How To Quit Sugar: The 7 Steps I Took To Finally Quit Sugar And How You Can, Too!

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | A Sweet Pea Chef

We all know, more or less, that sugar is bad for us and that manufactures put it in pretty much everything they can because, as consumers, we have developed an insatiable need for more and more sugar to make our tastebuds happy. This isn’t really news to you, I’m guessing.

But, just how bad is sugar, really? 

Well, research shows that refined sugar is associated with weight gain, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and depression, among others.  <— NONE of those are good things.

Two spoons laying flat, one filled with brown sugar, and the other filled with white granulated sugar, representing two processed forms of sugar to avoid.

But, let’s clear one thing up: It’s actually not SUGAR, by itself, that is the main problem here.

Stay with me, here…

I propose we need to rethink how we approach our viewpoint on sugar. 

Just like the demonized calories and carbs, sugar gets a bad wrap that is not necessarily deserving. “Real” sugar — the kind that exists in natural foods, like fruits, vegetables, and milk, to name a few — actually satisfies a legitimate nutritional and functional purpose in our bodies.  Yep: sugar is something that exists in natural, whole foods and it provides our bodies with energy.  Energy is good, in this sense. 

Wanna see how I go a whole day without refined sugars and still love the food I eat?

Grab my free one day cleanse.

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | asweetpeachef.com

What’s NOT good is that us sweet tooth freaks have (myself totally included), over time, developed a certain need for sweeter and sweeter things.  Couple that with becoming addicted to sweet stuff and you got yourself a gold mine, if you’re a manufacturer selling sweet foods.  This has led to processing sugar (i.e. high fructose corn syrup, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and so on) into what we now have in most of the packaged foods out there. 

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | asweetpeachef.com

These highly (highly highly highly x10,000) refined forms of sugar are no longer taken from a fruit or a bean or a vegetable.  When we consume those real foods, the naturally occurring sugar enters our bloodstream slowly as we digest the food and all the other nutrients provided by those foods. This is what we WANT.   

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | asweetpeachef.com

Refined sugars, on the other hand, don’t work in our bodies in the same way.  They are pure energy from the very start – no need to digest and process the fibrous tissue of an apple to get your naturally occurring sugar.  Instead, you get a shot of the straight sugar without any chance of slowing it down.  This is NOT what we want.  Over time, this will put such a toll on our bodies and our organs will start to fail (i.e. Diabetes, heart disease, etc.).

So, how can we quit PROCESSED sugar, then? 

The good news is you can totally do this.  I did.  Many others have.  

We start one day at a time.

And it’s as glorious as it sounds.  BUT, there are some steps I recommend you take to be successful.  Let me share the 7 steps I took for how to quit sugar and work towards a refined sugar free life and how you can, too!

Step 1: Read your nutrition labels.

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | asweetpeachef.com

This is possibly the most important thing you can do to take charge of what foods you’re putting into your body.  For any drink, cereal, package, energy bar, or whatever prepared food you purchase at the grocery store, read the label.  What is this going to tell you?  Everything! 

Most of us, after reading the label and seeing high fructose corn syrup as one of the top 5 ingredients in the list would realize that food probably isn’t a good choice.  But, what if you saw brown sugar, fruit juice, malt syrup, or organic cane juice?  Would you stop and think this is just as bad? 

Because, despite how much nicer they may sound, they’re still forms of refined sugar. 

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | asweetpeachef.com

Another very easy way to spot sugar in the nutrition labels is by recognizing the “-ose” suffix. So, when you see words that end in -ose, like sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, glucose, galactose, high fructose corn syrup, etc., there’s a good chance it is sugar. 

Step 2: Choose healthier, more real sources of sugar.

