How Avoiding Refined Sugar Changed a Woman’s Life

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Sometimes making one decision, such as removing refined sugar from your diet, can lead to big changes in your life. Today, Jennifer shares her inspiring story. I hope that it encourages you to make this one week challenge into a lifelong change!

Jennifer, you cut refined sugar from your diet three years ago. What
lead you to make that decision?

Basically, I was sick of feeling like crap about myself.  I was tired all the time, I was 30 pounds heavier, I never worked out because I just didn’t have the drive for it.  I was eating what I thought was “healthy”; granola bars, protein bars, bagels. I was always what I would call a “sugar-addict”; I was just eating the junk 24-7.   I finally decided I would give not eating sugar a try, even for a little while, to see if I felt a difference.

What was the hardest part about giving up sugar?

Pressure.  Especially at birthday parties.  People will always pressure you, I’m not sure if it’s a self-conscious thing that you’re doing something so epic?  I sometimes feel like a jerk when I’m at a sibling/friend/nephew/niece’s birthday party and I don’t eat cake.  But it’s been three years, most people have given up pressuring me to “just eat a piece already”.

How did you feel the first few weeks?

The first week was utter garbage.  I wanted cookies and brownies SO badly.  Sugar is so far ingrained into our bloodstreams between the refined sugar/corn syrup/random “extrin”s, as I call them- of course we crave it.  It’s in basically every single processed food, right down to turkey meat and spaghetti sauces.  But I lost ten pounds within the first couple of weeks just by saying goodbye to dessert.  I wasn’t even hardcore yet back then- I was still eating processed foods like boxed dinners and frozen meals.

How did you persevere and deal with sugar cravings?

Bananas were and remain my go-to food.  Aside from being a fantastic post-workout recovery food, they are high enough in natural sugar to switch my brain off of sugar crave over-drive.  I also like Lindt’s 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark chocolate; less than a gram of sugar per square, and a good source of iron.  Once you get the sugar out of your system, that super-dark chocolate tastes amazing.

What difference has it made in how you feel?

I feel… great.  Much more energy than I used to have.  As I said, I started with just nixing dessert.  Which branched into not buying frozen meals, and instead cooking my own meals and freezing them.  Which branched into shopping the perimeter of the grocery store (produce, meat, dairy), with stops in the center aisles only for pasta and oatmeal.  Once my energy levels were so high, and my moods started stabalizing, and my body started responding by shedding the extra weight… I thought, “Ok, what next?”  So I started training for a 5k.  Then a half-marathon.  Then a 25k (15.53 miles).  Right now I’m a team leader for a run camp here in Michigan, training for the very first Kalamazoo Marathon in May of 2010! (ps- first person from every state to register gets free registry and a free pair of shoes! google it up!)  I recently started playing with buying/eating all organic food; it’s expensive, but worth it to eat chemical/pesticide-free foods!  I’ve noticed that between the foods I buy, the daily multi-vitamin I take, and the exercise I do… I hardly EVER get sick.  You know, it’s exciting that a whole world of opportunities has opened up to me, and all I had to do was change the way I eat.  I just feel so confident.

What are your favorite sugar free treats?

Favorites are bananas, pineapple, and mango.  Of course, those all have natural-occurring sugar, but they also have a host of vital nutrients.  I also like SUPER dark chocolate, 85% or higher.  Lindt and Green & Black are favorites!  Just stay away from artificial sweeteners.  I used to make the mistake filling up on “sugar-free” candies and ice creams, because they were sugar-free.  But they aren’t really danger-free; they are full of chemicals, and send a signal to your brain similar to sugar… they’ll royally screw your body over.

Any last thoughts for those doing a sugar free week?

Be prepared for it to suck at first.  Be prepared for people to judge you.  Be prepared to fall at least once (maybe a few times).  But also be prepared to feel great.  Be prepared to lose weight.  Be prepared to expand your world.  Be prepared to finally have a grip on your own life, instead of the food you eat having a grip on it.

Thanks so much Jennifer!

Anyone else have inspiring stories to share with us? And how are all of the people on the challenge doing today?

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


    • Jen says

      Kathy- I don’t use honey, mostly because I don’t like it. Same goes for Stevia. I used to use Splenda quite a but, but I’ve cut back to almost nil. They say it’s “safe”, but who knows what the long-term affects could be. Better to stick to natural sugars, in my book. – Jen

  1. Amanda says

    Yeah, getting over the cravings is hard. I did sugar free for two weeks (South Beach phase 1) before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving weekend we splurged and then did sugar free for another couple of weeks. The amount of energy I had was AMAZING. I got SO much done. Now I’m trying to go back after being out of town for three weeks and all that holiday junk. 🙂

    But yes, I’ve seen some of what she has seen, especially in the energy department. It’s such a huge difference.

