Sugar is linked to a variety of health concerns, from inflammation, heart health, diabetes + more. And by sugar, I mean added sugars. The ones found hidden in crackers, cured meats, bread, condiments and not so hidden in desserts, sodas, sports drinks, + candy. Even most nut milks on the shelves have added sugar. The bombardment of sugar in our diet gives us spikes of energy that lead to crashes later on. Those crashes are then satiated by sugar yet again. When we consume sugar, opioid and dopamine are released in the brain, giving us a fabulous feeling! But, in time this occasional good feeling can become something we depend on. Like an addiction. For me, this addiction snuck up on me. I used to indulge in ice cream at night, sure, but I never drank soda or ate candy. But then slowly I said why not when someone offered me a soda. A few months later I was buying sodas for the house, as a treat. This treat turned into a routine. Ginger ale with dinner. Or a coke with lunch. The more stressed I became, the more I reached for sugar to calm me.
As someone who tries to eat of the earth foods, my secret treats here and there were becoming a daily habit. It just didn’t sit right with me to be relying on sugar for energy. I did not like craving sugar.
I have decided to cut refined sugar completely from my diet for 30 days.
For one, I am working through chronic stress and learning how to alleviate the triggers of that stress. The more stressed, the more likely I was to “treat myself” to something sugary sweet. Stress makes the slope slippery-er (don’t quote me on that word)! So the time came to completely cut sugar out to provide space in our relationship to re-evaluate it.
In addition to breaking my sugar habit, I will be working on balancing my my heavy and painful menstrual flow in July. My hope is that removing sugar is one less potential trigger or strain on my system, allowing for me to focus on my herbal support for regulating my menstrual cycle.
I also have Keratosis Pilaris on my legs, arms and cheeks. Despite my usual skincare routine being on point, my KP was flaring up like crazy. Only thing that changed? My sugar intake had increased drastically over the last few months.
I am not cutting out natural sugars from my diet, simply processed or refined sugars. Naturally occurring sugars are okay in my book, although I am staying mindful in how I consume them during this time. I’m also being cautious about how much honey I use. Replacing sugar with honey sometimes is okay, but the key point is to minimize my consumption of added sugars.
Another thing to note is consuming sugar with fat helps to cut the spike and crash experience often linked to sugar. I’ve increased the amount of oil that I cook with to help sustain me through the ups and downs of sugar withdrawal.
Scroll down for resources, food ideas, and a quick briefing on my personal experience. Special thanks to Chanelle of Moon by Moon Apothecary, Julia of Wheel house, Samara School of Community Herbalism, Rachel + Leah for some of the information provided below!
Yams, Beets, Mushrooms, Corn, Carrots, Dairy Most Nuts, Legumes, Seeds + Oils
Milky Oats, Astragalus, Marshmallow, Burdock, Ashwagandha, Cinnamon
Articles + Podcasts
These are a few sweet food ideas we tried these first few days of no sugar! I suppose they aren’t necessarily recipes, but meal ideas ;)
Brunch! Sweet Potatoes cooked in coconut oil with cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, topped with brown butter figs plucked right from the tree! Super yummy, easy, and filling. Add an egg for some protein
Banana “Ice Cream” 1 frozen banana, 1 ripe banana, two tablespoons of natural peanut butters, some honey + china seed. Add a splash of sugar free Cashew Milk and blend together until it’s a thick consistency. Add more milk if you’d like something wetter like a milk shake. Enough for two people.
Watermelon Juice Juice of a Watermelon. That easy. Watermelon is cooling, so this is the perfect sugary drink replacement. Pairs well with Hibiscus tea (also cooling). You do need a juicer for this.
Honey Lemonade Bring water to a soft boil, remove from heat. Add honey, roughly 1/2 to 2/3 of the amount of water you boiled. Lemon Juice and water. Everyone likes their lemonade a little different, so make it as you normally would. Add some mint for brightness.
Mayo Because store bought mayo has sugar! 1 room temp egg, 3/4 cup of vegetable oil, one tablespoon of good quality mustard ( we used a creole mustard ) 1 tsp of vinegar and a splash of lemon juice. Pulse in the small cup of your food processor. It will turn thick after a minute or so. Really yummy!
How I feel:
It’s day 5/30 without sugar. So far I have experienced a few signs of withdrawal. Lethargy, cravings, headache, and my legs falling asleep easier. I’ve taken two days so far, and I typically only take a nap one day a week on my day off. I also have been sleeping like a log. Last night I slept 11 hours. While a few days I woke up with a hangover feeling, water knocked it right off and the feeling didn’t linger. Another unexpected reaction though…
I am so gassy! My partner and I are both going sugar free, and we are both gassy. Bowel movements are normal and regular, but boy are we gassy!
So far, I feel pretty good about this decision. It’s definitely forced me to get back into the kitchen, which always feels great. I find the kitchen to be place of comfort and respite from the world. It’s my way to unwind, recenter and be present.
If you have resources related to sugar, please leave them in the comments!