Cutting Back on Sugar


Today I joined in over at Kitchen Stewardship’s Spring Cleaning: Get the Junk Out Carnival, and guest posted on sugar. I wrote a very honest (and sometimes TMI) piece on my personal story with sugar and gave a good 5 reasons why we want to rid our diets of sugar. So go take a read for parts one and two and then come back here for part three;

Get the Junk Out: Sugar

cutting back on sugar

photo credit – elena photos

Part Three: Take Action!

With books upon books written on the subject, and a mass of articles online as well, the question still stands for many folks – how do you really get rid of sugar in your diet? For some of us it will be easier than others depending on how far along we are in our journey to real foods, so I’ll break it up a bit for you.

Baby Step to reduce sugar consumption

1. When first trying to cut sugar out of your diet, it’s essential that you start reading the labels on the food you buy! High fructose corn syrup is the first thing that needs to go. Get in the habit of this first.

2. Stop buying foods with added sugar that aren’t meant to be sweet. Things like taco seasoning packets, dressings, and store bought sauces can have sugar in them and they are so easy to make at home. (cheaper too!)

3. Start cutting back on your consumption of sweets. Limit not only the amounts you eat, but the days you eat them. Try to have at least a few days each week where you don’t consume sweets.

Take it Up a Notch

4. Switch to natural sugars in recipes. Use sucanat or rapadura (one of the least refined sugars), maple syrup, and honey. Yes, they are more expensive, but the great thing is, it’ll give you incentive to use them less!

And choose to limit desserts to once a week, making them an occasional indulgence, not an everyday treat.

Grain free brownies sweetened with honey are delicious

Apple Grunt is a wonderful ‘comfort’ dessert

apple grunt cake recipe

And caramel corn makes a lovely sweet and crunchy snack!

A good sugar to start out with if you’re used to only refined white sugar is going to be organic whole cane sugar. It’s an easy swap (1:1 ratio) and the taste and textures will be about the same. When switching over to more natural sugars, sometimes it’s easiest to replace just some of the sugar at a time. If your recipe calls for 1 cup try using 3/4 cup of your normal sugar and 1/4 whole cane sugar and increasing the ratio each time you make it. For me, this seemed to help my family make the conversion a bit easier!

Put Your Big Girl Panties On!

5. If you’re suffering from medical issues and even things that seem like common annoyances (eczema, headaches, yeast overgrowth, chronic colds/coughs, lowered immune system, etc.) or you’ve been doing the natural sugar thing for some time and want to kick it up a notch, it may be time to cut sugar out of your life!

Personally, I find that I have to go cold turkey in order for me to get a handle on over coming sugar. The gradual cutback cause me to crave sweets more and I end up over indulging. So my advice would be to clean out your cabinets, anything you know you shouldn’t eat, and stay away from buying anymore. The first few days are tough as your body works on the physical cravings. And then in the days weeks months after, you’ll have to struggle with the emotional attachment to sugar which is the hardest thing to break.

If you need extra help in cutting your consumption of added sugar, you can grab my book The Sugar Detox Challenge and I’ll walk you through an 8 week process to get rid of it from your meals and snacks!

Donielle Baker

Donielle Baker

owner and editor of Natural Fertility and Wellness at Natural Fertility and Wellness
I believe women can learn how to heal their bodies & balance their hormones through natural methods. An advocate for natural health, I have a passion for nourishing/real food nutrition and natural living. My personal background includes both infertility and miscarriage and I started Natural Fertility and Wellness in 2008 in order to share all of the information I found helpful in my journey to heal from PCOS and overcome infertility.
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
Donielle Baker
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  1. Amy @ Finer Things

    I want to quit sugar. I really do… need a support group or something. 😉

  2. Emily @ Little Home

    I submitted a link above. And you’re in my google reader, too.

  3. tarena

    I went cold turkey too…it worked really well! But I’ve had a few coffees, so now I need to hunker down on sugar again!
    Great reminder!
    I hope to win!!!!

  4. Patti

    I plan on doing a cleansing diet, including cutting out sugar, next week when I am done traveling. I need to make a change in my health, and what better time than now?!

  5. Anna

    No sugar helps me feel so much better!

  6. Anna

    I already subscribed.

  7. Lanie

    I’ve been thinking about/moving toward quiting sugar for sometime. Mood swings are the worst for me and my family!

  8. Lanie

    I subscribe

  9. Amy @ From Scratch

    I subscribe to your blog via Google Reader.

