Beyond Sugar: Overcoming the Withdrawal Symptoms of Going Without Sugar

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Beyond Sugar: Overcoming the Withdrawal Symptoms | If you're a regular sugar eater, whether the sweeteners are natural or refined, and you are cutting back or going cold-turkey, expect to experience some withdrawal symptoms. But you can overcome! Here's what's worked for us to make it through the hardest period. It's all downhill from here! |

If you’re a regular sugar eater, whether the sweeteners are natural or refined, and you are cutting back or going cold-turkey, expect to experience some withdrawal symptoms. But you can overcome!

Our family is in the midst of a 30-day no sugar challenge (Beyond Sugar) and of us all, I believe I’m the one who was most used to a constant drip of sweeteners. It has been some years since we’ve had refined sweeteners. When we first decided to eat healthfully, we didn’t even eat many natural sweeteners (raw honey, maple syrup, etc.). But, over the years, I guess I got complacent by thinking – hey, they’re natural; God made them; we can eat them!

Sweeteners Are Not Food

Well, yes, we can eat natural sweeteners. The trouble is, concentrated sweeteners of any kind should not become a substantial part of a diet. They can’t really be called “food” in the sense that food is supposed to maintain life, support growth, and nourish our bodies. Nope. Sweeteners don’t do that stuff.

Constant Drip of Sweetening

I was at the point where I am/was used to a constant drip of sweetening all day long. For breakfast, I’d have a generous scoop of raw honey on my toast or porridge. Throughout the day, I would drink generously honey-sweetened tea. About midafternoon, I’d grab some dark chocolate. After dinner, we’d all have dark chocolate for a dessert. And if I made muffins or cookies, I’d eat some of that, too.

None of these foods were big offenders. Taken by themselves, quite innocuous. But all day, hour by hour, I feel like I was hooked up to a natural sweetener IV. Can anyone relate?

Tough and Tougher Withdrawal Symptoms

Now this week. It has been tough. Yesterday, the 5th full day of not having any sweeteners, was the first day I did not have a headache. The first two days, I felt nauseous and unwell. I’ve had cravings for sweets all week long. I can hardly keep myself from snatching some chocolate from the freezer. I feel as though the symptoms are abating, though, and I’m glad.

I haven’t seen similar symptoms in the children or my husband. I don’t think they were sweetening up like I was. 😉 Or maybe the kids are just better at handling it.

If you search on the internet, you’ll find others talking about withdrawal symptoms. If someone is breaking free from an addiction to refined sugars (such as high-fructose corn syrup or white sugar), I gather that the withdrawal can be quite painful, wtih symptoms mimicking the flu – chills, sweats, headaches, aches, pains, nausea, etc.

Strategy To Persevere Through The Withdrawal Period

Since now I’ve been through this, the toughest few days of breaking a sugar-addiction, I’m in a good position to share my strategy and what has worked for me to make it through the hardest period. It’s all downhill from here!

  • Prayer. I asked God often to help us enjoy our unsweetened foods for their own sake, and to give me strength to persevere.
  • I have kept in the front of my mind why I’m not eating sugar. (See my goals and sugar’s ill health effects.)
  • Make a conscious choice every time I put something in my mouth; resist blindly reaching for chocolate without even knowing what I’ve done.
  • Exercise
  • Rest and relaxtion – I’ve read books, taken naps, enjoyed my children
  • Drink plenty of water, Kombucha, and unsweetened tea (or with a little stevia, though I don’t like it too much)
  • Make nourishing snack foods to satisfy our hunger and delight our taste buds in new ways – the kids are enjoying the new snacks very much!

Of all those strategies, the first two have been key for me and for us. I’m so happy that my husband and children are on board with this. We’ve got to believe in what we’re doing, or we won’t be able to stick with it. We have a great God who will help us in our time of need. The other strategies are ways to get through the body’s symptoms of feeling unwell from the change. They’re important, too.

Whether you’re cutting back on sweeteners altogether, or cutting back some, please share how you’ve handled such big changes in yourself or with your family members! Change is hard and we all need help and encouragement to persevere in making healthy choices!

This is one of a series of posts during the month of May, during which time the Harmon family has vowed not to consume any sweeteners, natural or refined. We call the challenge “Beyond Sugar” and would love to have you join us, in whatever way you feel led!

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. says

    I so admire you for doing this! I’ve really been contemplating this too. I developed gestational diabetes in my last pregnancy and had to go off all sugars, all grains- even the natural sugars found in starchy vegetables and the fructose in fruit was off limits. I didn’t have any withdrawal symptoms, but I think it was probably because my body really needed to be off the sugar.

    I did cheat and have a the first strawberry of the season on my salad one day and it tasted like HEAVEN, it was so sweet! :)

    • says

      Kyrie – I admire what you’ve been through. You’re old hat at this-I’m sure you could do it again and maybe not have to do it so extremely this time? I’m sure that strawberry was heavenly. We are looking forward to strawberry season, coming up soon!

  2. says

    I love the phrase “hooked up to a natural sweetener IV.”

    I’ve so BEEN THERE.

    Congratulations on making it to day 5. And, thanks too, for encouraging us with your journey over at Fight Back Fridays. Maybe it will inspire those of us who are too afraid to quite cold turkey!

