You Want To Be A Happier Human? Ditch Sugar.

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3 min read

Overcoming sugar addiction

That processed added sugar is the enemy is now about as refutable as climate change. Urgh, which means it’s on us to take steps to limit our intake. But overcoming sugar addiction ain’t easy. Living without added sugar is like watching TV with no sound: a lil’ frustrating, bland as balls…meh.
Also, jumping off the processed sugar train for good seems nigh on impossible these days: those little granules of insulin spiking happiness have us cornered. From pasta sauce to bagels; from low fat yoghurt to granola. It’s everywhere. Processed sugar is as pervasive as a fart in an elevator.
Overcoming sugar addiction detox seven simple steps
Overcoming sugar addiction
Is it possible to give up processed sugar?

I’m not convinced it’s even possible and it’s just another ‘To Do’ to add to ‘The List’, so should we even bother? After picking the brains of a few colleagues at work, plus a super-fit wellness guru and my best mate, I’ve concluded that it is possible and so worth giving a shot.

Breaking the addiction: detox

Apparently, it can take over a week to break a sugar addiction. Don’t be surprised if you vacillate between severe hunger and exhaustion. You may feel tired, miserable, even angry. Food (and therefore, life) will be boring. At least to start with. But, by day four the clouds should part. Hallelujha! And, by the end of the week, you’ll be swinging from the rafters (in a good way).

Feel great

Make no mistake, it will be an ordeal, but some of the benefits experienced by processed-sugar-free beings I have encountered include weight loss, better sleep, glowing skin, minimal afternoon hunger pangs, heightened energy, a sense of calm and a feeling of overall happiness.

So, here are a few ways to integrate a less sweet existence into your busy schedule and give processed sugar the bird, once and for all.

1. Planeroo not Deliveroo

Getting organised is key. On Saturday morning go over your commitments for the next week. Write down your breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner for each day. Then jump online and order your groceries. Snaps to you for kicking goals before the weekend has even started.

2. Re-acqaint yourself with your kitchen

Do a big cook on Sunday night to fill your freezer: pre-roast vegetables, cook soup, prepare a big vegetable stew, chilli or Bolognese and bag up healthy snacks for work like nuts, seeds and fresh berries.  This way, you won’t find yourself ordering a sugar-laden meal from Uber Eats when you’re working late and you won’t get caught with your hand in the boss’s lollie drawer. Cooking is also a great way to be present: you’d be amazed how meditative chopping celery can be.

3. Cook from scratch

The only way you can guarantee no added sugar is by cooking with fresh produce. For example, shop-bought sauces are sugar laden, full of preservatives and best avoided. So, switch tomato sauce for passata (it’s 100% tomato puree) or coconut milk as the base for sauces and add flavour with chilli, garlic, ginger and fresh herbs. Warning: food labels are not always accurate and differ from country to country.

4. Smoke that swede

Set yourself a goal of eating ten different vegetables each week. This is a great way to boost your fibre, vitamins and mineral intake and to try out new textures and flavours. Who knows, perhaps swede isn’t as nasty as it was when you were a kid.

5. Equality doesn’t apply to fats

If you are a serial dieter, this one might be tough: unless it’s trans-fat, ignore the fat content on food labels. Not all fat is bad. Try incorporating salmon or mackerel into a meal at least once a week. And snack on coconut and avocado. Eating these foods will keep you full and break that unhealthy relationship between you and the cookie jar.

6. Steady as she goes

I’ve no doubt you’re familiar with the mid-morning slump, for which a croissant is the only remedy: it sends your blood-sugar soaring before crashing again half an hour later? Prevent those highs and lows by switching your morning coffee for green tea.

7. Get scores on the board early

For a few quick wins, switch out:

  • milk chocolate for 99% cocoa chocolate
  • special K for plain oats
  • protein balls for a handful of nuts
  • oyster sauce for tamari
  • salad dressing for balsamic vinegar
  • sugary drinks for fruit
  • fat free milk for full cream milk

Easy as (sugar-free) pie, right?

Have you ever tried to give up sugar? Were there tears? Did you live to tell the tale? Share your story in the comments below and click here to ask the coolest business women and female entrepreneurs (if and) how they give up the sweet stuff.

This is not medical advice so check with your doctor before implementing any drastic diet changes.

Cover photo: Matches Fashion; Photo credit: My Domaine

Overcoming sugar addiction

13 Comments
  1. Kate Campbell says

    Love the food swaps! Makes it really easy to understand it’s about choice rather than “giving up”. Once you get past the addiction you actually don’t feel like sugar, and when you do, enjoy it. It’s about balance 🙂

    1. Iris Lillian says

      Hey Kate, have you given up sugar? Well done! I think it’s going to be a long road for me. Can you recommend any other food swaps?

      1. Kate Campbell says

        mmm not completely! But refined sugar makes up a much smaller percentage of my diet. I think the big ones are processed foods! So much hidden sugar, even in the savoury stuff. Good fats is a great way to subdue the sugar cravings (especially in the arvo!) My faves are full fat yogurt with banana or berries, peanut butter on apple slices or a chocolate protein smoothie with coconut cream and banana. Feels indulgent but will actually keep you full!

        1. Iris Lillian says

          Oh, I like the sound of peanut butter on apple slices. It seems as though giving up sugar isn’t as easy as going ‘cold turkey’ and takes a bit of time to become familiar with the package descriptions on labels and cravings. Well done for cutting it down!

  2. Debra says

    Hi Elissa, I have given up all sugar. It’s not that hard once you get through the first few days as long as you have decided. Made a huge difference to me with some inflammation I had happening.

    1. Iris Lillian says

      Whoa! Congratulations. That is a huge feat. What does your daily diet look like now? Have you heard of the Wim Hof method to help with inflammation?

  3. Scarlet Danner says

    I so want to do this, but I have zero self-control! Especially when it comes to flavored coffees. *drool* But these are some great ideas!

    1. Iris Lillian says

      Haha! I’m the queen of no self-control so I’ve decided to start slowly. For example, instead of picking up a milk chocolate bar I’ll go for 99% cocoa. I can handle that and hopefully will move on to bigger “fish” going forward. Is there a small change you can start with?

  4. Amaia Arana says

    I gave up sugar a few days ago and it hasn’t been as hard as I thought. The only thing is that those hidden sugars are all over the place so those are the most difficult to get rid of. Since giving up I have much less night cravings and feel more energized. I have replaced cookies for nuts and smoothies and it is so much better!

    1. Iris Lillian says

      That’s fantastic! Well done Amaia. Were there a few foods you were surprised had added sugar? It seems to be lurking everywhere these days.

  5. Luciana @ Lilt Blog says

    I quit sugar for a whole month. Didn’t even eat fruit during it and felt so much better for it.
    Once I started introducing fruit and natural sugars into my life I couldn’t believe how sickly artificial sugars and sweets tasted.

    Unfortunately I have let some bad habits sneak in again. I am definitely due for a mother sugar detox and streamlining my diet a bit more. This article will be very handy and is being saved as we speak.

    Thanks for Sharing

    x Luciana

    1. Iris Lillian says

      A whole month must have been tough. Well done! Is fruit too sickly sweet?

  6. […] tempting to get a quick sugar hit and press on, but this is a bad long-term solution. Your teeth and tummy will not thank […]

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