Sugar withdrawals aren’t just something people say they suffer from because of a lack of chocolate. They’re very real. In fact, sugar is one of the most addictive substances in the world. Refined sugar isn’t a necessary nutrient for the body. Natural sugars can offer some benefit when mixed with other nutrients, but refined sugars will increase the glucose levels and can lead to major health problems.
You know that you need to cut down or cut out the amount of refined sugar you eat. The problem is the sugar withdrawals that you suffer from. The symptoms are like any other withdrawal symptoms, and it can feel like you’re coming down from a drug.
The great news is many people have dealt with and overcome sugar withdrawals. You can do it too. Here is your ultimate guide on dealing with sugar withdrawals, so you can successful cut sugar out of your life.
Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms Explained
You will get a range of sugar withdrawal symptoms. Knowing what you should look out for will help you fight against them. Over time you will feel the withdrawal symptoms lessen and disappear. You’ll feel great for fighting against them. You can have a mixture of the symptoms depending on the amount of refined sugar you ate on a regular basis.
The symptoms will also depend on the time you’ve spent eating sugar. If you’ve grown up eating nothing but cake and chocolates, you’ll find the symptoms are much more intense than if you’ve just spent the last week or so consuming a lot of chocolate.
Some symptoms can mimic mental issues, including depression and anxiety. This is often due to the body suffering from the change. It doesn’t know when it’s going to get its next fix. You can get headaches and suffer from shakes and cravings. Your body wants what it’s been used to and will make you think of nothing but it for a while. Remember that sugar is like a drug. It does the same as hard drugs, alcohol, and more.
You’ll feel tired and dizzy at first. Some people suffer from serious mood changes and are extremely irritable at first. You may even notice changes to your sleep patterns and some weight loss.
Now that you know what to expect, it’s time to learn the best ways to tackle your symptoms.
Start by Trying to Deal with the Withdrawals
Accepting that you may have sugar withdrawals is one of the best ways to tackle them. If you try to hide or ignore the fact that they will happen, you will find it hard to tackle everything that is happening to your body.
You’ll also need to try to deal with them. Many people go in thinking that giving up chocolate will be easy. Then they start craving more and suffering from mood swings and tiredness. It can often seem much easier just to give in and go back to eating all the sugar you used to.
It’s important to know what the refined sugar is doing to your body. It breaks down into blood sugar (glucose). Your body will then get an alert to release insulin to control the levels of glucose in the bloodstream. That sudden rush of energy you had will deplete instantly, and you’re left with what’s known as a sugar crash. You get a craving to eat more sugar to boost your energy levels again.
Of course, your body will become resistant to the insulin. After a while, you need to release more insulin to tackle the same levels of glucose. This can lead to health problems, including Type II diabetes.
Refined sugars offer absolutely no nutrients. While your body is dealing with the sugar, it can’t breakdown the calories that you’ve consumed. You end up storing more calories, which don’t get used later. This leads to you gaining weight!
You’ll be surprised at where sugar is added. Manufacturers don’t have to make a note of added sugar, although many will now market foods that have “no added sugar.” It’s important to learn how to read the nutritional guidelines, so you can watch out for hidden sugars and avoid feeding your sugar cravings unsuspectingly.
Foods with natural sugars can be good for you, but not all are. For example, oranges, apples, and other fruits are good for you with the fiber. However, you don’t want to consume too much orange juice, apple juice, and others. When you juice, you get rid of the fiber and release the sugars. Rather than breaking down slowly with the fiber, the natural sugars are released into your bloodstream and cause the same response as refined sugars.
When you try to overcome the withdrawals, you will find it easier to tackle the symptoms. Note that this just means easier. This isn’t going to be something you can overcome in a day. It takes ongoing persistence to overcome the sugar withdrawal symptoms.
Don’t Opt for the Cold Turkey Method
Unlike hard drugs and alcohol, many doctors and dieticians will recommend that you don’t opt for the cold turkey method to cut down on a number of refined sugars you eat. In fact, some dieticians don’t recommend that you completely cut out refined sugars from your diet. They want you to cut down to the point where you only eat refined sugars one day a week (and just one meal) or less.
If you cut out sugar completely, you will feel the withdrawal symptoms more. The cravings will be intense, and you’ll focus more on the next time you can eat sugar. If you say that you can never have it again, the depression and anxiety can get worse.
It’s best to cut down slowly. You’ll notice the symptoms less, and you’ll find it much easier to cut back to barely eating any refined sugar in your diet. There’s a positive feeling around cutting back on sugar, meaning you are more likely to stick with the plan.
There are a few ways that you can cut back. You can start with a day a week where you go completely sugar-free. The rest of the six days you can still eat some, but you may cut back to just having refined sugar once a day. Your body knows when you’re getting something, so it’s less anxious. You’ll be able to take control, so you feel good, and your body doesn’t react in uproar against you.
You can also dilute some of your drinks. Add water to your fruit juice, so you get the taste of sugar, but you don’t get as much in one sitting. As time goes on, you can replace the sugary juice with something that’s healthier.
Switch for Healthier but Sweet Alternatives
Remember that not all sugars are bad for you. Natural sugars can be good, if they’re consumed moderately and healthily. They are certainly better than refined sugars, with many offering other nutritional benefits.
You’ll be surprised at the way your body reacts. By getting natural sugars, you get the sweet taste. It’s possible to trick the body into thinking that you’re taking in the sugar without doing the damage. Over time you can change your taste buds, so the refined sugars taste too sweet.
