Kris Carr

Kris Carr

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The Sticky Truth About Sugars, Sweets and Your Health

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Hiya Gorgeous!

It’s time we talked sugar. White powdered gold. Legal crack. Sugar is one of the most readily available and addictive foods out there—and you don’t have to be a Pixy Stix guzzler to overdo it. I was pretty floored when I began to really understand the abundance of sugars in food—did you know it’s in everything from pancakes to potatoes?

The average American eats an estimated 130 lbs of sugar per year (source). You might think “There’s no way I eat that much sugar!” but this stuff is sneaky. It doesn’t just hang out in the junk food aisle, it’s also in healthy foods (don’t worry, I’m not saying that a sweet potato has as much sugar as a Snickers bar!). Hidden sugar piles up fast, so you may need to budget less sugar in your diet—especially if you’re dealing with a health challenge.

Sugar is inflammatory and consuming too much of it can increase your risk for health challenges like cardiovascular disease, fatty liver, an unhealthy gut and a number of cancers. Excess sugar can also cause tooth decay, contribute to obesity, accelerate the aging process and even impact brain function. Plus, when we consume too many of our calories from sugar, we miss out on essential nutrients from whole foods.

I know how overwhelming this sweet beast can be, but we’re about to change that. Grab your pencils, friends… let’s go to sugar school!

Why do I crave sugar?

Let me tell ya, I get this question all the time so let’s start here! Studies have shown that eating sugar has a powerful impact on the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by addictive drugs, which can lead to increased tolerance and dependence.

One study compared men who were given meals with rapidly digested refined sugars to men given meals with a lower blood sugar impact. The group eating the rapidly digested refined sugars experienced an increase in blood flow to the part of the brain that regulates cravings, rewards and addictive behaviors. When this reward center lights up, it can keep us wanting more (study)!

Sugar can even interfere with our appetite-regulating hormones, which can lead to even more overindulgence. But I have good news! When you eliminate or significantly reduce refined sugars in your diet, you’ll start to notice the cravings subside in as little as a week (though it’s different for everyone, so give your body time to adapt!).

What is sugar?

To understand sugars, you’ve gotta start with the basics. You’re probably familiar with carbohydrates and glucose, but do you really know what these guys are all about? Let’s learn more about them, then we’ll explore our day-to-day food choices.

Carbohydrates

There’s a lot of gabbing in the news about good carbs versus bad carbs—but what are they, exactly? First and foremost, carbohydrates are the starchy or sugary part of foods. When we think about sugar, naturally we imagine all things yummy and sweet. But in actuality, all carbs (including those that don’t taste sweet, like pasta, bread and potatoes) break down into glucose—the sugar your body uses for fuel. (More on glucose in a sec!) From your body’s point of view, there’s not much difference between a spoonful of sugar and a slice of white bread.

Carbohydrates come in two varieties, complex (“good” or “unrefined”) and simple (“bad” or “refined”). Complex carbs, also referred to as starches, are typically digested and absorbed more slowly than simple carbs. These foods are generally high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. I’m talkin’ about whole grains like brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa, along with legumes and starchy vegetables. Just keep in mind that complex carbs can still cause a rise in blood sugar if they’re consumed in excess, so be mindful of both quality and quantity of your healthy carbohydrate choices!

With the exception of fresh fruit, simple carbs (also called “simple sugars”) are digested and absorbed more quickly than complex carbs. They don’t offer much nutritional value, and because of their minimal fiber content, can trigger unhealthy blood sugar spikes (and dips). White sugar, white flour, white bread, some whole wheat breads, cookies, sugary snack foods, candy, cake, muffins, crackers, chips, energy drinks, sodas and concentrated fruit juices are examples of simple carbs.

Glucose

When glucose enters your bloodstream, your pancreas releases insulin, the master hormone of metabolism. Insulin has lots of jobs, but most importantly it regulates glucose levels by shuttling it to cells to use as fuel. But if a cell has all the fuel it needs for the moment, insulin carries off the extra glucose to be stored as fat. So far, so good—because everyone needs a little cushion for the pushin’. However, a diet high in simple sugar and refined carbs dumps a ton of glucose into your blood very quickly. As a result, your pancreas is forced to barf out additional insulin, which isn’t good for you or your pancreas.

This is one vicious cycle. Over time you may develop insulin resistance, which makes your body less effective at regulating blood sugar. Insulin resistance also affects your ability to use stored fat as energy. In other words, you can’t lose weight as easily when there’s a bunch of insulin coursing through your body. But it’s not just about weight. Too much glucose and insulin are major culprits in many diseases (for more on the relationship between sugar and cancer, read this).

 

What foods have the least/most sugar?

The World Health Organization recommends that we get no more than 10 percent of our calories from added sugars (5 percent is even better!). The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 tsp (24 grams) of sugar daily for women and 9 tsp (36 grams) for men. These are general guidelines, so work with your doc to find a daily amount that fits your unique needs.

Also, remember that not all sugars are created equal! But I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that you don’t have time to memorize all of these sugar stats. Luckily, you don’t have to…

My Sugars Ranking Chart

I’ve done a little of the heavy lifting for you by creating a ranking system for sugars.

Group A: These foods are your best bets. These foods are the total package because they give you fuel, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Beans, whole fruits, whole grains and lentils are great Group A examples that will keep you satiated and your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Fruit contains fructose, but nowhere near the concentration as processed candies and sweets. Plus, fruit has vital nutrients, cancer-fighting antioxidants and fiber, all of which promote a healthy you. The key is to enjoy fruit that’s naturally high in fiber, low in sugar and has a low glycemic index (GI—more on that in a sec). Reach for raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, pears, citrus fruits, apples and plums. Limit the higher GI fruits like bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe, raisins, pineapple and mangoes (as well as fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates).

Group B: These sweeteners have a little something to offer beyond just the glucose energy. Dried fruits have a higher GI than whole fruits since they’re highly concentrated, but are a good source of micronutrients. Think of them as an occasional treat! Just make sure to check the labels and avoid added sugars or preservatives. Some other grade Bs include sweeteners such as maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, yacon syrup and lucuma. These sweeties are better options than the C group because they have a lower GI or offer some vitamins and minerals.

Group C: These are your worst options. They are high GI and don’t bring anything but sugar to the party. One trick ponies! While jelly beans, soda, candy, pastries and brownies may give us a boost of energy, they offer no nutritional benefit. Plus, consuming such a high level of simple sugars can cause fat to be produced and accumulate in the liver. Someone who binges on donuts can end up with a liver just as fatty as that of an alcoholic (often called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).

Glycemic Index

How can you learn to make better choices when eating carbs and sugar? Enter the dazzling glycemic index (GI), a measure of how quickly and how high a particular carbohydrate raises your blood sugar level. GI is a numerical ranking system that compares a given food to a pure sugar, such as white sugar. Because white sugar is all carbohydrate, it’s designated 100 on a scale of 0 to 100. The GI is a measure of carbs only; fats and proteins have no effect on the score.

Foods with a high GI value are almost always refined, simple carbs. Conversely, foods with low GI values tend to be unrefined, complex carbs. The difference between high- and low-GI foods lies mostly in how much fiber they contain. Fiber slows the digestion of sugars and keeps you even and peaceful. That’s why a plant-based, low-GI diet is one of the central tenets of a healthy lifestyle.

As a rule of thumb, any food that has a GI rank below 60 is a good choice, especially if you need to watch your blood sugar. In fact, people who stick to a low-GI diet are less likely to develop diabetes and other medical life lemons. Speaking of lemons, they fall solidly into the low-GI camp, as do berries, apples, pears, citrus fruits and plums.

And guess what? Not only can low GI diets prevent nasty diseases, they can also help to reverse them (source and source). Amen, glitter explosion! If you want to learn more, The GI Handbook by Barbara Ravage and The New Glucose Revolution by Jennie Brand-Miller and Kaye Foster-Powell are both great books for self-study.

How to Stop Sugar Cravings

If kicking sugary treats to the curb is on your to-do list, here are a few ways to get the job done without going bonkers:

  • Cold turkey—sometimes, tough love does the job! But, please keep one of my favorite mantras in mind: Progress, not perfection. No need to be hard on yourself if you slip up. And if this approach doesn’t work for you, try the other tips in this list!
  • Brush your teeth, floss, close up shop.
  • Incorporate sweet veggies, like yams.
  • Have a snack that’s high in protein and some fat, such as nuts, seeds and avocado.
  • Find some natural, healthy sugar substitutes you can count on (we’ll cover some of my go-to options in the next section!).
  • Juice up a green drink or smoothie with some good fat in it, like coconut or avocado.
  • Enjoy sliced apples with almond butter, cucumbers with hummus, or a baked sweet potato.
  • Go for a small piece (about 1-in square) of good-quality dark chocolate (70 percent or higher cacao).
  • Change your environment until the crisis passes. Go for a walk, call a friend, take a bubble bath, do some sun salutations, cuddle your pet, have hot sex!

