Ten Reasons to Quit Sugar and How To Do It.
We’ve all heard it- sugar it bad. Most of us, though, eat it anyway and eat it with abandon. A few years ago I started my journey to living my best life through nutrition that works for my body, exercise, and self-care. I began really looking into refined sugar and the way it effects the body and decided I needed to cut out my gummy bear habit and clean up my act. I needed to break up with sugar. I want to tell you how I did it and encourage you to do the same. I know, I know. Coffee creamer and Mt. Dew are LIFE but we gotta grow up, y’all. We can do hard things.
Let’s start out with a few “Whys.”
Here are the top ten reasons you should cut refined sugar and processed foods containing sugar out of your life (or save it for the very occasional treat.)
- WEIGHT GAIN- Look, I’m the first to tell you that if you’re feeding your body only nutritious food and hydrating properly, the current force of gravitational pull on you body resulting in a number on a scale doesn’t matter. Here’s the but…. If you are consuming sugar daily, and it’s causing weight gain, that’s really really bad for you. Especially if you’re drinking your sugar. Drinking sugar actually causes you to crave other (salty or sweet) foods and puts you in an endless indulgence cycle. Also, sugar increases visceral fat, the deep belly fat that is so stubborn and difficult to get rid of.
- HEART DISEASE- As In, the #1 killer of women. In a nutshell, sugar leads to obesity, inflammation, high triglycerides, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure. All of these things lead to heart disease.
- ACNE- “Oh it’s my hormones.” I claim this all the time when it comes to my breakouts, but in all honesty, sometimes it’s probably sugar. I tend to fall off the wagon around candy centered holidays….. basically, all the holidays. It never fails, my clear skin is the first thing to go. Sugar spikes blood sugar and insulin, increases oil production, and causes inflammation. All acne triggers.
- TYPE 2 DIABETES- Sugar increases insulin resistance and increases your risk of type 2 diabetes.
- SUGAR FEEDS CANCER- Again, sugar feeds obesity. Sugar increases inflammation. These things increase your risk of cancer.
- INCREASED DEPRESSION- This has been a big game changer for me. My days are so much brighter now that I reserve sugar for a special treat rather than incorporating it into my daily diet.
- ACCELERATES SKIN AGING- Check out this article
- ACCELERATES CELLULAR AGING
- DRAINS YOUR ENERGY- Spike and crash, spike and crash…. That’s no way to live your life. The surge from refined sugar makes your system haywire.
- BAD TEETH, BAD KIDNEYS, ACCELERATED COGNITIVE DECLINE…
You get the point now, right? It’s not worth it. I’m not asking you to go to crazy extremes. I’m not talking about weight loss here. I’m not teaching you a diet. I am talking to you about a small change you can make that can have a huge impact on your health.
To me, avoiding sugar doesn’t mean avoiding fruit. Let’s not go crazy. Sugar that occurs naturally in food also contains water, fiber, and other nutrients. As far as breaking up with sugar goes, these are fine by me! Eat your blueberries, just not in a poundcake. Avoid processed sugars and high fructose corn syrup for sure. Have your carbs, as long as they are in a fruit or vegetable. Again, I’m not talking about weight loss- I know carbs matter when trying to drop pounds, but I think you will be surprised what happens to your body when you just cut out the processed stuff.
Thinking right now that you can’t make it a day without sugar? Guess what! You’re an addict. Sugary food stimulates the same area of your brain as narcotics. Complete abstinence is the only way addicts overcome their addiction. Sugar can cause heart disease, acne, cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, wrinkles, and obesity. If you still feel you have to have it, you’re addicted.
Ok, now how to quit. Here’s my best advice.
- Go cold turkey for 30 days. I’m talking no added sugars, no artificial sugars, no fancy, natural sounding sugars. Cutting out all sugar for at least 30 days will kill your cravings the quickest and leave no room for temptation or interpretation. The first 72 hours are going to suck. Coming off sugar can be a lot like coming off drugs. You may have headaches, nausea, fatigue, muscle aches… You aren’t sick! You have the sugar flu. The only way to get over it is to get through it.
- Avoid processed foods that hide sugar. Flip over the package, if it doesn’t just say simple, easily recognized ingredients don’t eat it. You peanut butter should contain “peanuts” your rice cakes should contain “rice, salt.”
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. You have to. You’re training your taste buds and stopping a cycle. If your tongue can’t discern, your brain can’t either. Also look out for ‘fancy sugars’ like honey, molasses, organic cane sugar, coconut sugar, etc. It’s all just sugar.
- Drink water. Need fizz? Drink sparkling water. Don’t like water- just drink it until you do! Drink hot tea, iced unsweet tea (I’m bringing shame on my southern ancestors here, I know.) Drink coffee. Without creamer. Once I would have told you that’s impossible. Now, I prefer my coffee with a little oat milk or just black. I also just drink less coffee now. I think I was addicted to French Vanilla creamer.
- Be prepared to eat regularly. Know what you’re going to eat next and when. Don’t allow yourself to get hungry. When I’m starving, that’s when I am the most tempted to just grab a Snickers or something “just this one time.” Carry snack with you. I like to keep pistachios, RX Bars, almonds, etc. everywhere! In the car, in my office, anywhere I may get ‘hangry’ so I don’t end up making bad sugar choices.
- Don’t cheat. Not even once. If you do, start the 30 days over. You need the full thirty days to transform your thinking and start seeing the real effects of cutting sugar out of your life.
- Buddy up! Afraid you don’t have the willpower to go it alone? Challenge a friend to do it with you.
- Lastly, start now. Right now. Not Monday, not the first of the month, not at 8 am tomorrow. Start right now. You’ll get through the withdrawl quicker and you’ll see and feel the results quicker.
Within your first 30 days of quitting sugar, you’ll notice lots of changes. You’ll find that improved skin texture, more sustained energy, less belly fat, and an overall sense of well-being are all worth it in the in the end. I’m confident.
*I’m not an expert, I’m a Googler with real life experience. Please take all contained information with a grain of sugar and always check in with your doctor before making huge dietary and lifestyle changes willy nilly.