Sugar Withdrawal

Dieting woman refusing cake

We all know that too much sugar is bad for us and in 2017, government guidelines reduced the recommended intake by half, from 10% to 5% of total calories. This has prompted many of us to do a sugar withdrawal or even try going refined free.

The sugar we are talking about here is refined or added sugar, the kind spooned into tea or added to cakes and biscuits, including table sugar or sucrose and syrups such as high-fructose corn syrup. It does not include, naturally occurring sugars found in fruit and dairy products.

These refined, processed sugars are often referred to as ‘empty calories’ because they provide pure energy without any nutritional benefit. Too much sugar is also linked with a range of health issues, including: –

  • Weight Gain
  • Blood sugar imbalances
  • Energy fluctuations
  • Skin ageing
  • Insulin resistance and diabetes
  • Tooth decay
  • Promotes inflammation in the body
  • Increased risk of heart disease

Cutting Down

If you would like to cut down your intake of added sugar, here are some tips on how to do so.

  • Reduce sugar gradually to avoid ‘withdrawal’ symptoms and let your taste buds adjust to less sweet flavours.

  • Avoid liquid sugar – fizzy drinks, energy drinks, colas, syrups in coffee and sugar in tea or coffee – try sparkling water with lime instead.

  • Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, biscuits, cakes and pastries are processed in the body in the same way as sugar and contain added sugars – swap for whole-grain carbs

  • Processed foods are often full of sugar – read labels carefully and look for brown sugar, corn syrup, maltose, fructose, dextrose, molasses, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, cane syrup, and evaporated cane juice, which are all just names for sugar!

  • Swapping sugar for artificial sweeteners like aspartame is not the answer. Aspartame has been linked with headaches, mood changes, insomnia and depression and even weight gain! Try the natural suggestions below instead

  • Molasses, honey, and maple syrup do count toward your 5% allowance, however they are less processed, higher in nutrients and have a lower GI than table sugar. If you want to use these, use them in small amounts

Sweet Alternatives to Sugar

  • Stevia – natural low calorie sweetener, read about it here.
  • Lacuma powder – sweet tasting powder from dried Lacuma fruit
  • Yacon Syrup – contains no free sugars and has a GI of 0 so does not affect blood sugar levels
  • Dates and other dried fruit – they are high in natural fruit sugars, but replace refined sugar very well in baking
  • Mashed banana – add to baking, pancakes, porridge, overnight oats etc. in place of sugar
  • Sweet spices such as cinnamon and vanilla – cinnamon actually helps balance blood sugar, which helps reduce sugar cravings