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | asweetpeachef.com

Like I mentioned before, sugar exists in whole foods, like beans, vegetables, and fruits.  Sugar provides us with energy and is not a bad thing if consumed in moderation from whole foods and within a well-balanced diet.  There are several healthier alternatives to adding sweeteners to your food.  They are the following:

  • Coconut Palm Sugar – this sugar is actually sap from the coconut palm which is heated and evaporated which reduces it to granules. Coconut sugar is nutritious and has a low score on the glycemic index (which essentially means it doesn’t tax your body and make you crash after giving you a sugar rush).  Coconut sugar tastes similar to brown sugar, but slightly richer.  (Here are some recipes that use coconut sugar).
  • Raw Honey – is simply honey that has not been filtered or pasteurized so it includes beeswax, royal jelly, bee pollen and propolis (a substance collected by honeybees from tree buds, used to fill crevices and seal honeycombs.). Raw honey is pretty awesome.  It’s used by many cultures as a remedy for ailments, including ulcers, digestion problems, and as an antibiotic. Raw honey contains antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes.  Make sure to look for raw in the name, as processed honey has no such health benefits.  A honey simply labelled as un-pasteurized is likely filtered, but hasn’t been heated. It would not be considered raw because it has been filtered and had the royal jelly, beeswax, bee pollen, and propolis removed.  (Here are some recipes that use raw honey).
  • Pure Maple Syrup – contains beneficial nutrients, lower Glycemic Index score (so not as harmful to liver), helps with digestion, and contains antioxidants. When used in appropriate amounts, pure maple syrup benefits can lower inflammation, supply nutrients, and better manage blood sugar.  (Here are some recipes that use pure maple syrup).

While these three better-for-you sugars do contain many more health benefits than processed sugar, I want to stress they are all still…sugar.  Therefore, make sure you consume them in moderation.  

For more recipe ideas that use only unrefined ingredients, grab my free one day cleanse to get started today!

Step 3: Beware of artificial sweeteners.

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | asweetpeachef.com

Many people turn to artificial sweeteners when trying to avoid excess sugar in their diets. While many consider these type of zero calorie sweeteners “safe” or “guilt-free,” they’re not helping you one bit.  No, they don’t contain calories, but they also don’t contain any nutritional value so your body wants more and more of them, thinking the sweetness will provide you, at least, with energy, which it never does so you’re left craving more and more sweets.  You are still used to highly sweetened food and this is what you need to move away from. Artificial sweeteners can also increase your cravings for sugar and carbs and they can deplete your body’s store of chromium, which is a crucial nutrient in blood-sugar metabolism.  There’s a reason why diet soda is highly correlated to weight gain and obesity.   

For all you Stevia lovers out there, the same goes for Stevia.  Forget the notion that “natural” sweeteners that contain zero calories are actually good for you.  Yes, the stevia plant contains green leaves that are naturally very sweet and calorie-free.  However, the extracts and powders you can purchase in the grocery store have very little to do with the original plant.  Stevia, as an extract, is highly processed and only contributes to your continued dependency on needing more and more sweets.

Step 4: Identify the main culprit.

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | asweetpeachef.com

We all have one type of food or drink that is probably the most major of all the culprits of our continued dependency on processed sugar.  Maybe you are a sweet coffee drinker.  Maybe you love your Dr. Pepper.  Maybe you sneak a candy bar every day at 2:30pm to get you through the afternoon at work.  It’s likely this one culprit that scares you about letting go of processed sugar and quitting for good.  It’s also likely this one culprit that is holding you back from reaching your health-related goals.  

Each change you make during this process of quitting processed sugars will help you with the next change.  Attacking this main culprit head-on will certainly work to help you remove the need for sweets within the rest of your diet.  Start looking at that “treat” as your ball and chain to sugar.  Get rid of it and you’ll be soooo much better off – I promise.

Step 5: Start to remove sugar from your home.

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | asweetpeachef.com

It all needs to go.  Otherwise, it will be there for you when you’re feeling week and just want to give up.  If you don’t have it, you won’t eat it.  Donate, give away, or throw away all processed sugar from your home.  That means sugary cereals (and even many of the so-called healthy cereals you think you purchased), candy, cookies, granulated sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc. You won’t be needing those anymore.

A note on fruit juices.  Yes, they are made from from fruit.  NO, they aren’t good for you.  Believe it or not, they actually contain the same amount of sugar as a can of soda.  While the sugar is natural sugar, not added sugar, it still is a show to your system and is too much sugar to be combining at one time.  Instead, opt for eating a piece of fruit instead of drinking what is essentially 3-4 pieces of fruit very rapidly.