  2. Sarah Mulholland says

    This is something I struggle with. I’m curious what sugars she gave up. Was it just refined sugars? Or did it include honey, maple syrup, etc. I need to suck it up so that I may feel like she does!

    • Jen says

      Sarah- I started with refined sugars. Then, when I was craving sugar less, I branched into honey, corn syrup, and eventually…artificial sweeteners. I relied a lot on fruit to get me through. And willpower. And find healthy ways to replace food cravings; a walk, a swim, anything! Good luck. – Jen

    • Jen says

      Jen- Empty those cupboards!! Simple math- don’t bring it in the house, it isn’t there. It’s a lot better to take the kids out for a treat than have treats lying around the house in wait. Kudos on getting your family healthy! – Jen

  3. says

    After being sugar-free for so long (I’ve done only honey/maple syrup for almost a year now), I can’t even stand the really sweet stuff now. I can FEEL my blood sugar spiking and it doesn’t even taste that good, so I don’t want it. I’ve also found any rare sweet cravings are just a sign I need 1) more food in general, 2) more fermented foods (last night it was sugar, or…fermented pickles. Guess which I chose?), or 3) more protein. I really, really need a lot of protein. But I feel GOOD!! Even if I’m feeling tired or weird one day, I have an underlying feeling of “good.” It only takes a tiny bit of white flour or sugar to make me feel bad. And that’s enough that I rarely even bother now. I like to eat almond flour muffins, stuff with unsweetened apple butter, lemonade (made with honey), homemade ice cream, fruit with real whipped cream, and dark chocolate when I’m craving sweet.

  4. says

    What a difference getting the sugar out makes! I use only natural sweeteners and very little of them and always with a large amount of fat or protein (or both!) The almond flour treats are a favorite and I just can’t stand even thinking about eating a commercial or standard dessert. Store-bought birthday cake is torture to your body on so many levels! A great trick for curbing the craving is to eat some coconut oil- straight off the spoon. This is especially wonderful at night when you get the after-dinner sweet cravings. It’s generally a sign that you needed more fat and protein than you ate and that the ratio of carbs was off. Also, brushing your teeth to refresh your mouth after eating is helpful- sometimes you crave a sweet taste just to cleanse the palate. Kombucha (or other cultured food) is another great crave-busting trick. Stick with it, guys, the rewards are fantastic!

    • Kari says

      I just started making homemade kombucha. It tastes so sweet to me compared to the GT’s Original I’m used to. It really curbs my cravings for sweets but I’m afraid it’s because there must still be a lot of sugar in there. How would I know?

      • Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet says

        Kari, to really get kombucha as fermented as GT’s, you will probably have to ferment for about 4 weeks, instead of the 2 that most home brewers do. 🙂

  5. Sarah Mulholland says

    AMY – Which coconut oil do you eat off the spoon? I have the kind that has no coconut flavor but have access to all the different kinds. Thank you for your other tips on Kombucha and fremented foods as well!

    I’m taking notes everyone! Thank you for all your input!

    • says

      Get the excellent organic hand-collected coconut oil from Tropical Traditions. It is amazingly delicious. I am going to try this — just having some off the spoon. Great idea!

  6. says

    Thank you Jennifer, your story is so inspiring. I know what you mean about the pressure thing; when I was 15 I gave up sugar for good, and received TONS of pressure, especially from peers who thought I was turning into some kind of weird hippie. Between initially hurt feelings, Mom’s support, and the eventual loss of about 25 lbs (yay!) I became happier, healthier, and so much more energetic. I encourage all you guys who are going on the sugar-free week to stick with it! 🙂

    • Jen says

      Lucille- kudos to you. It’s hard when others make you feel bad or awkward about a choice for your health. It’s wonderful to know there are others out there doing it, too! – Jen

