Can someone really quit sugar in 6 (easy) steps?? I promise you, they can.
Sugar, is a sweet little monster that whilst tastes amazing (’cause let’s face it, it does), does very little good for us and our health, especially today when it is in almost EVERYTHING!
“I think everyone should quit sugar.”
There, I said it.
I know that many people think this is an extreme stance, that it is unnecessary for those who are “healthy,” that it can be managed “everything in moderation” and that I shouldn’t be pushing my opinion on others… but hey, this is my blog ;).
So what am I talking about when I mean “quit sugar”?
I’m talking about refined sugar. This is all the added sugar that goes into foods.
Sugar has many, many names, apparently 56:
Now the ones listed above with an * contain fructose.
Fructose is said to be more problematic because it is metabolised by the liver and doesn’t spike insulin, meaning that in excess, it is stored directly in fat cells, causing all sorts of metabolic health issues, such as fatty liver disease (which can occur very quickly with excessive consumption as you’ll see in Damon Gameau’s doco called “That Sugar Film“).
Glucose isn’t without it’s problems either… glucose causes insulin to spike which is fine in a healthy individual, but when many of us today consume so much of it, we are spiking our insulin over and over, all day long. And because our levels of blood glucose are too high (a toxic state for the body), the body can become insulin resistant… also creating metabolic issues which ultimately leads to disease.
Either way you sprinkle, spread or pour it, it’s not a pretty picture for our health…
So why do I think everyone should quit sugar?
1. It is addictive.
For reals. Sugar gives us more pleasure than drugs like cocaine .
I was blown away when I first discovered this but it is true.
One study in 2013 said that “sugar and sweet reward can not only substitute to addictive drugs, like cocaine, but can even be more rewarding and attractive.” 
And, on top of that, we don’t lose the feeling of pleasure we receive from sugar…it always gives us that high so we always crave more.
2. It leads to weight gain.
Notice how year after year, everyone gains just a little more weight?
How the “middle-aged spread” became an expression as an assumption that when you hit your 40s, you will no longer be able to metabolize food like your younger self and will instantly put on weight?
And the reason you’re gaining weight is because you’re older, eat too much and don’t exercise enough… you’re just too lazy.
But is this the cause?
Did you ever stop to think that it might be a specific ingredient in your diet?
That it might be sugar? (and all those carbs that convert to sugar?)
Sugar causes weight gain, this is a fact. 
3. It causes other metabolic diseases.
Now you thought weight gain was bad…but if you fancy diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, dementia or even cancer, then keep drinking soda, having dessert every chance you get, eating cereal for breakfast, McDonalds for lunch, putting sauces on all of your food, snacking all day long, grabbing that 3pm coffee and muffin…
Yes, it’s confronting and harsh but this is the reality and it’s a sad one. We see the western world in such a problematic state, in fact, it’s a state of emergency when it comes to people’s health.
People who are sick because of their diet is all too common today and it is costing everyone. Not only that, people are now dying younger and even children are dying before their parents. .
The epidemic is real in the developing world too.
I live in China and I feel like there is a noticeable difference over the 5 years I’ve been here. Obesity and disease go hand in hand and diet (sugar consumption) is big part of this equation .
And as the Western world furthers their reach around the world, other Asian countries are being marketed to also. On my travels, I’ve seen ads everywhere as well as the locals consuming them. Coca cola and fast food like McDonalds are two of the biggest issues in my opinion and I’m betting we will continue to see a rise of obesity and metabolic disease in these countries too.
4. We eat way too much of the damn stuff.
Maybe this should have been point number one but many people are consuming double and even triple the required amount of sugar per day because it is hidden in absolutely everything from yoghurt to cereal to bread (which leads to points 1, 2 & 3)
The World Health organisation updated their guidelines (in 2015) about the amount of sugar we are advised to consume on a daily basis.
They recommend that it should be less than 10% of our total daily energy but that if we drop it back to less than 5% of our daily energy needs, we will benefit even more. .
This works out to be no more than 6 teaspoons a day, or around 25grams and for children, according to the American Heart Association, it is 3 teaspoons, around 12 grams.
According to research, Americans average around a whopping 22 teaspoons of sugar a day or between 57-70 pounds/27-32 kilos per year!  If I can do my math right, that’s over 3 times the recommended amount!
(FYI…I believe we should eat less than the WHO recommends – cause I’m low-carb and hardcore AF!)
5. Life feels better without sugar!
Seriously, it does. More sustained energy, consistent weight (no yo-yo-ing), better skin, better moods, less hunger etc… (of course it helps to couple this with lots of great fats to gain even more benefits!)
So what about fruit?
Let’s think for a second…do we NEED fruit?
We can get all of the vitamins and minerals we need from protein and fats (and the odd veggies), without the sugar. We don’t NEED fruit.
So those are a few reasons WHY I think you should quit sugar.