    (AKA FoodRenegade)

  3. says

    I gave up all sugar last January. It was dreadful. I was the biggest witch in the world. I didn’t just have “the low-carb flu” for two weeks, I had it for 3 months! I kept waiting for the “amazing energy” and the “dramatic weight loss” everyone else was talking about. All of this was happening, but it was happening in the background of my misery of giving up sugar.

    At least you were on natural sugar, mine was the HFCS. Looking back now, I’m appalled by how much of this I consumed on a daily basis. Sheesh, no wonder I felt so horrible.

    I read somewhere giving up sugar is harder than giving up crack. I’ve never done crack, so I can’t compare, but I pity the people getting off of drugs if my giving up sugar was .01% of what they go through.

    Good luck on your continued sugar free lifestyle.

    • says

      Wow, Paula! That is an amazing story. Good for you for sticking it out through that misery! And how do you feel now? I hope it has been worth it – please tell me it is! 😀

      This afternoon I have a big headache; I think I spoke too soon about being over my withdrawal. I am glad to hear your perspective. Now I know I can do this if you did!

  4. says

    I did a 42 starch/sugar cleanse once. No starches or sugars for 42 days! Just meat and veggies! The first week was indeed the worst (felt like the flu) and then, this magical thing happened: I started to feel AMAZING! I slept better. I had more energy. I had better mental clarity!

    So currently I try to limit my sugar intake to stevia and ezekial bread and something sweet once a week. I feel so much better than when I had something sweet daily.

    • says

      gilliebean – I am glad to hear the difference that made for you. Very encouraging! I have never heard of that challenge. Do you limit your starches now or just your sugars?

  5. says

    Hello ,
    Woohhh hats of you and your family .This is simply unbelievable .Please keep us posted on what what findings that you notice with every single thing in your life for the next few days without sugar .
    Keep us posted .

  6. says

    Wardee – wow. I would like to do that but I think my family would revolt. We don’t eat much sugar compared to most but we definitely do. One nice thing about making everything from scratch is you do actually know how much you are eating and it’s on par with the amount people ate around the 30’s but still not what it should be. Maybe we’ll get to the no sugar possible point this summer when there is more fruit to eat and I can sneak it out without anyone noticing. What a great goal you’ve given me!

    • says

      Sustainable Eats – I think you’re right about that. If we do all our cooking from scratch and watch the sugar, it will certainly be less. With us (mostly with me) I felt such an addiction even to natural sweets. I still want something sweet ALL THE TIME and wonder if these cravings will stop. I, too, am eager for the fruit season – the pears, plums, peaches, berries, yumm!

  7. says


    When I was in my teens, I found that (like my mother & brothers) eating refined sugar caused me to have bad break-outs on my face. Quitting sugar cold turkey was the solution for me. And a clear complexion made it easy to keep it up with the no-sugar regimen.

    In my mid-20s, I gave sugar a try again & found that I could tolerate it in strict moderation.

    Now in my mid-30s, the break-out blues have surfaced again if I eat even small quantities of refined sugar. I find, though, that’s it’s easier to say no to the refined sugars if I’m also limiting “good” sweeteners too.

    Also, we were vegans for a couple of years, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of honey we consumed! Adding back good sources of meat & dairy *drastically* decreased the sugar cravings.

  8. says

    Bethany, I think you are definitely right about the protein! My midwife told me that if I was craving starch/sugars, to eat a big serving of protein, and the sugar craving would go away. Worked every time. Sugars are just a really concentrated source of energy, so it makes sense.

  9. Amy Isham says

    Thanks for your post, I just gave up sugar on Thursday ( today is Tuesday) and I had a cold when I started so I didn’t notice the change.

    Also I was giving up wheat at the same time and this helped clear up my indigestion so that also was a factor.

    Today I feel nauseous, have a huge headache and feel VERY fatigued.

    My snack ideas are fruit of course, boiled eggs, hoummous, “natural” corn chips without added sugar, veggies cut up like crudites, and rice crackers.

    Also, caffeine free caro with artificial sweeteners are helping me through the day!

    • says

      Hi, Amy! I’m so glad that you’re taking the step of consuming less (no) sugar! I would caution you against using artificial sweeteners. There are many reasons, but the most compelling to me is that they are artificial. I know just how you feel, those symptoms are what I experienced and they’re not fun. Your snack ideas are wonderful – thanks for sharing those! Please keep in touch and let me know how you do down the road.

  10. cyndy says

    just wanted to add …. i am wheat/sugar free too …. recently got sick from rice crackers because they were made in the same factory as wheat products … so just a reminder to check the ingredients.

  11. cnk says

    Recently I have been attempting just to limited my sugar intake. Then Iast week I started feeling sick. At one point I was so dizzy for a moment I almost had to lie down. I guess that means although I havnt totally removed all traces of sugar from my diet I am doing something right. I still want to eat sugar sometimes but I certainly dont want to eat it every single day like I did in the past.

    My advice for those trying to do the same is to remove things from your home you dont want to eat, and dont buy or make large amounts of things you will feel guilty about eating. Anyone else have any tips that might help?


