need to eat more comfort foods, worsening this way your symptoms. Lack of sleep was linked to more stress, lower energy levels, lack of focus and concentration and an increased craving for sugar.
Eat something bitter
Bitter foods can regulate your blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of sugar in the organism. So, add more coffee, broccoli, arugula and other bitter bites in your diet and shut down those brain receptors that make you eat more sweets.
Accept that we all slip up
Cutting out sugar from your diet is not easy but with a little preparation and a lot of patience, you can cleanse your body without experiencing most of these severe symptoms. So whenever you feel tempted to eat a sugary treat, be prepared with high-protein healthy snacks or keep yourself busy exercising so you will not fall into the trap. Remember that these symptoms are only temporary but the health benefits are forever.