My Sugar Detox Diary

Written by contributor Tiffany Larson.

I‘ve gotten off to a good start on my green goals for 2012.   I’ve knocked the Oil-Cleansing Method off the list (and I’m loving it) and I’m working on cutting down the sugar in my diet.  We all have a sweet tooth.  But the more I read about sugar, the more I realize that it can’t be a part of my family’s diet on a regular basis.

I started my sugar-free diet on January 1 and by sugar-free, I don’t mean “sugar-free.”  My intent was to avoid all high-fructose corn syrup, white sugar, cane sugar, and the like.   No alternative sweeteners like Splenda or Stevia and I reduced my use of natural sweeteners, like honey, as well.  I was hoping my body would stop it’s daily craving for a sweet treat.

Day 1:  Run through our cupboard and refrigerator and find a few things with added sugar that I hadn’t thought of before like organic ketchup, bread and pretzels.  I write ‘find sugarless alternatives’ on my to-do list.

Day 2: After putting away the Christmas decorations and cleaning house, a Coke sounds so good.  Giving up on day 2 sounds pathetic.  I grab a glass of water instead.

Day 4: Our gracious dinner guests bring dessert.  Chocolate truffles. Somehow I resist.

Day 5:  Joe (my husband) gets out the ice cream and I can taste the chocolate peanut butter in my mouth. I remember that we are headed on vacation next month and I will be wearing a swimsuit daily.  I’ll take whatever motivation I can get.

frozen grapesPhoto by Courtbean
Days 6 – 8
: Most intense sugar cravings EVER. After trying multiple things, I find frozen grapes to calm the beast.

Days 9-13: Cravings were definitely down this week. I still had them every day, usually right after lunch but they didn’t last very long. I felt more alert in the mornings, even my husband commented on how energized I was for 6:30am.

Day 15: Made baked pumpkin oatmeal, forgoing the brown sugar normally called for in the recipe. No one noticed the difference.  Can’t believe I’ve been making it so long with a sweetener it never needed.

Day 17:  First day without sugar cravings.  Hurray!

Day 19:  Sugar cravings back.  After lunch, as usual.  More frozen grapes. Tomorrow I’m going with apples and cinnamon.

Days 20-24: Victory, no sugar cravings this week but I’m beginning to realize just how much sugar I was eating every week, purely by noticing how many times I have to turn it down.  I’m in the homestretch, only 7 more days to go!

Day 28: I’m down 2 pounds, what a bonus!

Day 31: Can’t believe I made it. (Honestly, I didn’t know I had that much will power in me.) I celebrate with a chocolate hazelnut milkshake from a local restaurant that only makes them once a year.  I can’t decide if it’s a blessing or a curse but it’s TOO SWEET, I can’t even finish it.

Post Detox

After my celebratory milkshake, I can’t believe how quickly and effortlessly I got back into my routine of almost daily sugar use.  Apparently, I have willpower, but not a lot of it.

After some reflection, I realized that while all or nothing was a good start, it’s not a long term approach for me.  A 30 day fast, if you will, was a great way to see how my body reacted to less sugar:  less highs and lows during the day, a palate that can be genuinely pleased with fruit and a happier digestive system (I’ll spare you the details). 

I’ve decided to continue my sugar detox but on slightly different terms:

  • continue to replace products that have sugar by buying something different or making my own
  • establish a number of days per week or per month that I’ll have conventional sugars – I’ve found it to be available so regularly that if I don’t establish some rules for myself, I’ll eat more than I should
  • make sweet treats for our family using natural sweeteners – I’m starting with the recipes in Smart Sweets, an eBook by SO contributor, Katie Kimball

For further reading, several of the Simple Organic contributors have written about using less sugar and sugar alternatives:

Is sugar a weakness for you? I’d love to hear your personal ‘rules’ for sugar consumption. What kind of sweeteners do you use? Please share your favorite recipes that use natural sweeteners.

