Here I am, starting day four of my “No Sugar for 30 days Challenge”. And so far I’ve done really, really well.
But the cravings?
Yea, those are tough.
So let’s talk about them, shall we?
Why We Have Sugar Cravings
Our bodies can crave sugar for many reasons. One reason is a sign of hormonal imbalance caused by our diet. You see, when we don’t eat the right nourishing foods for our bodies, it causes nutritional deficiencies and bad digestion. When that happens, our hormones are out of whack. Both of these things (nutritional deficiencies and imbalanced hormones) lead to low serotonin.
And wouldn’t you know, sugars and simple carbs give us a short boost of serotonin. A quick mood booster if you will. It’s like your body is trying to tell you something.
Another reason for cravings is adrenal fatigue or lowered function of our adrenals. Again, this one is tied to our bodies trying to elevate our mood. When we are stressed for periods of time our adrenals have a very hard time regulating hormones and mood, which of course make us crave the things that can elevate it, even for a short amount of time. Unfortunately, these short little pick-me-ups, do more harm than good.
Reason number three for sugar cravings: Candida yeast overgrowth. What you need to know is all of us have bacteria and yeast in our digestive system. The problem comes in when the candida yeast grows too big for its britches! The overgrowth can easily start by a round of antibiotics since the rest of the good bacteria in your system is killed off along with the bad. After antibiotics you may be sick over and over again, unable to fight off future infections after taking them, as well as have symptoms of yeast overgrowth. (eczema, fatigue, cravings, unstable mood) This yeast actually feeds on sugar. So when you begin to cut sugar out of your diet, it begins to die off, which is a very good thing. Problem is, the yeast doesn’t want to die off, so your body then gets signaled to eat more sugar.
So how do we overcome them?
Dealing with Sugar Cravings
I’m no expert, but I’ll share with you the few ways I’ve always dealt with them.
- Removing all sweets from the home. Since I rarely buy sweets for home or bake sweets at home, this was quite easy for me this time around. In the past, I had to get rid of a lot!
- Have fresh veggies cut up, or have plenty of fruit on hand and ready to snack on in the fridge. This helps me out immensely when I just want something right now!
- Have a glass of water. Sometimes when I think I’m hungry, I really just need to hydrate myself. Need it flavored? Add a good squeeze of lemon.
- Drink a hot beverage. I’ve been sipping on cups of tea sweetened with honey as well as Teechino (available on Amazon)sweetened with maple syrup. And the fact that it takes so long to sip, seems to melt them away. (a small amount of natural sugars is fine in my book – I use about 1 teaspoon)
- I’m making sure I eat some homemade sauerkraut each day as well as yogurt and/or kefir smoothies. These fermented and cultured products are a wonderful source of good bacteria to help me balance my gut flora.
- Take probiotics for the same reason as above.
- Consume more coconut oil! One of my favorite oils is supposedly an antifungal which helps get rid of the yeast. I’ve also heard that coconut oil can help because the medium chain fatty acid breaks down and is rapidly metabolized to glucose thus providing a source of the energy your sugar craving is telling you that you need.
- On the same note, garlic does the same thing, so I think I’ll have to whip up some more garlic herb butter.
- Drink a mix of honey and apple cider vinegar in water. For some reason, this helps take away my “want” for dessert.
- I also made up some healthy, grain-free, made with sugar brownies that were pretty good. (making a sweet treat at home IS going to be better for you than a store-bought alternative. Just be mindful of how often you indulge.)
So tell me, how are you doing going without sugar? I’m excited that there are so many of you trying your best to give up sugar with me! Have you been dealing with cravings? Or what about ‘detox’ type symptoms (headache, fatigue, etc.)?
Looking for more help with sugar?
The last couple of years now, we’ve done a sugar detox challenge after the holidays. It’s been so popular that this year I turned our challenge into an easy to read ebook. You can check out the Sugar Detox Challenge book (available on Amazon). It even includes 18 recipes for “healthier” sweet treats!
I used to be quite attached to sugar as I’m sure some of you are, but I had no idea how to reduce my consumption and then replace refined sugars with natural ones.
Whether you’re just starting on your journey to ‘real’ and natural foods, or you’ve been on this road for some time and just need a bit of encouragement, this ebook is for you!
As our Standard American Diet dictates, most of us are addicted to refined sugars. Not only do we dump them into our coffee, and inhale cookies, it’s hidden in almost every processed food we buy. And the problem is, the more we eat it, the more our body craves it.