  12. sleepy girl says

    I just started the Neanderthin diet, basically no sugar, flour, wheat or dairy. You can have meat, vegies, fruit and nuts. I’ve cut out the fruit as well for now because of the high sugar content in fruit. I’m sooooooooooo tired and listless and crabby on this diet. I’m not sure if I’m detoxing from the sugar and dairy or what, but I have headaches and foggy thinking and I’m just so sleepy all the time. when I search the internet, everyone seems to be so happy joyous and free on this diet, which really sucks cuz I’m ready to stick a needle in someone’s eye I’m so irritable. I want to stay on it though, because I struggle with binging, food has been such a struggle, I don’t get how people can exercise restraint with portion control, i simply can’t control my intake of sugar and wheat and salty things like potato chips, which I have to eat the whole bag of. meat vegies and fruit on the other hand are never on my binge list so I feel I possibly have a shot at beating this overeating monster. Has anyone had any experiences with withdrawal of this type? I would love have some feedback. will this crappy headachey feeling go away? I feel stuck.

  13. says

    sleepy girl, it really sounds to me like you are detoxing from sugar still. i have a friend who felt that way for 3 months before he finally felt clear headed. it is so so worth it if you can stick it out. i would really recommend finding something to help the detoxing process along. maybe a yoga class in your area (you could even look for a holy yoga class even just the breathing techniques can further the detoxing.
    find what fits for you. your own individual body will respond in it’s own way and it’s own time. don’t feel discouraged because other people are responding quickly. your body will do it’s thing! it may just need more time to flush out all the yuckies! :)

  14. Amber says

    Wardee – great site!

    Sleepy girl – you are still detox’ing from the sugar and you NEED TO REMEMBER TO EAT! Sometimes when people give up grains and sugars they forget to fill in all those calories with something else. So just eat all the proteins, veggies and fruits you can handle with some nuts and oils mixed in. Eggs and jerky work great for constant snacking. In about 2-3 weeks, your body will adjust to the fewer carbohydrates going in, and you will be less hungry and more energized. Good luck! It’s been an amazing lifestyle change for me.

  15. tonizzy says

    Sleepy Girl how’s it going? You are so brave. I’ve thought of doing what you are doing countless times, but I’m terrified of exactly what you’re going through. I’m trying to find the wherewithall just to start. I’m a single mom with two kids and I’m afraid of the symptoms and being in a terrible mood, but I feel bad now! I think it will help me to know how you are doing.

  16. says

    i understand completely i eat sweets al day long from the moment i get up until i go to bed off and on all day. iamtrying to go through a 28 day sugar addiction its been 4 days since sugar and i am getting headaches but Iam goingto stickwith it before i die

  17. sass says

    I am aware of how I eat sugar every day tho I say to myself each morn this will be a sugar free day. I quit drinking last Sept. very easily to benefit my health but quitting sugar is harder. A lot of my friends bake and get pushy and take it personally if I don’t eat what they so lovingly made. They only recently accepted I no longer enjoy alcohol, tho one of my friends was pushing me to have a glass of wine the other day.
    Makes me wonder. Any one else experiencing torpedoing friends??

  18. Anita says

    HI All,
    I just stumbled right on this site after I typed in 42 days without sugar. YES! I have been 42 days with no sugar or white flour. I would eat sweets everyday at times all day. I still to this day have craved sweets but by the Grace of God He has helped me to overcome. It is a day by day process. I have been blessed with losing 15lbs and inches since I started this. The first week 24 hours was horrendous because of the pounding and I mean pounding headache I had. I have also 1quit caffiene because without my sweet creamer it tasted blah to me. The Lord has blessed me with a Tea called Good Earth Sweet & Spicy caffiene free tea. It is delicious. Never was a tea drinker but now I am. To God the Father, Son & Spirit be all the glory. I am doing this for weight loss and health. I hope to be 150lbs in 6 months. God bless you all in Jesus name, amen:o)

  19. Janelle says

    This was a great article for me to read tonight. I’ve finally had it with lugging my “sugar IV” around. I recognize that each time I grab for a sugary substance, I’m feeding my brain’s appetite for dopamine. Enough. I can and will stop this.

    Thanks for your inspiration and your ideas for coping mechanisms. For me sugar is just something I’m going to have to do without. I just can’t seem to handle trying to manage my intake… so sugar free is the way for me.

    Thank you, again. And keep up the great work!

  20. Joanne says

    I agree with you Sass. I gave up alcohol a year ago and I feel great because of it, but unfortunately found chocolate and sweet things became a substitute, so now I am addicted to them. I agree that giving up chocolate is a lot harder than ever giving up alcohol (although I admit I was bordering on being an alcoholic at the time ). I try to tell myself if I did that, I can give up chocolate, but have realised it is not that easy. I have accepted now it is a real addiction which comes with withdrawl symptoms, which I can deal with if I know they are coming, but how long do they last , anyone know please ???