  10. Amanda

    I’ve already been good to cut out most processed foods in my diet. It’s the things like the mini Kit Kat bars or Hershey’s Kisses that I have to fight temptation with. My blood sugar may be okay if I only had 1, but I’d likely eat 3 or 4. I’m only on day 3 of sugar or candy free. I’m hoping time will make this easier. My goal is to have a sustained blood sugar level that my hormones, specifically progesterone, will be at optimal levels for TTC.

  11. Lenetta @ Nettacow

    I’m submitting my elimination diet for this one, too… it was really eye-opening, but I had a hard time sustaining it. I was so exhausted from caring for my baby plus insomnia that I didn’t really feel any better at the time… I’m thinking now that I’m getting a bit more sleep, it’s time to try again! (Especially after eating WAY.TOO.MUCH Easter candy!)

  12. Linda

    I subscribed for free updates by email. I too am working to cut out sugar. I think I have eliminated HFCS but still crave sweets in the evening.

  13. Sarah Bauer

    I am a hypoglycemic, so sugar and I already have a hate relationship. When I took the test to determine the problem it was the 3 hour glucose test and the first hour I crashed out so hard I felt completely ill! I was literally curled up in the chair in the waiting room wishing I could just be done. My Dr told me that normal people spike up to 200 or so that first hour…I crashed down to 70 something. I also have bad mood swings that are associated with that sugar crash (incidentally my mom also had bad mood swings when we didn’t have meals at regular times or she ate too much starchy food at a time, so I’m thinking the poor sugar tolerance comes from something on her side of the family). Since learning that, and working to use more natural sugars/sweeteners I’ve really cut back on the amount of sugar I consume and don’t really have too many cravings for it any more. I’ve also done things like started to use Stevia in my coffee (I know I should probably give that up to, but at this stage, my stomach actually needs the acid to function properly, so I just make sure I get organic, water process decaf and call it good). The Stevia gives me the sweet taste I want without any worry of a crash out, it’s great!

  14. Sarah Bauer

    I subscribe via email

  15. Sarah Bauer

    I shared on facebook

  16. Julia

    You are in my blogger reader, love to hear what you have to say.

  17. Julia

    I know I should lower my intake of sugar but I LOVE IT! I have been trying to eat more good sugar aka fruit and less fake sugar aka cookies and chocolate. I hope I can do better in the next few months, it helps to have something to work towards like getting pregnant.

  18. heather harris

    I’m a follower…you’re in my google reader

  19. heather harris

    I’ll be twittering this, and facebooking as well…

  20. joanna

    I subscribed to your blog via google reader! so excited to start following all your advice and tips!!

  21. joanna

    I am really trying to cut sugar out of our family’s diet and for the last year I have avoided buying products with high fructose corn syrup. I thought I had discovered all the items to leave on the grocery store shelves and stopped checking labels. Then a couple weeks ago, I was shocked to see that the jar of pickles I bought had high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient! crazy – I guess I can never turn my radar off. Thank you for providing many recipes to help me further avoid buying things at the store with sugar!

  22. joanna

    my third comment to say that I also shared your post on facebook : )

  23. Shirley @ gfe

    I linked up a recipe using a new/old concept that I recently came across, using milk sweetened with raisins as one’s sweetener. It worked! I can’t wait to experiment more with it. Since we raise bees, I’ve been using our honey more and more, but ideally, I need to give up ALL sugar to feel the best. I’ve done it before … just need to get back there. 😉 I agree that going cold turkey is the best. Even a tiny amount of sugar in pretty much any form (honey, maple syrup, etc.) keeps me wanting sugar. But after the first few days of giving it up, I feel terrific.

    So many of the issues you cite can also be related to gluten. (Being a gluten-free blogger and a gluten intolerance/celiac support group leader, I just have to mention that.)

    Great post and giveaways! Thanks,


  24. Shirley @ gfe

    I subscribed via email.


  25. Sara

    I’ve just started to think about reducing sugar in my diet, but I know it will be tough. I realize this past week that my daily “chocolate” craving is actually a “sugar” craving, since dark chocolate doesn’t cut it!

  26. Sandra

    I am in desperate need of eliminating sugar from my diet … your information has been timely, indeed. I have seen sucunat in stores, but didn’t really know what it was. I think I might need to try some….