  7. Karen B says

    I stopped eating sugar a year and a half ago but was starting to slip over the holidays, that’s why I was excited about the challenge. I was having blood sugar issues and ended up in the hospital 3 times. My blood sugar would drop so low (20-40)I would eat sugar to bring it up and it would spike high and crash. I was on a rollercoaster and it was not good. Then I read a book that said to cut out all sugar,I tried it because I was desparate, it wasn’t fun, I felt like a junkie coming off drugs. I felt even worse than having the spikes for a couple of days after cutting out the sugar and then after about 2 to 3 days of feeling like I wanted to die I started feeling great and I got my energy back. This was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I am now healthier than I have ever been in my life. I enjoy remaking things that I like and finding new recipes. I love to cook. I like good food and I like sweets. I have always used raw honey but now I have added stevia and maple syrup to my list of sweeteners ( I just bought sorghum but haven’t tried it yet ). I don’t eat a lot of sweets anymore, I seemed ot have lost the craving. I also do the 90% lindt chocolate when having “one of those moment”. The funny part is 1 square is enough. I can make that candy bar last forever. Before I would have eaten the whole thing and maybe even a second. One thing that does it for my sweet tooth is yogurt with fruit. I am not happy that I got sick but it was really the best thing heathwise that could have happen to me. People comment that I look good and how great my skin looks. If you are struggling with giving up the sugar don’t give up try, you will be better off at the end if you stop. For me it had to be cold turkey. Good luck to every one out there. It is worth it.

  8. says

    Cutting out sugar is totally worth it. Our only sweeteners are honey, sucanat (sparingly) and occasionally maple syrup. I second the use of bananas. That too can be a great natural sweetener. Blending a banana in with some milk and vanilla is delicious.

  9. Dani says

    Oh, I’m failing somewhat miserably on this weeks’ sugar challenge. To be fair to myself, I’ve had a little bit every day, which is still a HUGE reduction from what I was having before. I don’t know what happened over the holidays, but I had completely fallen off the bandwagon. A year ago, I was coming off of 3 months of being completely refined sugar-free (and NEVER did the artificial stuff), and had lost 25 lbs, looked and felt great, and somewhere I started to relax my rules a bit. Anyway, by the time the Christmas fudge rolled around (or maybe it was those cursed peanut butter kisses at Halloween?), the bandwagon was far out of sight. I have done VERY well limiting myself to one thing a day; yesterday, I had three pieces of chocolate, but they really weren’t that satisfying for me. The biggest thing I have done is I have not had any soda this week–I can’t believe I’m the first one to talk about how hard this is to give up. However, I tripped up today, and had one. Funny thing is, the first sip tasted… Chemical. Again, it wasn’t diet or anything, but it had this weird taste to it that just wasn’t all that great (unfortunately, it passed after the third sip and I sucked the whole thing down…), so I know my tastebuds WANT to be on my side. I’ve tried the cold turkey thing, and unless I’m in health crisis, I end up doing really well for awhile, but then binge on… well, I’d rather not say! So, I’m trying to wean off of the garbage–I mean SUGAR! Cutting out the processed/boxed stuff is easy–I have done that over the course of the last year or so anyway; next steps are baby for me, and right now, I think I AM on track by limiting it to one per day and no pop. Next week, I am shooting for every other day. Thanks for the inspiring post, and for reminding those of us that are addicted: we are not alone, but we CAN beat this sugar thing!

    • Ruth says

      Dani, I feel your pain! I haven’t done all that great this week myself. I often say that a sugar addiction is as bad as an alcoholic addiction. Once we fall off the wagon it is so difficult to get back on. Don’t give up! I won’t give up either. You can do it!

    • Jen says

      Dani and Ruth- I have said it over and over- sugar is an addiction. Absolutely like drugs or alcohol. And food companies aren’t on our sides, they put it in everything because it’s cheap and keeps us coming back for more. Don’t give up, it’s worth the fight. Can you feel yourself get stronger with every misstep? You are getting stronger. So keep it up, baby steps if you have to. Everday a little easier. Best of luck. – Jen

      • Heidi says

        Thanks for being transparent! I too was doing so well being sugar-free for about 6 months and then……………’s like an addict telling himself that just “once” would be OK. It all goes downhill from there. “A little here”, and “more there”, and before you know it, “much-more-everywhere”!!
        We do well in other areas of eating. We eat good meats and organic produce, soak some grains but in the sugar area, we are failing miserably!
        All the posts here are very encouraging and are making me want to get back being sugar-free. I really never thought sugar was a real addiction but it seems that I need to read up on it. I just reserved “The Diet Book” at the library.
        Thanks for all the comments everyone!

          • Karen B says

            It’s hard but don’t give up. I agree it is an addiction. Try to keep other sweet things in the house when you have an attach. I am going to make no bake coconut macaroons today. They have chocolate and are sweet. They seem to do it for me. It’s all about being prepared and not having the bad stuff readily available. You can do it!!!