Keep in mind that as your body gets used to less sugar, you may experience detox symptoms such as headaches, skin breakouts, insomnia, low energy, etc. Staying hydrated, resting, eating nourishing foods, gentle exercise and making yourself a priority can all help manage these symptoms as you transition to a healthier lifestyle.

Healthy Sugar Substitutes

Add some natural sweetness to your life with these healthy sugar substitutes! Here’s some more info about the options so you can determine which one is the best choice for you:

  • Dates are relatively high in calories but they make a great natural sweetener. They have a low glycemic index and are great blended into smoothies and used in baking. Here’s a recipe for date purée, which you can use in place of sugar in many recipes!
  • Maple syrup is rich in antioxidants, unlike sugar which contains little to no antioxidants. And while maple syrup is high in natural sugars, it still has a lower GI than sugar. It also contains minerals such as manganese and zinc. To get the most beneficial antioxidants from your maple syrup, be sure to choose the darker Grade B type.
  • Stevia extract comes from the stevia plant and is 250–300 times sweeter than sugar. Because it’s so sweet, a little bit goes a long way (making it a nearly calorie-free natural sweetener). Too much stevia can cause indigestion and because it is a vasodilator, it’s not recommended for people with low blood pressure. To ensure you’re using the most natural and minimally processed product possible, look for 100 percent pure organic stevia that doesn’t contain other ingredients.
  • Erythritol is a sugar alcohol made by fermenting the sugar found in corn. It looks and tastes like sugar but contains 0 calories. Erythritol contains some antioxidants to fight free radicals. Plus, it’s about 60 percent as sweet as sugar and does not impact blood sugar. Erythritol is absorbed in the small intestine, whereas other sugar alcohols aren’t absorbed well by the intestines. This makes it less likely to cause digestive stress than other sugar alcohols—however, overdoing it can cause diarrhea, gas, bloating or nausea. It is important to be sure you are purchasing GMO-free erythritol since it is made from corn, a commonly genetically modified crop. Look for erythritol that is USDA organic and has the non-GMO certified label on the packaging. Keep in mind, it can be pricey.
  • Lakanto is a non-GMO calorie-free sweetener made and used in Japan for more than 15 years. It’s a combination of erythritol and the sweetener from monk fruit. It can be substituted one-to-one for sugar and many people say that it works well in baking. Because lakanto is made of erythritol and monk fruit, too much can cause GI upset and it may have an aftertaste.
  • Yacon syrup, made from the yacon root, has about 20 calories per tablespoon (sugar has 48 calories per tablespoon). It’s rich in fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which act as prebiotics in the body. Yacon syrup may encourage weight loss as it tends to increase satiety and insulin sensitivity (research study). However, consuming more than a tablespoon a day may cause diarrhea, bloating, gas and/or nausea.
  • Monk fruit sweetener is about 150–200 times sweeter than sugar and is made from extracts of the monk fruit. It contains mogrosides, which are antioxidants that don’t raise your blood sugar when metabolized, making monk fruit sweeteners calorie-free. Some people do complain that these sweeteners have an aftertaste.

A note on agave: Agave was a popular sugar substitute for a while because it’s low on the GI scale, but we now know that it’s highly processed, contains a concentrated amount of fructose and lacks any beneficial nutrients. If you choose to use it at all, I encourage you to do so sparingly and consider trying some of the other alternatives we discussed above instead. You may spot agave in some of my old recipes, but it doesn’t make the cut for my list of healthy sugar substitutes today. This is a good reminder to stay on top of the latest research and consult with the experts (like my incredible nutrition team!)—I’m always learning and love sharing with you!

Natural, calorie-free sweeteners can be super helpful as you transition away from processed sweets. But keep in mind that a little goes a long way because they often taste sweeter. Plus, the less you use sugar and sugar substitutes, the more you’ll start to notice the incredible natural sweetness available in plant foods. Eventually, you may find that you don’t need added “sugar” at all—good for you (and your body!).

Treat your perfectly sweet body with respect for the work it does to power you through the day. Shocking your system by dumping a ton of glucose into your bloodstream doesn’t a good self-care strategy make. Powering your cells with glucose, vitamins, minerals and fiber, however, is solid sunshine gold.

Your turn: Have you struggled with sugar? Any great tips for how to get off the dragon? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Peace & peaches,

Add a comment
  1. ecommerce blog says:

    Good post. I will be facing a few of these issues as well..

  2. Camper Body says:

    Excellent article. I certainly appreciate this website. Continue the good work!

  3. happy hours says:

    I could not resist commenting. Well written!

  4. Chelsie says:

    Does Monkfruit sugar activate the pleasure center of the brain?

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Chelsie! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. We don’t have an answer on how monkfruit sugar affects the brain but I’ll be happy to add that to the list of topic requests for Kris. Kris provides loads of valuable nutrition information on her blog, so if you haven’t yet, I encourage you to search at kriscarr.com by clicking the heart in the magnifying glass in the upper right hand corner. If you need more guidance, our Inner Circle Wellness membership includes a deep dive into one nutrition topic per month. We also provide monthly office hours with Dietitians and Nutritionists to get your specific questions answered. Our pros look forward to working with you!

  5. Pamela Cheesman says:

    Thank you for the interesting article . What are your thoughts on xylitol?

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Pamela! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. Xylitol can cause discomfort for some people (more on that here). It is used in some toothpastes and people tolerate it ok but we wouldn’t recommend larger amounts of sugar alcohols. I hope this helps! Have a beautiful and sweet rest of the day! 🙂

  6. WOW!! I’m so relieved that my husband and I both DO NOT crave sugar the way we once did. It’s CRAZY how once you buckle down & get over that hump, your taste buds adjust–you just don’t want that stuff as much. The desire for it eases down. I love it–it’s initially hard as hell, but SO WORTH the effort!

    Now, when I make a dessert, it’s usually with coconut sugar or pinches of raw honey. It’s mindblowing how we don’t even enjoy things that are too sweet–it tastes just AWFUL. My husband even let go of the “healthier” organic juices he was drinking–yeah they were organic, but still, the sugar was just too much! Now he drinks just water, chilled hibiscus tea (no sweetener) and I’ll sometimes make him a lemon and orange infused water. It’s his thing now–awesome, I’m so proud of him.

    NOW, if we can just convince some of our family members to QUIT screwing around with cookies and sorry ass nutrition-free, wreaks-havoc-on-health sodas. I once watched one of my cousins drink 2 root beers, he bought and ate a box of Girl Scout cookies, and drank a Cactus Cooler–all in one evening! I just sat there, trying not to cry.

    I’ll try to send him this article, thanks Kris.

  7. Warren Sneary says:

    Thank you for this comprehensive article on Sugar. The information is very valuable.
    My Doctor describes sugar as ‘poison’ and I am eliminating it from my diet.
    If I have a craving I find that eating one good quality Medjool date usually saves me.

  8. Angela says:

    Just wondering what your thoughts are on xylitol?

    • Mindy Gray, RD says:

      Hi Angela! I’m Mindy, a nutritionist here at Team Crazy Sexy! Xylitol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in many fruits and veggies and it’s also extracted from corn or birch bark. Xylitol comes from natural sources, but it goes through chemical processing that turns it into a white powder that is shelf stable. It tastes similar to sugar, but doesn’t impact blood sugar levels the way sugar does and it has about 40% less calories. It’s often processed from GMO corn, so be sure to look for non-GMO products. Xylitol, like many sugar alcohols isn’t absorbed well by the intestines and may cause digestive concerns if consumed in large amounts. The amount that will trigger digestive symptoms can vary from person to person, so it’s best to use lightly. While using large amounts of xylitol in foods isn’t recommended, xylitol has been shown to be relatively safe when used in toothpaste or chewing gum. A benefit of xylitol is it’s positive role in oral health, including cavity prevention. Hope that helps!

  9. Jenny Paull says:

    Hi, Did I miss a reference to raw honey (preferably organic) as a sweetener? Where does it fit in as a possible sweetener verses refined sugar?

    • kris says:

      Hey Jenny! I don’t use honey because I’m vegan, but it can be a good natural alternative in moderation. It has a GI of around 61, which means it would probably fall under Group B in my rating system. It does contain antioxidants and trace amounts of nutrients, which is great. As you noted, it’s important to avoid processed honey and choose the raw (unpasteurized), organic varieties. Also, it’s a good idea to buy local from a known source to ensure it comes from well-treated bees. Hope this helps. xo!

  10. Thanks for this helpful post!

  11. Angie says:

    Thanks for this great blog and for the printable chart!! I’ve struggled with a sweet tooth my whole life. I noticed you didn’t mention honey at all, do you have an opinion on that as a sweetener? Thanks!

