Cut Sugar and White Flour to Improve Your Mood and Help Overcome Depression

I happened to be looking through The Mood Cure again and came across some great information about white sugar and white flour. I thought it would be an encouragement to those of you on the sugar free challenge. The author, Julia Ross, has worked for many years in treating depression, irritability, what she calls “false moods”, seasonal disorders, and stress. She uses dietary changes and supplements with great results. One very important change she advocates is removing white sugar and white flour from her client’s diets.  She considers them both addictive (though how addictive varies from person to person). In fact, she’s found,  “Many of our clinic’s clients have been freed from the moodiness they’ve endured for years, simply by dropping these two items from their menu’s.

If you suffer from depression, taking out white sugar and white flour could be very helpful (and if you do suffer from depression, I recommend you read Julia’s book as well as get good medical advice!). Meanwhile, the below snippet should encourage you in your quest to go sugar free! (My emphases)

White Sugar and White Flour more like Drugs

In a way, it’s unfair to categorize sweets and white flour products as foods. They’re really more like drugs. That’s why they have such mood-altering power. The corn, sugarcane, and sugar beets that sugar is extracted from, and the grains that flour is extracted from, contain fiber, vitamins and minerals,. But after the extraction process, most of those beneficial nutrients are gone. What’s left is a potent crystallized concentrate, not unlike other plant concentrates we’re familiar with, like cocaine or opium, also extracted from lovely plants full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.. These two refined white crabs can force a release of your brain’s natural feel good neurotransmitters, serotonin and endorphins. This brain chemistry disruption and depletion leads to the need for another cookie for another brief mood boost….and then another….and another.

All In all, avoiding refined sugars and white flour can, among many other positives, help protect you from depleting your “feel good neurotransmitters”, thus protecting you from depression. Pretty exciting stuff, eh?

I think in light of sugar’s addictive quality, if you are having an especially hard time on the challenge, you may want to read Julia’s book for more help in overcoming that addiction without as much stress on your body.

How is everyone doing on the sugar free challenge? Do you feel like the challenge has been easy so far, or has it been really difficult? How is your body responding?

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  1. Madeleine says

    It’s going really well! I’m doing advanced, SCD, still looking for a diet that will alleviate chronic fatigue syndrome. Yesterday, day 3, I got a surge of energy that lasted all day, and I’ve had the same again today. I’ve spent 2 days cleaning and organizing! And cooking, ’cause I’m hungry all the time now that I’m not eating grains.

    • KimiHarris says

      When I did for the GAPS diet for a month with my daughter, I cooked all day long! I was just so hungry. 🙂

    • gayle says

      I found that I needed more protein in my diet. I started taking a very good amino acid supplement along with cutting out white sugar and white flour. I feel so much better now. I used to be depressed during the winter but not now. I have also added exercise and other supplements like vit D. It has taken me many years to figure it out but am very happy I finally did. Good luck! Sample breakfast is old fashioned oatmeal, 3/4 cup of non fat Greek yogurt like Fage with a few strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Amazingly that keeps me full until lunch. Lunch can be 2 poached eggs or something else that is high in protein. Dinner is what I usually make but adding more veggies and watching portions. If I need a snack I eat some walnuts or have a banana. I never, never thought I could give up bread and sugar! I would say that I have cut out the bad foods by 90%. I am losing weight.

  2. LeaG says

    Wow what a great correlation to opium and cocaine! Makes so much sense when put that way.

    I’m doing ok on the challenge. I have flubbed twice by accident but otherwise it isn’t too bad. I have found that since my newest coconut oil is very sweet and coconutty flavored it works perfectly to sweeten my tea and coffee! I also made your soaked flour pancakes at the beginning of the week and they have helped with weak moments. And we are eating TONS of fruit. I don’t think my kids have even noticed the change!

    I think I’ll keep it up, especially after seeing this post and next I’ll try to cut out even more since I’m only on beginner level. 🙂

    • KimiHarris says

      I also enjoy Wilderness Family Natural’s coconut milk powder in tea. It’s also full of coconut oil. Yum!

  3. Jennifer says

    I totally agree with the impact of white sugar and flour. We have removed it from our diet and I now call my husband “NewMan”. He is a much happier person and better able to deal with stress than before. I have not noticed anything as dramatic but know I am happier and much less tired. Thanks for sharing this information. I am going to look to find that book as well.

  4. Dink Kreis says

    Not eating sugar…I’m on my 6th week…. hasn’t been as hard as I would have thought. I eat almost 100% organic which I’m sure helps as I’m getting great nutrition.

  5. Magda @ Nofooddiet says

    I’ve also had a surge of energy today.. Spent all afternoon cleaning and organizing while carrying my baby in a sling. I didn’t put two and two together until reading a post above that maybe this is related to the no sugar challenge!

    Before this challenge started, I believed I wasn’t eating much sugar. But now that I have to cut it out, I really notice the absence.. I’m doing moderate so no honey in tea or on cornbread, no organic spaghetti sauce, no maple syrup on waffles, no chocolate!! I even have to watch out for peanut butter!

    It makes me feel bad because I know that last year this wouldn’t have been a challenge for me at all. But now, even a couple of days has been hard! I really want to continue this longer than a week.. Forever if possible!

    Sorry about the superlong post, but one last question: do you consider gluten-free flour to be white flour as well? For instance, I just had quinoa/corn flour GF pasta for dinner, and while I think it is healtier than regular white flour, I’m not sure it’s that much healthier. Thoughts?

    • KimiHarris says

      Quinoa is very high in protein, and I personally love it. We also eat rice pasta. My one issue with pasta in general is that it’s not soaked whole grains and I notice that it rests a bit heavy in the stomach.