  10. Rachel says

    This is a great interview – and the comments are helpful, too! I can attest that I feel so much better now that I’ve been “off” of sugar and white flour for over a year. Recently, I didn’t have access to my usual foods and slowly got back into eating a little bit of sugar here and there. Next thing I know, I was having terrible cravings. I realized I was having blood sugar issues and big mood swings. Once I realized what had happened, I went right back to no sugar at all (including dried fruit – that’s a biggie). Bananas are my secret weapon as well. When I first made the change, I ate bananas with a little bit of heavy cream after lunch each day. That really kicked those mid-afternoon sugar “blues” right out of my system. After a month or so, I didn’t want the banana anymore and my body had learned to stabilize itself. (It also helps that I eat way more protein and healthy fats than I used to – my cravings were due to way to many starches and not enough nutrient-dense foods and super fats.)

    • Jen says

      Good work, Rachel! A lot of people don’t realize how much so-called “low-fat” diets wreack havoc on our bloodstreams. We need protein, we need fat. And they absolutely curb carb cravings. – Jen

  11. Susan says

    Hey Dani,

    I used to be the same way, and still am whenever I come back from visiting my parents over the holidays. We’ve been back for almost three weeks, and I’m just now getting back to normal. I completely understand feeling like a junkie coming off drugs. My mom has always lived to bake goodies and sweets at Christmas, so she always pushes it on us whenever we’re there. She gets terribly offended if we don’t “help her eat it”. I always think at first, “Oh, a little won’t hurt.” A little turns into a little more, and then it becomes a lot. I find that I crave it from the moment I wake up and basically graze all through the day while I’m there.

    Whenever we leave, I feel like I go through detox. I get super grumpy, still crave sweets & junk, and feel really down and tired. I just don’t want to do anything, except sit around and eat more. Unfortunately, this is also usually the time when I come down with some kind of cough, congestion, body aches, etc. Since coming home, though, I made a double batch of chicken stock and have been making lots of yummy nourishing soups, and I’ve cut my bread intake dramatically. At home, we use mostly honey with a little maple syrup, and I use coconut oil often when I cook. Today is the second day of actually feeling normal again. I’m so much happier, have lots more energy, and I’m so much more motivated to get up and play with my kids, clean my house, etc.

    It is definitely great to hear everyone’s story about how wonderful they feel, and yes, it will come for you, too, if you stick with it. However, it does really, really stink when you’re going through detox and coming off of the sugar haze. It seems like you’re never going to start feeling better. Hang in there, though! Find someone else who is going sugar-free or maybe who has already done so, and ask them to be your encouragement and accountability partner. Whenever you start craving sugar, call them and ask for a suggestion to help you get through the moment.

    I’ve really appreciated reading others comments about eating more protein or fat to help subdue the craving. I hadn’t thought of that, so I’ll certainly be trying that the next time I start craving sugar.

    Jennifer’s story is amazing, and it is certainly an encouragement to me. Thanks for sharing it!

  12. Jen says

    Your story is equally inspiring. It’s always good to know you’re not the only one to go through the detox. It sucks!!! That’s why I kicked it for good- I’m never going through that AGAIN! 🙂 – Jen

  13. Rachel says

    I would love to join the no refined sugar challenge. I was wondering if most people go cold turkey or phase it out?
    Also, any thoughts on doing this while nursing? In the long run, I know it will be better for me and baby, I’m just worried that it might bother the baby at first, just like I expect to go through the detox.
    Thanks for sharing the story and comments! It’s inspiring.

    • Karen B says

      I would recommend cold turkey on the refined sugar,the baby should be fine. Just use fruit and natural sugar to get you through it. It will better for you and the baby.

    • KimiHarris says


      If you are worried about detoxing, just phase it out slowly. 🙂 And like Karen B. said, just use natural sugars, like fruit, to help.

  14. Gabi says

    All of you,

    Thank you so much for the encouragement. I was feeling rough the first several days. Ironically, sweets were not as tempting, I just felt bad! But today was a little worse. The family I nanny for has incredible amount of sugar around the house. It is hard looking at the plate of brownies every time I fill up my glass of water, but boy am I learning self-control! For a while I was feeling guilty about going back for seconds of proteins and nourishing fats. Eating almost a whole avocado over the course of the day or eating animal based proteins every meal seemed far to caloric for me. I just realized that eating an extra slice of sprouted bread with garlic butter or eating more meat was far, FAR better than succumbing to the temptation of cheesecake later. It was a “duh!” moment for me.

    This afternoon I felt pretty low. I ate a little peanut butter with honey and drank a small glass of fresh apple juice and felt slightly better. What really improved my over all feeling was a short nap! I then enjoyed a more rigorous cardio workout (something I have been lacking in for the past 9 months). Those two things helped me to focus on my philosophy exam without falling asleep!