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | asweetpeachef.com

Also (and this goes along with reading your nutrition labels) check your condiments, pasta sauces, fruit juices, barbecue sauces, breads, and so on for lurking sugar.  You’ll be surprised with just how much hidden sugars you’ll find.  There are so many ways to make the foods you love WITHOUT refined sugars and high fructose corn syrup.  

Step 6: Make it a transition.

If you’re ready to jump right in and start taking action, that’s great — you can try out my free one day cleanse to finally kick that sugar habit.

For others, change can be very scary and difficult for us to swallow, especially when we consider the years and years we’ve likely been addicted to refined sugars.  Start small, take baby steps, and keep moving towards removing refined sugars from your diet.  Each teaspoon of sugar you remove a day, the better off you’ll be. 

How To Quit Sugar | The 7 steps I took to quit sugar and how you can, too! | asweetpeachef.com

As much as you may want to throw everything out and quit for good, that is not always the best choice because we have habits and routines and likes that will all be unhappy and thrown out of whack.  Instead, make the transition gradual to the point where you don’t even feel like you’re working to remove anything.  Then, one day, you’ll not even feel like that extra soda or white mocha latte or cookie.  Your body and mind are capable of amazing things – so stop letting sugar control them and take charge!

Step 7: Just start.

One of the most common complaints I hear from men and women trying to get healthy is how they just can’t get past their addiction to sugar,  Their sweet tooth is just too strong and is always sabotaging them from reaching their health and weight goals.  They’re worried they’ll never be able to eat ice cream again, enjoy chocolate, sip a sweet latte, or have pancakes with syrup again.  They focus on all the things they’ll lose and this is terrifying and keeps them from taking that jump into quitting sugar.

Get started TODAY by downloading my free one day cleanse to quit sugar.

How To Quit Sugar

 

But, instead of thinking about all the things you love that you’ll lose by quitting sugar, let’s reframe it and think about all the things you’ll gain.

You’ll gain control over your health and body. 

You’ll gain an understanding of all the marketing you’re letting tell you what to eat even though it’s bad for you. 

You’ll gain a newfound appreciation for naturally occurring sugars, like apples, ripe bananas, and even carrots. 

You’ll enjoy regular, non-sugared, foods and appreciate the balanced meal more than you ever did before inc your tastebuds were so tuned in to wanting sweets. 

You’ll gain a pride and confidence in yourself and your body – that you’re doing this because you’re worth it and granulated sugar is toxic for you. 

You’ll learn new and exciting ways to still enjoy sweets, through making ice cream using just bananas, experimenting with healthier forms of more natural sugars, and enjoying the simplicity of foods and all their varied flavors. 

You will have significantly reduced your chances for obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and depression. 

Most importantly, you’ll have actually quit sugar!

Free 1 day cleanse

You’ve got this!  Feel free to ask any questions in our free healthy community as you get started taking back your health.

What’s next?  Click here to download my free one day cleanse and see how easy it can be to quit sugar and LOVE your food.

Good luck!

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

30 thoughts on “How To Quit Sugar: The 7 Steps I Took To Finally Quit Sugar And How You Can, Too!

  1. I quit all refined white sugar after I discovered what the refining process entails. My downfall was sugar in my coffee which I just loved… and cream of course. I got an unexpected bonus. My debilitating migraines ceased nearly 100%. I now use agave syrup instead. I look at cookies and pastries now and think; pain. No more. Seems that honey, agave and maple syrup are fine. Once in a blue moon I indulge in something with white sugar to be polite mostly and am fine.
    I got a craving for ice cream one day and found the recipe on this site for frozen chocolate banana yogurt which I left a review for. YUMMY and no guilt.

    1. Hi Annem I love ice cream but can’t eat it because I’m lactose intolerant. I’m very keen to find out where you got your choc banana recipe from. Thanks so much!

