Many of us quit sugar because of the effect it has on our mood and energy levels – 3pm slump ring any bells? But others are looking to avoid the raised risk for diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. On your quitting sugar journey, you might find a few side effects crop up – here's what they mean and what you can do.
Excess sugar consumption has grave consequences, making the benefits of quitting the stuff more than sizeable. You’ll find you experience everything from fewer headaches to weight loss to a lower risk of disease. Studies found a link between obesity and excessive sugar consumption, and one of the main reasons for this is that the fructose in sugar leads to the development of visceral fat – this is the kind of fat that which wraps around the abdominal organs, making it more dangerous than subcutaneous fat, which is found between the skin and the external abdominal wall. This also raises the risk for conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, with sugar shown to cause insulin resistance. So, quitting sugar sounds like a pretty good idea, right? But you’ll want to be ready for the withdrawal symptoms that crop up, including some intense sugar cravings! Fear not – these are only temporary, unlike the effects of a high-sugar diet, but they’re certainly noticeable. Here’s what to look out for, plus how to glide on through in spite of these effects.
A racing heart, mood swings and a dry mouth are often disconcerting and unsettling, but if this sounds like your quitting-sugar experience, you’re not alone. Keep going, because while withdrawal symptoms will subside eventually, continued consumption of excess sugar will only exacerbate these symptoms. One study found people who drank 2 sugary soft drinks a day had cortisol levels 22% higher than those who did not, finding a direct link between increased stress hormone production and sugar consumption. You might also find yourself experiencing aches, pains and headaches as you detox from a sugar habit.
Sugar cravings are often a result of imbalances of hormones and blood sugar levels in the body as a result of detoxing from sugar. The duration of these cravings varies from person to person, often depending on a number of factors, such as the severity of the sugar addiction and the ability to manage stress and other triggers. Sugar cravings can last anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks, and many will experience other withdrawal effects of quitting sugar like headaches, mood swings, and fatigue. After you’ve made it through the withdrawal stage, sugar cravings may continue, but they’ll become less intense over time. As the body adjusts and recalibrates to a lower sugar intake, you may find you have fewer cravings and can resist them more easily – but until then, you may find yourself struggling to keep from falling off the wagon. When the sugar cravings set in, many are desperate for relief – this is where most people get tripped up. It can often trigger a cycle of binge eating and subsequent feelings of guilt, regret and failure and, as a result, many give up on their sugar-free goals. But be gentle with yourself, here at I Quit Sugar, there’s no such thing as failure and it’s never too late to get back on track. As you continue eating wholesome, nutritionally-balanced meals, you’ll find your cravings fade into the background. Foods rich in healthy fats and protein provide much-needed energy and help regulate blood sugar levels, reducing the chance of sugar cravings. Try starting the day off with avocado, egg and feta toast – it’s tasty, satisfying and bound to curb those cravings.
Need a little help quitting sugar?
If you haven’t already joined us, sign up for the 8-Week Program and we’ll help you change the way you look at food – and that doesn’t mean you have to follow restrictive diets or miss out on your favourite foods; we believe you can still enjoy delicious food without jeopardising your health. With celebrity chef Sarah Glover on our panel of experts, you’ll have an array of fun recipes at your fingertips, along with our own exclusive armoury of simple, tasty and healthy recipes for everything from daily meals to impressive entertaining. We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:
- 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
- 90+ member-only recipes.
- Community forums to share your journey.
- Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team.
- Exclusive content from our panel of experts.
So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to join. We’d love to help you get started on your health journey. Sign up HERE today!