About Tiffany

Tiffany can’t remember a day of her childhood spent inside. She was riding bikes, rollerblading, building forts or playing in the snow. Her mother raised her on healthy food before it became popular and only when she had her first child, did the importance of a healthy lifestyle become a priority again. She is passionate about passing on her love for the outdoors and a healthy lifestyle to her two young children and her family spends their free time on the snow, water, dirt or road! She also loves interior design, reading, playing tennis, photography and has a small obsession with coupons. Tiffany can be found on Facebook at Mommy Goes Green and as a contributor at The Creative Mama

Comments

  1. I almost always crave sugar right after lunch too. I think it’s because I’ve gotten into the habit of letting myself have a treat when my daughter goes down for her nap. So this week I’ve been allowing myself a small amount of dark chocolate during nap time and avoiding sweets for the rest of the day.
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  2. My hubby and I are crazy addicted to sugar right now. I had a family member who started making yogurt, and that completely killed their sugar addiction. I guess something in the yogurt kills the yeast that feed on sugar? I’m no scientist, so maybe I got that completely wrong, lol, but it makes sense to me! Now I need to try it ASAP. :)
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  3. Sugar is my biggest weakness. Especially in my coffee. I have tried everything else and nothing works but plain old white sugar. I don’t think I would ever even consider a sugar detox because I know I would be right back on the stuff.
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  4. I gave up adding sugar to my tea, soda, candy and desserts for Lent. I, too, did not realize how much sugar I consume throughout the day. The office is overflowing with candy jars, I nibble left and right at home, I add probably an 1/8 cup of sugar to my tea. I decided not to tackle processed foods but am trying to make better choices when I have options. I’m beginning week three today and commented to my husband this morning that I’ve felt really good the past couple mornings when the alarm went off at 5:30a and I wondered if it had to do with less sugar. Thanks for confirming it.

  5. I noticed that when I started baking my own desserts and such I would use less sugar than the recipe called for. And now, I find that getting a dessert out, or even a coffee from starbucks, is way too sweet for me. I try not to keep the sweet stuff in the house (much to my husband’s disappointment), and that seems to help me quite a bit. I used to be a sugar hound, but after a couple years of seriously reducing my usage, and not eating out nearly as much, I have a more balanced approach. It is hard though to initially get away from it.
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  6. We don’t struggle with sugar addiction but years ago, when nursing, and especially in the year after a child was born, I craved sugar. I think it was a combination of lack of sleep and lack of protein that caused it for me. We limit sugar consumption but still make treats with honey (or sometimes organic sugar) but always cut the sugar of any recipe in half, at least. I enjoy a fancy coffee on occasion and usually ask for “half sweet” or it is gross to me. I do eat a few little squares of dark chocolate a few times/wk but I don’t think it is the sugar I am looking for so much as the mouth feel/cocoa and the sense that I’m pampering myself :)

    My youngest did crave sugar really badly but it was because she was allergic to yeast. People with allergies to yeast, sugar, alcohol (all related) will often crave the very thing that harms themselves – a vicious cycle. Something for readers to consider if they don’t seem able to curb the cravings “conventionally”.
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    • Tiffany says:

      My oldest LOVES sweets, we are constantly having to control her intake. I should read more about yeast allergies. Thank you Kika!

  7. I have cut out refined sugar from my diet and now only use Sucanat, raw honey, and maple syrup, and sometimes Stevia for a drink or something. I don’t buy much processed food but I try not to worry about the sugar in my occasional bread slice or condiments. I gave up all forms of sugar (except fruit) for Lent and I’m almost 8 months pregnant! If I can do it, anyone can :) I think when Lent is over I will do sugar once a week and make a fun dessert or ice cream to enjoy. I have to have a pb banana smoothie with almond milk around 3 pm though! It get me through the craving/munchies lull. And prunes are actually really sweet and tasty too. close you eyes and it’s almost like chocolate! Almost…. My 2 year old NEEDS a sugar fix after her nap but we’re slowly working our way down from Nutella to a homemade baked sweet or graham crackers.

  8. This is great – good for you for sticking to it for a month. I’d love to do the same but I’m afraid of failure (how cliche! but true…)

    I am focusing right now on replacing sugar in my days with natural alternatives (we use lots of honey and maple syrup) – like honey in my morning tea instead of sugar. The flavour difference is taking some getting used to, but I’m determined to acquire the taste. I also have stopped using sugar in baking and cooking. It’s just the little things that get me – like in my tea, ketchup, my dark chocolate, etc.

