Lick Sugar to Get Thinner


I had (read: past tense) a major sweet tooth. I would satisfy it with daily diet colas, went through boxes of Splenda and nothing seemed to squash my desire for sweets. 

Eating sugary foods or even calorie-free sweet-tasting foods and beverages only seems to increase one’s desire for them. Research is beginning to understand our innate desire for sweets and how sugars light up areas in the brain that provide a feeling of pleasure followed by a drive for more. For many people, eating “just a little” isn’t an option when it comes to sweets.

The problem with too many sweets is that they provide little in terms of satiety (fullness) and are not usually rich in fiber, vitamins or minerals.  Too many sweets make it harder to control body weight and may increase risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes and chronic inflammation.

While some people have more discipline and self-control or their brains aren’t “hijacked” as much by sugars when they enjoy them, many people may find that moving away from sweets and sweet-tasting foods is the best approach to avoid cravings and eventual overeating. Some researcher even liken the impact of sugars to alcohol or drugs like heroin.

To me, sugar is more like the bad boyfriend that you just can’t quit.

As a result of recent news reports about the evils of sugars, friends and readers of the blog ask me almost daily what I think about sugar and how much is too much? That’s hard to answer because it’s all individualized, based upon one’s relationship overall with food, exercise level, body weight and fatness.

I developed the five steps below for myself to quit sugars and sugary foods and beverages. I did this more than a year ago and never looked back.  I have found my cravings for sweets are much less, my hunger is more manageable and it helped me lose a few extra lbs I was carrying around.

To lick your cravings for sweets once and for all, you need to do all the steps below on consecutive days. By the end of the week, you’ll be meeting the health and nutrition guidelines set forth to minimize added sugars in the diet.

1. Nix all sources of liquid sugars in your diet. Since sodas and other sweetened beverages provide about half of all the added sugar in the typical American diet, they’re the first to jettison. They don’t contribute to fullness so you won’t miss them.

2. Avoid using sugar substitutes. This was really hard for me for the first two days, but then I didn’t miss it whatsoever. Because sugar substitutes are more intensely sweet than cane sugar, once you get accustomed to their level of sweetness, it takes more natural sweeteners to be sweet-satisfied. They may also affect the natural hunger hormones as well, making it harder to control your appetite.Food Label Image

3. Become a Sugar Sleuth. For one week, read the Nutrition Facts and ingredient list for everything you eat and drink. If “sugars” on the label are more than 8-10 grams, go directly to the ingredient list and skip it if you see a form of added sugars in the ingredient list. If there is no sugar in the ingredient list, it means that the food or beverage contains natural sugars; we don’t we don’t worry about them because they’re not “metabolically equivalent” to added sugars.

(Common cues that equal added sugar in ingredient lists include sucrose, dextrose, sorbitol, mannitol, honey, agave, dextrin, maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup and any other syrup. For the most part, if there is an “-ose,” or “-ols” it means it’s a sugar. Although sucralose is a sugar substitute.)

4. Start Each Day Sugar-Free. Starting your day off right is one of the best ways to stay on track with any diet. For me, a sugar-free breakfast would be eggs & veggies or egg white omelets. Research shows that eating eggs for breakfast, compared to toast or bagels, eat fewer calories over a 24-hour period, most likely because eating eggs doesn’t cause the same blood sugar and insulin response as a carbohydrate-rich breakfast. I also opt for plain oatmeal with Greek yogurt or peanut butter; fresh fruit; dried fruit and nuts; baked potatoes with low-fat cottage cheese or low-fat cottage cheese with cherry tomatoes. I even find leftovers from dinners are a great way to keep any cravings for sweets tempered during the day.

5. Learn to Love Natural Sugars. Don’t think about what you can’t have; focus on what you can eat and drink. For sweets, try dried fruit, (dates are sugar like candy to me now), fresh fruit, roasted veggies, and caramelized onions. There are many foods that provide natural sweetness—they’ve just been pushed aside by the more intensely sweet crystal whites.

After a Sugar-Free Week

After seven days sugar-free, your desire for sweets should be vastly reduced. If you want to reintroduce small amounts of added sweeteners, start by incorporating them into meals, as sugars eaten with other foods are less harmful than when they’re eaten alone. Try to keep your sugar intake to the American Heart Association’s limits for added sugars: 100 calories (6 tsp) for women and 150 calories (9 tsp) for men.




  1. says

    That was one of the harder switches as once you get used to coffee or tea with sweetener, it’s hard to like it without it. I used to use Splenda but when I did this, I just stopped entirely. I started drinking skim lattes and made my tea weaker and with more milk. I really have adapted to it and know many other that have too.

    If you need something in your coffee, go for a teaspoon of honey or regular sugar or raw sugar, agave but only a teaspoon. I feel this is not overload and will help you wean off sweetener in your am beverage

  2. says

    Great ideas, but not everyone will “not miss it.” When I first weaned myself over 20 years ago, I couldn’t bear the thought of no sugar and such limited carbohydrates.

    First I cut the grain based carbohydrates at breakfast, but ate some form of starch at both lunch and dinner. I soon learned how powerfully eating even whole grain cereal or toast impacted my hunger all day long. Each time I indulged, I felt horrible within the hour and felt hungrier all day long. For six weeks I ate mostly vegetable omelets or cottage cheese and fruit. Thankfully today there is Greek yogurt and I have expanded my breakfast choices to include almost every kind of left-over.

    Sweets were harder. I started by allowing myself a quarters worth of chocolate after a strong protein lunch each day. The protein at lunch helped buffer the metabolic hit of sugar and I had the rest of the day to be active and readjust metabolically.

    Over time I bought four kisses for 20 cents, then 3, 2 and eventually only one. I am sure the clerk at the corner liquor store thought I was absolutely nuts. Soon I was skipping days and finally stopped buying them at all.

    Today I enjoy a much greater insulin sensitivity and can handle sweets a couple of times a week with little negative impact. I know immediately when I have had too much…I notice I want more.

    Two last points:

    One, most people feel truly liberated when they are no longer preoccupied with carbohydrate cravings, either the sweet or savory kind. It’s worth the effort.

    Two, fitness level or weight status isn’t license to to indulge. It is important to stop using body size as a litmus for what anyone gets to eat. The issue is metabolic health. It will be better for everyone when society (including every health professional) stops justifying a poor diet just because someone appears to get away with it.

  3. Alisson H. says

    I can’t drink coffee without sugar, and lots of it. I drink only a bit of sugar in hot tea, but more in sweet tea especially when brewed by others. I can’t drink soda or any carbonated beverages because of a medicine that I take. My biggest problem, besides coffee with sugar, is sweets themselves. Things like cookies, cakes, candy… I have huge sweet tooth! And often eat them when I am not hungry.

  4. Liz S says

    I once did kick the sugar habit and for a few years. Unfortunately I let it win me over again. I struggle with it now and want to go back to when I could go with little sugar and be a-ok. I will try cutting sugar out for a week. As is, the only sweet beverage I have is coffee and I only have one small cup a day. I’m not concerned about drinking my sugars but am majorly concerned about eating them especially in ice cream and/or pastry form. I think I can commit to 1 week of cutting out sugar. Thank you for this article.

  5. gina welborn says

    What about sugar alcohol that’s listed in the ingredients and what about stevia that’s what I use every day in my tea?


Leave a Reply