There are some different interpretations of quitting sugar. When I quit sugar myself, I had to get clear what this meant. Was I going to be paleo, keto, avoid refined sugar only, cut all carbs, cut all fruit? Could I have honey, maple syrup or stevia? Was I going to make ANY exceptions? Here’s my thinking on these questions …
Paleo diet – this is a great eating plan. However, I follow a mostly-vegetarian diet, and I have found that I do best eating some grains. Therefore, paleo diet is not for me at this time.
Ketogentic diet – a ketogenic diet is a low-carb high-fat diet. It’s good for significant weight loss, I’ve heard of it being used for treatment of epilepsy and other medical conditions. Given my goals, it’s too extreme for me.
Cutting all carbs and fruit – I didn’t go this route either. I use the “magic” container system that is used with many Beachbody fitness programs. In this plan, I have 2 portions of carbs and 2 portions of fruits a day. So basically – a reasonable amount. I’m not drinking fruit juice or eating dried fruit, which are sugar bombs. I’m not having a mountain of brown rice and sweet potatoes for dinner. I eat lots of veggies and track my protein to make sure I have enough.
Note: in the first 2 or 3 weeks when I was quitting sugar, I let myself have as much fruit as I wanted. It was summer, and watermelon and apriocts helped me get over the hump with cravings!
Honey, maple syrup, stevia – I decided that honey and maple syrup are off limits, and that organic stevia would be my only allowed sweetener. As the months went by and my cravings went way down, I allowed a teaspoon here or there of honey and maple syrup. Now that I’m out of the “cookie monster” phase of my life, I don’t feel I have to be as rigid.
Would I make any exceptions? I put a lot of thought into this at the beginning. I realized that quitting sugar FOR-EVER filled me with dread. It just didn’t sound joyful or realistic. Yet, I knew that if I made exceptions for “special” occasions it would be a very slippery slope. I needed a good boundary. That’s when I came up with the idea to quit sugar from Monday to Friday. Genius! It was really the perfect solution for me.
The way this played out: the first few weeks, I would white-knuckle my way through till Friday, then eat a bunch of sugar on the weekends. Then, I started to feel side effects from my weekend treats. I would get headaches and feel puffy. My interest in the weekend treats naturally decreased. Now I’m still open to a weekend treat, but it’s just not such a big deal for me. I’d rather feel good.
The plan that I recommend to people is no refined white sugar. Carbs from veggies and grains are allowed. Fruit is allowed. No fruit juice or dried fruits. Organic stevia is the only allowed sweetener. And strict no sugar from Monday-Friday.
If any part of this doesn’t work for you, then you can certainly modify. But it’s good to make your plan from the outset, answer these tough questions so you are clear about your boundaries, and then go kick sugar’s butt!