    I just blogged a recipe for no-bake grain-free/refined-sugar-free/dairy-free cookies – they are coconut chocolate macaroons, and they are so delicious and indulgent. Lots of honey in them, so they are a treat… but they are a pretty healthy one, especially because of the coconut oil.

    http://redandhoney.com/2012/03/no-bake-chocolate-coconut-macaroons-recipe-free-of-dairy-grains-and-refined-sugar-but-not-awesomeness/

  9. I started the process of weaning out of my sugar cravings in grad school, and found very quickly that sugar cravings feed on sugar. If I allowed myself something really sweet, I craved more sweet stuff; but when I ate less sweet stuff I didn’t crave sweets. Now, 8 years later I rarely have a craving for anything really sweet. That’s not to say that I don’t have sweet cravings, or enjoy a sweet treat at work occasionally, but the magnitude of sweet that I desire is greatly reduced. In fact many things like cookies, cake, or donuts, are unbearable without a cup of hot tea to cut the sweetness. And like Kika, when I bake at home I use a fraction of the sugar and no one seems to mind.
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  10. Hah! I read this as I ate a bowl of ice cream after lunch (and during my son’s nap time.) I cut a bunch of sugar out of my diet at the beginning of the year but I’ve recently slipped and let it back in. I’ve found the all or none approach works best for me vs. the limited amounts. In other words I do better with no brownies vs. baking a batch and then trying to limit myself to just one. Thanks for the reminder that I feel better when my sugar comes from fruit instead of baked goods.

  11. We have been on a couple of fruit and veggie only diets, including a few days of only juicing, and was able to kick the sugar cravings then. We are now back to eating “regular” food, although we are working to clean our diet up as much as possible, and reducing our processed foods to almost nothing. Except for some occasional junk. And the sugar cravings are back :b
    Bernice @ The Stressed Mom´s latest post: Sometimes you should say Yes

  12. I commend you. Not only for making it 30 days, but also for your honesty about how easy it was to fall back into old routines. Sounds just like me. Back and forth on the sugar issue. It’s addictive- genuinely addictive. The first time I tried reducing my consumption I gave up my daily chocolate and late night cookie dough, since those probably were 50% of my sugar intake alone. On day three or so, my husband was ready to shove chocolate down my throat I was so crabby from wihdrawals. I have permanently kicked the daily chocolate bar and nightly cookie dough binge (maybe two binges in the last year and I too have found that I can’t finish as much as I used to because it tastes abnormally sweet) but I haven’t made it any further in my quest to reduce sugar consumption. This has been inspiring to try again and push through those cravings a little harder! Thanks!

  13. Curious as to why you nixed the stevia but allowed some natural sweeteners? Was it just to get your taste buds used to eating things less sweetened? In school, I have learned that’s the only problem with stevia — is that using it doesn’t help one get rid of a sweet tooth. I’m a stevia addict though, but I can’t have any other natural sweeteners (or much of them) due to blood sugar issues.
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  14. i try to make everything myself and not buy anything pre-packaged. (pretty much EVERYTHING pre-packaged has added sugar) that said, i don’t keep white sugar in the house at all. we use rapadura, grade b maple syrup, molasses, and raw honey as our sweeteners when we need them. i even try to use a bit less sweetener in most recipes if i can get away with it – ie. i don’t add any sweetener to smoothies but just let the fruit sweeten.

    that said, i do get a sweet tooth for chocolate and will have a small handful of them for a treat once in a while. i also love dark chocolate. i weaned myself off milk chocolate because i knew dark chocolate had less sugar and no dairy and was better for me. now i love all different dark chocolates and just have a square or two. i also make homemade chocolate chip oatmeal cookies that i have perfected with pastry wheat and rapadura (and the eggs from our backyard hens). those are my splurges!

    now i love it! when and if i drink coffee, it is only with cream in it. (had to wean that one back) or, the occasional latte i may add 1 pump of a syrup (the default at places like starbucks is 4 pumps!).

    i definitely don’t want to be a psycho about it, so i do let my kids have candy and treats at birthday parties and relatives houses, but i try to have them do even that in moderation instead of going crazy.

    i understand the post-pardum sugar cravings. i have them every time and usually give myself more room to indulge because i am so tired with a newborn. my favorite indulgence that i haven’t figure out a “better for you” recipe for is shortbread. mmmm. if anyone can help with that one, i would LOVE the recipe!
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  15. Wow! I must say, I am impressed. Sugar is such a tough one to quit, especially when you can find sugar in just about everything. I probably take in more sugar than I should, although I hope the quality is better. I use raw, organic honey, raw agave, and organic evaporated cane sugar in my kitchen.
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  16. Congrats and good luck. With determination, you can always make it. I know its hard because when my dietitian put me on a similar regime, I almost thought everything had come to an end for me because for the past 20 years I had lived on sugar-based foods but I finally made it.

