life: super powers not included

How To Give Up Sugar

Sugar lips
photo from we heart it

First, Happy Birthday to my sister, Jill!

Second, it’s been over a month since I’ve eaten sugar.

Guys, this is a big deal. I’m a former sugar addict. I’m the girl who would go out to eat, skip dinner, and get a giant slice of chocolate cake for dessert. I’d choose a restaurant based on its dessert menu. I used to eat dessert after lunch and dinner. My favorite breakfast foods were loaded with sugar.

On days when I didn’t eat dessert after lunch, I’d get a headache. I know, that’s, like, step one in recognizing you have a problem but I had blinders on. All I saw were visions of apple turnovers and cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies and funfetti cake and…

You get the idea.

When I quit the white stuff with hopes of helping my fire feet, I thought I was going to die. I was pretty sure my incessant cravings and the head-splitting pain I felt were my body’s way of telling me I would literally perish without a candy bar.

It didn’t help that I gave up all sugar. Not just dessert. Why, yes, I do hate myself. Why do you ask?

So, yeah, it was hard. That first week was killer. But after that? It got much easier. When I caved and ate dessert, it was way too sweet to even come close to finishing. In the past, I would have inhaled an entire plate before The Man had a chance to take a bite.

Cupcakesphoto from we heart it

And now I’m going to blow your mind:

Right now, I have no desire for sweets. Fruit is about as sweet as I can handle.

No, I did not self-lobotomize. I just stopped craving it. The Man eats some chocolate or ice cream after dinner and I no longer want to club him and devour his dessert. It doesn’t even entice me.

I now crave savory dishes all the time. It does sort of feel like I’m living someone else’s life. (Maybe my mom’s because she’s always craved salty foods instead of sweet. I used to think she was a bit off her rocker. I get it now, though.)

The bottom line: If you want to give up sugar or just eat less, you can. You’ll hate yourself in the beginning, but if you stick it out your tastes will change. I promise, it’s possible.

Alright, how much sugar do you eat daily?

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52 comments

1 Joanna Sutter (Fitness & Spice) { 02.22.11 at 7:38 am }

I eat more sugar-substitute than I care to admit so please do not read this comment. Nothing to see here. Move it along.

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Tracey Reply:

Ha ha. I used to, too. Splenda was my favorite.

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2 Estela @ Weekly Bite { 02.22.11 at 8:11 am }

Being that I’m with child, my sugar cravings are in overload. I manage to keep them under control (most of the time). Giving in is much more fun that way :)

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Tracey Reply:

I’m pretty sure pregnancy gives you a free pass. :)

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3 Lu Ann { 02.22.11 at 8:44 am }

So, has it helped the fire in your feet? I have a friend that has becoming increasingly restrictive (no sugar, simple carbs, night shade veggies, yeast….) in hopes to control Lupus. She’s lost about 18 lbs. from her already thin frame (5.8″ = 110 lbs.!!) and is looking scary skinny!! It’s hard for her to determine if it’s actually helping but she’s soldering on and ticking things off her “Okay to eat” list one by one!

Have you noticed a difference since quitting the white stuff?

I’ve not been able to kick the sugar habit but have to admit, I haven’t been willing to white knuckle through that first week. Your post gives me hope I could possibly do it but towards what end. Do I really want a life without sugar?

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Tracey Reply:

So far, no. I thought for a week going sugar-, gluten-, meat-, and dairy-free was helping but this week my feet made it very clear that was a fluke. I feel for your friend. It’s so hard when you want to feel better. Giving up mostly all foods seems like a fair trade-off for not feeling sick.

And, no, you don’t want to live a life without sugar if you’re perfectly healthy. :)

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4 A { 02.22.11 at 8:59 am }

I use a lot of stevia. And I think honey is a great product.
Plus, I eat a lot of fruit – so many people are afraid of fruit, but it is real food IMO. I like savory too though.

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Tracey Reply:

I use stevia, too. Not as much as I used to because I don’t need foods as sweet, but it’s good for flavoring iced tea.

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5 charlotte { 02.22.11 at 9:19 am }

I so want to give up sugar too! A few years ago I managed to give it up for 90 days – not so much as a bite! – and while I did feel sooooo much better physically (I totally get those sugar withdrawl headaches too) the cravings never really went away for me. But reading this makes me want to try it again. Mostly because eating sugar gives me headaches and not eating sugar gives me headaches and I’m tired of inhaling handfulls of chocolate chips and not even enjoying them just to get a hit. Hmmm… no cravings? Really? Maybe I just need to try this again! So glad it’s working out for you! Has it helped your feet at all?