    • kris says:

      Hey Angie! I don’t use honey because I’m vegan, but it can be a good natural alternative in moderation. It has a GI of around 61, which means it would probably fall under Group B in my rating system. It does contain antioxidants and trace amounts of nutrients, which is great. It’s important to avoid processed honey and choose the raw (unpasteurized), organic varieties. Also, it’s a good idea to buy local honey from a known source to ensure it comes from well-treated bees. Hope this helps. xo!

  12. Chantal says:

    Hello Kris! Just wondering if you can help sort things out… in the article above, you mention limiting higer GI fruits, and I saw that you included cherries and grapes. But then I read the info in your Crazy Sexy Starter Kit and in it you say that cherries and grapes are low GI… In which category do they fall into? Thanks!!! 🙂

    • kris says:

      Thanks for pointing this out, Chantal! Grapes and cherries can be tricky because their GI varies depending on the type. Grapes range from 43-59 on the GI scale. Fresh sour cherries are low GI, and fresh sweet cherries rank around 62 or moderate GI. So long story short, they’re really low-moderate GI, not high! I’ve removed them from the list in this blog post to avoid any confusion. Mwah! ??

  13. Mattie Gootee says:

    Great article Kris! You’ve explained this confusing subject very well. I appreciate how you are staying on top of everything and alerting us to things that used to be good but now there are better options.

  14. Patricia says:

    Hi Kris
    Thanks for the great article. I find that for me reading info like this on a regular basis gives me my motivation. When trying to kick my sugar cravings I find that taking 1 tablespoon of Apple Cider vinegar before bed helps a lot. I mix it with a little warm water. Then follow with some cold water.

  15. Yoyis says:

    I have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic and was told to shy away from sweets and carbs, at least as much as I could. The problem is I cannot do it. I love bread, I need bread with each meal. The same goes for chocolates, cookies, pastries, and quite often chocolate ice cream. I have tried to cut on bread and chocs but it feels almost like martyrdom. I accept I don’t have a strong will.

  16. Angélica says:

    Your information is really worthy. While I was reading I get mire interested in doubble check my diary diet. Thank you for all this tips

  17. Rene Bowser says:

    Ok I couldn’t stop laughing when I read the part about “spraying Windex on the Ben and Jerry ice cream that was already in the trash.” LOL! Been there, done that…not Ben and Jerry’s but similar scenario! I like the idea of brushing, flossing, closing up shop. Thanks for sharing!

  18. judith kalish says:

    What about 100% fruit juices, no sugar added? Why is banana no good? You didn’t list cherries. I heard watermelon is perfect for your health but not in your chart. Love it in the summer. Also, u don’t mention other melons.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi there! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. I spoke to our Nutritionist and got the following reply. I hope it’s helpful! “Whole fruit is preferred over fruit juices (even the juices with no added sugar) because the fiber that encompasses the natural sugars in whole fruits will slow digestion, decrease the impact on blood sugar and help you to feel full. Whole fruits are a great way to add some natural sweetness. Cherries are lower in GI than bananas and melons, but they all provide nutrients. For most people a serving or 2 a day from high GI fruits is just fine, however some people may do better focusing on the fruits that are lowest in sugar.”

  19. Nancy says:

    I have been addicted to Diet Coke for all of my life (67) and I want to quit but I am not having a great deal of success! I have been able to cut back a lot but can’t stop! I am a recovering alcoholic and I have been sober 35 years. I want to lose weight and eat healthier and I have not been very successful! Any tips on how to stop? The more I try the obsession gets worse.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi there! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. First up, good for you for being sober for 35 years! That’s a serious feat, well done! Secondly, to answer your question, Zevia makes a good option that might get you off the Diet Coke. Here’s a link to their products, we hope you find something that works! https://www.zevia.com/products/soda/cola

  20. I am a type 2 diabetic en route to reversing this evil. This is great info, I do not use a lot of sweeter but I am curious about the lesser of the evils. It seems like quite a debate.

  21. Will says:

    Too much sugar can lead to diabetes and obesity. Soda contains too much sugar and people should avoid drinking it.

  22. Nice article with great explanation. And it is very clear and useful too. And i really enjoyed your article. Thank you for sharing your amazing thoughts with us.

  23. patricia says:

    I LOVE it………. thankyou Kriss……… it reinforces what I believe which is awesome.

  24. Erin says:

    Any tips on how to deal with a sugar addicted child? Although we try our best to limit the sugar our 4 year old eats, it can lead to tantrums and fights. I would love to have tasty, healthy alternatives that I can say “yes” to, so that I can teach him that healthy food can be just as good as the junk.

  25. Tiffany says:

    I’m wondering what your thoughts are on the glycemic load as a guideline instead of the glycemic index???

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi there! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. I spoke to our Nutritionist and got the following reply. I hope it’s helpful! “Glycemic Load takes into account both the Glycemic Index and the amount of carbohydrate in the portion you are eating. So not just the foods quality but also the quantity, making GL an important indicator also!”

  26. Laura says:

    I recently discovered from “how not to die” by Michael Greger that bananas in green smoothies did not spike blood sugars in a scientific study. Have you seen this. I was so surprised. But again they didn’t study “banana nice cream”…..

  27. Sarah says:

    Coffee. Love how it feels, don’t love how it tastes UNLESS I add all the terrible yummy stuff to it. I need help – what’s a decent substitute for Coffee Mate?

  28. Petra says:

    Please don’t forget to share, artifical sweeteners also have high GI! Also, i’ve read a study somewhere, that pointed out Coconut sugar’s GI isn’t low, but only medium. 53 to be exact.
    So if anyone whould think, sweeteners are good to avoid IR, no they aren’t!

  29. Jenny says:

    if something has sugar alcohols… What is it and can it cause your blood sugar to spike?

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi there! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. I spoke to our Nutritionist and got the following reply. I hope it’s helpful! “Sugar alcohols are sweeteners that are derived from plants, such as fruits and veggies. Part of the structure of sugar alcohols resembles sugar and part resembles alcohol, but there is no ethanol in sugar alcohols. They do contain some calories, but much less than sugar, and they have a much lower impact on blood glucose. When used sparingly, sugar alcohols can be a good alternative to sugar, but since most of them aren’t absorbed well by the intestines, they may cause digestive concerns if they are consumed in large amounts. The amount that will trigger these symptoms can vary from person to person.”

  30. Sheila says:

    You’re so awesome it’s not even funny. I’m just jealous.

  31. Claire says:

    I gave up glucose sugar 2 weeks ago because my dentist said my teeth are in trouble. I am 39, pretty healthy, mostly vegetarian and don’t eat “junk food” except for dark chocolate.

    Coming off glucose was like coming off a hard drug. I was foggy, vague, grumpy, muscle aches, headaches and weak on and off for about 5 days. I took one day off work but kept parenting and doing the chores, just very slowly.

    Now, two weeks later I feel absolutely fantastic. I also feel really empowered, like if I can give up sugar I can do anything!!

    Tips: I still eat bananas, a few dates and a teaspoon of xylitol in a hot cacao ” hot chocolate” if I have a huge craving. I have baked a few cakes using banana’s and dates to sweeten to take to parties. They were tastier than when I used to add sugar.

    I am also on the green juice and in the last 3 days gave up dairy! Thank you Kris Carr! Now I am through the worst of the detox I am bouncing off the walls with energy and my sinuses are clean and clear!

    Next stop – Kris’s 21 day detox diet. 🙂 🙂

  32. Thank you so much for this, Kris- I just love your graphics!

    It’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid sugar- you can give yourself a bit of a shock when you really look into it!

    Thanks again- xx

  33. Kelly McCord says:

    Love this – such a great read. Sugar and I have a LOVE – HATE relationship and I did the cold turkey thing a few years back. However, every now and then I notice a small craving and I’m always working to understand the triggers as well as where else sugar is hidding in my foods which ultimately is what typically causes that craving to come back – It’s hidding everywhere.
    This is a fantastic guide to help not just people like me that try to keep it FAR FAR AWAY but also for my use with my family. We can all be more aware of what we are cooking for our families, what we are packing in our kids lunches, etc.
    Thank you for this amazing Guide to sugar. I love it and will definately be using this in my home 🙂

  34. Christy says:

    Kris,
    Love your blog, your books, your message.

    Really object to your use of the phrase “legal crack.” It minimizes actual drug addition and the struggles of those who live with addictions. Yes, sugar is addictive, but let’s be honest: it doesn’t ruin lives the way, for instance, actual crack cocaine does.

    I really expected a more balanced, compassionate and respectful approach from you.

