How to quit Sugar: 9 non-messy ways for you to Sugar Detox without giving up ‘sweets’
First of all, if you’re here, CONGRATULATIONS! Because, you’ve ACTUALLY had the thought of giving up sugar crossing your mind 😀 Well, that’s a feat! Honestly, when a lot of my relatives & acquaintances were declaring their salvation from refined sugar, I couldn’t even think of reducing my share of sweets & sugar-loaded beverages (like milkshakes & Lassi), let alone quit sugar then!
Giving up what you love is hard. Isn’t it?
Specially when it’s your feel-good resort or ‘stress-buster’. Or is it?
Why I called it quits with Sugar
I didn’t grow up with a sweet tooth.
At least not until I was 20+ years old. It was during the humdrum of my engineering days that a couple of emotional battles began towering me with mild amounts of stress. And I somehow found comfort in binging over sweet condiments like there was no tomorrow. A series of chocolates, ready made fruit juices & aerated beverages, Indian sweets like the Kaju Katli, Doodh Pedha, pastries & even beseeching the Chaat guy for smothering my Sev Puri with those extra tablespoons of sweet chutney (mostly made with tamarind juice mixed with sugar/date syrup)!
This cycle of anxiety to seeking solace in sweets would have never let me quit sugar.
The worst part was that I never realized that it was getting addictive & it went on to become a very normal Hydra after marriage; with its tentacles invested in every emotion. Not just anxiety, but whether it were a celebration, a new job, random friends’ date, post lunch munch or even boredom. Sweets ALWAYS had to sneak in!
There were bouts of anxiety that inevitably morphed into constant stress & a highly negative imagery of myself. Though I’d face no inhibitions in presenting myself before a crowd or talking to them for hours, there’d still be a part of me that would feel gutted for no reason. I’d feel obscure even upon an accomplishment; always ready to look down on myself & worry endlessly about things that just didn’t matter. Panic attacks were common no matter how small or negligible the scale of my problem was.
An annoying problem I particularly noticed was how pathetically frail my memory was. So every time I had to insure it either with my husband or Mom in crazy ways (They still have their laughs at this BTW 😉 !)
So, here are 9 ways that helped ME quit sugar for good since this April. I’m still going strong & believe I’d ALWAYS BE! 😉
1. FEEL the need to do so
You cannot quit anything just because you see some people around doing so. Or even an influencer for that matter. Neither do I say that this post of mine is going to be THE EYEOPENER for you.
Because nothing can be shoved down your throat if you don’t realize for yourself what a mess you’ve been in!
I had this coming upon me only toward the end of this March when I realized I had suddenly piled up some extra weight having worked my ass off the blog & client assignments while feasting myself with cookies & granola bars in between. Also ordering Breezer for a few parties as my drink. I know, IRONY happens everywhere! And so does SUGAR. Though I quit carbonated beverages, processed foods & packaged juices a good 5 years ago, I still wonder how I let Breezer be one of my top favorites later on!
Well, the idea of quitting white sugar didn’t dawn upon me with an overnight resolution or a straight kick in the butt from anyone. But, I’d say it was a gradual process. Frankly, I felt inspired to take this quitting affair seriously only after I saw my blogger friend Shailaja Vishwanath posting gritty Instagram stories about her life after quitting sugar. And this was a HUGE inspiration for me, who indeed advocated healthy lifestyle habits.
However, the BIG question still haunted me. “What would I replace all the sweetness with?”
Well, I must totally credit the famous, yet incredibly humble Simrun Chopra here. Though she’s never really placarded her social platforms with the cliched “QUIT SUGAR” posts, all her intent has been to promote doable & easy ways to eat healthy. None of her recipes & food posts instruct using table sugar as a sweetener. But she insists on innovating every dish with natural sweeteners such as fruits, cinnamon & similar ingredients.
And well, this was EXACTLY what I was looking for! Not having to say goodbye to the entire flavor of sweetness from my life.
This had me sorted with the decision to quit sugar FOREVER.
2. Don’t Quit Sugar COLD TURKEY
Quitting anything cold turkey can trigger a lot of unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal. Like in the past, I had tried quitting my favorite Ginger Tea with breakfast. But that always induced headaches after lunch time which wouldn’t stop until I had tea that day.
So, here’s what I did.
For a week, I reduced the quantity of sugar I added to my tea. And for the following week, I completely replaced it with jaggery. To my surprise, the tea was still amazing!
And then for another week, I would reduce the amount of jaggery till I was successfully able to quit the morning tea in a month’s time. Voila! No headaches or lethargy either! 😀
I would call this my first counter attack on processed sugar. 🙂
NOTE – I’m not a nutrition expert, nor do I tout jaggery as a sweetener to be used generously as it is, after all, sugar in unrefined form with a certain amount of calories. Nonetheless, as per nutrition studies, jaggery is a much more nutritious sweetener in comparison to refined sugar without any significant toxic effects on the body like the latter.
3. Quit Sugar Vs Replace Sugar
Before you quit something you love, always look for healthier alternatives.
I decided to replace sugar in more than one way.
Jaggery, organic liquid jaggery, honey, date syrup, fruits (including the seasonal ones), adding dry fruits & nuts or spices like cinnamon powder & nutmeg.
NOTE – NEVER replace sugar with artificial sweeteners like aspartame or any substitute from the same lineage. Experts have established that artificial sweeteners are as worse as sugar when it comes to their ill-effects on our health.
