Why I’m Quitting Sugar


Demetria Slyt, Opinion Editor

You’ve probably heard that 1 in 10 Americans suffer from or struggle with diabetes, but did you know that over 75% of Americans have a sugar addiction? Obviously I cannot compare this to that of a drug or alcohol addiction, but sugar is a slow killer. It is difficult to watch what you eat when there is sugar in nearly everything we eat on a daily basis, including artificial sugars and sweeteners. The average adult consumes at least 20 teaspoons of sugar a day, while children consume twice that amount. It is also hard to recognize when this is an issue without physical signs, symptoms, or the acknowledgment of loved ones. My partner brought this to my attention a month or so ago, and I had never really given it much thought. Growing up I did not always eat the most nutritious meals, I took every chance I was given to eat something sweet. I remember once bringing a lunch box full of desserts to elementary school. This was rightfully frowned upon by the local lunch ladies and teachers. Anyway, here is why I am giving up sugar for the next 10 days, at least, as well as the changes I hope it will have on my overall health and mental wellbeing.  

What does sugar do to our brains? Our brains react the same way to sugar as they do to substances like cocaine. Much like a drug, people consume sugar when they need a pick-me-up. There is sugar in “comfort” foods like cookies or ice creams, that provide us with a rush of dopamine and other feel good chemicals. A little sugar here and there is not a bad thing but unfortunately there is a breaking point to sugar consumption that leads to addiction and cravings. It has even been said that people experience sugar withdrawal symptoms such as headache, irritability, and general anxiety; but only in severe instances. There is a really great Ted-Ed video that covers this topic in more detail, you can find it here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEXBxijQREo 

How can you break your sugar addiction in 10 days? While it’s true that we cannot cut sugar from our diets completely, there are a few easy ways to start. Ten days is the estimated time our bodies and brains need to restart. The first step is to remove all liquid sugars from your diet, this includes but is not limited to sweetened teas, juices, and pop. You can make the choice to quit cold turkey, cutting out artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and prepackaged foods like tv dinners. Another helpful tip is to include meat or proteins with every meal. Increasing your protein intake can stop cravings, shrink your appetite, increase physical strength and support bone health. Proteins also promote fat burning and counteract the effect of eating too many sugars. Doing a keto diet is a great way to start cutting sugars from your diets and lose weight more quickly. It can also help to better manage stress by eating healthier, sleeping at least 8 hours a night, and exercising regularly; all of these things can cut back cravings. 

What happens when we detox our bodies of sugar? What changes might you experience and how quickly? You might notice a decrease in migraines, anxiety, fatigue, and joint pain. After the possible withdrawal symptoms you may experience, as previously mentioned. These changes can happen fast, just 3 days without sugar can make a big difference. You might notice a boost in energy or a clearer complexion. You may notice an increase in the quality of sleep, though this may not happen overnight all too literally. What I am hoping to achieve by quitting sugar is reaching a better healthier version of myself. I am hoping to be less fatigued and more well rested, as well as less anxious overall.  

Cutting back on sugar does not mean that you cannot eat the things you enjoy ever again. However, it might prove that a stricter hand can make noticeable differences in your overall physical and mental health. There are many ways that you can cut sugar from your diet, whether it be immediately or at your own pace. Do you think you have a problem with sugar? Have you had to make changes in your diet? What methods work the best for you? You can always write in or email us at the Dakota Student with any thoughts or opinions. I plan to revisit this topic once I have reached my goal of 10 days or more sugar free, so I will see you in a few weeks folks. 




Demetria Slyt is a Dakota Student Opinion Editor. She can be reached at [email protected].