What do the experts think?
Based on my Nutrition Uni lecturers, the consensus seemed to be:
everything in moderation is ok.
That sugar from most sources (natural or refined) is necessary because we need the energy for our brains, organs and cells to function. Not that they say to go and eat lollies but cereals and snack bars, low-fat yoghurts and lots of fruit etc, it’s all part of a “healthy” diet.
How often have you heard someone say to have something sugary to eat or drink before doing a strenuous activity like running?! (It’s how gatorade became so popular.)
Or he/she is growing so “needs” the energy.
As a teacher, it was something I heard often, especially by the PE and health teachers. And this may do little damage in the healthy individual but let’s be real about the situation here…
MOST people are UNHEALTHY and SUGAR is in nearly EVERYTHING!
So, unless you eat meat and veg for every meal and prepare everything yourself, it is highly likely that there is sugar in it: your bread, your sauce, your crackers, your drinks, your noodles, your soup. You name it, there’s (usually) sugar in it.
(Learn to read labels peeps)
So when I heard my lecturers at uni say that sugar in moderation is fine, I go back to my first point and think, well, if it’s addictive and it’s in almost everything we eat, how can we moderate that?
I remember in my high sugar/carb days, I would go to the bakery and get myself a big sugar-crusted jam donut.
It was my favourite thing to eat, especially when I was feeling a bit down.
But then it also became something I ate when I was celebrating.
And then it became something I ate when I felt like something sweet.
And so any time that I felt sad or happy or indifferent, I would get a donut. The thought of eating that donut excited me. It made my brain happy.
Some people would say that I just didn’t have enough will power…but this is NOT a game of will, this is a game of BIOCHEMISTRY.
And this is exactly what another expert (and advocate for the reduction in the consumption of sugar) Dr Robert Lustig, says in his Ted Talk that it’s the “biochemistry that is the problem, not the behaviour“. That once you change the biochemistry, you change the behaviour.
WE ARE ADDICTED TO SUGAR.
I recall the many GPs I’ve encountered over the years and I respect GPs, we need them, they are incredible. But they are not nutrition experts and their method is to choose the right drug for the right symptom.
Studying with the Nutritional Therapy Association was a great experience for me. I chose this organisation because their beliefs largely aligned with mine.
And when you do this, you naturally don’t consume too much sugar.
So they may not say to NOT eat sugar, but the foods they focus on are naturally low in it.
In reality, we have two camps: we have the experts who advocate for a low/no carbohydrate diet (which is in low sugar)…
These include people like Gary and Belinda Fettke, Tim Noakes, Nina Teicholz, Gary Taubes, Dr Jaime Seeman, Dr Gabrielle Lyon and Chris Kresser. As well as the zero carb carnivores like Shawn Baker, the Carnivore MD and many, many more.
And the other camp is all the people who don’t subscribe to this lifestyle. Which means most professionals involved in nutrition in some way are focused on the national guidelines created by the US (which pretty much form the guidelines for all other countries.). These guidelines are centred around eating a lot of carbohydrates, sugars and minimal animal products and fats.
So the low/no carb people will tell you to avoid processed crap and limit sugar intake and the others will tell you it’s pretty much ok.
All in all, be educated yourself and learn to listen to your body, it will tell you what it wants.
So the big one…
How do you quit sugar?!
Some of you may have tried this and know that it’s not easy. Generally speaking, the first 2 weeks aren’t the most fun
…we are dealing with an addiction here…
but it continues to get better and better, and once you form a new habit, a new way of eating without sugar, it then becomes your lifestyle. I promise.
HOW TO QUIT SUGAR in 6 EASY STEPS
1. Set a start date and an end date.
A start date is important because it mentally prepares you. You can mark it on your calendar and tell your friends and family. However, it also allows you to be physically prepared too.
As for the end date (which you won’t need because you’re going to quit forever, aren’t you?! wink, wink, nudge, nudge), it is useful to have this time marker.
Like the start date, the end date is also for your mental game. It takes strength, commitment and motivation to quit something we love (unless you have a real motivator like illness or worse, a deadly disease) and that drive has to come from within. So having an end date in sight, makes it visible and easier to attain.
My recommendations: start on a Sunday night (gives you the weekend to prepare) and do it for 30 days.
2. Get support.
Some people may be introverts but everyone needs support and encouragement. Someone doing this sugar detox with you provides that and makes it SO MUCH EASIER.
If you have a family, get them on board.
If you have a partner, get them on board.
If you are single, get your friends on board with you.
And if no-one wants to join you, then connect with me, my friend because I believe in you!
My recommendations: Do let people know that you’ve quit sugar and to not be offering you sweet things they usually when you visit or go on breaks at work etc. You will possibly get the “Are you mad?!” response or face so be prepared for that.