    I can’t wait to see more improvement! I am taking part in this challenge for improved concentration in my studies and music. It is a HUGE encouragement to see that others are taking part as well.

    God Bless and good luck!

    • Karen B says

      Good luck Gabi. you will be so glad in the long run that you did this. It may take at least a week to feel the energy. I try to keep seeds as a snack with me. I know some people eat nuts but I am allergic. Keep up the good work. It may even rub off on the children you watch.

    • Jen says

      Gabi- I am in the same profession with the same temptations; it’s a big reason why I gave up sugar!! Good luck to you. – Jen

  15. says

    I’ve been thinking a lot about carbs in general this week. We’re transitioning to a Traditional Foods diet and I’m realizing that I don’t crave sweets when I get enough meat in my diet. Just gotta keep reminding myself 🙂 Thanks so much for this awesome post and the great comments!

    • Karen B says

      I never thought I would stop craving sweets. I do like sweet things but I can go days without something sweet. I grew up with dessert at every meal. Baking is one of my favorite things. Now I don’t know how I ate all that junk. I just don’t feel good when I eat it. I started “tasting” things over the holidays and started to get sick, I felt like i was getting the flu and a cold. I ate garlic and lots of C and a special mix of honey, garlic, hot pepper, AC vinegar and honey. I stopped “tasting” the junk food and miraculously I never really got sick. You’re right, the craving go away when you have the right things in your diet.

  16. Anali says

    I’ve gave up sugar about 3 years ago now, and to be honest it wasn’t really that hard considering sugar is one of the hardest things to quit cold turkey.

    I never had any issues with peer pressure because when people would offer me something with sugar I’d say no and if they tried to do the “aww just have a little bit.” I’d tell them I can’t eat sugar because I have a bad reaction to it. Which people usually don’t bug you after that.

    Good luck everyone. It’s worth it.

  17. Anali says

    Also, if I’m ever in a social situation where it’s awkward to not eat something, I’ll just accept whatever is being offered and not eat it. I know that might not be easy for some. But once you are past the cravings, sometimes it’s just easier.

    It’s funny these are all things my mum taught me for when I was younger and didn’t want to drink as a teenager and not get bugged.

    • julia says

      Anali, thank you for posting how you deal with peer pressure in social situations… this is my biggest psychological block! These are great tips. Does anyone else out there have tips on what to say when someone offers you sugar? I’m a mom of four kids… how do those of you with kids out there deal with your own kids’ birthdays? Do you still bake cakes, or buy them, or is there some kind of alternative celebratory ritual instead of the traditional birthday cake?

  18. jamie says

    I have to say that honey actually gives me some of the same effects as sugar. I’ve heard that it can do that in some people. Has anyone else heard this as well or felt that sugar spike from honey?

    • anie says

      I think it is because honey can cause the system to become more acidic.. and sugar does the same thing. It is probably best used in moderation as well.

  19. anie says

    Have you ever tried frozen banana? It is a great alternative to ice cream. Just peel a banana, slice it up, freeze the pieces for an hour or so on a tray, take it out, throw it in a food processor until smooth… it tastes great!

    I grew up eating sugar all the time. I thought it didn’t affect me until I ran into some serious health-issues later. I didn’t realize how much of an addict I really was until I started to go without it. I agree, it is hard to do but so worth it! I used to struggle with serious depression and now I feel great having changed my diet .. and I have been depression-free for months!

      • Kirstie says

        I’ve been doing it daily on the challenge – and adding in strawberries or passionfruit too. I’ve never had gelato, but that’s what it makes me think of 🙂 And since it’s the middle of a hot QLD summer here, it’s so refreshing.

  20. Jennifer says

    Instead of white or brown sugar in recipes, what do you use? I see honey is good but is there natural brown sugar and natural granulated sugar that is good to use?? If so, what are the names/brands?

    • Jen says

      Honestly, I find it best just to not bake for myself unless I reeeeaaally want to use Splenda. There aren’t a lot of good replacements for baking sugar, at least not replacements that taste right. But that’s jar me. I know others use honey and/or agave. But agave is ridiculously high in fructose, so it’s not necessarily a step up. – Jen

      • KimiHarris says

        Jen, I really don’t recommend any artificial sweeteners. I would rather use an organic white sugar.