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Tracey Reply:

Well, I’m sure I’ve stuck to it because I have a pretty strong motivator. So, maybe the answer is to light your feet on fire and only put them out if you don’t eat sugar. ;)

Seriously, though, I think it happened so fast in my case simply because of my condition. I’m not out and about seeing sugar all over the place and getting tempted. I’ve given up gluten and dairy, so there’s go the cupcakes and pastries I usually crave. I have to say, though, not having I Need Sugar NOW!!! headaches is pretty nice.

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6 Heather @ Side of Sneakers { 02.22.11 at 9:26 am }

It’s kinda of scary how not eating something for a little while can completely re-wire your taste buds. I hope it’s helping you feel better!!!

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Tracey Reply:

I know, it is kind of freaky!

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7 Courtney { 02.22.11 at 9:32 am }

I’m confused, didn’t the coconut macaroons you made a week or so ago contain maple syrup?

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Tracey Reply:

Yup, that was the dessert I was talking about when I said I caved. I ate some and couldn’t finish. They were so good, but super sweet. The Man polished off the rest of the batch. :)

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8 Amy B @ Second City Randomness { 02.22.11 at 9:40 am }

I still can’t believe you did it practically cold turkey!

My diet contains a lot more than I first realized. Now I’m being a little more aware of it, but it’s still hard to slowly cut just some of it out… ugh!

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9 Her Sister Jill { 02.22.11 at 10:06 am }

Thanks Trace!

I gave up tons of things when trying to figure out what was wrong with my stomach. It’s amazing how difficult it is in the beginning. I don’t even think twice about the things I used to “need” so desperately.

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10 Clarissa { 02.22.11 at 10:15 am }

Good for you Tracey! I’ve been told that it takes 30 days to form a pattern and 90 days to form a habit so you have reached a huge milestone with the month of no sugar!

As for me…I love sugar. I’m with the Sugar-eating-Tracey in skipping meals for sweets! If it’s all about calories, I would like the ones that taste better thank you very much! I’ve been pondering giving up caffeine, but I’m just not sure I want to…thoughts?

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Tracey Reply:

That’s exactly what I used to say! If I’m going to eat 1,000 calories, I’d rather do it with a molten chocolate cake than tacos. :)

Oh, and I quit caffeine, too (yes, these last few months have been torture!) and I’m not sure there’s a point to going cold turkey (unless your feet turn into flames multiple times a day) but I do think it’s a good idea to cut down. If I didn’t have EM I probably would have tried to cut down on caffeine from coffee and soda. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have given up my iced tea addiction. Of course, I wasn’t super addicted to caffeine in the first place. So I guess it depends…

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11 Heather C { 02.22.11 at 10:26 am }

I did a giving up sugar thing a few months ago. Like you, I am a dessert a holic, admitting it is the first step, and I thought I was going to die. I gave up not just desserts but sugar in everything and oddly, it was not that hard. I found that some greek yogurt with fresh fruit in it could satisfy my sweet craving just as well as a brownie. That said, I am back on the sugar wagon, just had cinnamon rolls, yes, plural, for breakfast yesterday.

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Tracey Reply:

Hey, at least you know you can do it! Now back away with those cinnamon rolls. In the past, the smell has turned me to putty. I don’t want to take any chances now that I’ve sworn off sugar.

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12 Maren { 02.22.11 at 10:30 am }

That is definitely reassuring to hear that!! I’d say I’m a sugar addict, but I really don’t overdo it too often.

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13 Katie @ peacebeme { 02.22.11 at 10:51 am }

Has it helped your feet?

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Tracey Reply:

I really want to say yes. I really want to say yes. Um … not yet.

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14 Wei-Wei { 02.22.11 at 12:30 pm }

I don’t think I could give up natural sugar, especially fruit – I eat fresh fruit like it’s my job. I think I’d be able to give up added sugars, though… I don’t know! D:

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Tracey Reply:

Oh, no. I didn’t give up natural sugars. I still eat fruits. I meant all sugar as in sugar, maple syrup, agave, etc… I should have said sweeteners, though I do use stevia here and there.

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15 Nicole, RD { 02.22.11 at 12:32 pm }

I get it. My hubby eats Twizzlers, Reeses, ice cream, and sugary cereal on a nightly basis. And not just one of those items, but like all of them. It doesn’t interest me. I find that if I’m satisfied with my meals, I don’t want or need it. But giving it up completely would be really, really, really hard for me!!

