Have you ever been in the process of giving up sugar?

I have fond memories of helping my mother bake. I would sit at her side and help mix the ingredients, and even share the empty icing bowl with my brothers as most children do.

We always had cold sugary pop in the fridge and a sweet treat for after dinner. So looking back, it’s not a surprise when I say that many members of my family now have Type 2 Diabetes.

This is a nature vs. nurture issue that means I’m a lot more likely to develop diabetes myself. What makes this even worse since I suffer from PCOS, which affects the way my body processes sugars.

Once I was diagnosed with PCOS, and my doctor knew of my history, I was put on a Low GI Diet. I had to not only limit the amount of sugar going into my system but think about slowing down the sugar that does enter my system. Sticky rice and white bread have been left behind.

Since fruit juice floods my body with sugar, I had to leave that behind too. So many surprising things were limited or cut out of my diet.

I had to completely change my eating habits, and while this was very easy in some areas, I couldn’t have predicted just how much my body had gotten used to sugar after years of having so much in my food and drink.

So here, in complete honesty, is my experience with giving up sugar:

1. Headaches

I wasn’t prepared for the headaches. At first, I just thought it was a normal headache that I’ve had time and time again, but this didn’t really go away after regular paracetamol.

Sleep would help for a while, but the nagging was still there. It was starting to get difficult to concentrate at points. I thought maybe I was dehydrated, so I drank more water during the day. This lasted for a few weeks, with headaches coming and going.

2. Cravings

Sugar is a useful fuel if you burn several thousand calories a day, so your body has evolved to crave it. Whenever you eat a sugary treat, your system is flooded with endorphins, which make you feel good. If this stream of endorphins is restricted, you will crave them.

Maybe a little at first, after a particularly hard day. It can be ever so tempting to have that chocolate bar or to bake something. The cravings and the headaches would often go hand in hand – the longer you went without sugar, the more headaches you would have.

3. Exhaustion

Between the headaches and the food cravings, you feel run down. Your body has gotten used to having instant energy and now that energy is harder to get.

This is the time when your body starts to break down fats instead. It takes time, but the longer this goes on, the easier it is for your body to release all that stored energy. Your body will still need sugars but focus on natural sugars. Even a blended smoothie is too much processing – Just eat the fruit instead.

I’m about 6 months into having a lower sugar diet, and I’ve lost about 2 sizes. I feel like I can get a lot more done because I’m not having to eat more sugar to stop myself crashing in the middle of the day.

The pain I went through at the beginning is worth it, because even though you need it in moderation, sugar is an addiction. It’s one I’m happy I’ve kicked.

So, this is my experience with giving up sugar, what is yours? Share yours in the comments below!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Isi Art

    I am with you 🙂 . Giving up on sugar was one of the hardest and longest “fights” i have ever had! But i also cut out grains and most of the fruits (i eat low carb/keto). At the beginning of the elimination I got cramps inside and giddy spells. It was not easy to withstand the cravings. But it was worth it – my health & will improved. Hold on 🙂 .

  2. Daniel Cronje

    I have increased cholesterol levels (seems hereditary) and wanted to stop taking statins as I do not like the side effects. So I wanted to change to a natural treatment regime for cholesterol reduction. Before doing this, I had some blood test done to ensure I have an understanding of my current health condition. To my surprise, the blood tests revealed that I have abnormally high insulin (with normal glucose levels) and ferritin levels together with the raised cholesterol. Based on some internet research, the raised ferritin levels probably was the scariest. The chemist who was helping me with the selection of treatment explained (based on his research) that the raised insulin level with normal glucose level is a strong indicator that type 2 diabetes would probably follow in between 5 to 10 years if everything stays as is.

    The treatment was to reduce/eliminate sugar intake, adjust my diet to a low GL (not only low GI) based diet, and take some natural insulin-reducing supplements. Reducing/eliminating sugar was really tough. I also had head-aches, cravings and reduced energy at first. And it lasted for quite a while.

    I had a bunch of blood tests done again after I have been on this treatment regime for 2 months. The results were very encouraging. Ferritin levels reduced from above 600 to 320. Insulin reduced from 17 to 10. I lost a bit of weight (4kg) although it wasn’t really necessary. My “good” cholesterol increased slightly, but the “bad” cholesterol did not decrease – this is the focus of my next diet adjustment focus. And I now have a lot more energy right throughout the day.
    And the most interesting about all this is the fact that I was convinced I was following a well-balanced diet. But analysing the GL of most foodstuffs I was eating, revealed that it was in fact not so healthy. Beware not to fool yourself – check the facts out.

    I can truly recommend a critical look at your sugar intake and your diet as a whole. You will be surprised how much hidden sugar the “healthy” foods we eat contain. Do your own research and make sure you have an understanding of your health condition and how your diet impacts on your health. You will feel much better, be happier and will be much more “user friendly” for those around you if you eat right.

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