  21. keyuna says

    i’m 17 and reading this really helped because i’ve been seriously debating whether i should continue on my journey to not eatin or drinking juice/soda’s or junkfood, but im encouraged to continue

  22. Amanda says

    I just stumbled upon your article as I am having a huge craving and needed some inspiration to get through it. This article did the trick! I am 3 weeks out from tryouts so Im going through a bit of a cleanse before they start. I am on day 5 of a 3 week no meat/animal products, no caffeine, no alcohol, no gluten and no refined sugar. Most weren’t hard as I was a vegetarian before (just had to cut out milk and eggs), I quit drinking at the beginnig of may and I dont drink coffee or tea. The only part I am struggling with is the sugar. I love sugar, I dont think Im addicted in the sense that I havnt had any real withdrawl symptoms, I think I just have a habit to eat things like jujubes and baked goods. Apparently cravings can last for a month or more…I really hope not, its unbearable. My only sugar is coming from natural food (fruit, yams etc…) Although I havnt had any withdrawl symptoms, the cravings are unbelievable. What I would do for a sugary snack right now. Although this is only a 3 week thing, Im hoping to extend the no sugar part indefinetly. Thanks for the inspiration.

  23. Amanda says

    I’m a type 1 diabetic and have been for about 7 years. My whole life I have always been called the chocoholic of the family. Well it was recently brought to my attention that I have an addiction to sweets. I just rolled my eyes and said whatever, I just like them alot. Well I was given the challenge of going a week without ANY sugar, natural or otherwise. I’m in day 4 of that challenge, the first few days were ok, craved the sweet stuff but it didn’t bother me that much. Day 3 was the worst, I was irritable and I would have knocked over anyone for a small piece of chocolate. I’ve had 3 migraines and a headache every single day since this started, today I don’t have one, but they usually come in the evening. I now realize that I did/do have a problem. I still don’t care because I really like the stuff but I know I have to change that if I ever want to be truly healthy. Some of what you said makes sense, I am one of the people who LOVES to be hooked up to that sweetner IV all day long. I was never overweight until the last two years, I blamed it on the pregnancy weight but it’s really me and my “sweet tooth”. The pregnancy just pushed it over the edge. So here I go on my little “detox” and hopefully I can conquer myself and not depend so much on sugar or as I call it my “happy”.

  24. says

    I went off sugar (and grain) today after getting the news from the dentist yesterday that I’m in the early stages of periodontal disease and I have 8 cavities affecting 7 teeth. I’m 28. I also just had a baby, and I know that has something to do with it. I wasn’t prepared to get pregnant when I did. :) But really, it’s been a long time in coming- I have multiple hormonal imbalances, stemming from adrenal fatigue (PCOS, thyroid imbalance, etc) and I’m sure it all stems from sugar, and a bad bout of not taking care of myself in college. Anyway, I’m making sure to eat lots of fat and protein, and to have some sweet tasting things on hand when I get the inevitable craving. And to try to not think about it so much. I think when you’re going through the whole day going, “I’m not eating sugar, I’m not eating sugar,” that your mind just goes “sugarsugarsugarsugar”. Not helpful. :)

  25. says

    I cannot believe how much I think about sugary food!! I’ve been off refined sugar and all sweeteners except a 1/4tsp of maple syrup in some of my salad dressings. It’s been about a week and I feel like I am in a constant battle with my body wanting sugar and my mind saying, “No way you crazy @#$%!”. I’ve been irritable, tired, had headaches, short-fused and snippy for days. I hope the worst of it is over. I’ve been doing an alkaline diet with tons of veggies but I think I need to add in more meat because I’m feeling very low energy. However, my dandruff (gross!) which was my main reason for going on the diet was completely gone in 3 days after I started but it has resurfaced slightly and I’m just wondering if anyone supports my theory that it is the yeast or fungus desperate for sugar trying to survive. Any thoughts?
    I noticed someone mentioned Ezekiel bread as something sweet. Is that off the list? Oiy. I’ve been eating Ezekiel bread regularly but if it’s sugary I’ll have to kick that too! I keep learning and keep loving my veggies. I really do love veggies thank goodness!
    Thanks so much! Sherri

  26. Dominic says

    Yep. 2 days in and I have flu like symptoms. Sore throat has gone though. I am in the process of eliminating all refined sugars and all dairy from my diet. I don’t eat red meat. Still drinking 1 cup of black coffee a day. Caffeine is next.

    I will report back in 3 days.

    Useful site! Thank you.

  27. Dominic says

    OK so coming up to the end of day 5 now and I am starting to get feelings of greatness! Still feeling slightly faint sometimes and having bouts of deep coughing and mucus but my stomach feels like it is healing.

    Sleeping really improved last night and I feel like I have more energy today!

    I will report back at the weekend.

  28. Dominic says

    Right so day 9-10 and I feel AMAZING! (in a really deep way). I have never had this much energy and I am sleeping so solid. My minor skin complaints have almost healed and the bags under my eyes are becoming less dark already!

    My digestive system feels so calm and relaxed. Wow.

    Still coughing up light mucus but this has become much less frequent within the last 36 hours.

    The things that I have done daily (and really helped) are:-

    1-drinking the juice of one freshly squeezed lemon (in hot water) one hour before breakfast. I am going to continue with this (google the health benefits!!!)

    2-drinking 3 cups of (quality) green tea.

    3-when I got a sugar/chocolate craving I ate a tiny piece of (healthy) bread with a blob of honey.

    My advice to anyone would be to DO IT! 7 days of pure grim (the amount of mucus is shocking) but I cannot describe in words the difference in wellbeing I am currently feeling!