Along with the 8 weekly challenges you’ll also find:
- My Story with Sugar
- What’s Wrong with Sugar
- Know Your Good Sugars
- Dealing with Cravings
- Links to recipes using natural sweeteners
I hope it’s going well for you so far! Personally, I can’t say my cravings have been that bad, but I kind of had been eliminating sugar for a few days before I joined the challenge. My only trial was going to the store and seeing and smelling treats, but I was able to walk by it!!
Anyways, I have been drinking more water as well as having 1 extra small piece of fruit a day (an orange OR some no sugar added canned pineapple).
I made a cheesecake yesterday using date sugar and about 2 tbs honey because it wan’t quite sweet enough with the date sugar alone. It wasn’t quite the texture I’m used to, but it was very good and definitely took away some of my craving. I also used coconut oil in the crust which made it kind of sweet.
I love your blog, love what you are trying to do!
I’m also on the adrenal fatigue side of the world, with you. I think cravings for sugar can also be a sign of a diet which needs more (good) fat in it, a diet which is too high in carbs! I know for me, whenever I get away from my home-cooked, high-fat foods, my cravings for sugar go wild, whereas on an everyday basis, when I am getting enough good fats like butter and coconut oil, I can pass up dessert without much fuss.
@Leslie, You know, I really agree with you. I definitely think all of the convenience foods and eating both out and at families houses over the last couple months really aggravates the craving for sugars. When we normally eat only at home,, good and wholesome foods, I definitely never need it!
Well, I have to say that it’s been a good thing for me, except that my children wonder why my head is spinning and the dogs aren’t sure which direction to hide in… LOL
Thanks for doing this, too! It really helps to know that someone else is trying to de-sugar…what an inspiration to take better care of myself! You have really helped me lots!!!!
“my children wonder why my head is spinning and the dogs aren’t sure which direction to hide in”
hahaha! Luckily I haven’t gotten that way this time around. When I went off it a couple years ago, my husband thought I’d gone wacky! Poor guy. 🙂
And I’m so glad so many of my readers are going through this too. Makes me feel normal. And supported!
I am doing ok. It has been 18 days for me. Celestial Seasonings makes a great tea, Apple Cinnamon. It tastes very much like hot apple cider. I don’t put in sugar, it doesn’t need it. I will be pretty thrilled to add a little back to my diet. I miss cookies. If you are drinking vinegar, be sure to brush your teeth afterward, the acid can eat the enamel right off your pearly whites. The hardest thing for me is that since I got GD right after Christmas, the house was FILLED with chocolates and fudge and cookies. And ice cream. My husband is not a big sweet eater, so it is taking forever to get the stuff eaten. I cannot bring myself to throw out the homemade food we got. I just keep offering treats to every soul that enters our home.
@Celia, I’ll have to look for that tea, sounds yummy! I think something like that would make a great night “snack” since that’s always when I want to munch away. 🙂 Thanks for the tips!
And I’d say freeze the sweets, but my problem is I love them frozen too!!
What a timely post. I didn’t even know you were going on a 30 day sabatical from sugar. I have been having terrible cravings the past few days for sugar in its most sugary forms: nerds, jelly beans, sugary candies, sherbert and the like. I have been wonderring why my body has been craving these things. What is even more odd, is I have been repulsed by the healthy veggies that I usually love. I have roasted beets and lentil soup in the fridge, but whenever I think of eating them, the taste buds run the other way.
@ekwetzel, Something about sugar and processed foods does that to you! I forget the actual science behind it, but the more junk we eat, the less we want the good stuff!
And Ohhhh, jelly beans and chewy candies are my favorite!! I don’t even go down the aisle at the store that carries those – can’t do it!
I am just curious if you are doing sugar free for 30 days, how come you are using honey and maple syrup?
Yes, I am fully aware they are natural sugars, but they are sugars none the less, and are treated the same way in our bodies. Yes, I know there are nutritional benefits to raw honey and wild crafted maple syrup, but if you are dealing with sugar cravings and/or addictions they still perpetuate the issues, especially with candida.
I just think it would be MOST beneficial to eliminate all sugars when attempting to overcome sugar addictions and cravings, even limiting fruit, or potentially eliminating fruit for a period of time if the cravings, addictions, and blood sugar issues are so prominent.
I LOVE all your other recommendations about how to ebb the cravings. Coconut oil is fantastic. It being a fat it helps fill you up, it helps boost your metabolism, and kills candida, a great oil! Apple cider vinegar is also fantastic for this. Real, raw, butter is great too! :o)
Keep up the fantastic work. I LOVE your blog!