  17. What a great challenge Tiffany! It is rather difficult to eliminate sugar if you do any shopping in grocery stores – it is everywhere. I can’t say I have a huge sweet tooth to the point where I crave it, but if there are baked goods around I have to have ‘em – so that I’m helping prevent the rest of the family from having too much sugar of course. :) I too usually bake with much less sugar than is asked for and I pretty much gave up pop when I was active in sports as a kid, but I would love to have much less sugar around the house for the fam. It is a difficult thing to give up though.
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  18. I am currently doing “no sugar” for the month of March. I cut out soda for the month of February, so that has helped my sugar cravings this month a little bit. I am focusing on no treats. I allow a little sugar with breakfast if I have oatmeal or yogurt that has sugar in it. And I allowed one dessert last weekend for a special occasion. I have similar concerns about the all-or-nothing approach. I wish I could be better at “just one cookie” or whatever treat it is. But, having one usually leads to having two or three or …

  19. Hi, Tiffany! I need to start a low-carb diet and I just keep postponing the whole ‘project’ because I know how difficult the first few days will be. The sugar craving is insane when you want to take (almost) all carbs out of your menu….For me it all calms down in about a week, but I need all the tips and tricks I can get for that first wee. I’ll try this frozen grapes tip, sounds good, thanks! And Congrats :)
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  20. You should feel really great about your accomplishment! It’s not easy at all to get rid of sugar in our diet. I couldn’t last very long without something sweet — BUT — I do a lot of from-scratch baking which allows me and my family to avoid yucky chemicals in processed foods, but also I reduce the amount and use alternatives to the sugar called for in a recipe (honey and mollasses mostly). I freeze everything from cookies to muffins to fruit bread slices which means breakfasts, lunches, snacks, etc are super easy to fix.

    I’m very much like you and I CRAVE sweet. Usually because my blood sugar is off (hypoglycemic). I do my best (and usually succeed) to steer myself towards fruit (apple and cinnamon are my fav), or a homemade fruit popsicle… protein like PB really helps too.

    Good luck on your quest to keep up the reduced sugar :)

  21. Oh Sheesh. Thanks for reminding me that I need to update MY 30 day sugar free fast postings with EPIC FAIL. Somehow I have been able to ‘forget’ telling my friends I quit. Nice to see your struggles…thanks for the resources too!

  22. Oh Sheesh. Thanks for reminding me that I need to update MY 30 day sugar free fast postings with EPIC FAIL. Somehow I have been able to ‘forget’ telling my friends I quit. Nice to see your struggles…thanks for the resources too!
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  23. Corinne says:

    I started my sugar detox just recently and it was very hard. I attempted about a year ago. I was sitting on the couch, thinking about that hostess chocolate cupcake in the drawer and after 5 resisting attempts, I jumped up, opened the drawer, tore off the wrapper and proceeded to cover it with whipped cream from the fridge! This time, my motivation was detoxing my body and strengthening it. When I get a craving, I make some tea, sometimes I add honey or agave nectar or sometimes it’s plain, sipping on something, seems to help me forget. Every once in a great while, I will treat myself to a frappuccino because it is nice for you to reward yourself and not constantly be fighting yourself with stress. I recently started adding lemon or lime (I prefer lemon) to my water. We have a lemon tree and there is no comparison to store bought lemons (yuk), but they are a little sweet, have lots of vit C and neutralize and detox your body, the tartness and kind of sweetness helps me hydrate all day and I feel like I am getting some flavor to where I don’t crave as much. When in doubt, think of the benefits of skipping that doughnut and find something healthy to eat, this will keep you busy with eating that it will distract you a little from the nasty processed sugar.

  24. subduedjoy says:

    I was extremely addictive to sugar to the point that my body was hurting from it, but I just kept on eating it. Finally, after having multiple infections and inflammations at the same time, I went on the 21-day sugar detox diet. I’m on day eight. The first three days, I was so hungry. At least I thought I was hungry. In reality, I was just craving sugar. I was also very stressed out and getting mad easily. I’m feeling a lot better now. No more huge sugar cravings. However, I was planning to limit my sugar consumption instead of avoiding it completely after the detox. Now I’m scared that if I have a piece of birthday cake or bowl of ice cream, I’ll go back to craving sugar.

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