Nor is it wise to choose granola bars made with undisclosed sugar substitutes or things that read “LOW FAT”. These are scammy marketing gimmicks, according to nutritionists.
4. Revamp your Pantry before you quit sugar
Out of sight is DEFINITELY our of mind!
So please get rid of every sugary snack you’ve been stuffing in your pantry or snack dabbas. Replace them with easy snacks like dry fruits, pumpkin seeds, dry blueberries, homemade whole wheat cookies, brownies, laddoos made with peanuts/sesame, Chikki, etc. Sometimes, a baked/stir-fried & seasoned sweet potato also works wonders for your ‘snack hunger’.
5. Snack Regularly
Most of the time, we subconsciously associate sweets with ridding boredom. And it’s very similar to smokers who can’t think of anything else other than catching up with some fag on the office terrace. Because sugar is predominantly an addictive ingredient.
To avoid this, invest in fruits & keep lots of them & some of the above-mentioned snacks handy. These can be carried in small boxes & they always satisfy your hunger pangs.
To keep active & healthy all day, it’s important to have at least 2 good snack times; between breakfast & lunch, & between lunch & dinner. Remember not to succumb to any peer pressure if somebody offers you your regular sugary snack. Saying NO there rewards you forever. And why not? You’re not depriving yourself from the flavor at all. You just ditch a crappy ingredient!
I could easily stay away from Diwali sweets made with refined sugar & instead relished those I made myself using healthier ingredients. Like this Chocolate modak made without using sugar.
At the same time, it’d be pointless if you keep savoring your tea/coffee, like a hundred times in a day from the vending machine! Try to carry some jaggery powder in zip-lock sachets or use a healthy sweetener (if available in your office) instead.
Snacking at the right intervals keeps hunger pangs away where you go desperately mindless about what sugary stuff you’re eating.
6. Drink the right stuff!
It’s surprising to me how often drinking 10-12 glasses of water has been part of my listicles! And it makes it here too when you’re trying to quit sugar.
A lot of times, it’s just thirst that pesters us into filling our tummy. So, whenever you find yourself feeling hungry at unusual times, try drinking a glass of water & check. Improper hydration can also trigger sugar cravings.
Also choose not to go for milkshakes or fruit juices added with sugar. Most fruits are naturally sweet & high on fiber that doesn’t call for ‘juicing’ them in the first place! If you want to enjoy something of that sort, make it or get it without sugar.
If you like alcohol, limit it. Stick to an occasional glass of wine or mug of beer, may be.
Lack of exercise makes you feel lousy all through the day. So get moving & kick some ass!
Pick up simple exercises to begin with. Like walking, half push ups, squats & few simple Yoga asanas. Don’t keep staring at your screen in that insidiously boring chair! Get up & just do it.
You see, it’s again a vicious cycle.
You keep sitting -> Get bored/tired -> Crave sweets to kill the boredom
Stop that. NOW!
8. Watch your SKIN
Sugar is known to affect your skin in the worst possible manner.
Here’s an extract from a research that establishes how sugar consumption leads to GLYCATION; a process where sugar molecules get attached to the collagen in your skin (which renders reparability & elasticity to the skin to prevent/delay ageing) & makes it stiff, making it difficult to be elastic again. And this is how wrinkles, fine lines & even discoloration occur prematurely in people who consume more sugar in any form.
I observed how eliminating processed sugar not only helped me maintain my weight better but also reflected well on my facial skin. You see the difference in this picture where the 1st picture shows a much drier & scar-prone skin along with signs of a breakout. And the 2nd picture (unfiltered) though clicked under a different lighting, has a quite clearer looking skin which was me after quitting sugar 100%.
Mind you, I still get breakouts if I happen to drink less water & sleep less. So, you see, a bit of discipline always needs to be there.
9. Find your comfort cushions
No. Not the literal ones! 🙂
You often tend to gorge yourself with sugary food & beverages when you’re feeling low or stressed for whatsoever reason. Beat that sh** out!
Find more logical & conducive solutions to beating the emotional stress.
Catch up with a friend, talk to a dear colleague, or call up your partner to loosen up, vent out or even rant about your problems.
Trust me. That feels much better. Know your weaknesses & figure out ways other than sugar or food to beat it.
Honestly, I see a massive change in my perception to problems & stressful or panicky situations now, after having quit sugar. I don’t get easily get mad at people, nor do I lose my cool if I lose any important document today.
I thought it must have been a placebo effect now that I have been linking quitting of sugar with every positive change in my life. But, no.
Here’s what scientists have to say about how sugar attributes to stress & emotional turmoils which often culminates into a vicious cycle there itself.
By the way, two of the most wonderful women I know share their experience on about being off sugar.
Sweets in general have been consciously a NO-NO for me as they’re overall linked to adding woes to PCOD & I have had a tendency for PCOS right from the start. Besides I never liked snacking on junk food so that made it more easier to stay away from hidden sugars. The rare sugary days tend to induce Rosacea on my cheeks as I’ve noticed it to be an inflammatory response of my body to these foods.Deepti Bhat, Business Development Manager
I gave up raw white sugar in February 2019. Ever since, I’ve noticed 2 significant changes. One was the adult acne that I developed last year completely stopped. The other was pain in my knee joints which also disappeared. Apparently, white sugar causes inflammation in the body.Shailaja Vishwanath, Blogging Coach & Social Media Strategist
So, does that motivate you to quit sugar today or someday soon? What do you think you could do to override the role of sugar in your life? I’d love to read what you have to share in the comments.