My best quit sugar tips


She's happy because she's sugar-free

Well, I've been sugar-free for three-going-on-four-months now. I've posted about it before, here and here and here. For me, the process of coming off sugar wasn't as hard as I thought it would be (considering how much of a sugar junkie I was, this still surprises me). Staying off it has actually been easy. Yes, easy, because I just feel so damn good without it. I've had quite a bit of feedback from people wanting to learn more, wondering whether they should quit too, knowing they should quit too. So I thought I'd share how I did it, and a few tips:

I quit cold turkey. Because I'm an all-or-nothing kinda person. This is how I did it:

1. For the first three weeks I ate nothing sweet:
  • no lollies or chocolate etc (obviously)
  • no chutneys or sauces, or balsamic vinegar
  • no dried fruit
  • no fruit juice
  • no honey
  • no flavoured yoghurt
  • no chewing gum
  • no stevia or palm sugar or artificial sweeteners
  • no fruit. 

You need this time to be completely devoid of anything sweet. It allows your tastebuds to reset their 'sweetness gauge'. I tell you, it worked. By week two everything was tasting sweeter to me, everything - milk, pumpkin, nuts, eggs! After the initial three-week period, I reintroduced fruit, up to two a day, mainly low-fructose fruits like berries and citrus.

2. I stuffed myself silly with vegetables, healthy fats and proteins. My aim was to fill up on healthy food so I'd have no room for anything else. Eating healthy fats and proteins helps enormously because these make you feel fuller for longer and curb sugar cravings. So I ate (and still eat) plenty of full-fat biodynamic yoghurt, real cheese, avocados, coconut oil, raw activated nuts, organic free-range eggs and loads of mushrooms.

3. I eliminated all white flour from my diet. That includes white pasta. White flour is basically like sugar to your body.

4. I ate leftover dinners for breakfast. Or cooked up a healthy omelette packed full of vegetables. Breakfast can be the trickiest time to avoid sugar (because it's in SO many breakfasty things like muesli, fruit juice, fruit bread etc). I found eating a proper meal for breakfast kept me feeling fuller for longer and helped eliminate any mid-morning sugar cravings.

5. I drank a lot of tea. God-damn I drank a lot of tea (unsweetened of course). Tea will become your friend. If you're strategic, it can help kick cravings (licorice root tea is good for that), but if nothing else it becomes a nice distracting ritual. Chai was my favourite (the spices in it impart a natural sweetness).

6. I made smoothies with ingredients like full-cream biodynamic milk, raw cocao powder, avocado, banana, berries and heaps of coconut oil - tasty and filling.

7. I snacked on the most amazing raw cocao and coconut nut balls (recipe soon). They're filling and taste naturally sweet. But only if you've been sugar-free for a while!


Where I'm at  now:
  • I still eat all the things I mentioned above - healthy fats, loads of veggies (for breakkie lunch and dinner), nuts, yoghurt etc, no white flour (I've since eliminated all grains), two pieces of fruit a day.
  • I eat a teaspoonful of raw honey twice a week. Because I like it, and it's nutritious.
  • I still drink a lot of tea.
  • I don't get sugar cravings. Truly. They are gone. Completely.
  • I rarely (if ever) get afternoon slumps.
  • I'm no longer bloated. 
  • My head is clear and fuzz-free.

After three months, I feel like my addiction to sugar is well and truly broken. I've tested it a couple of times. And each time I've been able to 'just have a little bit', and be satisfied with that (seriously, it was a small square of dark chocolate both times).

For some, the idea of quitting sugar cold-turkey is mind-boggingly horrific. You don't have to do it this way. If you're more of a 'softly softly' sort of person, you'll find this e-book by writer and health coach Sarah Wilson insanely useful (and cheap, it's all of $15). In fact, anyone contemplating quitting sugar, cold-turkey and all, will find this book a real treat. I bought it one month into my sugar-free life. I was curious as to what it had to say about the whole game. It's a book I've turned to again and again for tips and recipe ideas. Wilson's e-book talks you through an 8-week plan for quitting sugar and provides plenty of tips and ideas for how to kick the cravings, what to do when you're eating out, how to explain it all to your mates at the pub (they will find you odd), and a super useful shopping list as well as sugar-free recipe ideas.