        Rapadura and Sucanat are both completely unrefined sugars. They will taste more like brown sugar. I also use granulated palm (or sometimes called coconut) sugar. Check out my dessert section for some ideas. 🙂

        • Jen says

          Oh, I don’t recommend them either! I should have been more specific in my response, sorry. In a lot of ways, they’re even worse than refined.

  21. says

    I am doing the sugar fast and it has not been easy. Two years ago I took a good look at the all the sources of HFCS in our diet. We occasionally ate non-organic breakfast cereal and had catsup and mustard in the fridge. We ate well, I thought, but I didn’t think of the secret sources. Even when I bought “natural” breakfast cereal with “No HFCS” labels it would have REGULAR corn syrup. Cutting out ALL breakfast cereals helped. I have been working lately to ratchet down the even the natural sweetener consumption. This had been a productive but difficult week. I realized how much less we can get by with and this means I could move the surplus budget for maple syrup and raw honey into cheese. Two of kiddos are asthmatic and NEED raw local honey to cope with allergy season, but they get that in Cambric tea at breakfast.

  22. Wendi says

    We are embarking on the sugar free, organic, way….QUESTION: What about kids’ birthday cakes? What recipe, etc. do you use for making a child’s birthday cake or what alternative cake ideas do you all have? THANKS!

    • Jen says

      I’d do a google search for baby birthday cakes. I tried making one a while back from a baby website that turned out ok. Of course I can’t remember the site! :p One of my favorite ways to make frosting is in a Magic Bullet- cream cheese, milk, and a little sugar free powdered pudding. I usually stay away from the artificial stuff, but… it IS a very tasty frosting. – Jen

      • KimiHarris says


        I have several honey sweetened frosting recipes on here as well (since I don’t recommend using artificial sweeteners, I use natural sweeteners). A cream cheese frosting sweetened with maple syrup or honey is also very delicious!

    • KimiHarris says


      We like the chocolate sourdough cake I have on this website (check out the recipe index). But it’s actually fairly easy to substitute better sweeteners, such as rapadura, maple syrup or honey in cakes.

  23. says

    Refined Sugar free is the way to go. Living without sugar has become freedom…I’m no longer chained to sugar cravings, crazy mood swings, or the roller coaster energy feeling. Thanks for the encouraging post!

  24. Michelle Bollinger says

    I have been sugar-free for the most part for a while now. A few months. The only sweetener I use is white cane sugar, as the other types of real-food sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, etc) make my ADD come back. We have maybe 2 servings of sugar a week.

    I started this for myself after suspecting I suffered from yeast over-growth. Turns out that is not the case, but I still steer clear from sugar on a regular basis. I just feel better, and yes I dropped a considerable amount of weight.

    I took our son off of it to help with his own ADHD. We follow the Feingold Program as well as the Nourishing Traditions way but I found that our son just doesn’t do well with sugar or sweetners to any great degree.

  25. says

    Very inspiring. I also have not had sugar for a while. It gives me mood swings and makes me drowsy. I played with taking sugar in and out of my diet for a year and a half, before it was finally axed. The difference was just too obvious to deny.

    Besides the fact that I eat a lot of fruit, I find that maple syrup does not have a bad effect of me, so I eat it on soaked buckwheat pancakes, in yogurt, etc.

    The rest of the family does not eat that much sugar, and it does not have such an effect on my husband. He loves his (and I would not dream of trying to get him to give it up) homemade jelly and jam in the morning. Besides I don’t know what I would do with all the fruit from my trees!

    As for the kids, we have made a sweet tooth deal. There is no sugar in the week (besides the morning jam). On the weekend, we do a homemade cake or I will buy them some good quality chocolate for dessert. The baking is a great activity for them and has far less sugar than any store bought cookies. While introducing them to good quality chocolate has made them connoisseurs! My 4 year old would rather have dark chocolate.

    While I have not had sugar in a while and don’t crave it anymore… I will be enjoying a special dessert in the future. I don’t want to keep it out of my life forever, I just want to get to that place where I am enjoying the amazing dessert and not just satisfying a sugar urge.

  26. H says

    I just started an elimination diet encouraged by my naturopath. I’m not allowed to eat any sugar while on this diet (30 days). I had no idea how much sugar I was eating! I got my first clue when I began to get sugar withdrawal headaches, and I thought: “wait, I’m not a sugar junkie!” Then I realized…sugar in granola bars, in oatmeal, in coffee, in bread…yep, I was/am a sugar junkie. We’ll see how long I can go without sugar! Thanks for the inspiring story!

  27. soccermom says

    I would love to do this but not sure from reading all this what’s ok and what’s not. What about bread/bread products? What should I start with and what should I be looking for? I’d love a novice primer or advice about a good book, etc. to walk me through this.

