I am a sugar-holic. A seriously addicted to sugar crazy person who sometimes drives to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night because I’m jonsing for an Oatmeal Pie.
My biggest crazy sugar deal was the time I stress-ate my way through two huge bags of Easter candy and a gallon of ice cream all in one night because, well, honestly I don’t even remember what happened. I just remember that I seriously could not get enough of the sweet stuff.
So the first step in removing dangerous things from your life, of course, is admitting you’ve got a problem and ceasing. So I did. I have stopped eating sugar. Now, when I decided to stop, I didn’t realize there were Actual withdrawal symptoms and side effects from quitting, but boy howdy!
It has been a roller coaster. And since you may also be thinking about quitting, I’m going to tell you about the five things you’re going to feel right off the bat when you quit sugar so that you’re way more equipped than I was. Also, good luck to you. Seriously. It’s a lot bigger deal than I ever imagined.
The Five Stages Of Quitting Sugar…
1. I’ve got this – this is the stage where you’ve made the decision and you’re proud of yourself and maybe telling everyone in the world what a holy human you are because you’ve beat the white beast. You’ve thrown away all sugars in your home, including honey, and your Facebook page is filling with memes about being able to do anything you set your mind to.
2. Side effects – this is when your body tells you there are actual consequences to consuming a pound of sugar a day for the first 30+ years of your life. Sweats, moodiness, nausea, headache (oh, boy howdy!), flu-like symptoms, and just basically feeling like you kind of want to die a little…
3. The almost consumption cry – you’ve made it through the side effects at this point and you’re starting to feel better, but the cravings are kicking in. It’s okay, though. You’ve got your memes and your plucky determination and by golly you can do this! But then, you’re out with a friend and they take a sip of their soda and make a face and then say, “Eww, taste this.” You grab the soda, and the straw hits your lips before you remember you aren’t eating sugar. You didn’t actually sip, so you’re still okay, but in that moment you realize you will Never taste soda again. And you cry. It’s dumb. And frustrating. And you look like a crazy person…but it’s okay – we all go through it.
4. Bargaining – okay, seriously at this point you’ve actually made it pretty well. Not a single granule has crossed your lips. You’re feeling good, your friends and family are all commenting on how much stronger you’ve been than they could ever be and to be honest, maybe a little cockiness is starting to develop. You go to a party and they’re serving cake. One bite of cake won’t kill you. It’s just a bite. I mean, you’ve Made it this far. A single bite will not be such a big deal. Do. Not. Do. It. Friends and family will tell you to go for it, but I’m here to say NOoooo!!! Once you take that first bite, it’s like starting over from scratch. Just don’t.
5. One day at a time – this is as close to acceptance as you can get when you quit sugar. The cravings will never go away, but they will lessen. People will still tell you – almost daily – that it’s okay for you to cheat, but you haven’t. Walking through the grocery store feels like an emotional gauntlet but you haven’t given in. This is where you have to remind yourself that sometimes you literally just have to make it through the day. One day at a time. If you can make it through today, you can deal with tomorrow when it comes up.
It’s hard, guys. I am not even going to sugar coat this (pun intended) a little. I quit cold turkey and while I’m not sure that’s the best approach it was the best approach for me. So no matter how you try it, if you do quit I really do wish you luck. And just stay strong…and maybe join a gym so you can kick things every time your friends and family offer you ‘just a little bite.’
One last thing…if you DO this, make sure you stay away from artificial sweeteners, too. The first time I tried this, I just bought a bunch of sugar-free stuff to try to sooth my sweet tooth and then later found out that the brain reacts the same way to artificial as it does to real. So, I mean, do what works for you, but for me it’s no sweeteners at all…
Sunday 13th of March 2016
Have you written a similar article about quitting salt? I'm addicted to the point that I would rather not eat certain foods if I can't put salt on them, including fruits and desserts. I've also simply opened a packet of salt and ate it with my (moistened) fingertips. It's really bad.
Saturday 20th of February 2016
I quit sugar a year and 2 months ago and went through all the stages you describe and sometimes still are. And I haven't cheated (yey!) It's the hardest but BEST decision I have ever made!!! I will never touch that white suff again or the artificial sweeteners either. It really does get easier with time. For me the worst part is that there are people who feel sorry for me that I will never eat cake or candy again. They just don't get that life is sooooo much better without :)