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Transitioning away from Refined Sugar (+PDF)

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Let’s start this off with a jaw-dropping statement. Did you know that sugar is found in 74% of packaged foods in our supermarkets? Regular sugar consumption can lead to serious long-term health problems, including excess weight gain, hormonal imbalance, skin and dental issues, osteoporosis, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. One of the main problems with sugar, and processed fructose, in particular, is the fact that your liver has a very limited capacity to metabolize these substances, which can lead to non-alcoholic liver disease.

Let’s Not Sugarcoat Things

It is said that sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine. When we eat sugary foods, we tend to feel good temporarily. And this is because it creates a biological disorder that is driven by our hormones and neurotransmitters which fuel sugar and carb cravings. It activates our tongue’s taste receptors, which then signals the brain, lighting up reward pathways causing a surge of feel-good hormones, like dopamine (the same chemical released in response to sex and drug use), to be released. So go ahead and have another cocaine cookie, a morphine muffin, or a smack soda! Maybe that’s a tad bit too extreme, or is it? How addicted to sugar are you? Have you ever tried to stop consuming sugar?

Repeated access to sugar over time leads to prolonged dopamine signaling, greater excitation of the brain’s reward pathways and a need for even more sugar is required to activate all of the midbrain dopamine receptors like before. The brain becomes tolerant to sugar. Therefore, more is needed to attain the same “sugar high.”

What I am sharing here hardly begins to break the surface on all the negative effects that sugar has on our bodies. You can do further research on this topic if you want to know all the nitty-gritty facts. I am here to help encourage you to start substituting sugar-laden foods with healthier food/drink choices.

Forms of Sugar

Towards the end of this post, I list out sixty-one different names that are disguises for sugar. I encourage you to print (NouveauRaw – Sugars in Disguise) and tape it to your fridge, pantry, any and everywhere that will keep you mindful and on track. But there are many processed foods that you may not even think of as having sugar in them, such as (but not limited to);

  • Bread
  • Canned Fruit
  • Cereal
  • Coffee Drinks
  • Crackers
  • Fruit Drinks
  • Fruit Roll-Ups
  • Granola
  • Ice Cream
  • Ketchup
  • Pastries
  • Protein Bars
  • Protein Powders
  • Salad Dressing
  • Salsa
  • Sports Drinks
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Yogurt
  • In general – processed foods

Detoxing Sugar

Before you start the removal of sugar from your diet, you need to identify where sugar hides in all the different foods and beverages you and your family consume. I think you will be shocked as to how much sugar is in your home once you start reading the labels.

Keep in mind that refined starches (grains, rice, etc.) which easily break down into sugar and increase your blood sugar levels, which cause increased cravings, slow the metabolism, and lead to fat storage. Instead, aim to get your carbohydrates from whole fruits, veggies, and nuts. Also, stay away from any form of sugary drinks. They bee-line straight to your liver. It turns off the fat storage machine in your liver, leading to dreaded belly fat.

  • Go Cold Turkey
    • I feel that the best approach for getting off of sugar is to go cold turkey. When I talked about getting off caffeine, I suggested to do it gradually, but that’s for a good reason. Right now you may only consume one to three foods/drinks with caffeine in them, but up to a hundred different foods with sugar in them. That alone makes it much harder to gauge if you are truly weaning yourself down from sugar.
    • If you wish to take this seriously, I recommend even cutting all sugary fruits and sugar substitutes from your food plan during this time. You can add them back in once you made it through the sugar detox.
  • Commit
    • I suggest committing to cutting out sugars for at least two to four weeks. Give yourself time to get over the sugar craving hump, as well as retraining your brain on all the delicious and nutritious foods that will be taking its place.
    • Involve your family, a close friend, or find a buddy to keep you accountable.
    • Nouveau Raw has a private Facebook group, join us and ask for a sugar detoxing buddy. Click (here) to join.
  •  Clean Up and Clean Out
    • Go through the house and remove the processed foods that are filled with sugar and other unwanted ingredients.
    • Don’t bring any more in the house! Go through those hidden places where the Girl Scout Cookies are tucked away. Don’t forget your purse, coat pockets, and the car!
    • Fill it back up with whole foods (foods without labels).
  • After a Detox
    • Once you have gone through a sugar detox, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have sugar from this day forward. But it does mean that when you go to reach for a sugary snack, you will do so with more consciousness.
    • Instead of returning to processed foods and refined sugars, you can enjoy raw honey, stevia, dates (dried fruits), coconut sugar, and maple syrup.

Withdrawal Symptoms

The severity of your symptoms largely depends on the amount of sugar in your diet beforehand.

  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Hunger
  • Intense cravings
  • Irritability
  • Low energy levels

Coping with Withdrawl Symptoms

  • For help with headaches, up your vitamin C and enjoy a cup of Tulsi tea which is rich in antioxidants.
  • Drink plenty of water to help flush the body.
  • Go for small walks. Connect with nature and get some fresh air.
  • Aromatherapy can do wonders to reduce the symptoms listed below.
    • Headaches:  Peppermint oil – diffuse or inhale directly from the bottle.
    • Anxiety: Lavender, Orange, Lemon, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Bergamot, or Geranium oil. Any of these, diffuse or inhale directly from the bottle.
    • Low Energy: Lemongrass & Basil combined, Lavender, Frankincense, Peppermint – diffuse or inhale directly from the bottle.
    • Depression: Lavender, Lemon, or Bergamot – diffuse or inhale directly from the bottle.
  • REST as much as possible! Show yourself some self-love/care.
  • Keep your BOWELS moving! Regularity is so important because your body is going to be releasing a lot of toxins. Our bowels will help get them out of us!
  • Increase fiber intake to help with hunger issues. Dietary fiber will help keep blood sugar levels steady, preventing them from dropping.
  • Take probiotics to help stabilize your gut flora. Some food sources to enjoy are kombucha, kefir, tempeh, miso, or kimchi.

Healthier Alternatives

  • Try to eat protein at every meal; this is the key to balancing blood sugar and insulin and cutting cravings.
  • Load up on non-starchy veggies such as leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, fennel, eggplant, artichokes, peppers, etc. Hold off on starchy veggies until you have broken through to the other side of sugar!
  • Enjoy healthy fats at every meal; nuts, seeds (which also contain protein), extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, coconut butter, avocados, chia seeds, and flax seeds.

61 Names Sugar Goes By

  • Agave nectar
  • Barbados sugar
  • Barley malt
  • Barley malt syrup
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane juice
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Castor sugar
  • Coconut palm sugar
  • Coconut sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Date sugar
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Demerara sugar
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Free-flowing brown sugars
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • Glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Grape sugar
  • HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup)
  • Honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltol
  • Maltose
  • Mannose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado
  • Palm sugar
  • Panocha
  • Powdered sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar (granulated)
  • Sweet sorghum
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Yellow sugar


This website is not intended to provide medical advice. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information available on this site is for general informational, entertainment, and educational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment. The author of this site is not responsible for any adverse effects that may occur from the application of the information on this site. You are encouraged to make your own healthcare decisions, based on your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

2 thoughts on “Transitioning away from Refined Sugar (+PDF)

  1. Jimmy says:

    Is roasted carob a sugar ?

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