    Looking forward to a future working WITH nature.

  29. bella says

    I have been off sugar flour and wheat for the past 17 days.. As I was addicted to it. THe cravings have stopped.. I can now walk by cakes and cookies with no affect.

  30. Barbara says

    I’m 49 yrs. old, and I’ve been diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue. My saliva test indicated that I had NO progesterone in my system and limited estrogen. I’m a big sugar and white flour “junkie”. I’m hoping that cutting out sugar/white flour will be a significant step in the right direction. Today is day #5 of no sugar/white flour in my diet. I’m dizzy and nauseous.

  31. Elizabeth Stumpf says

    Wardee, i stumbled on this site while googleing sugar withdrawal it has been 5 days now and todays the worst my head is pounding,and im sick to my stomach on day 4 i started having muscle cramps in my calves .I wanted to stop eating sugar to help lose some weight i had no idea this would happen. im so shocked and now i know i have to do this i’ve been eating a piece of 100% whole wheat toast with double fiber and an egg and some fruit for breakfast and 3ozs of baked chicken a veggie and another fruit for lunch if i get hungry i eat more fruit or a veggie and i have been drinking water like crazy im so thirsty is this normal and do you think i need to eat different foods im desperate to get through this but am not sure im doing the right things thank you so much for this site

  32. Trudi says

    I just started the diet devotional FIT FOR MY KING on Monday. Cutting out sugar, white flour, potatoes, rice, corn, etc…. for 30 days. Already having horrible headaches and dont feel good which Im sure is from sugar withdrawls. I ate a ton of sugar before this, so I cant wait to see how good I feel at the end of 30 days. Plus I was just diagnosed with Fibromylagia and Im hoping cutting out all this toxic food will help me feel better with that as well.

  33. Rachel says

    I have considered going of most if not all sugars in their hidden and obvious sources. I have researched gluten and found that because if the geo-engineering of grains and other seeds has caused our flour products to have 4 times the amount if gluten it should naturally have. My sister in law has been doing this no sugar/wheat thing for years but I am not impressed with her focus. She has become so obessed about it that it seems to become an addiction. She has become difficult to be around and has become meaner. I understand that not everyone responds the same way but you can see why I have apprehension to the all or nothing approach. Aside from all that I have passed through some rough times that I think the timing to starting something like this needs to right. I can stand to loose 30# so I am easing into it. I believe that a once a week treat is necessary to not falling off the wagon. I did the Body fir life 12 years ago with GREAT success! So I know I can get back to “me.” All the people who drain me dry will have to water themselves from their own wells. I want “me” back so I can be a better me to those around me and to myself again.

    • Shirley says

      I’m glad to hear this about beer, I mean taking away sugar is bad enough so glad to hear I can still have an occasional beer, or two.

  34. says

    I googled “coping with sugar detox” and this came up! I have been interested in your online course on fermenting. BUT, my story is that I went off sugar thinking nothing about it. I’ve been off gluten now 2 years and thought whoop-de-doo on giving up sugar. I should also say I have given up all grains simultaneously in an attempt to heal my damaged gut from overuse of antibiotics.

    Well, let’s just say I have never not been on sugar (or carbs), never. So, I am feeling in the dumps now for a straight month. Symptoms included nausea, persistent daily headaches, deep body & tissue aches, it hurts to breath sometimes because my lungs and throat hurt (no I’m not a smoker but my dad was growing up), chills, and in the early days night sweats and heart palpitations. I also have almost daily short-lived blurred vision. Some of these are waining now so I think I may have seen the peak but I think my body is going through a profound regeneration.

    • says

      A very interesting turn of events showed that following a dental appt. Sept 15, I contracted Endocarditis and didn’t know it until Nov. 27 when I was hospitalized for nearly a week. I felt the need to post this b/c I simultaneously started the diet with getting sick. So…I really don’t know what symptoms to blame on sugar as Endocarditis was raging through my body.

      I just wonder how bad or how much worse my symptoms of bacterial infection would have been had I not gone off sugar at that time?!! I believe that this sugar-free, grain-free diet saved me much suffering and will help me rebuild my gut more efficiently once off antibiotics.

  35. joseph says

    don’t be so sure your children are doing so well because they are abstaining. they may be hiding what they’re eating from you. 😉
    seriously. don’t underestimate the power of sugar addiction!

  36. Kathy says

    about 2 weeks I declared I was going to get serious about my nutrition.
    I went cold turkey from sugar, not even thinking about withdrawel symtoms.
    I have terrible sinus trouble ,, and when I began getting headaches I assumed allergies or sinuses ;
    but, the headaches are at the sides and back of my head, after brainstorming about any changes in the last couple of weeks… as to what brought this on and what relieved the pain…duh… it finally dawned on me …that I was suffering from withdrawel…
    sorry to say … I immediatly had some rice pudding…. within 10 to 15 minutes … it started to feel better….
    for anyone getting headaches from sugar withdrawel could you describe the headache… I thought I was dying!

  37. says

    Found this via a rabbit trail although i visit often Wardee… day 2 and i just about went insane. couldn’t do it b/c head ache was so bad and i was afraid of a migraine and then i get ‘sick’ and end up carbing up after i get ‘sick.’ I think i might have to taper back slowly. maybe i’ll make sure to eat plenty of fruit the first week…. but nix the refined sugar. I rarely do that though even!!!! I must really be hooked up to the IV.

