5-Day Guide to Cutting Out Refined Sugar

These days, it seems like refined sugar is everywhere. The stuff gets sneaked into tons of processed foods, including pseudo-healthy ones like fruit juices and health bars. It’s also mostly likely one of the reasons your weight loss progress is not where you’d like it to be. A simple solution? Cut it out completely!The bitter truth about the sweet stuff: it’s addictive. Consuming sugar (even if you can’t taste it, like in potato chips!) releases dopamine in the brain and makes you want more. But there’s a sweet side! You can get rid of a sugar addiction altogether by simply cutting it out of your diet. “Cravings” aren’t simply human nature—they can be crushed. And this 5-day guide to cutting out refined sugar completely is the way to start.

Day 1: Start strong

The best way to quit sugar is cold-turkey. Every time you eat something sugary, even if it’s just something small to ease into the cut-back, is really just going back a step. On the first day, steer clear of it completely. A simple rule when avoiding refined sugar is to nix all desserts: no cake, ice cream, cupcakes, soda, sweetened coffee drinks, etc. And if you aren’t quite sure, check your labels for “cane sugar” and “high fructose corn syrup.” (Note: honey, agave, maple syrup, and low-calorie sweeteners should not be used as replacements—they trick your brain into wanting sugar, and will only make your cravings stronger).

Day 2: Fruit

The second day of the sugar-free plan is the perfect time to meet your new best friend: fruit. While it still should be consumed in moderation, fruit is naturally sweet, packed with vitamins and minerals, and does not have the same addictive qualities as refined sugar. (Check out these fruit-based desserts with no added sugar).

Day 3: The beginning of the “sugar flu”

The third day of a sugarless routine is often the hardest. If you’ve had a clean record for the past two days, by the third, your body begins to notice that something is different. Today might mean headaches, achey limbs, fatigue, dryness of the mouth, and even light nausea. Don’t give up! Fight the urge to demolish an entire pint of ice cream and push through (it will be worth it!).

Day 4: Sugar flu round-2

If your sugar withdrawal symptoms aren’t quite gone, don’t lose hope. Today is the day for plenty of water (no soda, remember!), a little extra fresh fruit if you need it, and time spent away from any “triggers” you might see. (Tip: exercise is a perfect way to minimize cravings by getting your dose of dopamine another way. Check out these fun workouts to get you through day 4.)

Day 5: Sugar freedom!

Today, you’ll notice that your urge to indulge is much lighter. You’ve made it over the “flu” and found your way to freedom. Even advertisements for desserts won’t tickle your fancy anymore. By day 5, you will have regained control over your brain. If your process takes a bit longer, now is not the time to give up! Some sugar cravings take longer to shake than others. Regardless, once you have finally detoxed your way to a sugarless diet, you won’t regret it.