    Thanks for reading,
    Christy

  35. Kim says:

    The only “sugar” that I have found that does not result in a physiological catastrophe would be 100% Barley Malt Syrup… It is expensive, but is the least likely to have an effect on your system overall and includes vitamins and mineral.s

    • Charlotte says:

      I totally agree with the above comments – that it’s all about moderation… even too much fruit (if you’re not a long-distance runner or super active person) could be ‘bad’ for you, and cause a lot of weight gain, etc. However, when it comes to white processed sugar, I don’t think the moderation rule applies – I don’t think white, refined sugar is EVER good for us. A friend of mine replied to this point, saying that sugar is essential, and that I shouldn’t be so dogmatic. I think these kind of comments happen because the information being offered to people can seem quite confusing at times, particularly if people don’t read a lot about these things (as most people don’t) and because the language can be quite confusing – that the word ‘sugar’ covers so much… and yet there’s a world of difference between the sugar in a sweet potato and a teaspoon of white refined sugar! (For this reason, I feel like maybe we need to be more specific about ‘refined, processed’ sugar and ‘natural’ sugar, although that doesn’t really solve the problem…) I find it frustrating though, because I think when people hear that ‘you need sugar to survive’ they use it as an excuse to go eat a candy bar!!

  36. Katie says:

    Hi Kris!

    Looooved this artcile. Feeling confident that I can be mostly low-GI 🙂 I think it’s so important to get a refresher course every now and again as to why sugar is so icky. I know that once I have lots of sugar, it’s just a downward spiral and before I know it i’m two handfuls-deep into my favorite candy bag (the family size!) Haha.

    Love you Kris, thank you for this easy to follow guide. <3 <3 <3

  37. Angela says:

    Hi!! I have a question about dried fruits…how is their GI?? I know they are high in fiber but I am not sure about the “quality” of their sugar.
    Thanks!!!!

  38. Rhiannon says:

    Great list! One thing though about brown rice syrup; although it’s low gi, it can be high in arsenic as it concentrates in syrup:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3346791/

  39. Karen says:

    Yes agave is definitely not a good option; highly processed, and much higher in fructose than high fructose corn syrup. Honey is higher in calories than sugar and its nutrient level is actually very low, though it is at least natural.

    From my reading organic blackstrap molasses seems to be the most nutritious sweetener because of its mineral content. After taking a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses each day (dissolved in hot water to make a tasty drink) a friend of mine once had her periods return (perhaps because of the iron molasses contains).

    But when it comes down to it they’re all sugar and it’s even better to enable your taste buds to revel in natural flavors. The longest I’ve gone without sugar (including honey etc), without a “break”, has been four years, and I’ve currently been happily without it for 2 1/2 years – my definitely body needs this degree of care and love at present.

    My tastes definitely change and the natural flavors of real, simple, whole food become very satisfying. I recommend eating meals with fat and protein regularly through the day, taking a chromium supplement, and sticking to small or modest amounts of fruit.

    Eat in a way that feels nourishing, loving and satisfying, without getting hung up about eating non-nutritious food now and then (if your health can tolerate it).

    IMHO having a healthy mind – and healthy thinking about food – is just as important, if not more so, than having a healthy body. >See the work of Byron Katie.

  40. Anna Lind says:

    Hi Kris,
    I love your sugar-introduction, and have tried to live by these principles for two years (with other dietary changes as well) since I wanted to fight my candida albicans which was in “outburst”. I still follow the diet as well as I can, even though I am on the other side of disease now, because I see the great health benefits and the well-being it brings.
    I have some questions though. First of all, in your GI-chart I’ve noticed you put “citrus fruits” in the A section with low GI, and then on the picture orange juice is under the B. I’ve always thought that Orange juice was high GI, but what does the “citrus fruits” entail? Is it lime and grapefruit?
    The other thing I wondered about is that I thought that Xylitol actuallay had great health benefits? As far as I know it helps prevent cavities and oral health in general, it should also increase bone density and reduce occurences of middle ear infections. This is of cours not chemical xylitol, but birch-xylitol. Can you confirm this? I realize, of course, that you can’t fit all of this in your chart, I just wanted to ask because the chart might make it seem like Xylitol is a bad choice compared to maple syrup or something like that.
    I love that you try to tell the world the life changing truth, though!
    Thanks from Anna, Denmark

    • Nick says:

      If Rami Nagel’s article is correct, and if you prefer organically grown food, then you should avoid xylitol, as it is processed using nasty chemicals.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Anna! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. Low GI Citrus fruits entail *whole fruits* such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits, limes, not the juices.

      Also, I spoke to our nutritionist and got the following info on Xylitol: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol found naturally in many fruits and veggies and it’s also extracted from corn or birch bark. Xylitol comes from natural sources, but it goes through chemical processing that turns it into a white powder that is shelf stable. It tastes similar to sugar, but doesn’t impact blood sugar levels the way sugar does and it has about 40% less calories. It’s often processed from GMO corn, so be sure to look for non-GMO products. Xylitol, like many sugar alcohols, isn’t absorbed well by the intestines and may cause digestive concerns if consumed in large amounts. The amount that will trigger digestive symptoms can vary from person to person. While using large amounts of xylitol in foods isn’t recommended, xylitol has been shown to be relatively safe when used in toothpaste or chewing gum. A benefit of xylitol is its positive role in oral health, including cavity prevention.

  41. Very good post, but you’re wrong about honey. Yes, there are high GI honeys, but there are also low GI honeys, such as acacia honey which has a GI of 32. In addition to being low GI, quality honey (not most multi floral blends found in the supermarket) has the added benefits of being anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-fungal, boosts the immune system, and it increases your iron levels. In studies on rats, it also did not cause obesity even when the honey fed rats ate more calories (they ate honey in addition to their usual diet) than controls. Honey is awesome for sweetening deserts (made with wholemeal flour and other good things, of course). I just did a presentation on honey for my food science class at university, and I was amazed at all the good things I found out (from scientific papers) about honey.

  42. One very important thing you didn’t mention!! Beet sugar, GMOs in all sugar that’s not pure cane sugar. That’s a huge piece of info. to leave out!!! Time for you to watch Food Inc. and most important Genetic Roulette.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hey there! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. You are correct! Practically all sugar beets in the United States are genetically modified making it one of the top GMO foods.

  43. Kim says:

    So is Truvia bad for you?

    • Jennifer says:

      Hey there! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. Truvia is not a preferred sweetener, it is a chemically-processed form of stevia and contains erythritol that is not typically non-GMO. Another downfall is it also contains undefined natural flavors.

  44. Kathleen says:

    I really encourage you to read Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson. Ground breaking research into the nutrition of our modern varieties. Fruit for the most part besides dark berries contain none of the nutrients found in their wild counterparts. Most fruit is just a fructose delivery system. I am waiting for health bloggers to get on the same page about fruit. It is not the benign food we think it is. Also shipping fruit around the world is an extreme stress on our world environment. What is the carbon footprint for that banana that has as much sugar as a snickers? Avocado has sooooo much more potassium. It also can be grown up to zone 8!

  45. Tracy says:

    Reading this could not be more timely for me. Having gone through stressful times at work, I’ve recently realized I turned to sugar as a coping mechanism and it’s now taken over my life! Sweet, sugary goodness has been my go to for far too long. Cold turkey seems tough & may just be the way I need to go….lots of sipping tea in my future! Thanks for this easy-to-read guide and the simple tips Kris!

  46. sue says:

    hi this is a great article im so glad people are relooking at the dangers of sugar. I read a book many years ago called sugar blues by gloria swanson and due to this book i was extremely careful to what i gave my kids when babies and the most amazing thing happened ..they didnt teeth. their teeth came through naturally and i didnt get the up all night crying my friends did, it was hard at times making and finding alternatives and not using any processed food but to me it was worth it. but i have been banging my head in a brick wall ever since as no one believes me and they say i was just lucky. i know different 🙂 also my 2 daughters now 17 and 18 yrs old have both hadly had any dental work and they have had periods where they havnt flossed as they should and i beleive this is due to their few yrs sugar free when babies.

    Also looking on this site at few other comments i tend to agree about stevia and agave, they have been processed if i do use sweeteners i stick to maple syrup and honey, if you buy the least processed of both these products you know they havnt been overly messed around with and depending on what you are making you can add shredded coconut or oats to the recipe to add a bit of substance.

  47. Yvette says:

    Thanks for being such an inspiration to me, I met you in Washington in September at the hay house conference, I had that awesome long red dress on, you passed me in the passage earlier in the morning before the conference started. I am back home in South Africa, and reading and following your knowledge and changing the life of my family and community for the better. I can’t wait to see you again. Yvette

  48. Kris, I love your work, love your inspiration! I’ve been addicated to sugar for a while, but it’s getting better! For me, a little bit of dark chocolate twice a day works wonders! 🙂

    Much love and many blessings,
    Mary Jane xoxo

  49. Tom says:

    Kris Carr’s Sugar Guide chart is worth its weight in gold, and is getting printed and pasted onto my pantry door so everybody in my household, including and especially myself, can be reminded about what’s good, bad and ugly in the Sugar stores there. But, it’s not only a good list to keep close by to help inform your sweetener choices, it’s also a great list to figure out what needs to be dumped and avoided~! Thanks, Kris~!

