Sugar Detox (Withdrawal Symptoms & How-To)
How I went from sugar addiction to zero sugar cravings. If you’re ready for a sugar detox, this is for you. We’ll take a science-based look at sugar dangers, sugar detox withdrawal symptoms, and how and how long to do it. At the bottom, I’ll share a sample sugar detox diet.
Sugar addiction was something I struggled with for many years. Moving from sugar addiction, which included feeling out of control around sweets, deprivation and binging, to intuitive eating really was life-changing. So today I’m sharing tips on how to detox from sugar, overcome sugar addiction, and what to symptoms to expect while detoxing from sugar.
I always assumed I “just had a sweet tooth”, yet in retrospect, I see what I had was an addiction. As someone who had a serious sugar addiction and hasn’t had a sugar craving in years, I hope I can shed some light on detoxing from sugar.
Dangers of Sugar
When I refer to “sugar” in this post, I’m referring to added or refined sugar, like you’d find in processed foods and desserts. Natural sugars like those found in fruit are healthy for most people, so there’s no need to avoid them.
While we all know that sugar is a source of empty calories that can lead to weight gain, and causes cavities, there are other dangers you may not be aware of.
According to The Diabetes Council, 90% of Americans consume more than the recommended amount of sugar per day.
- A higher intake of added sugar is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. (JAMA Internal Medicine)
- Sugar is an immune system suppressant. Just 100 grams of sugar can suppress white blood cells functioning by 40% for at least 5 hours. (Daily Mail)
- Glucose can increase cortisol (the “fight or flight” stress hormone) levels by nearly 4 times. (Hormones and Behavior)
- A significantly increased risk of certain types of cancer is associated with high levels of fructose intake. (Journal of the National Cancer Institute)
How Long Should You Detox From Sugar?
This will depend on your personal goals. Just need a reset after too much indulgence? 5 days is fine.
However, if like mine, your relationship with sugar has become a habit or physical addiction, 30 days is a good start. Many people find that it takes about a month to break a habit, however, other research suggests it may take much longer. Furthermore, to break a habit, one must replace it with another behavior.
Sugar Detox Withdrawal Symptoms
Numerous studies have found that added sugars can produce changes in neurochemistry and behavior similar to those of other addictive drugs. When initially cutting out sugar after long-term use, one may experience withdrawal symptoms. Sugar detox symptoms should resolve within a few days, but may include:
How to Detox From Sugar
Overcoming sugar addiction is part physical and part psychological. I’d say the psychological element is the most difficult, and in order to move beyond it you must change your subconscious feelings about food. Let’s take a look at how you can take care of your body and mind during your sugar detox.
Step 1: Detox Your Pantry
Identify where the added sugars are coming from in your diet. It’s often secretly lurking in peanut butter spreads, yogurt, crackers, bread, and other refined products. Swap them out for healthier choices like Protein Oatmeal instead of cereal.
Step 2: Hydrate with Sugar-Free Beverages
- My stevia-sweetened Lemon Apple Cider Vinegar Drink is great for detoxing. It’s sweet and tasty, but very low calorie and with no added sugar.
- Make a big pitcher of Fruit Infused Detox Water to sip on throughout the day. This Cranberry Detox Drink is tasty too!
- End the day with a hot cup of tea. Lavender Tea is calming. You can also try our Dandelion Root Tea which supports liver detox.
- If you’re used to sugary beverages, try making some healthier swaps. Get flavored sparkling water instead of soda, and make your coffee creamy and sweet with a few drops of stevia and some warm oat milk.
Step 3: Nourish
- Fill up on colorful, fresh foods and plenty of veggies, protein, fiber, and healthy fats like avocados. Buddha Bowls and Soups always make me feel good. Ensuring you’re getting enough nutrition, vitamins, and minerals can help curb cravings.
- Snack on fresh fruit. Naturally sweet, fruit can help satisfy sugar cravings.
- Try this Chocolate Maca Smoothie that tastes like a chocolate shake and may support hormone balance.
- There’s no need to feel deprived while avoiding added sugar. A couple of squares of dark chocolate or a homemade Bliss Ball can really help curb cravings.
Step 4: Move
Exercise is your friend. If you’re detoxing from sugar and not feeling great, don’t stress about getting in an intense workout. A gentle walk will improve your mood by releasing endorphins.
Step 5: Embrace a Gratitude Mindset
It’s very difficult to replace a bad habit with a healthier lifestyle choice if we don’t enjoy it. You can retrain your palate to enjoy healthier foods you may not have liked in the past. Get excited about feeling better and taking better care of yourself!
I find meditation to be a useful tool in changing subconscious thought patterns and breaking unwanted habits.
At the height of my unhealthy relationship with food, I thought of food in a negative way. I was so obsessed with it, that I would not even eat a banana, because it had “too many carbs and too much sugar.”
When I changed my perspective to understanding that food is good, beautiful, nourishing, strengthening, things changed for the better. While I no longer crave or even really enjoy sugary foods, I feel no guilt about eating a few bites of cake (that’s all I want) on a birthday, or even a double scoop of gelato on vacation. I don’t believe in having any foods “off-limits” as we often want the things we cant have. It’s the forbidden fruit syndrome.
I started to think like an athlete. Rather than dieting and exercising, I started training and eating. Can you feel the difference? The former is restrictive, while the latter empowering.
Think, know, and feel this: “I feel best when I nourish my body and mind with whole foods. Sugar and processed foods make me feel sick, and I’m tired of feeling sick.”
If you feel out of control around sweets or crave them daily, I know how you feel. Breaking a sugar addiction can be hard at first, but follow my sugar detox tips and you’ll be on your way to freedom.
- Buddha Bowl
- Easy Falafel
- Choose a few of the recipes above to help you get through your sugar detox.
- Avoid refined sugars, but know that fruit is healthy. All of the beverages listed above are free of refined sugars and will greatly help if you're used to sugary beverages.
- Focus on nutrient-dense foods that nourish and rejuvenate, such as Buddha bowls, and big soups and salads.
- There's no need to feel deprived. If you find you're really craving a sweet treat at the end of the day, try one of our date-sweetened bliss balls or a little square of dark chocolate and a cup of tea.