10+ Tips for Doing a Sugar Detox
This article shares ten tips for how to do a sugar detox and live sugar-free. Learn how to kick the sugar habit to improve your health and mindset.
You don’t have to be a sugar addict to want a break from sugar. If you think you’re eating too much refined sugars and want a break, doing a sugar detox can help.
It’s best to make a plan for going sugar free. If you have a plan in place, you won’t feel as overwhelmed or confused – especially once any sugar detox symptoms start!
First, set a timeframe for when you want to quit refined sugars and for how long you want to abstain. Plan to go sugar-free for at least 7-10 days. Commit to a time period when you are going to go cold turkey and eliminate any added, refined, artificial, or natural sugars.
An alternative is to take incremental steps over a longer period, say 30 days, to reduce sugar from your diet.
The idea is that you set a target of how long you want to take to break your sugar habit. You’ll also need some time before you go sugar-free to make sure that you’ve removed sugary foods from your house and that your kitchen is stocked with lots of sugar-free foods. See my guide for the best no-sugar foods.
The next step is to make behavioral changes to keep you from turning to sweets. You’ll see several nutrition and lifestyle tips below that can help break your cravings.
Sugar Detox Tips
Once you’ve made the commitment to go sugar-free, there are some tips to help make your sugar detox easier and more bearable.
And, of course, please do consult your healthcare provider before starting any diet or lifestyle change to make sure it’s appropriate for you.
1. Quit Soda & Drink More Water
One of the best ways to kickstart your sugar detox is to quit your soda habit. Replace both regular soda and diet soda with sparkling water, unsweetened herbal tea, or plain water.
Regular soda has anywhere from 20-48 grams of sugar per eight-ounce serving (and most cans are more than eight ounces). Diet sodas aren’t necessarily a great alternative to regular sodas, either, since scientists think there are some health risks with diet sodas too.
Instead of consuming soda or any type of sugar-sweetened beverage, it’s probably best to switch to hydrating beverages like water. Water is essential for so many reasons, but it is also very much tied to our detoxification system.
2. Increase Healthy Fat Intake
Another great step to take in your sugar detox is to increase your intake of healthy fats. This change can help reduce your cravings for sugary foods. See my full list of ways to reduce sugar cravings.
Healthy fats include avocado, unsweetened coconut products, grass-fed butter or ghee (unless you have a dairy allergy), and nuts and seeds. Aim for 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fat with each meal.
See my helpful guide for how to freeze avocados so you never waste them.
3. Consider Glutamine
Due to our food supply and the standard American diet, many of us are low in neurotransmitters and nutrients such as glutamine. Supplementing with glutamine can help combat hypoglycemia and regulate blood sugars.
4. Choose Fresh Fruit
Replace sugary desserts with fresh fruits to help support your detox from sweets. If your default habit is to reach for sweets after your meal, try weaning yourself off of desserts by replacing them with fresh fruit.
Fruit has natural sugars, but it also contains nutrients and fiber to help slow the absorption into your bloodstream. Fruit can be a healthy alternative to dessert, especially antioxidant-rich, low-sugar fruit like berries.
If you’re truly detoxing from sugar and want to avoid even natural sugars during your detox, then you might want to avoid fruit for a limited time. Most people should consume at least 1-2 servings of fresh fruit a day as part of a balanced diet.
Learn more about natural sugars vs. added sugars.
5. Eat More Protein
Make sure you’re eating enough protein at breakfast. Eating enough protein with your morning meal has been shown to help with weight loss and satiety.
What you eat at breakfast also influences what you eat for the rest of the day. If you break your overnight fast with sugar and carbohydrates instead of protein or fat, you will set yourself up for a blood sugar roller coaster and cravings for the rest of the day.
Eating enough protein is also part of my healthy weight loss tips for women.
6. Eat More Complex Carbs
Unless your doctor has advised it, there’s no need to completely lower or cut out carbohydrates even if you’re watching sweets. It is the refined, simple carbohydrates like pasta, bread, and sugar can spike and crash your blood sugar.
On the other hand, starchy vegetables like sweet potato and winter squashes provide you with a nutrient-dense source of carbohydrates. Sprinkling a baked sweet potato with cinnamon tastes like a treat, but provides you with stable blood sugar from the complex carbs and the cinnamon.
So, choose complex carbs like sweet potato and butternut squash when you’re detoxing from sugar. Don’t forget to eat your veggies, too.
Craving bread? See my list of the best bread alternatives.
7. Choose Healthy Snacks
Have an abundance of healthy snacks ready during your sugar detox.
If you stay prepared with healthy, low-sugar snacks, you won’t need to reach for the packaged goods and sugary treats.
Having healthy snacks on hand also helps you if you notice cravings creeping up during your detox.
Healthy snacks include:
- celery sticks with nut or seed butter
- hard-boiled eggs or deviled eggs
- greek yogurt or coconut yogurt with blueberries
- almond flour crackers with almond butter
- sugar-free turkey or beef jerky
- smoked salmon on a gluten-free cracker with regular or dairy-free cream cheese
- smoothies made with protein powder
See my entire list of healthy clean eating snacks.
8. Manage Stress
Stress can cause you to crave hyperpalatable foods such as sugary snacks. Stress also depletes your body of important nutrients like magnesium and B-vitamins, which can drive cravings.
It’s important to get support to help manage stress during your detox.
Make an appointment with a health coach or a functional health practitioner to make sure you get the support you need. Or, grab a buddy who can do the detox with you.