@Leigh, It WOULD be most beneficial for me to drop ALL sugars, most fruits, and breads for awhile. But I also have a 9 month old who is still exclusively breastfed. So to make sure I get all the nutrients I need, I have to be careful about cutting out to many foods.
The past few days I have cut my intake of fruit to one serving a day and only one thing sweetened with either syrup or honey. So if I make sourdough pancakes (limiting my syrup intake to 2 tsp) I won’t eat any other sweetened product through out the day.
As soon as she’s done nursing though, I plan on going hard core no sugar for at least a couple/few weeks! But hopefully that won’t be for at least another year. 🙂
Thanks for your thoughts! And glad to get verification on the coconut oil! (my family thinks I’m crazy for using it so much since it’s so high in saturated fat. if they only knew….and believe me, I’ve tried to tell them!)
I’m experimenting with glutamine as a way to get past carb cravings. So far, I’m impressed. But from what I’ve read, it doesn’t work for everyone.
@Beth, Never heard of that before, thanks for the tip!
[email protected] in Iowa
Donielle, What a great challenge! When i do need something sweet, I use all natural sweeteners, mostly raw honey. I like you don’t bake often so I don’t usually have sweets in the house. To curb a sweet tooth, I’ve been making my own fruit roll ups. I’ll eat a bit of that or a piece of fruit. I also have been learning to drink a glass of water when I’m itching for something. Also, I just made a batch of homemade honey/chamomile ice cream made with raw cream and my backyard eggs. A small scoop of that seems to do the trick for me. Looking forward to see how you continue!!
@[email protected] in Iowa, Ooo, do you have that recipe posted anywhere? That sounds fabulous!
[email protected] in Iowa
Donielle, just posted my honey chamomile ice cream, however, I just watched your video and you are really inspiring me to really start to look at what I have around the house that has sugar. I know my organic ketchup does. I make my own jelly with honey so that’s in check. I’ve preserved my own tomatoes for making my own sauces. However, there are other condiments I need to start making at home. I do use rapadura and am actually getting organic palm sugar to review. What do you think of palm sugar? In reality I know even natural sweeteners need to be eaten in LIGHT moderation. What get’s me is when I go out to eat at friends and families homes. That and snacking on the church goodie table.. etc. So glad your doing this and inspiring so many of us!
@[email protected] in Iowa, I am so trying that ice cream this weekend! It looks fabulously yummy! As for palm sugar, I haven’t looked into it seriously, but from what I’ve heard it’s a pretty decent/more natural sugar and I guess it’s pretty low on the glycemic index too.
Gena @ Girl Gone Domestic
Glutamine works! If you get real desperate, you can crack a capsule under your tongue. My “sweet” treat lately has been plain greek yogurt, with a green tipped banana sliced, some unsweetened chipped coconut and a few raw pecans. When you don’t eat sugar all the time, its amazing how much sweetness you can taste in things that wouldn’t taste sweet in comparison to sugar laden things! My only sugar in the last four weeks has been a scoop of gelato I had on a date with the hubby, boy, did I enjoy it and it was just enough. The cravings pass.
@Gena @ Girl Gone Domestic, Never heard of or tried glutamine, hmm….
And I agree – sugar is way to sweet once you cut it out! When I cut it out a couple years ago after a few months I bought donut out of weakness. I was grocery shopping, HUNGRY, and figured I’d been so good for months, I could get a treat.
It was waaaaay to sweet and didn’t fill my cravings at all. So much sugar it about made my teeth hurt!
I figure if I can get through a month, I’ll be good and past the cravings.
I did really well, until yesterday (I have a cold now). But I’ve still only had honey, a little real maple syrup, and a tiny bit of turbinado sugar in my tea this morning. I just need some to make the tea palatable right now (it contains elderberry, in hopes that will make my cold go away).
But I have a question for you (or anyone who knows). I was told a week or so ago by a nutritionist not to drink water kefir for now, because the yeast involved in it could cause further yeast problems (which I still don’t believe I have, but whatever). My thought is that the benefits of the probiotics would outweigh any negative effect of consuming the yeast, but I’m wondering what others think about this.
@Kate, Hmmm. I thought I read somewhere that naturally occurring yeast wasn’t an issue – maybe in NT somewhere? Then again, I’ve stopped drinking mine because of the sugar content for now. While greatly reduced after fermenting, I’m trying to cut out everything but honey. And don’t want to risk my grains dying in the honey!