Fruit is one of the best alternatives when looking at overcoming your sugar withdrawals. The fiber will prevent the glucose spike, while you get vitamins and antioxidants to support your overall health. Opt for an apple, some strawberries, or even grapes instead of the chocolate bar.
But it’s not all about sugar. You can opt for chocolate desserts, but they’re made without the refined sugar. For example, dark chocolate has less sugar but still tastes sweet. Cocoa powder can also be an excellent alternative, making you feel like your treat is naughty and nice when it’s healthier than other dessert options.
When your body thinks it’s getting the sugary stuff, it will stop making you crave sweet stuff. You’ll also overcome the depression and anxiety symptoms, as you’ll make your brain think you’re feeding the craving. Likewise, you’ll give yourself the energy to get through the day, which supports the mental health considerably.
Make sure you stock up on these healthier alternatives. Keep an eye out for dessert and snack recipes to try and have them at your disposal. There’s nothing worse than knowing about the healthier alternatives but not having them available to help deal with your sugar withdrawals.
Keep a Journal of Your Journey
There are times that you’ll find it almost impossible to stick to your new lifestyle. This is perfectly normal and something that absolutely everyone goes through. Those who tell you they don’t either weren’t addicted to the sugar in the first place or are lying to you.
Many people find it much easier to keep a journal while they’re going through changes to their lifestyle. They can keep track of everything they eat, the amount of refined sugar they enjoy, and the feelings they get daily. You can jot down the days that you find it almost impossible to stick to the change in lifestyle.
This is also a good way to get down your depressive and anxious thoughts. You can list the symptoms you’re struggling with and be honest with yourself about the journey. Make a note when you’ve given into the cravings and share how you’ve overcome the problems of the day.
The next time you struggle to get through a day, you’ll be able to look back over your journal and gain inspiration and tips. You’ll also document your journey to see just how far you’ve come.
Take Your Mind Off the Problem
Sometimes you just need to get your mind off the thought of sugar withdrawal. Keeping your mind on the situation will just lead to you constantly wishing you had some of the sweet stuff. You’ll keep checking the fridge and the cupboards for anything that can get feed the cravings and then be annoyed and depressed that you can’t find anything.
It’s important to find some way to take your mind off the situation. Most of the cravings are due to boredom, so find a way to prevent yourself feeling bored.
If you get cravings while watching TV, then find something to do while you watch your favorite program. Many people share that they take up knitting or crocheting to get over their cravings. The actions keep their hands busy while they watch TV.
Alternatively, you could take up blogging about your journey to help others, drawing to keep your hands and mind busy, or even exercise.
In fact, exercise is one of the best options to get rid of the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. You help your brain release happy hormones to take over the depression and mood swings. You’ll also get a boost of energy when you’re exercising, which will make you feel like you’ve had a bout withsugar.
Exercise is also effective for reducing stress, alleviating headaches and sickness, and will also help you burn more calories. You’re also supporting your healthy lifestyle by building muscles and supporting your heart and lungs.
Try taking up an exercise that you enjoy. Go to a fitness class to meet others or opt for an activity you can do with a friend. You’ll be surprised at how fun it is and how much easier it will be to stick to your plan.
Eat Small Meals Regularly
One of the reasons we get sugar cravings is because our blood sugar levels drop. This can lead to tremors and shakiness, and you just want something that will pull the levels up. Of course, this usually means looking for something quick and easy.
It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels regulated. If you prevent them from dropping, you’ll find the sugar withdrawals much easier to deal with. The best way to do this is through eating small meals on a regular basis. Scrap the idea of three large meals and two snacks. Opt for five or six small meals throughout the day. Eat every three or four hours to help keep your energy levels supported.
You’ll also want to look the type of food you eat. Stop opting for the high carb foods. You want meals that are full of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. These three food groups break down slowly, keeping you satisfied for longer. If you’re going to eat carbs, opt for complex and starchy ones. It’s time to stock up on whole grains, root vegetables (including potatoes), and fruits.
Make Sure You Get Enough Zzzz
Sleep is essential with any dietary changes. When you cut down on the sugar you eat, you’ll find that your sleeping patterns are likely to change. Your mental health takes a bit of a hit, which can lead to more stress hormones in your body. It’s important to tackle the stress hormones and all the other negative aspects of a switching to a healthy diet. Sleep is one of the best things for you.
When you sleep, you will give your body the energy regeneration it needs. If we don’t get enough sleep, we tend to crave the foods that will give us quick boosts, which means carbs and refined sugars. If we get enough, our cravings are minimised.
Adults need between six and eight hours a night. You’ll find the amount of sleep that is optimal for you. It’s essential that you set a schedule. Make sure you go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Your body clock will get used to this, and you’ll find it much easier to get the sleep that you need.
It’s Time to Fight Against Your Sugar Withdrawals
Sugar withdrawal symptoms are completely normal. Don’t think of yourself as weak because you have them, but don’t give into them either. You can get over the withdrawals with persistence and a plan of attack. Make sure you go into your new lifestyle with ways to counter the sugar cravings that you will get.
Feeding your body the right nutrients is essential. You lower your risk of health problems, and you will find it easier to deal with withdrawal symptoms. You’re ready for the symptoms and will have alternative fuel sources to keep your energy levels up. After a few weeks, you’ll wonder what the issue was after all!