  50. BJ Proffitt says:

    Execellent info! Kicking sugar has been quite a journey of ups and downs (literally). But now from the other side, sugary stuff is so gross!

  51. Boris Nunez says:

    The GI is a great tool for evaluating carbs, it is a measure from 1-100 that indicates how high and how fast a certain food can raise your bloods glucose. Foods that have a lower GI are much better for keeping blood sugar low and has other good health benefits.

  52. High blood sugar is associated with numerous metabolic disorders, including: obesity, impaired glucose tolerance, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance syndrome and heart disease. As far as diet and food is concerned, the best way to maintain optimal control over your blood glucose is to choose sugar carbs with a lower GI value.

  53. Debbie says:

    ” No frantic search for guns, no scraping your torn self (in fishnets) off the concrete. ” Thanks !! You made me laugh this morning!

  54. Laura says:

    This is great information. I keep a mostly vegan diet and am very cautious about the quality of my produce, buying organic when I can. Despite all of this, I know I consume far more sugar than I should. I will definitely be replaceing some of my food with more grade A foods!

  55. Nathalie says:

    Hi Kris, this is probably the best article I’ve read about sugar in a long time. I will read it again when I feel like polishing off a bag (or three) of gummy bears for no reason. I’ve been struggling to eat less sugar for a long time, but most people don’t see this as a problem as long as you’re slim.
    Thank you!

  56. Friderike Hirsch-Wright says:

    Dear Kris,

    As always, it’s so nice to get your newsletter. Thank you.

    Can you write some more about enzymes, please? I am an anglomaniac vegan nerd from Germany who would appreciate some help. I don’t understand why enzymes are always mentioned separately from proteins when nutrition gurus and health cookbooks talk about the food we eat (or have to eat or shouldn’t eat). Because all health nuts keep mentioning enzymes, I read stuff about the function of enzymes in an organism. I now know that enzymes are vital catalysts. No enzymes, no life. But I also learned that almost all of them are proteins. That means that our bodies have to take enzymes apart, just as they take all proteins apart, and then use the amino acids and other whatsits that make up these creatures to make whatever substances they need. Right?
    Here are some direct questions: Do our bodies always make enzymes from enzymes or do they also make other proteins from them? And if they do make enzymes from enzymes, do they always make the same kind? (Why are we sold specific digestive enzymes, for instance, since our bodies have to take those apart as well? If the selling of digestive enzymes is not just a scam, then that must mean that our bodies can make their own digestive enzymes from the digestive enzymes they ingest.)
    Why are people more concerned about cooking and thereby “killing” enzymes than they are about cooking and killing other proteins or other nutrients? Does the cooking process modify the amino acids contained in a particular enzyme (or other protein) at the atomic level in such a way that it then becomes unfit for use as a building block inside the body?
    I guess I sometimes worry too much about nutrition and obsess too much. 🙂 And at those times, the general guidelines you offer are extremely valuable. What I extracted as good for myself: Always vegan, as much green stuff as possible, keep junk food to a minimum.
    Thank you so much for all you do.
    Love
    Frid

  57. Lisette says:

    Sugar sure is addictive! Whenever I eat some I just want MORE. Lately I’ve managed to reduce my intake right down and I do feel much better. Now just eating fruit or drinking cows milk tastes incredibly sweet. If you don’t over saturate your palate with the refined stuff you can actually taste the yummy natural sugars in fruit, veg, nuts, etc. What’s even better is that once you reduce sugar, you become very aware of what it does to your body when you eat it.
    If you like to sweeten your drinks you could try coconut oil? The extra virgin, cold pressed stuff is actually quite sweet and creamy and goes well in green tea!

  58. Jivan Dios says:

    Wonderful article!
    I have been on a low sugar diet since a cancer diagnosis. Check out my website for alcohol free and low sugar drink options for the holidays.

  59. Sharon says:

    Hi Kris 🙂
    Where do dates fit into this? I love sweet things and have been taking refuge in dates lately because they seem the least offensive, and have even been wanting to make date syrup to sweeten coffee and tea because I think maybe it’s better than agave?
    Love to hear your thoughts!
    XO, Sharon

    • Sharon says:

      Whoops, Just read everyone’s info and dates and looks like they are good to go! Yay! On Saturday at the farmer’s market in SF there was a guy selling 10+ varieties!

  60. NIcki says:

    hi Kris,

    Thanks for another informative blog email. I am seriously struggling daily with my sugar cravings and am really having a hard time. I am going to use this information to make tomorrow the start of a new day and fingers crossed a sugar-craving-free day!

    Nicki

    • Patricia says:

      Hi Nicki
      Try having apple cider vinegar before bed. I have a strong sugar cravings too. I find this helps. Make sure you mix it with warm water first. Then have some clear water after. Good luck.

  61. I love this article – especially your sugar guide! I quit sugar 6 years ago as recommended by my doctor after a steady weight gain of 5-10 pounds per year. Remarkably, the excess weight vanished rather quickly, plus I feel much better! And although I was as addicted as to sugar as you could possibly be and thought giving it up would be impossible, it was much easier than I ever expected (once I got through the first few days)! Once I got past the addiction, being around temptations never bothered me. And it didn’t really take all that long. I’m saying all this because if I could do it, anyone can do it!

  62. Chloé says:

    Hello! Great post and just in time, since I am trying to decrease my intake of sugar….the thing is I read that apples and pears are one the most highest fruit with fructose….and here they are on the A (best) list? Can somebody help me with that?
    Thank you Kris! <3

    • Jennifer says:

      Hey there! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. The ability of the body to metabolize naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruit, differs from how it metabolizes refined sugars added to processed foods. The fiber that encompasses natural sugars in whole fruits will slow digestion, decrease the impact on blood sugar and help you to feel full. I hope that helps!

  63. Treisha says:

    My number one most successful way to beat the sugar cravings is taking it one day at a time… if I look any further than today, I think of all I will miss out on and than I go berserk and indulge, thinking I need one last fix before I cut sweets out! One day at a time and all of a sudden its been weeks since I’ve given in to a sugary sugar coated sugar bomb delight!

  64. LUCIE says:

    Hey guys! I have real issues with sweets and SAD foods… I can more or less say that i am addicted to them and feel like a drug junkie whenever i get out of control, eating wise. Anyways. Do you know how i can ‘detoxify’ myself from that or prevent myself from emptying the foods of others (i have gluten btw, but i dont even care enough about how bad i will feel after – it is real bad) or the fridge??
    Is there a way to treat myself , kind of like a ‘drug withdrawal’?

    And last question: are fresh figs okay to eat? I mean, i know they are super healthy but are they too high in GI or why aren’t they listed?

    • Treisha says:

      I consider myself a sugar addict to for many reasons-
      I joined an addiction recovery program, which has helped. I did do a cleanse, which worked wonders on cutting the sugar cravings for the time, but it did nothing to deal with the “why” of the addiction, so the first stressful event after the cleanse and I was all over the local cupcakery! Good luck!!

      • lucie says:

        thanks treisha for sharing! my addiction is really bad, I would crave for everything carb and sugar loaded. day passes that I don’t chew and eat sth of those things even though I don’t want to!!! the addiction recovery program you did- was that a normal one or exclusively for sugar addicts? I am in Germany and we don’t have sth like that here :((

  65. Loriann says:

    L-glutamine (an amino acid tablet) taken in the morning has cut all cravings for this sugar addict.

    • Patty says:

      I was going to suggest the the same thing. I haven’t tried it yet, but I have read it helps with sugar cravings. Happy to know it works!

  66. Cathie says:

    You did not mention pineapple in your sugar guide – I suspect it is loaded with natural sugar!

  67. Absolutely love all your blogs and read and re-read your books! I also had to cut down on sugars (even though I already ate healthily) because my family is riddled with diabetes for 5 generations. I find incorporating cinnamon (a lot!) in either powder form, or chewing on a quill of cinnamon really hitting the sweet spot, as well as adding fennel seeds (whole) to teas to sweeten them or making candy with those in stead of even the coconut sugar I’m using.

  68. Angie says:

    Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for your comment clarifying about Agave. Could you also please give your opinion about organic maple syrup as well as raw honey used for sweetening? Also, what about coconut nectar/sweetener?

    I sadly have been on the agave bandwagon, believing all the health claims, and thinking I was choosing a better sweetener for myself and my children. Unfortunately we really are not fans of stevia, I think the after taste is what gets us! So I would love to know which alternative is the next best.

    Thanks!

    (As always, I Love all Kris’s newsletters/blog entries and am so grateful to her for sharing all her wonderful knowledge and tips!!!!)