  38. Jaime says

    I am going low carb so no sugar and no white flour, starch,potatoes or rice. So far I am doing OK although I do have a headache and a strong desire to eat out of the sugar bowl. I am munching on celery sticks instead. This is day 2 for me. I am hoping by next week or so I will feel better. I am determined. Good luck to you!

  39. deb kitchen says

    I’m on the first day of making my home 99 o/o free. Which means I have one small bag of sugar to last me two mo. I’m allowing myself sugar outside the home for the first ten days then ill bee cutting that back, too. Wish me luck I’m actually a lil scared of the withdrawal.

  40. Rachel says

    I’m on day two of no sugar or any processes food. I have the worst headache of my life. The left side of my head is throbbing so badly. The pain is just awful. I hope this doesn’t last long.

  41. AOB says

    When I was single (and quite a loner), I was much more in control of sugar and wheat intake, which for many stretches of time was at zero for both. I was in superb health. Now with a family of my own and extended family staying in the house often, there is so much wheat and sugar around always, I don’t know how to deal. And I’ve caved in so much. My diet has sugar from morning to night, and when I try to cut back, cravings take over. Thanks for the blog. I see that it has inspired people for three years now! I need to get a handle on the social influences of my eating.

  42. deb kitchen says

    Its been ten days and I’ve been reaaly good about eating sugar only when I’m out. I’ve learned to really appreciate not always having to juggle a 44oz pop or a 2 ltr.

  43. Olwyn says

    My husband has recently had to give up all sugar due to a still unknown illness. This has changed my family’s eating habits. We did not eat sugar in large amounts on average before. I have had to start making our own bread and all sauces. We have discovered that there are some sugar substitutes that he can eat and has make making food for him and young children easer. I have recently decided to give up refined sugar and it has been a week. I have had head aches, fatigue, depression (not knowing it was form sugar), night sweets. I was feeling so bad that I ate sugar to see if it would help. But I only felt sick to my stomach after. I am going to continue staying off refined sugar now that I know that these are only symptoms of withdraw, it has only made me want to cut it out even more. I only hope the head aches go away soon.

  44. says

    Hi, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’m in the midst of a no sugar, no flour fast and I’m only on day four. I’m a huge sugar addict and sweet tooth. It has been hard but not as hard as I had imagined. I’m only on day four though! It’s about self control and planning your meals out thoughtfully. I’m tempted all the time to eat nonsense!

  45. Tessa says

    This blog is 3 yrs. old and still impactful !!WOW!! is all I can say. I have given up sugar and flour for 3 days now. I am a compulsive overeater and sugar and wheat trigger my out of control eating. I cannot eat just one cupcake or piece of toast. This is day # 3 and the headaches are driving me insane in my membrane!!. I keep yawning and I feel “out of it.” I am faking it around my friends and colleagues because I really don’t even fell like having conversation. Maybe depression is setting in too. I know I want to stay this course so that the health benefits can be realized and I can finally stabilize my weight. There is a calm after this storm and that gift is what I am suffering through this for. I have been praying and found this site so I will keep praying, headaches and all!! This blog is inspiring so I will stay focused.

  46. Roberta says

    I am so pleased I have found this site. I am a compulsive overeater and a sugar addict. Recentely my weight has been soriing. I feel alone with my problem. My family know nothing about it. It has been soo encourageing to read all your comments. It is comforting to know other people have the same experiences I have. With God’s help I am going to start today to break my addiction. I know this is going to be very tough but I will focus and take one day at a time.

    • says

      I found this site 3 years later because i am on day 53 of no sugar natural or otherwise, no fruit because in the first day i found fruit giving me the same high as white sugar, and no white flour. I have had pretty much every symptom listed at some point and now only have lethargy, spaciness and not wnting to be social. I do feel great until the afternoon so the clouds are parting. Last night for my birthday i made a sugar free cake with 1 bannana, carob powder and whole wheat flour (plus other healthy ingrediants). Let me tell you, i feel like i have the worse hanger of my life today from that cake! I am thinking the carob or the wherat flour is the culprit. I read a VERY helpful book called “potatoes not Prozac” that has been REALLY helpful for sugar addiction. Although the author suggest following her plan exactly I didnt and paid the price! The theory is to take it slow and add lots of protein to your diet and no whites only browns. Good luck!

  47. pedro says

    its been 14 days of no chocolate and artificial sugar. still feel empty and very tired. struggle getting out of bed. i hope this passes soon as i have a planned 160km bicycle ride next week and can’t find energy or motivation to train.

