Sugary drinks

Detox from Sugar

Summer Rayne Oakes
This content originally appeared on 

Meet Summer Rayne Oakes, author of SugarDetoxMe, a new cookbook and guide that describes how the mind and body are affected when sugar is consumed and reveals ways to conquer sugar cravings. More than 100 recipes use ingredients for multiple dishes in order to maximize each ingredient, minimize waste, and save money.

The following excerpt is reprinted with permission from SugarDetoxMe  (c) 2017 by Summer Rayne Oakes, Sterling Epicure.

To Stop Sugar Cravings, You Need to Quit Eating Sugar--Not Cut Back

It's far easier to follow a program when restrictions are black and white. One little bit of sugar can actually set you off on a downward spiral, so it's best to remove added sugars completely from your diet. There are ways to do this gradually. If you want to take that route, keep in mind that abstaining is not about "going on a diet." An alcoholic doesn't go to a support group to "go on a diet" from alcohol. Abstinence is about removing a harmful substance altogether (in this case, sugar) so that it will no longer hijack your brain chemistry. When you stop eating sugar, you will gain more energy, a clearer focus, and a healthier life. It will also teach you how to reprogram your taste buds and enjoy highly nutritious foods, ones that your body and mind truly need! A sugar detox plan is truly a lifestyle plan that will help you get closer to the source of your sugar cravings and open up new avenues for a healthier you.

There are many programs that suggest varying lengths of time for reducing or removing sugar from your diet. Behavioral research, however, shows that the length of time to correct a bad habit varies dramatically from person to person. For most of us it will take time, perhaps several weeks, months, or even years, and you may need to go back to bat several times before hitting a home run. But once you hit that home run, it will be all the sweeter--and without all the sugar!

There are several ways to quit eating sugar. Here are two approaches:

Approach 1: Gradual Release

Remove all sodas, sugary beverages, and artificially sweetened drinks from your diet.

Most of us obtain unnecessary sugars from drinks such as soda, fruit juices, sports drinks, sweetened waters, energy drinks, sweetened teas and coffees, and even fresh-pressed juices and smoothies. Begin replacing these drinks with unsweetened beverages, including filtered tap water, sparkling water, unsweetened herbal teas, single servings of unsweetened black or green teas and coffee, or water flavored with whole fruits and herbs. Keep caffeinated beverages to one serving (6 ounces) and alcoholic beverages to one serving (5 ounces). Once all your cravings subside for sweetened beverages, or when you feel confident that you've built up a healthy habit of drinking unsweetened beverages, move on to the second step.

Remove other free sugars from the food you eat.

Once you've removed sugar from beverages, it's time to begin removing sugars from the rest of your diet. These items include desserts; candies; canned fruits; processed meats; dairy products, such as flavored or sweetened yogurts, processed cheese, frozen yogurt, flavored milk, and sweetened creams; frozen and prepared dinners, soups, sauces, salsas, and salad dressing; sweetened breads; sweetened granolas; crackers and chips; and alcohol. Place a particular emphasis on your breakfasts, making sure that no unwanted sugars creep in to your first meal of the day, which will only set you up for an insulin spike and subsequent cravings.

Replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains.

Once you feel as if you have sufficiently accomplished stages 1 and 2, you can move on to replacing refined carbs, such as most flours, oatmeal, white rice, breads, pizza dough, pastas, crackers, with healthier, whole(r) grain and protein options like quinoa, pearl barley, beans, and lentils.

If at any point you slip up, simply repeat the stage you're on or go back to the stage before. Remember: You're transitioning to a healthier lifestyle, and everything you do is progress, even when you slip, because you're learning how to return to a healthier foundation.

Approach 2: Full Release

Concentrate on eating real food (and only minimally processed food on occasion).

When I first started my sugar cleanse, I decided to quit cold turkey and removed all free sugars, processed starches, and even sugary fruits and vegetables from my diet for at least 30 days. I wanted to know what liberation from sugar would feel like, and I was psychologically and physically prepared for the challenge. Removing everything at once can be difficult for some to maintain, but I would suggest giving the full release method a try for a specific period of time--say 10 days, 30 days, or 2 months. This will give you a sense of what life without sugar is like. Most people feel and see the results--from clearer skin to more balanced energy to weight loss--almost instantly, and all of these can be motivating factors to continue. If you ever feel that a full release from sugar is too difficult to maintain and you find yourself slipping up, analyze your food journal to learn more about your pitfalls, and then create your own personalized gradual release plan.

Though removing all added sugars and processed foods from your diet may seem extreme, it is a valid approach for some people. Author Michael Moss, in his book Salt, Sugar, Fat, retells a story about one of the foremost experts in addictive behavior, Nora Volkow, a research psychiatrist and scientist who directs the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to discover parallels between food and narcotics, giving more validity to food addiction. She found that processed sugar in certain individuals--including you, perhaps--can produce compulsive patterns of intake. In these situations, she recommends staying away from sugar completely.

If you'd like to do a guided cleanse, then I encourage you to visit to sign up for one of our programs so that we can help you on your path.