    • Jenny says:

      sure Angie.

      i think that honey, maple syrup and coconut nectar are all quality sweeteners. i also think coconut sugar is a great substitute for the refined white stuff too.

      i think the same rule of thumb applies to the use of sweeteners as with most things in life – moderation.

      yes it’s difficult raising children with the plethora of sugary childrens food out there. at a birthday party on the weekend my 5yo son was intent on devouring all the fairy bread and chocolates and was less interested in playing with his friends because of the sugar on offer!

      jen x

    • Vicky says:

      Could someone tell me if erythritol is a better option than agave or stevia. I love it for a low Gi sweetener. It doesn’t have the after taste that stevia does

      • Jennifer says:

        Hi there, Vicky! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. Erythritol is definitely a better choice than agave. Stevia is a good choice also, but it’s just fine to stick with erythritol if you prefer the taste of it. While agave us lower-GI than some other options, it can really wreak havoc on your system.

  69. Chere friedman says:

    Very interested

  70. Danna says:

    Correction on my note about Stevia chocolate:
    It’s by” Lily’s Sweets” out of Santa Barbara. Also it’s supposed to be good for diabetics too.

  71. Danna says:

    Stevia Chocolate oh Yes!
    I stay away from most forms of sugar, save some berries and pears now and then, but I do love a little bite of chocolate now and then. So I found this dark chocolate by “Lilly’s” at my local Natural Foods Store. I love the coconut version. They have several flavors and it’s stevia sweetened!… and also has Erythritol (I just noticed! much to my chagrin), an alcohol sweetener that is not absorbed very much by the body, but still not great for us. It’s fine in small quantities, as in a small square of chocolate, but I wouldn’t bake with it or anything. This chocolate is not organic, but is Non-gmo. Anyway, if you’re trying to kick the sugar habit but can’t quite let go of the chocolate yet, this is a good little transition treat and it’s the real deal when you just need what you want. They also make milk chocolate, if you’re not avoiding dairy.

  72. Anna W says:

    i’m so glad you are finally posting this. this is one of the biggest problems with america’s diet as far as I’m concerned. one more important point is that eating fats and proteins ALONG WITH your carbohydrates helps to regulate blood sugar much better than just eating the carbs alone. for example, have your banana with almond butter instead of by itself. or your toast with cheese or peanut butter.

  73. Diane says:

    Does anyone know the GI of coconut sugar? Is it a healthy alternative? Many thanks in advance for answers.

    • Stella Coe says:

      Hello, coconut sugar’s ranking is 35. It’s low GI so can be a great substitute if you use it moderately.

  74. Vickrum says:

    Do you know how coconut sugar is fitting into this? I have a friend that turned to coconut sugar because it has a lower GI. Is this true or just a result of the coconut oil craze.

    • KM Fern says:

      I am also wondering about raw coconut sugar and coconut nectar. I imagine they would both be a “B” because they have a little more nutrients and are lower GI than most but are still just sweeteners. Coconut sugar is very similar to sucanat in my opinion.

  75. Denise says:

    Its like you wrote this for me. I love candy. I admit it…. I don’t eat alot but when its around I eat it! I was at a Halloween party of the weekend and woke up with a hangover, not alcohol related… It was a sugar hangover! Ugh.

    Thanks for writing this. Its a big wake up call for me to get back on track to loosing weight and being healthy!

  76. Karen says:

    I have been working to “get off” sugar for 2 months now with varying degrees of success. Some weeks I am amazing and feel great without cravings. Then BAM! the cravings start and I am a crazy person. I was shocked to really see all the sugar my family was eating. And I really considered myself a healthy eater.

    Thanks, Kris, for posting this guide. I really enjoy learning about food and food choices and how it affects my life.

  77. Mia says:

    I quit sugar about 1,5 years ago and it wasn’t easy! actually in the same time I stopped smoking and to quit smoking was easier than laying off the sugar…I’m sure then you can guess how addicted I was. In the beginning I would allow myself to binge on sugar every saturday but then I started craving it less and less and now I can barely stand the taste of candy, cookies and all that other nasty stuff, your palette doesn’t reckognize it! Now if I would eat any of it I also get these terrible sugar-hangovers where my head hurts, stomache, skin so it’s just not worth it. Honestly, the only way to go is cold turkey.

  78. Nomi says:

    Lovely article. Hope I can print it up, definitely sending it to some special people in my life. I just wanted to add that GLUTEN FREE doesn’t mean GOOD FOOD. It’s every bit as bad/carb/sugar/junk filled as any other iced cinnamon bun, aromatic French Bread temptation. I see so many Celiac familiies and I watch as they concoct all sorts of gluten free breads pastas etc as their insulin resistance rises.
    Thank you for all the good work you do!

    • Karen says:

      Agree whole heartedly! We are gluten free and don’t replace the past gluten that we ate with gluten free products except on special occasions. Thanks for the reminder!

  79. urv says:

    Hi, did you mena glycemic load vs. index- or do you prefer index?

  80. Cindy says:

    I use coconut sugar as it has 4 grams of sugar but only 4 grams of carb…a wonderful flavor and bakes well instead of other sugars.

  81. Joan says:

    When I have a sugar craving it is usually because I have forgotten to eat some REAL food. At work I pop in a prune to feel better – I am not tempted to overdose on those because I KNOW what will happen if I have more than two. Then I go find the yoghurt, fruit or veggies that I try to always have stocked in the fridge. Or I go for a hot bowl of soup to fill me up.
    Something else I enjoy is a whole avocado. Just cut in quarters around the pit, twist to loosen and peel the skin off. You will have four sections to eat whole. The good fat and creamy texture seam to help fill me up. That plus an apple could make a whole meal! It makes a great snack on those days I feel deprived. Nothing better than a full stomach to take the sugar cravings away. (Okay, a good friend you can phone or go for a walk with is necessary too!)

    • CarieOn says:

      How does Alcohol affect blood sugar? Is drinking Alcohol better or worse than refined sugar?

      • Jennifer says:

        Hi there! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. I spoke to our Nutritionist and got the following reply. I hope it’s helpful! “Blood sugar may initially rise with alcohol consumption, but this is typically then followed by a drop depending on how much you drink. When you drink alcohol, the liver has to work to remove it from the blood, instead of working to regulate blood sugar levels. Alcohol impairs your liver’s ability to produce glucose, so it’s important to not drink alcohol on an empty stomach and after consuming alcohol to have a snack if you feel as though your blood sugar has gotten too low.”

  82. Louise says:

    Great post Kris! I quit sugar over ten years ago, starting with cold turkey for four years as part of an anti candida that gave me my health back after being bedridden with Fibromyalgia. It taught me just how dangerous sugar can be. Although in the last five years I have had some here and there I no find that the cleaner my diet the less my body will tolerate it and even a tiny bit of sugar gives me a terrible ‘hangover’ and now I just don’t even want it, which is amazing!
    I’m always educating clients on the difference it can make to remove it from your diet and love the great round up in this post.

    For everyone trying to quit, it’s worth it and will change your life! xo

    • LUCIE says:

      I wish i was as succesful as you were! i try to go cold turkey EVERY DAY literally. I hate myself when i eat those sugery and SAD foods but cant do anything baout it, i am like a drug addict, any tips how i can get rid of my addiction ?

  83. Karen says:

    Where does coconut sugar and dates rank in the chart?

    • Diane says:

      Yes, I too am interested in learning where coconut sugar fits into your chart. I have switched to that for some baking. Thank you, great article! : )

    • Jessica says:

      I would also like to know where coconut palm sugar fits.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi there! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. Coconut sugar (sometimes also called coconut palm sugar) and dates are both good natural sweetener choices with low GIs. Trace amounts of nutrients are found in coconut sugar and dates offer fiber plus additional nutrients.

  84. Nancy says:

    I have gone cold turkey on sugar for about a week now w the exception of alcohol-I think I can give up sweets, and cut back on alcohol, but not totally give it up- will this be enough for me to see an improvement?

  85. Melanie says:

    Would love some tips to help me quit Dr. Pepper! I don’t drink or like coffee or tea so I drink the Dr. Pepper for the caffeine fix. If I do drink tea its an herbal one with sugar from Starbucks. Takes the sugar for me to be able to tolerate it. What is there to replace or calm down that craving for Dr. Pepper?

    • Heather says:

      Melanie,
      Soda was my dirty little habit too. Some years ago I stopped drinking them by drinking soda water with lots of lemon and lime wedges squeezed in. It isn’t sweet and takes a bit to adjust but the “fizz” factor soothed my cravings with no sugar. I would get the glass bottles of San Pellagrino and savor it in a “rocks” glass with citrus, really looked forward to this. Soda is horrible, usually it doesn’t even contain traditional sugar in the U.S., but High Fructose Corn Syrup is probably the first or second ingredient…pure poison!! Plus other preservatives and chemicals. I know it’s very hard, but it will be worth it!!

