What Occurs When You Eliminate Refined Sugar

What Happens When You Quit Refined Sugar

Giving up refined sugar entirely is no easy task. Why is that? Well, since childhood, we’ve been conditioned to view sugar as a reward for achievement. Whether it’s the chocolates and ice creams our parents gave us for doing well in exams or the slice of cake we turn to for comfort after a tough day, sugar has always been intertwined with our emotions. Moreover, studies suggest that sugar can be as addictive as certain drugs, making quitting it a daunting challenge. Yet, many individuals choose to do so for the sake of their health.

It’s common knowledge that refined sugar contributes to weight gain, but its negative effects extend far beyond that. It increases the risk of various serious illnesses. Therefore, reducing or eliminating its consumption is one of the best things you can do for your well-being. But have you ever wondered what happens when you ditch sugar? What are the positive impacts on your body? Additionally, given that sugar can have addictive properties, are there any withdrawal symptoms to anticipate?

To shed light on these questions, Onlymyhealth interviewed Sreemathy Venkatraman, a gut health practitioner, wellness nutritionist, and the founder of ‘Mitha Aahara-Eat to Live’.

Impact of Refined Sugar on Health

Refined sugar can have bad effects on health

Refined sugar can have detrimental effects on health, including:

  • Weight Gain: White granulated sugar is laden with empty calories, contributing to weight gain and potentially leading to overweight or obesity.
  • Increased Inflammation: Consumption of refined sugar has been linked to increased inflammation in the body, which can exacerbate various health issues.
  • Risk of Serious Health Conditions: Regular intake of refined sugar may increase the risk of developing serious health conditions such as type-2 diabetes, stroke, heart diseases, and more.

The debate over whether refined sugar is entirely harmful or can be consumed in moderation remains ongoing. To gain a better understanding of its effects, it’s beneficial to comprehend how sugar is produced. Sugarcane stalks consist of approximately 72% water, 12% sugar, 13% fiber, and 3% molasses. Granulated white sugar is derived by extracting molasses from sugarcane and further refining it through processes like centrifugation, as explained by Sreemathy.

What Occurs When You Eliminate Sugar

Withsrawal symptoms are common when you quit sugar

Cutting out refined sugar from your diet isn’t just a good idea; it’s something your body doesn’t actually need. So, when you decide to skip that teaspoon of sugar in your tea or say goodbye to that post-meal chocolate or bowl of ice cream, your body begins to undergo some significant changes:

  • Easier Weight Management: Without the influx of extra calories from refined sugar, it becomes easier to control and manage your weight.
  • Reduced Inflammation: Eliminating refined sugar from your diet can lead to a decrease in inflammation throughout your body, which is beneficial for overall health.
  • Stable Mood: You’ll notice an improvement in your mood as you no longer experience the highs and lows associated with a sugar rush followed by a crash.
  • Heightened Sensitivity to Natural Sweetness: Your taste buds will adjust, and you’ll start to appreciate the natural sweetness of fruits even more. They will taste sweeter than before.
  • Improved Overall Health: Quitting sugar can bless you with improved health, vitality, and vigor, contributing to your overall well-being.

Withdrawal Symptoms After Quitting Sugar & How To Manage

Upon quitting sugar, many individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Cravings for Sweet Foods: Your body may crave sugary treats as it adjusts to the absence of refined sugar.
  • Lack of Energy: Initially, you might feel a dip in energy levels as your body transitions away from relying on sugar for quick energy boosts.
  • Nausea: Some individuals may experience feelings of nausea during the withdrawal period.
  • Irritability: Mood swings and irritability are common as your body adjusts to the absence of sugar.

To manage these symptoms and cravings for sweet and high-calorie foods, consider the following options:

  • Dark Chocolate: Opt for dark chocolate with higher cocoa content, which contains less sugar compared to milk chocolate.
  • Traditional Snacks like Chikki: Enjoy traditional snacks made with nuts and seeds, sweetened with natural ingredients like jaggery or honey.
  • Kheer with Jaggery: Prepare desserts like kheer using jaggery as a sweetener instead of refined sugar.

Remember to consume these alternatives in moderation to maintain a balanced diet while reducing sugar intake.

Other Aspects Of Quitting Sugar

Quitting added refined sugar is a significant step, but it’s important to recognize that hidden sugars lurk in many foods and beverages consumed daily. These hidden sugars can contribute to inflammation, weight gain, and are even associated with conditions like depression, dementia, and certain cancers. Therefore, eliminating these hidden sugars is equally crucial. Some common sources of hidden sugars can be found in drinks such as:

  • Aerated drinks
  • Fruit juices
  • Energy drinks
  • Cold coffee, etc.

Hence, read the nutritional label before buying these.

Some of the common food items also contain it, such as

  • Corn flakes
  • Musli
  • Protein bars
  • Granola bars
  • Breakfast cereals 
  • Chocolate cereals
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Jellies
  • Jams
  • Marmalade
  • Nut butter
  • Spread

Therefore, it’s essential to read nutritional labels carefully before purchasing these items.

Moreover, when transitioning away from refined sugar, consider switching to natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, palm and date jaggery, among others. It’s advisable to steer clear of artificial sweeteners as well. Stevia can serve as a suitable alternative. Hence, even after eliminating refined sugar from your diet, there are several alternatives available for you to choose from.

(With insights from Sreemathy Venkatraman, a gut health practitioner & wellness nutritionist and the founder of ‘Mitha Aahara-Eat to Live’)