Sugar is probably America’s favorite addictive substance. It’s no secret that Americans regularly consume an excess amount of sugar, and this has led to increased rates of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. More recently, however, low-carb and low sugar diets (like the ketogenic diet) have risen to popularity, causing people to drastically cut their sugar intake. We’re not saying this is a bad thing, but reducing the amount of sugar in your diet can cause withdrawal symptoms.
The Presence Of Sugar In Your Diet
Sugar is tricky because so many natural sugars that exist in fruits and vegetables are beneficial for your health. When it comes to sugar, however, nutritionists often discuss why you should eliminate the refined or added sugars (think bread, soda, or processed foods) from your diet. These sugars include high fructose corn syrup, table sugar, or artificial sweeteners like aspartame. When you eat these foods, you trigger the release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that controls the reward centers in the brain. As your sugar tolerance builds, you have to consume more sugary foods to yield the same sensation of pleasure. This can lead you down the path of sugar addiction, even if you are unaware of how it controls your taste buds and behavior.
Cutting sugar from your diet can lead to some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including migraines, fatigue, and bloating, just to name a few. You shouldn’t let these symptoms block your path toward a healthier diet and lifestyle. There are several steps you can take to beat these symptoms and overcome sugar withdrawal with ease.
Identifying The Symptoms Of Sugar Withdrawal
Detoxing from sugar can induce unpleasant physical and mental symptoms, and each person can react differently to the absence of sugar in his or her diet. The severity of the symptoms typically depends on how much sugar you were regularly consuming, and for how long you consumed it. Symptoms can worsen at certain times of the day and you may find that stress can trigger or worsen symptoms.
Eliminating sugar from your diet can cause different mental or emotional symptoms. Depression, anxiety, difficulty focusing, sleep troubles, nervousness, and irritability are all common when you eliminate sugar from your diet.
As far as physical symptoms go, headache is the most common sign of detoxing from sugar. It is also possible for you to feel lazy, dizzy, nauseous, fatigued, or experience cravings for other foods like bread, pasta, and chips.
The Cleveland Clinic says that you can break your sugar addiction in 10 days! Let’s do it!
How To Beat The Symptoms
Quit Cold Turkey
You should cut sugar out of your diet as if you were ripping off a bandage. There’s no use in doing it slowly because it is more painful that way. Studies have shown that gradually eliminating sugar from your diet can make the symptoms stick around for a lot longer than they need to. Quitting sugar cold turkey can lead to more intense symptoms, but for a reduced amount of time. Cutting out sugar all at once can help your body become accustomed to living without it more quickly.
Increase Dietary Fiber
People who eliminate sugar from their diet commonly experience cravings for unhealthy foods. Keep yourself full between meals by eating foods that are rich in fiber. Not only does fiber help to stabilize blood sugar levels, but it also helps to keep you energized and full, avoiding symptoms like nausea or headaches. Several high-fiber foods include legumes, vegetables, and nuts and seeds.
If your stomach continues to growl throughout the day, chances are that you aren’t drinking enough water. Drinking a glass of high quality H20 often solves this uncomfortable feeling. Thirst can be confused with hunger, so keep yourself hydrated to squash any unhealthy cravings that may arise. If you want a sugary bar or dessert, drink a glass of water first and wait 30 minutes to see if you really wanted it or if you were just thirsty.
Eat More Protein
Reduce your cravings for sugary foods by adding more protein to your diet. You don’t have to go out and become a savage carnivore because many plant-based foods contain lots of protein. Click here to see which plant-based foods have high protein content. More protein in your diet helps to decrease levels of ghrelin, which is the hunger hormone, and protein helps maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Since you will most likely be a little frustrated that you can’t consume sugar anymore, blow off that steam in the form of exercise. Not only does exercise help to reduce stress, but it also works to combat fatigue and stress-induced cravings. A 2015 study found that short bouts of moderate exercise helped to reduce sugar cravings.
Eat Bitter Foods
Shut down your sugar cravings by eating bitter foods. These foods will shut down the receptors in the brain that crave sugar. Bitter foods like arugula, kale, radicchio, watercress, endive, dandelion, frisee, bitter melon, seaweed, miso paste, and broccoli help regulate blood sugar levels and curb the symptoms of a sugar detox.