You can also join my Sugar Free Challenge that I host every month. It’s free to join and you will find tons of support and resources there.
Another way to manage stress during a diet change is to do light exercise. I personally love doing mat pilates or reformer pilates (see my article about the benefits of pilates).
Aim for natural, daily movement like walks outside or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. If it’s appropriate for you, a few sessions in the gym a week can help you eliminate toxins via sweating (a sauna is great for this, as well).
9. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation can lead to cravings for calorically dense foods, which most often include those high in sugar.
A single night of poor or insufficient sleep can reduce insulin sensitivity the next day. This can make your blood sugar less stable and you more prone to crave sweets and carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar up.
So, even now more than ever, prioritize sleep while you’re doing a sugar detox to help your body reduce symptoms and feel better.
10. Don’t Skip Meals
If you’re trying to get off sugar, this is not the best time to introduce intermittent fasting. Your body will be going through a slight period of stress as you retrain it to stop craving sugar, and intermittent fasting can also be a stressor on the body.
In addition, unless you’re fasting purposefully and safely, skipping meals will drop your blood sugar and make you crave sweets and carbohydrates to bring it up again.
Plan to eat 3 balanced meals throughout the day and allow for 1-3 sugar-free snacks if you get hungry between meals.
Ideally, you would do some meal prepping during your sugar detox to help keep your meals consistent and balanced. See my list of the best meal prep tips for beginners.
Bonus: Set an Intention and Practice Self-Care
Going sugar-free is not easy, especially if you’ve used sugar for energy or comfort. One way to stick with your goal of going sugar-free is to set a goal or intention.
Rather than trying to lose weight or look a certain way, focus on how you want to feel. Are you trying to get rid of symptoms like bloating or joint pain? Or, do you want to sleep better or have more energy?
These types of goals can be motivating when your motivation starts to wane after a few days. Set your goal, write it down, and celebrate when you reach it!
Additionally, it’s important to practice extra self-care when you are detoxing from sugar. Your body and mind will be going through a lot, so you need to be extra kind to yourself.
Schedule a chat with a friend, go for a massage, take a bath, or read a new book. You are doing hard work and you should take good care of yourself while you’re going through this change.
Sugar Detox FAQs
When you’re cutting out sweets, you shouldn’t feel restricted with your overall diet. Stick to a whole foods, clean eating diet high in satiating fat and protein and incorporate detoxifying foods. Focus on high quality lean protein, anti-inflammatory fats like avocado and coconut oil, and plenty of veggies. See my entire list of clean eating foods.
Aim to fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens. Vegetables and leafy greens are amazing for detoxification and provide your body with essential vitamins and minerals that were depleted by sugar consumption. Roasting vegetables in coconut oil and cinnamon naturally brings out a sweeter taste and stabilizes blood sugar.
Yes! But be mindful of your intake and the source of carbs. Avoid simple and processed carbs like bread, pasta, sweet treats, and processed snacks. Instead, eat moderate servings of starchy vegetables, legumes, or whole grains and pair with fat and protein to keep blood sugar levels stable.
As your body releases toxins when you go sugar-free, it can make you feel worse before you feel better. Remember that you could be breaking an addiction, and may experience withdrawal symptoms. Possible symptoms include headache and intense cravings. If symptoms become serious, consult your healthcare provider immediately.
If you support your body during this period, you can get through it more smoothly. Incorporate gentle detoxing routines like sweating it out in a sauna, drinking plenty of water, and doing daily movement. Combine detox and self-care by taking an Epsom salt bath, dry brushing, and doing a clay face mask.
Yes, but it’s wise to stick with unrefined sugars or natural sugars from whole foods like fruit. If you go back to eating refined sugars, then the dependency cycle and cravings may start all over again. See my article on the differences between natural sugars and added sugars.
Maybe, but that is not the primary goal. The goal of a sugar detox should first be to reduce your cravings for sugar and to move forward with less dependence on refined sugars.
If you are having trouble losing weight, then be sure to check out my articles on the reasons why you can’t lose weight.
In my experience working with hundreds of people through my Sugar Free Challenge, it takes about 3 days for any detox symptoms to subside. Detox symptoms from sugar can include everything from fatigue, headaches, intense cravings, hunger, and irritability.
More Sugar-Free Resources You Might Like
I’ve been writing about sugar-free diets for a few years now. Here are some other related articles that you might like.
- Best No Sugar Foods
- Best Sugar Substitutes
- No Sugar Diet
- No Sugar Diet Meal Plan
- Sugar-Free Diet Benefits
Don’t Miss These Sugar-Free Recipes!
More Clean Eating Kitchen Favorites
- Best Green Smoothie
- Foods to Eat On Your Period
- Frozen Sweet Potatoes
- Organic Decaf Coffee
- Benefits of Beet Juice
- Carrot Juice
- Gluten and Dairy Free
While a sugar detox sounds extreme, it can be a great way to cut out your intake of refined sugars and move toward a cleaner diet. It’s important that you do what works best for your lifestyle and body, but cutting back on sugar will likely benefit your health. Read more about how to go sugar free.
About the Author: Carrie Forrest has a master’s degree in public health with a specialty in nutrition. She is a top wellness and food blogger with over 10 million annual visitors to her site. Carrie has an incredible story of recovery from chronic illness and is passionate about helping other women transform their health. Send Carrie a message through her contact form.
Note: this post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations related to your individual situation.