  6. Karen B says

    Feeling good. This time hasn’t been hard at all. I was doing great for a year and had started “falling off the wagon” so to stay and this challege has got me back on the straight and narrow. I am again more concious about what I eat. Thanks for helping me get back. I always feel so much better. One thing I have enjoyed are smoothies. Todays was yogurt, coconut milk, vanilla, bananas and oranges. It was a bit like a creamsicle. Very yummy.

  7. says

    I posted a quick update this morning on my blog about my “progress,” but in a nutshell I feel better and have more energy. I’ve cut out refined sugar (and most of the “other” ones) and have been gluten free, too. I’m doing this thing on my own but the rest of my family doesn’t eat all that differently than I do. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and I’m SO glad, Kimi, that you provided the nudge to hop on the wagon again. Thank you!

  8. Vikki says

    Since I shared my participation in this challenge on facebook, I’ve had lots of support and I hope to continue the challenge longer than the week. I feel the most interesting aspect of the sugar-free/flour-free is the release from the addiction downward cycle, and eating when I am hungry, and consciously deciding what to eat instead of grabbing a quick junky fix whenever my subconscious whispers that I need a ‘little something’.

    • Kathie Rytenskild says

      It’s nice when families can support each other too! It’s so great to share ideas and encouragement, and my sister Vikki is great at that! I have spent this week phasing out my personal use of maple syrup, coconut palm sugar & honey, as I already steered clear of refined sugar, and as of next week will be cutting those out as well as I start a 6 month candida program. I’ve also quit on all the grains I’d let creep in over Christmas and although it hadn’t been too much, the withdrawal is hitting me and I’ve had to struggle with the depression that can come along with it. My safe stand-bys: smoothees with coconut milk, banana soft serve sprinkled with cacao powder & celery with sf peanut butter!

  9. says

    Day 4 was the first time I didn’t have bad sugar cravings in the evening. (I did have three good conversations that afternoon/night–which was either a distraction or provided the feel-good neurotransmitters without the sugar.) The first couple days I was VERY hungry.

  10. Gabi says

    The sugar cravings haven’t been bad for me at all. I have enjoyed a little honey here and there, but not as a substitute for sugar cravings. Also, there was a cold going around in my family so I have enjoyed LOTS of garlic the past 5 days. All that to say, I am still very tired and I feel somewhat lethargic. A couple of the days I have had a nagging headache or felt tired right behind the eyes. Could this be related to the diet or something else? I’m doing pretty well in getting plenty of fruits and veggies in my meals.

    • Julia says

      Garlic is has antibiotic/antifungal qualities. It is really great for when you are coming down with a cold. The feelings you are describing could be do to you ‘killing off’ some yeasties. Actually, sugar withdrawals do feel pretty intense as well. Could be either.

  11. says

    I appreciate you posting this quote. I have started weening my twins and had some post-pardum related hormone issues as my system comes back on line. I recently read “Female Brain Gone Insane” and it seemed to have some very helpful and similar information. The Mood Cure will be on my to-read list. I’ve been doing lots of research and reading, and have been starting to suspect that sugar might play a big role in my mental and hormonal health. So again, thanks for bring this book to my attention. BLESSINGSc

  12. jamie says

    I’m actually at the end of my 2nd week of a yeast free diet so I’ve not had fruit either and it seems like I’m having a harder time now than before. I have headaches (just mild) and feel so hungry! I’m not sure, but maybe taking a probiotic has sped up some reactions lately. My mood goes bizerk right before lunch time and I have to really be careful to get food going sooner. I’m really tired of cooking all three meals everyday! I didn’t realize how much I depended on sandwich bread. And, my coffee is starting to affect my mood as well. I can’t drink as much as I used to! But, not trying to be all negative- I have so much more energy and some skin rashes are going away now!

    • Madeleine says

      When I did Crook’s anti-candida diet years ago, I felt better than I had in years. But I had to eat TONS of protein to control the hunger. I remember eating a lot of tuna!

  13. says

    I actually wasn’t going to go sugar-free yet, but I decided last minute to go for it because I’m tired of being tired! I actually think I have adrenal fatigue. Anyway, I started sugar-free yesterday… so far, so good. I’m allowing honey, and some natural sweeteners (maple syrup and sucanat, but sparingly). I guess we’ll see how it goes!

  14. Susannah says

    I decided to cut out sugar and “white” foods just to lose weight & found doing so cured what I thought was a hormonally triggered mood disorder. Every month I dreaded PMS because I’d get suicidal thoughts, and spend two weeks convinced I was a horrible person–that’s gone (along with my acne)!

    • Donna says

      I know this is an old post, but this sounds very similar to me. I have been suffering PMS related depression with suicidal thoughts, but having been sugar- free for three weeks I have just been through my cycle without even a hint of low mood. My spots haven’t completely gone, but my skin is much improved. I wish this was more widely known about as it could ease a lot of suffering.

  15. says

    I gave up sugar (just) in my coffee a month ago
    Replacing it with honey. Over time I used less
    And less honey. Well this morning I was out
    Of honey. I used a teaspoon of sugar. Arg!
    I poured the cup back into the pot as it tastes
    Like pure sugar! Then repoured my cup only to find I had ruined the whole pot. Now, this intrigues Me. I went on a sugar-free, Candida diet back in1984 after my Mom passed. I am encouraged By you all to continue with this and get back To a Whole Food, Organic, sugar-free lifestyleI enjoyed in my youth. Thank you so much forThis site, all of the encouraging and brave testimonies. So grateful to have found you guys! Onward and upward!


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