  27. Denise Therese

    I submitted my recipe. Thanks for hosting this carnival!! 😀

  28. Sandra

    I’m following you via Google!

  29. Meggin

    My husband and I cut out sugar from our diet about a month ago when we decided to completely overhaul our eating habits. So far my husband has lost over 25 pounds and I have lost 10! Even though it originally cost more money, we feel better, sleep better, and have more energy. It isn’t always easy, but we are committed to doing it for our help. Thanks for your encouragement and ideas!

  30. Frances

    I will be thinking about reducing my sugar intake after reading your post at KS. Thanks for sharing…and thanks for orchestrating the giveaway!

  31. Frances

    I tweeted this giveaway/post. 🙂

  32. Lisa Imerman

    I have been struggling with this issue. We have gone to natural sweeteners (for the most part) and I probably need to cut sugar out completely (at least for a while) but I find it so HARD that I just can’t seem to get a grip on doing it or how to do it for the family due to rebellion with my kids that I am sure will ensue.

    I have yeast issues and my kids have allergy, eczema and gut issues.

    Currently we use mostly Maple Syrup and Raw honey with a bit of sucanat/rapadura in there.

    My main issue is we are also wheat free (and now needing to probably go full tilt gluten free according to our doc), dairy free, soy free and we do eat real food, so it is a lot to do!!

    I love your post on this and look forward to hearing other stories.

    My daughter has had digestive issues since she was born (premature at 30 1/2 weeks) and we have come a long way by doing raw milk, real food and some supplements with her over the years (she is now 11), but she has adrenal issues stemming from her birth situation, so we have worked to increase her digestive health, immune system and trying to help her adrenals. She does not tolerate sugar well at all, but refuses to listen to us about saying no, especially when it is really junk food from other than at home (like at Girl Scout meeting last night she had some chocolate mousse that was made with a pudding mix) and she had a tummy ache most of the night and was extremely irritable last night and today.

    I would love to win the prizes!! I love your blog and am on the email feed.

    Lisa Imerman
    lrimerman at comcast dot net

  33. Linda

    Just found your blog from another that I read regularly (SS&GF). It’s really helpful there are other folks out there going through the same stuff.
    I never knew nutrition and diet played as large a role as it does. For health’s sake, I went gluten free, and dairy free six+ months ago. Also, mostly soy free too. It has brought out such an awareness of what I eat, I’m actually very thankful. I find myself cooking pretty much everything now, and am just starting to figure out what safe places there are to eat. It’s a challenge!
    In my baking, I thought agave was the best….. well, I just learned differently, so out it goes. That was a couple of weeks ago, and decided to go sugar free too. So far I’ve only used some stevia for sweetener on only few items. I even included fruit, as the fructose seemed to affect yeast issues. Raisins and bananas are the only things left, and still on the fence! In that short period of time, it’s been about a 90-95% improvement. I’d say the first week it was hard, seemed like I’d keep heading for sweet things. My jar of dark chocolate chips has always been there to go to. It’s been pretty lonely the last week or so, and I don’t get any cravings now. I think the relief from symptoms is the bigger strength that I will hold to if I ever consider returning. It’s just not worth it.
    The amazing journey continues!
    One day at a time, it will get easier!


  34. Jessica

    I subscribe to your RSS.

  35. kari

    I’m ready to give it a go and cut out refined sugar. Like you, I think it’s easiest to go cold turkey.

  36. BRB

    I feel that my interest in sugar has decreased proportionately with the amount of fat that I consume.

  37. Mindful Momma

    Donielle – your blog is a wonderful resource!! I wish it had been around when I was struggling with infertility. I never even considered giving up sugar but it might have helped….it’s hard to know. I’m looking forward to trying some of your recipes! Best wishes!

  38. Renee

    I recieve updates via email. Would love to win.

  39. Renee

    I need to give up sugar for myself and my family. I would love do a detox but Im breastfeeding so I have to wait. For now we are cutting down on proccessed foods and then we will take the next step. We Cant afford to do it all at once. We are on a very very very tight budget and it doesnt allow for making alot of changes. Im cooking more and making more homemade food and sauces etc. Hubby already has diabeties and he is only 30. We are both over weight and cant seem to lose probably because of all the sugar we eat. We live in the south and it a sweet every night. Hard to break traditions. We are learning. Would love to win.
    God bless

  40. Andi

    I’m a subscriber (through Google Reader). I keep trying to give up sugar – and then it finds it’s way back into the house again. If I could just get hubby on board I think I could do it….