  48. says

    Hi! I just stumbled acroos this article as I’m looking up how to prepare myself for withdraws from refined sugars and white fllour. I have been heavily addicted to these things and it seems that it has taken over my life. I find it nearly impossible to restrict myself to small portions so I feel that I must quick cold turkey (although my family members and friends find me crazy for doing so) but I’m really afraid too! I do want my life back though. I didn’t start this heavy addicted intake of sweets and refined carb until a few years ago and it has caused me a lot of pain and depression. I just wanted to say this was a very inspiring site! All the other people who commented with their stories have helped me build courage. God Bless! :)

  49. Willy says

    I have experienced the withdrawal symptoms of heroin, cocaine, alcohol and benzodiazepines. Needless to say, they are EXTREMELY unpleasant. Today is my 6th day with zero refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. I must say that the withdrawal symptoms are FRIGHTENINGLY similar to detoxing from the aforementioned “Hard Drugs.” Severe headaches, nausea, dizziness, anxiety, depression, irritability, sweating, insomnia, aches and pains and other flu-like symptoms. I was a two to three liter a day Coca Cola drinker and decided I had to quit before I developed Diabetes or any of the many serious illnesses connected to overconsumption of sugar, high fructose corn syrup being the main offender. My skin has broken out a bit but I know that is just my body detoxing. Aside from the pimples I already notice my complexion is brighter and more even. The dark circles under my eyes have started to fade. As lousy as I feel right now I already notice I am more focused, less lethargic and have an increased libido. I know if I stay away from the soda and sweets the withdrawal symtoms will fade completely and the benefits will show more and more. My bowel movements have become much more regular as well. I reccomend drinking as much water as possible, always have water within reach. Exercise, even just a little, no matter how crappy you’re feeling. I’m taking 1,000 mg of vitamin B6 as well as Omega-3s, which are both very good for energy and brain function regardless. I personally don’t reccomend cutting out caffeine at the same time as sugar. Caffeine withdrawal headaches on top of sugar detox was just too much for me. I reccomend tea, hot or iced with plenty of lemon. Remember that caffeine is a diuretic so you will need to ingest even more water. GOOD LUCK! Let’s not forget why we quit and look forward to losing weight, having attractive skin and teeth and most importantly being more active, healthier and happier!

    • mardy says

      Awesome! I, too, was a drug user & alcohol abuser who found help & hope thru a 12 step program. Im 28 yrs sober thru the grace of God. When I first began attending meetings & struggled to stay sober, I was told to keep a piece of candy, chocolate bar, etc with me at all times for when i got the urge. Well, 28 years later, I was still keeping the candy with me, abusing it like I did the booze. I am on day 31 off the sugar & have a cold & skin acne et all & im over 60!! Like you say, its good cuz I know im detoxing! Best of luck…you can do it, & if you cant, HE can!

      • Willy says

        Thank You for the kind reply Mardy! Our stories sound very similar. I’m a friend of Bill’s as well and have definitely applied the same tools for overcoming sugar. Congratulations on passing the 30 day mark! They should give you a chip, but not a chocolate chip 😉

    • Janina says

      Wow, I didnt really believe that sugar withdrawal if you go cold turkey could be so serious. But hearing this from you who has experienced much worse (i would have thought) the way i feel today actually does kind of make sense. I actually only had my first day without any carbs (wheat, sugar etc) yesterday and am on my second day today. Yesterday I still wasn’t bothered much and didn’t have bad cravings, I did feel less energetic than usual, but that is nothing compared to what I am experiencing today! I’m shocked and never thought it was possible that I would feel SO poorly just from cutting out sugar. I woke up with a pain in all my joints almost like I am sick and I was sp tired that I fell asleep on the bus on my way to work. Now sitting in work all I can think about is: DOUGHNUTS, CAKE, CHIPS, PANCAKES, WAFFLES, COOKIES, ICE CREAM! I never even liked all that so much and always good live fine with just having those every now and again, but now I feel like I am going to go absolutely nuts if I don’t get these foods like VERY SOON. I’m also really irritable and respond in a very uncomfortable manner when co workers or customers try to talk to me, which of course is very unprofessional. It’s almost like my concious mind is very aware of the fact that it is good for me to cut out the sugar and that these symptoms will go away, but my body is fighting against this with all it’s strengh and it’s a battle that I feel I might lose.
      I also find that neither excercise (as much as I can manage to get since i work in an office), nor drinking water, nor eating nuts or other sugar free snacks, nor anything else seems to weaken these symptoms. What seems to work for other people doesn’t seem to have any effect here. I actually think I might just not be strong enough for this and have to give in. Maybe there are certain people that just can’t make it. However I have quit smoking with success and havnt smoked in over 2 years now. That was NOTHING against this.

  50. Alma R. says

    Wow! Thank you so much for posting about this. I am currently on a 21 day fast from sweets and unrefined carbs and it has been a tremendous challenge. I am not experiencing any cravings, but the other symptoms are quite challenging. But in the midst of it al. I can feel God strengthening me with His grace and I am so excited about finally experiencing freedom from bondage to food. Thanks again sincerely!


  51. Dasha McGee says

    DAY 16: cutting sugar and all bad stuff…… withdrawals….. finding it hard tonight……shaky, heady, exhausted ! trying to find food, water, anything to help lessen these symptoms. Please how much longer before I start feeling good….. ??????

    • says

      Hang in there! It was 3 months for me and my doctor said it would be like drug withdrawl. Eat a lot of protein…that will help with your brain chemistry.

      I am one year no sugars white or natural, and no white flour and I feel amazing!!! It is worth it so keep at it. The worst is the begining.

  52. Peter Savage says

    Get a chromium supplement. I was like you and my naturopath wife got me some. Within 1 hour I was back on my bike after 3 weeks of falling asleep at work, couldn’t exercise nothing.
    Your insulin is somewhat lazy as you pumped your body full of sugar and forced it into the blood.

