Many sugar cravings stem from a blood sugar imbalance. When your body ingests sugar, your blood sugar spikes, and your body releases insulin to lower it to a safer level. If the insulin brings your blood sugar level a bit too low, as often happens, your body craves foods that will raise it and increase your energy. Thus, sugar is a tricky food. When we talk about sugars from a health perspective, what we are usually talking about is added-sugar which is the refined sugar added into things like bread, candy, and soda. This includes table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and white flour.
Whether or not you can actually become addicted to, or physically dependent upon, added-sugar depends largely on your definition of addiction. But it does appear that many people experience withdrawal-like symptoms when they give it up.
You're on a blood sugar roller coaster, and it's hard to get off it. The moment you withdraw excessive intake of added sugar, the more you crave for it. As advised by most health experts, the key to balancing blood sugar is to eat foods that prevent too much insulin from being released, such as protein and healthy fats, and consuming only small amounts of sugar (if any). It's also important to eat regular meals and snacks because blood sugar drops when you skip a meal.
Sugar causes a release of endorphins in the brain. These are your body’s natural opioids. It’s possible that your body craves these extra opioids when they’re gone, causing withdrawal. Sugar also causes a release of dopamine, which plays a major role in habit formation.
If you have eliminated all sources of sugar from your diet, including fruit and dairy, then you may be experiencing the keto flu. People on a ketogenic diet consume less than 10% of their calories from carbohydrates per day—which may be less than 20 grams of carbs. Without access to sugar or other carbohydrates, the body has no source of glucose. Glucose is like fuel for our cells, and without it, we begin to starve.
Saying sayonara to sugar is no piece of cake. It is a process you have to endure because while you detoxify your body from it, you will look for it even more. So sugar is an addictive food hard to withdraw from our system —literally and figuratively. Those cravings don’t go away overnight especially when you see it. So it is a battle between saying no and saying yes.
Signs and Symptoms
Neurotransmitters are the brain’s chemical messengers. There are billions of these molecules at work all the time, sending messages throughout your nervous system that allow you to eat, think, move, breathe, etc.
Sugar also triggers a release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter linked to cravings.
People may want to reduce their sugar intake to promote their overall health. However, doing so can cause some unpleasant but temporary sugar detox symptoms. If you cut added sugars from your diet, you may experience:
Intense cravings for something sweet
Intense cravings for other carbohydrates, like chips or pasta
cravings for sweet or high-calorie foods
lack of energy
Within days of giving up sugar, these symptoms can become so unbearable that we end up binging. Binge-eating is part of a vicious cycle of sugar dependence and withdrawal. After a binge, people often feel guilty, depressed, and angry. So how do they make themselves feel better? They eat more sugar to get those endorphins flowing again.
Endorphins make you feel better while you are eating, but they don’t stick around for long. Some also experience ketosis feelings. Basically, ketosis feels like the mild flu. These symptoms typically go away on their own after about a week. It just takes time for your body to adjust to its new reality.
Coping for sugar detoxification depends on your motivation and determination. How you cope with the symptoms of sugar withdrawal will depend on your goals and reasons for reducing your sugar intake. A strong goal for this kind of transition requires you to give your body time to adjust.
If you are doing a low-carb or keto diet for weight loss purposes, you can consider altering your approach. A low-carb diet has many of the same health benefits as a keto diet, including weight loss. The only difference is that your body will not enter a state of ketosis. Ketosis can lead to rapid weight loss, but it is usually temporary.
It is important to talk to your doctor before beginning a low-carb or sugar detoxification. This kind of body adjustment is usually healthy, but it can be dangerous for certain people. Because these types of sugar-free lifestyles are so restrictive, they can lead to depression.
Sugar withdrawal doesn’t really require long-term treatment, because it will pass relatively quickly if you are consistent. The main problem people face is sustaining a low-sugar diet. These restrictive diets are too much for most people, so don’t feel guilty if you fall off the wagon.
If going sugar-free for three weeks is going to make you binge next month, try a less drastic diet. Added-sugar might be hard to let go of, especially since it has been part of your lifestyle for a long time. It is at the same time not that long to take if you are willing to make it less to zero in your diet. Moreover, added sugar is unnecessary. Fruits and vegetables already have enough sugar that our bodies need. Anything in excess, as they say, is bad. So avoid anything processed when you can.
A diet rich in lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables will help you sustain a healthy weight while giving the body the nutrients it needs to thrive. Try to avoid processed foods, as they tend to be packed with added sugars. Instead, get your sweet fix from something that contains fiber, like berries, oranges, or apples.
Eating behavior is important. If you have to set a goal to detoxify your body from added-sugar, you need to make changes in your eating behaviors. Old habits are hard to break, especially quitting comfort food and processed food and drinks. Instead of detoxifying drastically that can hurt you emotionally and physically, start with small changes. Take small steps and be proud of it rather than guilty about the changes yet to be made. A gradual adjustment is better than nothing and it can take you straight into a healthier you.
You may also start by still enjoying yourself eating your favorite smoothies and juices, your favorite desserts, and other comfort foods in your mind that gives you satisfaction and relieves you from stress by adjusting sugar ingredients from them.
Don’t you know that you can actually replace the added-sugar with something nature can provide? All-natural, gluten-free, and non-GMO. The miracle berry from richberry. As mentioned and suggested, you can still enjoy eating your comfort food, and drinks without added sugar. Try consuming them with richberry and experience a whole lot of surprises you can give yourself into.