Whichever way you choose to go - cold-turkey or softly softly - now is as good a time as any to start the process. Christmas is coming. It's the perfect time to puzzle people with your composure in the face of the dessert table.

10 comments:

  1. That smoothie sounds deeelish! Might try this after i'm not longer addicted. I've been filling up on water, veges and fish - healthy food (and lots of it) keep me full and keeps the cravings at bay too.

    Haven't tried coconut oil before (I use the cold pressed stuff to cook with), might look into that. I'm assuming the health benefits are awesome..

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  2. Great tips! I have bought the eBook and am trying to work out best time to start my sugar free journey. By the way there is a breakfast cereal that is sugar free - it's called "the muesli" and is only has nuts, seeds & coconut (no fruit or added anything).

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  3. Question please: but did you eat whole grains? Steel cut oats? I want to quit sugar:) I don't know where/how to start.

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    Replies
    1. Hello! Sorry for such a late reply. Most grains give me hideously painful bloating, so I generally avoid them. Carbs in general can be very addictive. The more you eat them, the more you crave them. And given carby-grainy products (like cakes and muffins) are common vehicles for sugar, it is easier to quit sugar when you also avoid grains. I occassionally have oats and bread made with good quality flour, but I soak them first. I intend on doing a whole post on how to properly eat grains. Meanwhile, I recommend you read Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, which includes all the info you need to know about grains and how to eat them properly, to avoid bloating and get maximum nutrition out of them. Matthew Evans' book The Real Food Companion also includes a very informative section on grains. Link to my reviews of these books here: http://econest.blogspot.com.au/search/label/My%20Bookshelf

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  4. Our body somehow still needs sugar but we must consume sugar the lesser as we can. Going to sugar-free diet is not an easy thing, but we can do it slowly, we can still add sugar to the food we eat. Decreasing the amount eventually then to the part where we don't need sugar anymore.

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  5. Hi, thanks for that gr8 info. I keep trying to quit sugar, scary as to how addicted I am! I'm an all or nothing type of person, so trying to do it slowly doesn't work! I tend to want to binge if I have just a little! Sugar is literally making me ill, plays havoc wth my mind and emotions, I know what I need to do, but eish, the first 3 or 4 days are the worst! I also find that I have success when I have nothing remotely sweet for the first few weeks ~ it does work. Pse, when u get a mo' would love that raw cacao and coconut recipe. Many thanks & well done. Brenda

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    Replies
    1. Hi Brenda, I was the same, had to quit cold turkey and have NOTHING sweet for a few weeks. You can check out all my sugar-free treat recipes from this post here: http://econest.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/2-sugar-free-treats-to-make-your-weekend.html

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  6. I would love to try to reduce the quantity of sugar I consume too... I've got a set of sweet teeth and wonder if I can ever pull it off. Someday...
    Thanks for the great post.

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  7. In my mind the most effective step to quit sugar addiction is to be motivated along the journey to quit sugar and in my site http://quittingsugar.org/ i share my personal experience to quit sugar addiction .

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  8. great read, i been also off sugar more than a year now and never felt better. i do treat myself though once or twice a month for some sweet but healthy food like yogurt, dark chocolate or a small piece of cheesecake. i used to not have any sugar at all, but i learned that it is OK to satisfy your sweet cravings once in a while but maintain control at the same time. i agree that sugar is the culprit and it is disguised in so many forms. i prefer to eat veggies, fruits, and yes anything that is rich in protein to fill me up. i have also made efforts to make my own food and snacks so i know exactly what I am eating. there are a lot of recipes out there to try without sugar in it. :)

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