    • Ashley at Greenlight Holistic Healing says:

      You may also want to start adding green tea and holy basil tea to your routine. Both of these (especially the green tea) will help to satiate cravings for sugar and help your taste buds change. I like to sweeten with raw honey or high quality maple syrup. Good luck! : )

    • Marci says:

      Melanie,
      Next time you go for a tea at Starbucks, ask them to leave out the cane sugar and add the stevia/ monk fruit blend they have.
      Marci

  86. Christie V says:

    I don’t have the regular sugar habit in the form of goodies, but I do struggle with alcohol now, which is loaded with sugar. After having breast cancer 5 years ago and they told me to stop drinking alcohol I, of course, craved it more. Kris, I love your articles every week and I would love it if you would do one on alcohol to give me (us) the extra incentive and inspiration to reduce consumption. I always get inspired by the scientific approach to health, which you bring to the discussion to help educate.

  87. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this! Yes, but what about dates? I now use them all the time. I know they are super sweet, yet they always show up in healthy recipes…

    • Hi Sarah,

      I couldn’t help but jump in on the conversation here to provide all of you lovely Crazy Sexy community folks who may not know about the website NutritionFacts.org with a link to this information about dates: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/are-dates-good-for-you/

      This site is a TREMENDOUS resource filled with scientific studies that keep pointing back and proving that a whole food plant-based diet rocks. If you’re new to it, please start with his two big videos: “Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death”” and “More Than an Apple a Day.” Happy viewing!

      ♡♡♡

  88. Natalie says:

    It’s a really hard habit to break but if you do it slowly and make simple swaps over time its totally worth it – my taste buds have changed for the better. If I let myself have a ‘treat’ now I don’t feel so good afterwards. But a little dark chocolate every week is a must for me. I make chocolate out of my chocolate so melt it down and put goji berries in and other treats!

  89. Dil says:

    How timely for me! In August I got in the habit of eating sweets every day and have been trying to break that habit ever since…so hard!! I will try some of these strategies and remind myself why it’s so important. Does anyone have tips on how to avoid Halloween candy? I have 3 big bags in my pantry:(. Better yet does anybody have alternative ideas on what to pass out?

  90. Pam says:

    Great guide. Thank you for the reminder. It is also something you have to keep working at. I have eliminated sugar from my diet, went through a mini withdrawal, including headache, crankyness and just general pissy. It takes about three days. And then you feel great! But just when you think you’re doing really well and you can have a few cheats and then a few more, boom! sugar creeps back into the diet and you have to start all over again. So, thanks again for the reminder. Hello sugarfree Monday! Beast by Wednesday happy on Thursday.

  91. Stephanie Blackford says:

    Kris – my goodness how I needed to read this – I woke up thinking “today is the day” and your email arrived. Thank you! I was diagnosed with chronic Lyme earlier this year and have been working off of an anti-inflammatory diet but still fall down on the job when it comes to sugar. Here’s my question for you: how do you feel about the master cleanse to jumpstart this process? I am toying with the idea but need our beloved guru to give me some advice. Please help!! Thanks and happy Monday – !

    • Jennifer says:

      Hey Stephanie! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. I spoke to our nutritionist about your question and got the following reply: “The Master Cleanse is definitely not something I’d recommend due to it being a “crash diet” that is deficient in essential nutrients and calories. Could definitely be unsafe, especially for certain people.”

  92. Lindsay Elder says:

    Brilliant and easy to digest info, thank you so much! I am attempting to study nutrition and you just made it sound so simple…sugar in a nutshell!

  93. Martha says:

    Kris,
    What a great article! I am a huge sugar addict! It’s a battle every day. I juice every day and really don’t have a problem until about 5:00 and then the she devil comes out and that’s when I start tapping. I do it wherever I am and it really helps get me over the hump.
    Thanks,
    Sweet Martha

  94. Sally says:

    I am kicking sugar,caffeine, alcohol, gluten and animal products starting today.

    Can anyone offer tips as I detox? What’s the best way to get through the first week?

    Thanks and blessings!

    • An awesome network of support is the online forum over at mycrazysexylife.com

    • kim says:

      make sure you’ve done a complete overhaul of your fridge & cupboards. it’s much easier not to have the bad stuff around. also, planning your meals really helps so you have the right food when you need it & you’re not left to stand in front of the fridge and say “what am i supposed to eat?” that’s the behavior that fosters bad choices. there’s a section in crazy, sexy diet that prepares you for this very thing. good luck!

  95. Jennifer says:

    I wasn’t interested in what I ate until I was diagnosed with MS at the age of 26. Now I actually care about what goes into my body and I’ve been taking care of myself for quite a while. One of my early revelations was that I was addicted to sugar. I realized I had to fix it!

    I knew I had turned the corner with my sugar addiction when I could look at a cupcake (simple carbs) with all the icing and think, “This is just going to make me crash, and give me a headache. I think I’ll pass.” Of course I indulge from time to time, but it’s so empowering to think that you really can change your tastes and preferences after a while.

    It’s even more empowering to have these tools that you’ve given us Kris, because the most overwhelming part for me was knowing where to begin! Thank you so much.

    By the way: Ditto to everyone who is singing the praises of using dates as a sweetener–they’re wonderful in smoothies for a nutritious sweet treat. 🙂

  96. Foxy says:

    If you are truly addicted to sugar, it doesn’t matter which form it comes in, you will want it, crave it and most likely go overboard..That being the case, it’s best to avoid it altogether…I spent years of my life binge eating healthy snacks like ground date and nut concoctions only to develop an unhealthy gut flora and a zillion issues that go with it…

    • Kelly says:

      Hi Foxy!
      You described me perfectly…I am the epitome of the “sugar addict.” I went from white sugar to cane sugar, to coconut and agave and maple syrup and stevia and dates….!!!….all with the same result. I will binge on any form of sugar. Have you figured this out? Have you any helpful advice? I am at my wit’s end! The thought of eliminating all sugars completely sends me into despair and panic which then makes me binge… 🙁

      Help!
      Kelly

  97. Sheilah says:

    Great article Kris! I’ve used the cold turkey method many times over the years and have found that 3 days is all it takes. The first day has intense cravings — and for me I can count on them coming roughly 24 hours to the minute of the previous days’s sugar indulgence. Getting through the first day is really the only tough part. It is a lot less difficult on day 2 and relatively easy on day 3. By day 4, I no longer crave sugar — it literally becomes EASY to take a pass on the dessert that everyone is eating right in front of you! When you do not crave it, you no longer “need” it. Works every time!!

  98. Candace says:

    Great post! Personally, going completely cold turkey has never worked for me. I get migraines anyway, and abrupt dietary changes with migraines can actually increase the frequency and intensity. With that said, I know when I basically switch the source of the sugar, it helps a lot. (So instead of candy, I’ll allow myself to have more fruit in it’s place to wein myself off). I’ll be the first to admit I’m a girl with a sweet tooth. For me, telling myself I can’t have something just makes me want it more. Like chocolate for example. I know I”ll never remove chocolate from my diet completely, so I allow myself to have a small square of super dark chocolate (70% or more cocoa) each day. If i know I’ve got that coming, it’s easier for me to ignore other cravings. And if I give in to them at any point during the day? I don’t get my chocolate that night.

    I’m not big on cakes, cookies, things like that. For me it’s more chocolate than anything. And Ice cream. So I’ve learned to make better alternatives to ice cream (one of my favs is 2% greek yogurt with a touch of honey, cocoa powder and a dash of vanilla extract; dip berries in it and I promise you won’t be missing the ice cream!), and I simply don’t allow it to come into my house except for special occasions like birthday.

    Bread is one of the hardest for me, honestly. I can largely go without pasta, and only really want it on occasion, but bread is a bear. The only thing I’ve found that works on that is to allow myself to have it at one meal a day, and then I don’t crave it as much. Anyone have any good ideas on this one?

  99. WholeLifeMom says:

    What are you thoughts on blackstrap molassas? I’ve been substituting it in when making things like granola for the added calcium and iron. Curious to hear your thoughts.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hey there! This is Jennifer from Team Crazy Sexy. Blackstrap molasses is a good choice due to its low-to-moderate GI and high levels of nutrients. Sounds like a delicious option!

  100. CReid says:

    Sugar..mmmmmmmmmm
    And so addictive yes…. And so bad….And so fattening.. and..
    Am going to try coconut sugar, will let you know how that goes!! That darn sweet tooth.Dates are a go-to when the sweetie demon sneaks in. Thanks for the ratings post, love clarity!

  101. Jo says:

    Thanks for very timely post-I’m a new mum battling sleep deprivation and finding a friend in sugar! I know/want to kick the habit, think cold turkey and change of environment are my best chances of doing this. I want to be healthy for my family and for myself…thanks for the motivation xx

  102. KarenM says:

    Ditto that. I have read a bit about sweeteners for our diabetic patients. The marketing of agave makes it look like a great substitute for sugar. However, lots of research is coming back that it still raises blood sugar to unhealthy levels. So far, the verdict says that stevia is the only sweetener that doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar. You have to be careful though, some stevia products include other sweeteners and nasty chemicals.