  2. Hi Lacey,
    I read through your comments and I came across one mentioning sugar alcohols. I was on a Ketogenic diet for a couple months with my dad. During that period, we cut off our sugars and carbs. We were following a “diet” -if you wish- and we followed it according to Dr. Berg. Him and his wife mentioned sugar-free sweeteners such as stevia, sugar alcohol sweeteners, xylitol, etc. so my dad did some research on the sweeteners we planned on using. We ended up using Xylitol derived from North American Hardwood. Is this good to use on a clean-eating lifestyle? Until a couple weeks back, I was on a Ketogenic diet. But when school started, I completely stopped and gave in to my cravings for ALL sugars and such, eating way too many carbs and not watching what goes into my mouth. While I was on the diet, I had NO negative body images of myself and I really didn’t care about how much fat there was on my belly at the end of the day, it wasn’t that much anyway. Now, off the diet I keep wishing that I was back on the diet just to lose the fat and to better control myself. My family from my dad’s side has a record of becoming large if they didn’t watch their food or exercise. He explained to me that if I didn’t exercise and watch my food too, I would end up just like them. It disheartens me to think of myself like that. I feel miserable and horrible, sometimes just bawling my eyes out in my room alone. I really want to change my eating lifestyle and also go back to exercising regularly. I know that I hold the keys to my own future, but when it’s just me alone eating on a different lifestyle while everyone else in my family eats whatever they want, I just crumble. When I know I have the moral support of my family and parents, I can keep on going, it’s easier. Would eating clean help me? Can it benefit me in certain ways?
    Thank You, for taking your time to read this.

  3. Great article. I “quit sugar” in January when the weight from having a baby in October wasn’t dropping anymore. I have now lost 61 lbs and feel so much better. I don’t have the brain fog I used to have or the need to take a nap every afternoon no matter how much I slept the night before. I don’t crave the sweet foods and have a whole new appreciation for nuts and veggies and fruit.

  4. Thank you so much for this information! I have been looking for how to cut sugar out of my diet. I noticed recently how bad my addiction has gotten. Now it is time to throw some food away and learn how to make healthy no sugar added alternatives. You are amazing!

  5. Hi I dont use sugar at all except for a little stevia in my black coffee or green tea. I havd stopped having cravings after not eating junk food for two months. But coffee without stevia is really hard for me. Is this much dependency okay?

    1. Well congrats on all the other sugars and processed foods you’ve been able to remove from your diet – that’s awesome. I’m not a huge fan of stevia because it is processed still, but you have come quite along way so it’s hard to tell you to go the full 100%. Have you ever tried adding in a little raw honey or pure maple syrup to your coffee? The reason why I do think it’s still in your best interest is because it is a dependency and it can slowly cause you to crave more sugars.

      1. I have the same problem. I don’t want to give up my coffee but I can’t drink it black either. But I’m not big on the taste of honey. Will it make my coffee taste like honey or does it just sweeten it.

  6. Great article and information. I recommend a book by Allan Carr called Good Sugar Bad Sugar that teaches you to break the addiction. Big help for me!

  7. Hey there! Thanks for the article. some great info there! My husband(who has cancer) and I are working on cutting out sugar, I am completely addicted so this has been really difficult for me. You did forget to mention that sugar is cancers favorite food and cutting it out reduces your risk for all kinds of the nasty stuff. Anyway, I keep seeing on labels ‘sugar alcohol’ I can’t find anywhere on the internet what exactly that is. I assume it is a type of sweetener, and based on what you said about those and stevia as well, I will now assume that I don’t want it, but I am still curious. Do you know about it? Thanks for your time!

    1. Very good point about cancer – thank you for mentioning that. I wish you and your husband the best! Sugar alcohols are also seen on nutrition labels under sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, isomalt. I avoid these as well, since they are processed and chemically altered. Hope that helps!

  8. I have basically quit refined sugar but I do use stevia. What you have missed is that stevia does not have a high glycemic index that things like maple syrup, honey and coconut sugar have. These sugars are not recommended for pre-diabetics which I’m not but my hubby is. This year I am planting stevia plants in my greenhouse and hope to extract the sweetness making a tea and using it as sweetener. Not eating sugar certainly has changed my taste buds and if I do eat something sweet at someones birthday I find it WAY TOO sweet.