Or maybe show them this picture instead:
3. Clear out your pantry of anything sugary, even fruit.
Quitting sugar requires mental strength. If you were someone (like me) who reaches for the sugar when you are feeling emotional, then it’s best if it can’t be found. You are an “abstainer”.
However, there are some people who can actually manage well. They don’t binge and can stop once they start. These people are called “moderators”.
When it comes to quitting sugar though, whether you’re an abstainer or a moderator, it’s best that it’s not around at all – after all, you are not eating sugar for the next 30 days.
Ok, so why no fruit?
Fruit is sweet and if you’re someone who is an abstainer (many of us are, especially when it comes to sugar), even fruit can trigger desires for sweet food. Also, this is a sugar detox and, as mentioned earlier, fruit contains sugar, even if it is bound up in mother nature’s perfect package. If you are struggling with insulin resistance, have diabetes, are overweight, have high blood pressure or any hormonal disorders like an autoimmune disease, then all fruit is out for 30 days. Sorry (not sorry).
If you want to reintroduce fruit, you can do so after 4 weeks but try to choose a low carb/low sugar option like berries and citrus fruits and if necessary, monitor your blood glucose to see if it’s problematic for you.
My recommendation: Don’t leave it till the last minute to clear out your pantry and get organised. You will regret it.
4. Get meal ready.
You have a start date and you’ve cleaned out your pantry, now you need to get ready for what you will actually eat over the next 30 days!
Here’s what you should do to be prepared:
– Find a bunch of great recipes you can cook.
– Plan your meals for at least a week.
– Plan your snacks.
– Make yourself a shopping list
– Go shopping and buy the foods you need for the week.
– Meal prep the weekend before.
For some great inspiration, check out these websites: Ditch the Carbs, The Real Meal Revolution, The Diet Doctor, The Keto diet app or just google low carb or sugar free + the recipe you’re looking for. Here is one I love (egg and bacon cups) but check out my blog for more.
My recommendations: The week leading up to your sugar detox, find the recipes and clean out the pantry. Saturday morning, go shopping for food. Saturday night, relax. Sunday, meal prep for the week (cook and freeze or refrigerate), or prep for Mon-Wed and on Wed do another cooking session.
Note: You know your schedule and how you can manage so if you find that you don’t have time to cook during the week, then you need to prep ahead of time OR find healthy options to get you through (pre-roasted bbq chicken and a salad is very easy to put together for example).
5. Up your fats.
Yep, you heard right; eat as much fat as you want until you feel full.
Fats are good for us and they are a major source of energy.*
This totally goes against what we’ve been taught, I know, but it’s true. So if you have a couple of eggs, a slice or two of bacon and half an avocado for breakfast, you will be full and you won’t think about food for several hours or until your next meal. But, if you eat a bowl of veggies without any fat added, you will be hungry quite soon after.
My recommendations: Up your fats by adding them to your meal or cooking with them. Good fats to cook with or add to your meals include butter, lard, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil.
Make sure a high protein meal also contains a lot of good fats so the vitamins and minerals in the food can be easily absorbed, such as a steak that comes with fat. As mentioned above, a bowl of broccoli is much better (taste but also better absorbed) with a tsp of butter on top!
*The other one (source of energy) is glucose which comes from eating sugar and carbs. However, in the absence of carbs, we make glucose internally, our body doesn’t need to ingest them.
6. Drink water.
Dehydration is common today.
And hunger is also often confused with thirst.
Think about when it’s summer and you’re craving an icy pole… what do you actually need? It’s more probable you just need a drink of water.
So learn to listen to your hunger signals and if craving something sugary, have a big glass of water and see how you feel afterwards.
Cravings will come and go and you can choose to act on them or drink water and give them time to pass. And they will, in around 15 minutes. Use the 15 minutes while you’re having a craving to think about what you’re feeling instead. Dig a little deeper and learn why you crave what you crave.
My recommendations: Aim to drink your weight in water (kgs) divided by 30.
So, if you’re 62kgs, you should drink approximately 2 liters a day.
I hope you found those tips helpful!!
And if you do try to kick sugar, be prepared for temptation, be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster, be prepared to be challenged, be prepared for cravings and of course, be prepared even for the occasional set back.
But start each day positively, knowing what you’ll eat, having prepared your food already (or know exactly what you’re going to buy), call a friend if you’re feeling tempted, drink plenty of water and cross off each day on your calendar and give yourself a huge pat on the back each time you do.
And once you’re through your 30 days, you’ll be loving how you look and feel so much that you’ll want to continue your super sweet, sugar-free lifestyle forever!
For more info on the damage that overconsumption of sugar can cause, I highly recommend checking out this presentations by Dr. Robert Lustig. (Click here).
And finally, please leave a comment below and share if you’ve quit sugar and what your experience was like. Did you continue AFTER you’d finished your detox? Or did you go back?
To your sugar-free fueled health,
FNTP and meat-based biohacker