  28. says

    This has been an awesome week for me. My oldest child is 6. It’s the first week in 6+ years that I haven’t been aching for my kid(s) to get in bed for naptime so that I could lay down and sleep for a while too. I had some emotional moments this week when I realized at any other time I’d be digging around in the back of the cabinet for any kind of cookie, candy, or treat I could think of to make myself feel better (which of course never really worked but I liked to think I could console myself with food). So I guess my mood has been more stable, but the truly mindbending part for me has been the awesome energy boost. And the five pound weight loss! 🙂 I am eating way more quality calories but not sure that the calorie count is high or low…..just much better quality. Thank you so much for this challenge Kimi!

  29. says

    I just found your site…it looks good. I am going to try some of your GF recipes.

    I am allergic to foods with gluten, and avocado. I am also diabetic so I am trying to watch carbs and eat healthier in general. It’s so hard. I do lose 25 lbs. a few years ago, just eating mostly salads, meat, cheese, nuts, and sugar free Jello. I cut out all potatoes, sugar, corn, rice, most beans and most fruits. It’s really hard, though, but it worked in just two months. I also walked two miles almost every day and cut portion sizes when I went out to eat, even if I had a big salad or if I cheated a little and ate say, corn…but it’s been hard to get back to that. I need to lose another 35-30. I’m a sugar addict, and I have a hard time turning down french fries, so those are the hardest two things!

    Over the holidays I did great and made tons of my favorite cookies, for family and friends…and I made low carb, gluten free versions for myself, just substitution a combination of buckhwheat flour, almond flour, and brown rice flour (have to be careful of that last since it is not low carb), and either Splenda or Truvia or Agave. Almost all of them turned out great!! I also made a red velvet cake that turned out great. Even my MIL, who is picky and doesn’t have to eat low carb or gluten free, helped me eat them. I didn’t think she’d like the cake because she generally hates cream cheese, but she loved it!!

    So thanks for the recipes for new stuff to try! I think I found your site while looking for buckwheat recipes. I have made buckwheat pancakes in the past JUST with buckwheat, no other flours or xantham gum or anything, and they turned out great.

  30. says

    Thanks for sharing this story! It is so important that people understand the dangers of refined, white sugar! In my opinion, if you have to cut one thing from your diet, cut the crap…aka sugar! A great resource on this issue is Gary Taubes’ “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, or his new book “Why We Get Fat.”

  31. says

    This sounds like my experience with sugar as well. I too would use the term “sugar addict” I even jokingly refer to it as “the other fine white powder”.

    I appreciate your honesty in discussing this. I have my own food blog and I recently did a post about sugar and why I avoid it. I’ve been reluctant to get to into the reasons on my blog because I didn’t want anyone to think I was being “preachy” but I have a hard time not trying to educate people about the dangers of sugar.

    I do use unrefined sugars when I make treats for my family and I haven’t seen any of the addict behaviors rear their heads in my children/family. Thanks so much for the post.

  32. Marilou says

    Is anyone else out there an emotional over-eater? I’m asking because I am wondering if it changes the approach… I recently read an article by Martha Beck about weight loss for emotional over-eaters, and she seemed to discourage “forbidden” foods, stating that we inevitably will end up thinking about the “forbidden” stuff all the time. I’m confused! And very tempted to make sugar forbidden since I am such an addict… Any thoughts would be most grateful! Thanks to all for sharing such personal, and inspiring stories!

    • Emily says

      Marilou- I used to think I was an emotional over-eater. I even did a couple of forms of counseling, which helped to some extent. But there were still times I felt uncontrollable cravings, despite all the work I had done. I always felt like my appetite was way too strong- I couldn’t trust myself to stop eating when I was full because I was hungry a lot of the time. Three and a half months ago I cut all added sugar out of my diet, even the natural ones like honey. I stopped eating refined carbs and artificial sweeteners years ago, so I didn’t have to worry about those. For me (and I can only speak for myself), I am completely shocked and amazed at how normal I feel around food when I am off the white stuff. I don’t crave it, I don’t need it, it can be sitting in front of me on a plate and I can choose not to eat it. It does involve a bit of will power if it is actually in front of me, but the point is that I have the will power to exercise because I feel like a normal, sane person around food. On a few special occasions (Christmas) I had some dessert and noticed that the next day I felt the familiar cravings to eat more than I need to- not necessarily even sweets, just MORE food. I just worked through the cravings by not giving in, and they disappeared within a few days. L-gluatmine capsules (an amino acid) helps take the edge off the cravings. There is only one way to find out if it will work for you- try it! The first 2-3 weeks were rough, and I had a pretty healthy diet to start with. I am slowly losing weight (.5-1 pound per week) and have way more energy. I finally have enough energy to exercise more intensively, and that is speeding up the weight loss. I am never going back, though I will have the very occasional dessert from time to time, knowing I will have some cravings over the next couple of days.