  53. kman says

    I also quit suger,smoking,stop having 6 for 3 weeks . first 2day Nothing Happens the third one i begin to have hight craving, moody, depressed, angery & irritable but lung are fine .then Flu Headache Fatigue fever sweating, shortness of breath. but i keep drinking water lemon and sleep .after 3 days i in High Spirit very active fun all the day. socialising. Sharp Focus clever very confident and selfish i think life have smile at me.

    Hang in there guys

  54. says

    I recently did a 10 day detox with 5 days whole food and then 5 days juicing. I crashed on day 5 and 6. Pain everywhere and a heavy fibromyalgia fog but pushed through. So glad I did it. I couldn’t have done it without God. I lost over 4 lbs which is a.lot for me since I am 4’11”. This morning I just realized the floaters in my eyes are gone.

    • Wayne says

      Are the floaters still gone? I have bad vitreous floaters from several retina tears and I find that low carb/sugar diets help some but I haven’t been diligent in staying on them. I’m starting the no sugar thing today.

  55. lora reynolds says

    I gave up sugar for lent and after a week I gave up gluten as well. I just had cravings but no side effects. I do not have a sweet tooth but I do love dark chocolate so I did not eat a lot. Gluten has been harder to give up. My b-day was last week and my in-laws got me a cake so I felt like I needed to take a small piece. I was so sick afterwards. When Easter comes I am still going to stay on this since I do have hypothyroidism and I feel so much better without the sugar and gluten.

  56. Mama Rissa says

    I can so relate to feeling like you were hooked up to a sugar IV! I am in that exact place now. Back when I was about 30 weeks pregnant, my family & I did Whole 30 & we felt AMAZING. But then I had the baby, work slowed down for my husband (which meant we had a smaller food budget), & people were bringing us very conventional meals. We had so little money that we had to choose to just eat it & be grateful! Since then (Wolf is now 5 months old), work has remained slow & we haven’t been able to go back to eating mostly paleo like we prefer. We all feel the negative effects of our sub-par, non-organic, meatless, carb-filled diet, even though I still do make almost everything from scratch. But suddenly, the other day, I thought, “Silly me! It doesn’t cost me anything to *not* eat sugar, & sugar certainly doesn’t nourish me, so why not give it up?!” I’m glad I had that simple epiphany because it really does help me feel like I’m making some sort of progress in spite of our circumstances. Thanks for posting this – it gave me just the encouragement I needed!

  57. says

    Good for you. Not there yet. 😉 But when I have wanted to limit sugar intake, I put about a 1/2 teaspoon of L-Glutamine powder underneath my tongue and it does change the taste/cravings of your mouth. Lots of information online about this. Keep on keeping on, sister!

  58. Erin says

    I didn’t read all the comments, so I’m not sure if this was mentioned. I’m not a doctor…but I’ve found that most times when we’re addicted to sugar, we might be feeding an overgrowth of yeats in our body. A candida cleanse might be a great way to start too. Perhaps there might not be so many unpleasant side-effects? It’d be interesting to know. I generally don’t crave sugar, but when I do it’s short lived thankfully.

    Grapefruit seed extract is great for getting rid of excess yeast in the body. Look into inno-vite candida cleanse. Great product. Tried & true!

    • Katelyn says

      Candida cleanses have side effects of their own. When the candida dies off quickly it can release toxins in your body, so you actually feel a lot worse. It’s something that has to be done slowly, depending on how much you need your body to function. I’m a college student doing a candida cleanse on Christmas break, so it’s okay if I need to lay around and rest all the time, but I know that if this doesn’t go away by the time I go back to school, I’ll have to cut back on the cleansing.

  59. Krista says

    I found that eliminating sugar gradually–like over a couple years–has been much less traumatic for my body. First I stopped using white sugar and used evaporated cane juice crystals and palm/coconut sugar for while. Then I started using more honey, and now I am finally switched to using only fruits and stevia for sweeteners. Usually I don’t like stevia, but I have found a powder form called NuStevia that doesn’t have the bitter taste. Even over an extended time this is not easy–and it’s usually at social events when everyone else is enjoying eating and you are sitting with your carrot sticks or apple because all the food has gluten and sugar! (Sorry for venting!) But it has definitely improved my health issues (serious digestive problems)–and more importantly is breaking (with God’s amazing help and mercy!) the bondage of addiction. What an awesome thing to be free :-)

  60. Jenny says

    I am in for the challenge.
    For a healthier immune system,
    To go back to appreciating food as is without sugary snacks,
    to lose some pounds,
    To experience once more what my life was like just when I came to this country 25 years ago without a sweets eating lifestyle – to go back to that.
    To help my teen to be healthier.
    I don’t know if I will be able to stick to it. So I would like to join this group – beyond sugar. For I know I can’t do it alone.


  61. Katelyn says

    I’m trying to cut out all sugar temporarily due to candida overgrowth, and I’ve been waking up with really bad headaches the past couple of days. I’ve started eating a Granny Smith Apple for breakfast and whenever the headache gets bad to the point I can’t function, and it seems to take the headache away at least somewhat.

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