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16 nance { 02.22.11 at 12:35 pm }

Welcome to the salty side! Hope one of these things will help cool the fire.

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Tracey Reply:

You make it sound so sinister: the salty side.

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17 Lisa { 02.22.11 at 2:13 pm }

I’m so glad I read this post—I am in complete agreement and know exactly what this is like…I’ve done it several times, and right now I’m on my second week of having cut it out completely. I found that bitter a sour foods helped take the edge off cravings when I was having them at first. Now….I don’t even want sugar—it doesn’t sound good at all, so I’m just going to keep it this way since I have that tendency to overdo it. And I’ve had candida issues because of it…etc. So no sugar and no fruit for me…some grains, like buckwheat and quinoa occasionally, but I’m sticking to veggies and beans for my carbs!
Thanks for the great post :)

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Tracey Reply:

Funny you mention bitter and sour foods. My diet is heavy on the bitter and sour so maybe that helped without me knowing it. Although I’m not as hard core as you. I still eat fruits. Way to go, though!!

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18 Gracie { 02.22.11 at 2:22 pm }

I don’t know for sure how much sugar I *actually* eat, but I definitely have a mouth full of sweet-teeth. In fact, now that I live alone, you’d have a tough time finding salty/savory foods in my kitchen.

With that being said, I probably eat less sugar than the general public. My sweet tooth is currently geared towards foods like nut butter and cereal, which I like to think are the “healthier” forms of sugar…?

Sometimes I think that it’s a problem and that I should at least try to incorporate more savory meals into my life, but then I wonder…why? I like my sweet tooth! When I get sick of sweet foods, I’ll eat something savory. Or if I get to the point where I’m eating cake for every meal, I’ll make a change for the sake of my health. But right now, I’m pretty sure that a) my health is okay b) I’m happy with how my body looks and feels and c) I’m thoroughly enjoying eating sweets whenever I damn well please :D

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Tracey Reply:

Hey, if your health is fine, then why not? I guarantee I would be eating a cookie right now if it weren’t for the fact that my feet feel like someone lit them on fire.

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19 Debbie B. (DebaRooRoo) { 02.22.11 at 5:55 pm }

Kudos!! That’s impressive! I find I want it less when I eat it less but haven’t been able to give it up entirely!

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Tracey Reply:

Thanks, Debbie!

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20 ashley @ ashley's adventures in alaska { 02.23.11 at 12:53 am }

I’ve tried to cut out as much sugar as I can, and still eat too much. :( Honey is my best friend and I can’t part with it just yet!

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Tracey Reply:

Using honey instead of sugar is a good way to wean yourself off though!

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ashley @ ashley's adventures in alaska Reply:

I’m hoping. :) Caffeine was easy to give up, but sugar has been much tougher.

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21 Rufus { 02.24.11 at 4:41 pm }

Zero, nada. It took a year of torture and relapse but I think I’m finally saved. Caffeine withdrawal was child’s play compared to free myself from the sugar monster.

I’m like you, now I crave the salty/savoring stuff. Like bacon…mmm…bacon….

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Rufus Reply:

forgot to add one thing. Reading stuff like this really helped:
http://nancyappleton.com/141-reasons-sugar-ruins-your-health/

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Tracey Reply:

That’s a great list. Talk about motivators…especially No. 1! Thanks for passing that on.

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Tracey Reply:

Oh yeah, a few months ago I would much rather have 1/2 a cupcake than 20 slices of bacon. Now? GIVE ME THAT BACON! (Too bad that’s not on the OK Foods list, either.)

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Rufus Reply:

My heart just shed a tear for you.

Try pork belly…all the porky goodness, none of the added sugar and preservatives.

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22 CDW { 02.28.11 at 5:59 pm }

I just happened to stumble upon this website after desperately searching for hints and tips on giving up sugar. I hate the hold it can have so I decided last night that I would be giving up – then this morning out of sheer habit I added a spoonful to my morning cuppa!! On the upside if there is one though I have not had a can of diet soda today which is something I would drink one or two of daily….So glad I stumbled across this – you just put me back on the road to good health, I threw the sugar in my kitchen down the drain!! Thank you!! x

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Tracey Reply:

So glad you found my site!

Yes, it’s so easy to just eat sugary things out of habit (or massive cravings). That first week wasn’t easy (my head almost exploded) but I promise if I can do it anyone can. I’m seriously the biggest sugar addict I know.

Oh, and I was addicted to Diet Soda, too. I gave that up with the sugar because, honestly, it can’t be healthy. Some fresh-brewed iced tea (decaf for me) with stevia is my drink of choice. That, or a lemon or two squeezed into a glass of water with stevia–easy lemonade!