I’m a baker at heart and LOVE healthy recipes! Will definitely try these. Would have never guessed to put black beans in brownies! I’m glad I found your blog. I’m in the process of researching how to be a certified health / nutrition coach. It’s one of my passions that I’ve always done ‘for fun’ and figured I could help people along the way. After my experience with the midwifery with my last child – I realized how many people and mammas don’t know much about their bodies and nutrition and how they coincide! Anyway, subscribed to get updated on your posts!!!
my year without
I have to say that my favorite sugar substitutes are fruit and hot tea with a drop of honey! There are so many wonderful, comforting flavors of tea that I have been enjoying trying out. I’ve rarely had a sugar craving after drinking a mug of tea!
Wow, this is a great thing that you are doing! But I don’t know if I could do it! I love sugar way too much! Actually I hear that you can use something called stevia – a natural sugar that comes from the leaves of a stevia plant. It is a lot healthier for you and tastes just as good!
@Sandy, I do have some stevia. I think it’s actually considered an herb and not a sugar, but it is rather sweet and just a pinch goes far. It does have kind of a bitter aftertaste to it though, and I just can’t get used to it in my tea/coffee.
nicole in paris
Thanks for this! I have a 2 month old baby. I ate super healthy during my pregnancy, which was pretty similar to my lifestyle before pregnancy too. I have been an active, healthy vegetarian (plus fish) for over 20 years and generally stay away from processed food etc. I only gained 22 pounds when I got pregnant and was down to my normal weight of 145 within 2 weeks of giving birth. I attribute that to breastfeeding because I certainly didn’t do much exercise!
BUT NOW… well, I live in France and so the ability to buy somewhat healthy snacks like from Whole Foods is impossible (you know, like Amy’s crackers or Newman’s wholewheat fig newtons) and so I am left to make my own health cookies and bars. I would also make wonderful smoothies.
This worked well until about a month ago when I discovered I could buy Golden Graham cereal. At first, I just ate it after the 3am feedings (as a way to look forward to getting up – but also because I was hungry but couldn’t be bothered with eating a bowl of oatmeal) That is how “IT” started. I then started buying other sugary cereals to ‘mix it up’ and then at one 6am feeding, I decided to have a bowl of cereal too. The next thing I knew, I began eating cereal all day while my husband was at work, I was home gorging on cereal.
I was and am pretty ashamed of this behavior – having been one of those annoying health nuts that never ate the pastries at the meetings, but smugly nibbled on the dried fruit I brought etc. Now, I am buying French cookies and pastries and frankly that is all I seem to want! It is crazy. I will make a big beautiful salad for my husband for dinner and I will eat a bowl of potatoes with butter, followed by bread and Nutella.
So far, I haven’t gained any real weight, but I am getting flabby and I feel like crap in a way that I guess I have never known. Does that make me stop? No. I think about the food going into the breastmilk for my gorgeous daughter, does that make me stop? No.
I believe that a contributing factor (a large one) is that I don’t work and certainly haven’t told anyone. No one knows how I have been ‘living’. Ironically, I just found your site as I was nibbling on cookies for breakfast (what have I become?) And this post was just perfection. For one thing, “talking” about it… admitting I have a problem outloud is clearly an important first step. Next, I am going to read more here and figure out a realistic (or inspired) action plan.
I’m off sugar for 35 days (been 6 days now), and I DON’T have a problem with sugar cravings AT ALL
(I cook almost everything my family eat, and we hardly consume any processed foods, so it’s kind of easy to control the sugar intake, I LOVE baking, so I did have to cut it out completely, and I don’t put sweeteners in our homecooked meals anymore).
So as I said, no cravings.
What I do notice, though, is that eczema and seriously dry skin
(my mom and my dad have a lot too, I used to have quite a bit, but nothing as of the past couple of years) is popping up all over my body, does anyone know why that happens?
What may help?
@åslaug abigail, homeopathically speaking, eczema is a way for the body to flush out toxins. Your body is trying to get rid of something and for some reason it’s not going through the normal passages. (urine, breathe, feces) It could also be due to yeast die off.
I’d try upping you intake of natural anti virals (garlic, coconut oil) and maybe the coconut oil and tea tree oil topically as I’ve had good luck with them. Also make sure you’re supporting your liver and eating foods that naturally help you detoxify.
@donielle, Thanks for being so quick to answer =) I thought it might be something like that. I’ll try your food suggestions =)