How I quit sugar without effort, withdrawals or cravings
I stopped eating sugar (fructose) 2.5 years ago, without effort, withdrawals or regret.
Before that I was a famous baker of delicious cakes and cookies because I practiced often (and ate my own baking). I was greedy with chocolate. I snacked on dried fruit and guzzled fruit juices. I ate candy, even when it hurt.
My diet was otherwise reasonably healthy. I rarely ate processed foods or takeaway meals. After a few years of strict vegetarianism in my 30s had sapped my will to live, I regularly ate a little high quality meat. I cooked nutritious meals from fresh vegetables every day.
But even with my decades of dental problems I couldn't stop myself from eating sugar. I attempted a few programs for giving up sugar but nothing stuck through the misery of feeling deprived.
My sugar addiction was long and deep. Sweets could soothe everything from a broken heart to a stomachache (or so it seemed) so I rationalized that I needed sugar to feel healthy and well. I certainly seemed to need it to get through my afternoon slump.
Five years ago, when on the verge of another root canal I discovered Cure Tooth Decay, I cherry-picked the easiest elements from Nagel's protocol and continued to eat sweets.
I was able to dramatically turn around my dental health within days just by adding in some missing nutrients to my diet. I started eating more meat, including liver, and taking cod liver oil supplements. I started the habit of breakfasting on a raw milk, raw egg smoothie every day. I loved eating more butter, cheese and cream.
I was still eating sugar but my teeth stopped hurting, my stomachaches disappeared, my hair grew glossy and my nails strong. I felt happier, more confident and more energetic. Sure, I gained a few kilos, but life was good.
Then after a couple of years I just woke up one day and decided I didn't want to eat sugar any more. So I didn't.
Quitting sugar this time didn't feel like a big deal. I didn't do any research. I didn't join a program, clear my cupboards, or make a big announcement. I just stopped eating sugar, without self-discipline or drama. It was weeks before I cleared out the sugary foods gathering dust in my kitchen.
My success at quitting sugar and staying sugar-free for the last 2.5 years* was the culmination of a long game. My primary health goal for the past five years has been to heal my teeth. I stopped trying to lose weight or comply with other health dictates.
In healing my teeth I had nourished myself so thoroughly for so long with high quality protein and fats that, when I was ready to let go of my emotional and social attachment to sweets, I didn't have to contend with chemical cravings.
My teeth were already strong and resilient by then but when I ditched sugar they became even less sensitive and started to look whiter too. Over the following year, gradually, without me making any effort or really even noticing, I lost all the weight I had gained.
Not everyone can heal their teeth while still eating sugar. Everybody's body is different, but my experience suggests that it is possible for some of us to succeed just by adding better nutrients without subtracting anything. I have summarised the essential foods I eat, and my cherry-picking approach to the teeth healing diet in a short e-book called Feed Your Teeth. You can download it for free here.
If, however, your teeth need you to give up sugar right now, there are several good programs you can follow. Whether need rigid meal plans or a supportive community, there's something for everyone who wants to quit sugar. Look around and see what appeals to you.
A healthy diet is a life long project. Very few of us can sustain ongoing commitment to a quick-fix solution requiring deprivation and self-discipline. Sometimes you have to play the long game, as I did, and allow change to establish itself gradually.
*I say I'm sugar-free but I still have sweetness in my diet today. Most days I eat fresh fruit, carbs and a square of 92% dark chocolate. Now and then I use a little honey or maple syrup as sweetener. I've recently started imbibing a tiny drink of alcohol every week or so. Once or twice a year I choose to join in a significant celebration by sharing a piece of wedding or birthday cake. But my baseline diet is easily refined sugar-free with no sense of deprivation.
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