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CDW Reply:

Oooh I love that idea for the lemonade. I do feel I need to apologise for the terrible editing and grammer in my original post. I was so very tired and after hours of browsing the internet for a suitable website I so excited to finally come across yours!!

Now back to the Lemonade and Stevia – I find Stevia is really hard to come across here and also very expensive. I can only ever find the “real” green stuff, which isn’t very nice to be honest. So I have been using agave nectar – which I have used in the past and found that it doesn’t give me sugar highs and spikes. Low GL. I think this will be my sweetener of choice from now on….Any thoughts or experiences yourself on this fellow sugar junkie?

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Tracey Reply:

Oh no worries about the grammar. I was so tired from working on the computer I didn’t even notice! I’m going to e-mail you about this so you don’t have to keep checking back here for a response.

23 Jana { 04.13.11 at 2:33 am }

Thanks for sharing! I’m sooo addicted to sugar! I saturate my coffee with it daily and I’m certain that I feel terrible as a result although I”m accustomed to feeling this way. I so want to kick the habit! I once did it for 30 days and then gave in to the cravings. Kudos to you! I’d love to hear of any techniques that you found useful to quit your addiction.

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Tracey Reply:

I got so used to the way I felt on sugar it was as if I didn’t notice it. Of course, I had daily headaches, but I figured that’s just how I was. I find it really weird that I’ve made it so long without sugar, considering my level of sugar addiction, so here’s what helped:

1. I have a very painful disease and the idea that going sugar-free could help was a huge motivator. I’m hoping you don’t have the same motivation. Anyhow, that might be why I was able to quit so fast and easily.
2. I use stevia in place of sugar, which seems to help with the cravings. The packages are kind of expensive, but the liquid is a better deal and lasts for a while.
3. I ate a lot of fruit. The natural sugars helped with cravings and after a while it became all of the sweetness I needed.
4. I ate a late dinner. I know this is weird, but here’s why it helped: I was used to eating dessert after dinner, but by eating so late I didn’t have time before bed to get un-full enough to snack on sweets.

I hope that helps. Really, what I did most was grimace through the cravings until one day they were gone. And after that day I haven’t had much of a problem. Sure, I’d love to have a cupcake right now but I’m sure I would take one bit and think it was too sweet. And believe me, that’s so not like me at all. Good luck!

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24 Zuzia123 { 06.08.11 at 12:18 pm }

Hi Tracey, I’ve been so inspired by your blog and have been off sugar for a week and a half now. It started out as a little informal challenge to myself to see if I could do it for a week whilst on holiday with some friends. I have really surprised myself and so far, have done really well! I’ve found I’m satisfied having dried fruit, honey, plain yoghurt, nuts, whenever I would normally have sweets, chocolate or biscuits. I want to see if I can do this now long term, as I feel so much better – cleaner, lighter, fresher. I feel I am enjoying everyday activities now that I’m not thinking about sugar and when I can get my next sugar fix. I’ve always been up and down with my weight and like you, have always had a sweet tooth! Hopefully this is a new chapter in my life. Thank you! keep up the good work x

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Tracey Reply:

I’m SO happy to hear it’s working for you!! When you’re a sugar addict the idea of fruit hitting the spot during a massive chocolate craving sounds insane. But the longer you do it, the sweeter those things get. (During summer, strawberries, peaches, and blueberries are super sweet and are the perfect fix for sugar cravings.)

Truthfully, you’re nearing the end of the hardest part. The first couple of weeks are the most tempting. I have confidence you can do it long term! Good luck!

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Zuzia123 Reply:

That’s reassuring, thank you! It’s good to know I’m almost done with the hard part. To be honest, I haven’t found it as difficult as I was expecting, but I’m not taking anything for granted! I was wondering – did you notice any change in weight when you gave up sugar? I am desperate to lose 30lbs and I am hoping and praying giving up sugar will be the catalyst… I am still using sweeteners and honey at this stage but I may well wean myself off those eventually too.
all the best x

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Tracey Reply:

Well, I’ll start by saying I’ve never really had a problem with my weight, so take this info with a grain of salt. I gave up sugar around the time when I also stopped most physical activity. Since I’ve stopped working out, I’ve lost about 10 pounds. I know that sounds crazy, but trust me, it’s from muscle atrophy. I’m not sure if avoiding sugar also caused me to lose weight or if was simply from walking a max of 20 steps a day. Either way, if you get most of your sugar from high-calorie foods (like I did), I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t help at least a little!

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