  41. Kelly

    I’ve been sugar detoxing for about two weeks with an off day for Easter and an off weekend for a wedding this weekend. I back to the no sugar but boy, this last weekend of sugar sure made me feel awful! This is day two of RE-detox and while I have no cravings, I sure am grumpy! The less sugar, especially refined, the better for me. I feel better and have more energy. It also has helped to add in a lot of good butter and coconut oil and good fats! Since last August I’ve lost 40 pounds and around 29 inches.

    I’ve been following your blog since around January I think. I do have one excellent sugar free snack that I’ll list here since it is not originally mine.
    The original post has an option for an almost completely sugar free topping. I find the super dark chocolate to be sufficient though. 5g net carbs is my limit right now for detox, a few times a day.

  42. Melissa LaMunyon

    Just an fyi–for anyone wanting to go cold turkey on sugar–or anything addictive– the herb kudzo is AWESOME. My ND told me to take 3 tablespoons of powder a day while I was going cold turkey on: gluten, sugar, caffiene and alcohol. You guys….it works so well. Yes, it tastes horrible (you can get capsules…just have to take a lot of them) but it knocked my cravings out!

  43. Annie

    I’m pretty close to having cut out all sugar – I eat almost no processed foods and occasionally use maple syrup or raw honey. I’m really trying to limit those, too. But with less vigor, lol. They’re my remaining sweeteners! But I feel like other natural sugars taste sweeter to me, like fruit tastes very sweet, and even milk tastes sweeter. I’d love to win some of the dried fruit – thanks.

    SOooooo…. I just watched your “Sugar is the new “S” word” video – from Jan – what happened w/ your and your baby’s eczema!!!? DYING to know. Our daughter has very bad eczema. She eats a bit more processed food than I do, sadly (boy can a 2 yr old be hooked!) and loves her sweets, but I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a flare due to sugar consumption. Please share what happened! I’ll poke around your blog in case you already did.

  44. Annie

    I signed up for the emails!

  45. Deanna

    I must laugh at myself. I cut out sugar months ago because of my PCOS and it gradually crept back in (though not in as large of quantities). Now, I have to do it AGAIN since being diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 14 wks pg. I should have just stuck with it the 1st time. 😉

  46. Billie

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all get off sugar….:) Thanks for the giveaway!

  47. Leah2021

    I have never been really big on sweets preferring to grab a piece of fruit when wanting something sweet. I do LOVE quality dark chocolate though. I am trying to cut back on the sugar in our home; although, I still really enjoy my southern sweet tea which I put way too much sugar in!

  48. Leah2021

    I already subscribe via e-mail

  49. Carmen

    I really need to eliminate as much sugar from my diet as possible – especially since I’m considered pre-diabetic. I have sweets everyday, so I’m starting to learn how to reduce and cut out sugar.

  50. Carmen

    I just subscribed (RSS)

  51. Billie

    I subscribed via email! thank you

  52. Jodie

    I am loving your blog! I have been reading it backwards like a book over the last 10 days. 🙂 I am a CPA and have been processing all the information while at work and next week MUST start implementing some of your great suggestions! I have 4 kids and think now must be the time to start getting all the junk (including sugar) out! I am a sugar-o-holic…next week will be painful! But…first thing on my to-do list for Friday is to go buy Nourishing Traditions and start formulating a plan for healthier eating! Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  53. christina

    I’d love to win. My son is a backpacker and he’s been off sugar for over 2 years now. It has greatly helped his symptoms with Tourette’s Syndrome. He’d love to take some dried blueberries on his next backpacking trip!

  54. Jen @ BigBinder

    Last year when we went to Sugarbush at Blandford Nature Center, the guide told us that the concept of using cups of sugar would have seemed ridiculous to the Native Americans and early settlers – when something is difficult to acquire, nature is kind of telling us to use it sparingly.

  55. Jen @ BigBinder

    I already subscribe to your RSS feed 🙂

  56. Mia

    Hi! Love your blog. The information you share is amazing. I’m really enjoying the “Get the Junk Out” series. I was diagnosed with PCOS 12 years ago. It has been a struggle, especially with doctors that only want to write prescriptions. Our family has been off of white sugar for two months now (yay). My kids love frozen blueberries and strawberry smoothies. Not missing the white stuff at all. Hubby was blown away by the switch to pure maple syrup for our weekend pancakes! Hoping to see my cycles show up in the coming months. Thank you and God bless you.