    • Natalie says:

      A lot of studies seem to point to the fact that Stevia is actually not as good as some claim. Our bodies are not designed or evolved to handle calorie-free sweeteners–be it natural or artificial. Experiencing a sweet taste from a food that is not going to provide glucose confounds our body’s sugar-handling process (source: http://empoweredsustenance.com/is-stevia-bad-for-you/).

      I think the best way to cut down sugar is to stick to foods you would naturally find in nature or to cut it out completely. Sometimes you realize you don’t really need it.

  103. Gena says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you
    been sugarfree for 2 years
    been green juicing for 1 year
    you have helped all along the way
    xo

    • Karen Stewart says:

      Would like to hear more from how Gena has kept on track for two years, that is amazing, what do you do at events, my issues also involve eating food that is “free” ie. included in training although I know it is not free. What strategies did you find success in for getting sugar out ?

  104. Olya says:

    This article was right on time. Today I was detoxing. And I really really wanted something sweat. Maybe it wasn’t a complete detox as I had fruit. I don’t eat sugar as such, and don’t like candies. But loooove chocolate. Especially dark raw chocolate. But in general I like deserts.
    I know that I just need to wait and that I can be off the chocolate (and better not to start eating it again!) But I have never really been off the sugar completely… That would be a very interesting experience I guess.

    • Sara Ambler` says:

      Alya, I had to laugh, you have addictions to something “sweat”. I know what you meant tho, just thought I would comment….

  105. Stephanie says:

    Does anyone have an estimate of how long it takes to stop having the intense cravings once you cut out excess sugar? I feel like I might be able to go cold turkey if I knew I would feel better in a week or so, but the cravings are so intense that when I have no end in sight it feels like I can’t do it so I give in.

    • Olya says:

      Hey Stephanie. When I go off the chocolate.. takes about a week. First 3-4 days is a hell 🙂
      But as I mentioned I have never gone off the sugar completely.

    • Wiebke says:

      I am on a cleanse right now, no sugar, among other things. The first 3 days weren’t easy, headaches and all, might also have been the lack of caffeine. Feeling way better now. 🙂

    • Talia says:

      Hi Stephanie, I had severe sugar cravings before getting off sugar.

      For me cold turkey worked best. You get it out of your system and thus get off the cycle of sugar high followed by sugar low (which causes the craving – the body is signaling to you that it needs something sugary pronto to regain the same high sugar level).

      I tried being more “flexible”, having a croissant now and again, but that immediately triggered (either psychologically or physiologically, I don’t know) cravings.

      Getting bad sugars out completely leaves you with a more refined palette – you truly don’t crave the obnoxiously glorious mind-blowing birthday cake, you taste food differently, and you enjoy your very calm low blood sugar state, which translates to a calmer you.

      • Stephanie says:

        Thank you! Yeah, I think I need to go totally cold turkey, otherwise I’m doomed. Thanks again!

        • Yeah, I’m an all or nothing kind of girl too. Ive tried moderation with refined sugar for years and have finally decided it doesn’t work for me!

          That said, Day 3 is the worst. It takes me about two weeks overall to completely eliminate cravings. But once they’re gone, I feel soo good and food tastes so much better!

          Starting this today!

    • Molly says:

      I agree. It takes a few days of feeling deprived and irritable. After that you start to not miss it too much and other foods start tasting sweeter. Fruit tastes amazingly sweet and sugary sweets become “too sweet”. I was off for 6 months once. The key for me is not trying to have sweets in moderation. I’m like an alcoholic. If I have a candy bar one day, it turns into a binge and the whole thing falls apart. If I swear off refined sugars, I don’t miss them once I’m past the first week or so. 3 weeks is supposedly how long it takes to form a new habit. Diane Sanfillipo’s 21 day sugar detox is another resource.

  106. Flower Power says:

    I’m in the midst of kicking the white devil, I’m (trying) to follow the Wahl’s Protocol and am eating vegetables and omega3s like my life depends on it – because it does! Today my total sugar count will be just under 11grams for the entire day. Next on my hit list, so called “sugar free” items, which still lurk in my pantry. Unfortunately for me, I cannot have the grains or legumes that you have in your A column. 🙁

    • Mattie Gootee says:

      Hey! I am with you on the no grains and no legumes. Makes it more difficult but not impossible.

  107. Laura Thomas says:

    Thanks Kris, this is a great article and I like your checkbox guide. The key for me has been to keep an eye on my total fructose consumption. I was addicted to the sweet taste so reducing the appeal of that taste and increasing my sensitivity to it was what worked. I did a little gradual reduction and some colder turkey periods. It’s important for people to understand the difference between carbohydrates and sugars and your explanation is great around this.

    For me the tough part was the emotional and social side of it all. Dealing with friends, family, finding my own sugar balance and harmony where I felt in control and happy with my overall lifestyle and 80/20 approach on health. I’m really passionate about helping people with this particular issue because changing your sugar identity can be a really tough one at times, especially if you were know as Miss Sweet Tooth, which I was!

    • Missy says:

      That was really nice to read about having to deal with the social issue of cutting out sugar as well. I am better than I used to be, but still have some rows to hoe – though I definitely had the title of Sweet Tooth and sometimes family members don’t remember that I’m not doing that anymore and send the worst tempting treats, which I almost always fall prey to. Ugh. Anyway, it was validating to hear that someone else recognizes this is another aspect of moving beyond the sugar spoon, and it isn’t always in our control. Thanks!

  108. Sara Ambler says:

    WHAT we eat is important, but for me, how much is the key!! I have diabetes and am 74 yrs. old. I am addicted to sweets and it is the worst thing ever. When I eat desserts, I feel very bad. I have discovered that if I eat just a little of the good stuff every 3-4 hours, I feel great, my readings are better and I have more energy. For instance, when I can’t stand it any longer I have 2 White Castles, not 4-5 as usual. I am losing weight, so important and on a good trail.

  109. After eating 2 chocolate bars to combat my tiredness today, this was exactly what I needed to get focused and make healthier choices around my sugar intake.
    Thanks for the info & motivation Kris xx

  110. Stephanie says:

    This is perfect for me! For the last 5 years I’ve been dealing with quite severe fatigue issues and changing my diet didn’t help me at all. (I tried to eat more meat, less meat, no meat, vegan, yeast-free, no sugars etc.), so I went back to my regular way of eating giant loads of Sugar to get through the day. It’s just really hard to kick the habit, but this makes me a little more optimistic! Thanks! 🙂

    • Jenny says:

      It sounds like you could use some adrenal love. When the adrenals become fatigued so do we. To compensate we crave sugar and caffeine – chocolate, coffee; which unfortunately stress our adrenals out more. Start adding b12, holy basil (tulsi), less stress, and adequate sleep (especially through the 8:00 hours), and you may find you have more energy, and you no longer crave sugar. Kris has done an article on adrenals, there is also helpful info at renegadehealth.com search adrenal. Good luck!

  111. Good morning!

    Dates are a compassionate source of “sweet stuff” that has transformed how I snack. I learned that they are the most nutritious source of weetness around and are actually GOOD for you. I like to top each medjool date (so soft! – careful of the pits, though!) with peanut butter for a special treat. I also use them to make homemade protein bars! YUMMO!

    So much of spirituality and “doing the right thing” can turn into a deprivation-fest. I like to think of balance as my innate ability to respond to the moment with appropriateness. Instead of simply doing away with something — I make sure to add something in. That way I send a signal to myself that says “hey, you matter. I’m looking out for you. It’s not all about what you can’t do and can’t have.”

    What fun is that?

    I hope this helps. Thanks for initiating the conversation, Sweet Stuff!
    ♡Joy♡ @kindnessville.com

  112. Aakriti says:

    Its so crazy/insane/scary the amount of sugar in almost EVERYTHING! I want to reduce my sugar intake to minimum, keep the body temple well oiled, but its just so overwhelming! SuperKris to the rescue! Thank you, this post really simply puts things into perspective.. And I’m (just a smidge) more confident about dealing with the sugar monkey! Woot woot! Thank you.. This was just what I needed to hear from the magical Universe 😀

    • smokey427 says:

      I agree with you whole heartedly about how frightening the amount of sugar (and salt) is in prepared foods, as well as agreeing with the comments about agave and stevia. Not just “everything in moderation,” but really, LESS is MORE. The truth about sugar and hidden sugars in so called healthy foods are important converstaions to have on and on and on!

  113. Kay Jones says:

    Kris, I was a chocoholic for years!!! I hid chocolate in a kitchen cabinet and generally devoured it when I was alone. I finally had to go cold turkey. I am still a chocoholic, but I no longer eat chocolate in any form. I think this sugar binge often hits people when they are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Remember HALT. I like your hot tea suggestion best. I will have to try Stevia. Thank you, Kris, for this blog and have a blessed day! K xxx

    • Vasu Murti says:

      Carob is a pleasant alternative to chocolate. And it’s naturally sweet, whereas the cacao beans are naturally bitter and have to be blended with sugar to create chocolate.

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