    1. You’re absolutely right about the glycemic index and that being a big issue for diabetics and pre-diabetics. I encourage all those who may have that condition to speak with their doctor, but recommend avoiding sweeteners that are high on the GI as you mentioned. I think planting stevia leaves and using them as whole, real sweetener is a fabulous idea. Unfortunately, the stevia that is purchased in stores is not the whole plant like you’ll be doing 🙂

  9. Hi Lacey, i love your articles about sugar. How do you teach your kids not to eat sweet foods?because where i live the kids are eating lots of cookies, shortbreads, sweetbreads and candies. The school often give the kids these stuffs, and also flavoured milk. I don’t give my daughter these foods, but sometimes i bake her homemade cookies, cake or ice cream. But the problem is that she is very curious what her friends are eating, and sometimes i am afraid that when she gets older, she wants to eats those foods out of control. So do you have any suggestions how to teach little kids to understand what food are healthy and what are not. Thank you

    1. Yulinda, this is a great question. I worry about it, too, now that my daughter is in school.

      It helps me to remember that the food I model is the food she will most likely end up eating. It’s also tough to accept, but eventually, I will have to give her responsibility for her own body and accept the food choices she makes (and just hope I’ve taught her well). We have conversations about nutrition and she can actually tell me why excess sugar is bad for her, and what foods are good and healthy. I believe that while she’s immature, knowledge about food and the wisdom to make good choices may not always match up, but as she grows and matures, she’ll have the tools she needs to make those good decisions on a lifetime continuum. It’s OK to tell kids what excess sugar does to the body (causes weight gain, makes it harder to play and run, messes up your heart and organs when you get to adulthood, etc.) and explain how good food gives us energy and helps us heal, stay healthy. Kids get it, even if they still want treats sometimes.

      I may not be strict enough for some, but I also believe that it’s the habits, and not the exceptions, that show I’m winning the war against poor eating. So I am less concerned about a cookie or two from time to time, because at home she reaches for fruit and vegetables, for example.

      1. I totally agree that you can make a great impact on your children by limiting their sugar and modeling healthy choices. My own mother never gave us candy (although she did bake our birthday cakes and occasional homemade desserts). As a result, I have never liked candy. I do have somewhat of a sweet tooth when it comes to certain desserts, but I don’t feel well if I eat more than a couple bites of anything with refined sugar. I don’t know if it is because of the way I was raised, but my body is quite sensitive to refined sugar and so I do not crave it like most seem to these days. Even though I had been eating very few occasional treats, I am now quitting refined sugars completely. And I don’t feel like I am missing much. I always enjoy trying new types of food from around the world, and without sugar cravings in the way, I feel I can appreciate so many different flavors that others say taste “plain” to them. Try to introduce your children to a variety of ethnic cuisines and tropical fruits! When you have grown up eating fresh food, processed “food” tastes like garbage!

        1. That’s so great that your mom taught you early on to stay away from processed foods. The occasional treat, like you mentioned, is totally fine but it’s the dependency and normalcy we give sugar and processed junk that takes a toll on our bodies and minds. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

      2. I could not agree with you any more on everything you said here, Jennifer. Thanks for speaking to this – I totally agree about educating your children on why we care about lower sugar foods and what it can do to our bodies. The more kids know, the more they’ll care and not look at it as a silly rule. I also agree that it’s ok to allow them a treat from time to time – but I am careful to allow them in the house because then they become a habit. Thanks so much for sharing!

    2. Hi Yulinda! Very great questions and definitely something I battle with my own 3 school-age kiddos as well. The bottom line is you can’t have them avoid everything, but you can certainly limit it. I make my kids’ lunches most day so I can control the food they’re eating and so they avoid the high sugar options the school has. I was so disappointed with the cafeteria food that I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I let the kids choose what they want in their lunch and we come up with healthy alternatives when what they want is something very processed and high in sugar. I have lots of sweets and baked good recipes on the site here that your kids would never even know are healthy and are free of refined sugars as well as steps for how to make unhealthy foods healthier – I encourage you to check those out 🙂 Good luck!

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