  57. Lindsay

    I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia (my pancreas makes too much insulin so that makes me sensitive to sugar) in 2006 in a very indirect way when my doctor diagnosed my son with the same condition. Basically, it made sense to him that my son was hypoglycemic since I was as well. It was a shock. I never knew and it surprised me that my usually thorough doctor had assumed I knew this about myself. I admit to mentioning low blood sugar (LBS) episodes at previous appointments but in my defense, that was the name my mother gave those shaky, dizzy, ravenous feelings I’d get as a teen. She’d have me eat then I’d be fine. Since being unofficially diagnosed I have read 6 books on the subject and feel (almost) that I could write my own. It’s been 4 years and I’ve minimized my sugar intake to 10% of my total sweets intake. Considering how often I eat anything sweet, that is an unavoidable microscopic amount. My favorite treat is unsweetened applesauce mixed with stoneyfield yogurt, dehydrated soaked walnuts and fresh berries. Amazing. One tip I would recommend for anyone dealing with recurrent LBS episodes, do not give in to the ravenous feeling with anything with sugar in it. Adams peanut butter on bread, toast, cracker, or even rice cake (yum) will help counter the insulin surge more effectively helping to diminish further episodes. People will want to give you juice or candy – you’re not diabetic – don’t take it. Ask for something with a balance of protein and not overtly complex carbs, like bread or crackers. Then you can move on to a healthier, more sustaining meal. (sent from my iPhone)

  58. trisha

    i subscribed!

  59. trisha

    i used stumbleupon to share this post

  60. Stephanie

    An easy way to get the sugar out for us was to use less and less in our ice tea, until now we use none. My husband used to use a lot of sugar in his tea, but he adjusted too.

    • donielle

      @Stephanie, Great tip! I had to do that with my tea as well. When I first started drinking it I had about as much sugar in there as I did tea!

  61. Geraldine

    I think we as American’s….ok maybe its just me, don’t really think of just how much sugar we (I) eat on a daily basis. Thanks to my digestive system I no longer buy processed sweets-cookies, cereals, even granola bars. Its not so much about the sugar as it is all the other gunk in there that doesn’t set well with me(or my insides). But now that i make any of the sweets and treats that we have I can see how easy it is to reduce the sugar amount of a recipe or how great it is to use Sucanat instead. I suppose its something to continue learning about. 🙂

  62. April

    Already a subscriber! Just want to let you know how much I appreciate your blog and the openness with which you write. I was diagnosed with PCOS in July 2009, and the doctor very flatly said to me, “This is a disease and it requires prescription medication.” I brought up the idea of trying to control it with diet, but he was not interested. I subsequently found I was no longer interested in his services. 🙂 It has been really inspiring to see the positive effect a healthy diet has had on your own fertility.

  63. April

    I also shared this post through stumbleupon.

  64. Michelle

    i used stumbleupon to share this post

  65. Tracy

    Sign me up! I love sweets, but want to learn more about reducing it in my diet and my kids’ diet. I signed up for your RSS feed! Looking forward to learning more!

  66. my year without

    Love the advice and totally relate. Can’t wait to make those bean brownies. Never heard of such things! Thanks so much!

  67. Nina

    i gave up sugar and it was fine then i got pregnant and strted a new job and now my son is 2.5 and i’m having a hard time kicking the habit again – i’m going to be checking this all out – thanks

  68. Allison

    we are slowly making our way to a refined sugar free diet

  69. Mel

    Thank You for your blog and information. After two back to back miscarriages Aug and Sept2011, and 1 and half years of TTC. I never thought that my love of sugar could actually have something to do with my fertility.
    I am just a horrible sugar person.. I will have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Your Blog
    has inspired me to get SUGAR CLEANSED and Im telling myself perhaps this is
    what the doctors who say … “theres nothing wrong” cant figure about.. Im very excited.. Cant
    wait to try to be SUGAR FREE!!!!!!!!!!!

    • donielle

      @Mel, I’m terribly sorry for your losses, how devastating. But I’m also excited for you as you work to better your diet and kick the sugar habit! I too used to eat sugar in some form for every meal – and I feel so much better when I don’t.

      If you haven’t subscribed at all, make sure you keep up on the blog as I’ll be announcing the “Naturally balanced” challenge very soon and re-releasing the Sugar Detox Challenge into a mini e-book in the next couple of weeks.