  33. 911mom says

    Thanks so much for the information and the challenge! I have been considering this for quite a while but was kind of daunted by the challenge, especially since I have a family that would revolt without homemade cookies and brownies. I think I will start this challenge tonight and just handle me for now and hope my family can slowly be convinced….This maybe off topic but I recently had a bout of CIS…similar to an MS episode and I’m trying to follow a mostly vegetarian (fish ok)very lowfat diet. I see lots of people mentioning combining fats and proteins to combat the sugar cravings….any tips that don’t involve added fats? It’s great to know I won’t be alone in dealing with withdrawl 😉

  34. Juli says

    Just want you all to know ~ I did it! Probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. I didn’t read your post about easing in gradually till today so my hub and I shared three candy bars the night before the challenge started. I had headaches and a sinus infection all week. I know that it was part of my detox process. The only sugar I had was at the healthy life expo where I sampled grass fed beef summer sausage and didn’t think that there would be added sugar in it. But it’s such a small amount I was told. My cravings and constant hunger are almost completely gone. I feel so much better and calmer and level-headed. On Sunday my hub came home from the store with coconut yogurt and kefir all sweetened and we had words. But it was just a week! he said. I told him I couldn’t go back. It really let me see just how addicted I was and just how all encompassing and prevalent so many issues I didn’t like were caused and /or effected by sugar. I would have never done this if it hadn’t been for your challenge. I would’ve meant to get to it someday and put it off. I also might not have hung in there considering all the pain and lack of energy I had through the detox. I am actually glad it was so bad so it is a clear picture of what I do not want to go through again. I am now taking this one day at a time but see the light and hope to just keep going. Thanks so much for doing this!! I am very grateful!

  35. Kirstie says

    I’ve reserved the book ‘Sweet Poison’ – about the negative effects of sugar (namely, the fructose in sugar) on the body. It also has a follow up book on quitting sugar in the diet. He advocates using glucose as a sweetener – not honey or unrefined sugars, as they still contain the ‘harmful, addictive’ fructose. Anyone else researched into this? I’m looking forward to reading his books.

  36. says

    I read this post when it first was published it was on my mind to give this a try. Now it has been three days no white flour no sugar. So exciting that it hasn’t been horrible :O) Thanks for the motivation!

  37. cirelo says

    It’s been a couple years now that in my day to day diet I have not been consuming much more than a couple teaspoons a day of any added sweeteners. I used to feel guilty about even that, but then I realized its really not a struggle for me and I don’t really have any health problems so maybe I shouldn’t stress too much about it. I think that fatty foods, like a glass of whole milk or some nuts were key at first to weaning myself off when I had cravings. I didn’t want to overcompensate by eating tons of fruit especially since fruit isn’t as nutrient dense as other foods. I do think what is amazing is how natural sweetness shows through so much more in whole foods now I don’t eat sugar. I’m so happy that I started eating this way before my children were born because I was really able to start them out on the right foot without many obstacles. My children now most days only have a drizzle of honey on some oatmeal or a little maple syrup. They don’t need it though and we just have it as a treat here and there. They are used to all sorts of flavors because of it, their palates are much more varied than mine at that age– I could never imagine eating yogurt plain as a child, but they relish it.

  38. Tiffany says

    Your story is very inspirational. I’ve just been diagnosed with prediabetes and have to make a lifestyle change such as having no more sugar in my diet for the sake of my health. Unfortunately, I’m addicted to sugar, but I’m really suffering after I eat it. Thank you again for your story. I’m sure I will refer back to it as I make this lifestyle change. God Bless!

  39. says

    Thank you for this! I am having a such a hard time cutting it out. I did for a while before I got pregnant with my last baby who is now 6 months old. While pregnant I fell off the wagon and have not been able to get it back together since. I want to quit SOOO badly and will go for a few days before I cave. It’s so helpful to read so many others’ comments and suggestions!

  40. amanda Smith says

    I’m wondering about foods sweetened with organic cane syrup, organic brown rice syrup, and organic tapioca syrup? Do these sweeteners act the same as sugar on the body? I like to eat a Luna Fiber Bar occasionally and they are sweetened with these ingredients.


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