Are These 11 Mistakes Ruining Your Sugar Free Diet?

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11 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Cutting Sugar - Isabelle McKenzie.jpg

Quit (or reduce) Sugar Like a Pro: 11 Mistakes to Avoid

Before you go on that sugar cleanse, make sure you read this first! Whether you’re yearning to learn to control your sugar consumption, cut sugar completely out of your diet, or trying to kick sugar for a while (or forever), there are some big ways you could be sabotaging your efforts (or even consuming sugar without knowing)! Here are the 11 common mistakes most people make when cutting sugar or reducing in their diet!

Before you go on that sugar cleanse, make sure you read this first! Whether you’re yearning to learn to control your sugar consumption, cut sugar completely out of your diet, or trying to kick sugar for a while (or forever), there are some big ways you could be sabotaging your efforts (or even consuming sugar without knowing)! Here are the 11 common mistakes most people make when cutting sugar or reducing in their diet!

With research and studies revealing more and more evidence revealing the scary effects of sugar, we have a right to be worried about how much of it we have in our diet.

After all, it’s primary factor causing not just obesity, but also abdominal fat, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and even chronic and lethal health issues such as CANCER!

If we brought an end to the over-consumption of sugar in America, it would profoundly and positively benefit our disease rates and save many lives.

It’s no wonder that many of us are finally realizing that it’s added sugar - not fat that we should worry about, and are making a start to avoid sugar and live healthier and happier lifestyles.

Actually, I recently finished a 30-day sugar-free cleanse. Thanks to the sugar balance program I created for myself (and others), I've been easily cruising through low sugar and sugar free weeks like it without any issues. In truth, it’s made me think of the time when I could never complete something like this - I would be craving sweets and feeling miserable, yearning for ICE CREAM, and would end up quitting and breaking my cleanse.

*Sugar addiction story time*!

For a long time, I suffered from sugar addiction. I was in a bad, stressful place and I turned to sugar - I couldn't control my urges for sugar, and I was well either physically or mentally.

Eventually, I realized that all my health issues were linked to sugar and my diet.

I became obsessed with searching for ways to reduce sugar, how I could balance it, how I could ditch cravings, and save my health, but I could never really find an anything that could really help.

So through trial and error (and mistake after mistake), I developed a way to ease myself through the sugar reduction process, my own system that would help me heal myself and my sugar addiction, what’s now my Cut The Sugar Program.

My journey gave me a passion for supporting other people on their health journeys, especially helping them break sugar addiction, without all the pain and trial and error I went through.

Back to you...

So, this recent sugar cleanse of mine has made me really think about all the mistakes I made when I first started my journey with sugar, and is my inspiration for this blog post.

If you’re currently working on cutting/quitting sugar or thinking about trying a no-sugar-added diet, you may want to familiarize yourself with the super common mistakes most of us make (and that you could be making) when committing to a healthy sugar-balanced diet.

And I got you covered!

Here are the 11 mistakes you need to avoid when cutting sugar (mistake #2 is especially important as manufacturers have become so crafty by hiding sugar, so you may be getting more in your diet than you realize).

If you're ready to get off the sugar bandwagon, then let’s do this and avoid a minefield of sugary sweet traps!

Mistake #1: Going Cold Turkey with Sugar

Completely cutting out sugar all at once isn’t the best idea, if you want to stay sugar free - but how come?

If you consume excessively high amounts of sugar on a regular basis, then suddenly not eating any sugar will cause your body to go into shock and you’ll experience many different symptoms connected with sugar withdrawal.

These symptoms include cravings, headaches, lethargy, and depending on how addicted you were to sugar, even diarrhea. These aren’t long term and usually won’t harm your health, but when you experience these symptoms, you may feel miserable enough to go back to binge eating in an attempt to ease your body.

Personally, I don’t think you should go cold turkey without having a really good safety net in place - when I had my sugar addiction, I kept trying the cold turkey technique only to go back to binging.

But, keep in mind that if you permit yourself a “small” amount of sugar everyday, it may lead your mind to rationalize eating even more sugar, one cookie will lead to two and so on. Tricky right?

Here’s what you should do:

By making a few modifications to your diet and setting yourself up with the right knowledge, overcoming sugar withdrawal and maintaining it can be easier than ever. Check out my post How to Stop Eating Sugar: 11 Simple Ways for some simple ways to reduce sugar from your diet without falling into the rationalization trap!

Mistake #2: Only Avoiding SWEET Foods, Not Being Wary Of Sneaky Sugars

Savory foods can still contain plenty of sugar.

Sugar can be hiding in everything from glazed meat to pasta sauce - never assume any food has no sugar just because it doesn't taste sweet.

If you are only looking for sugar on the label, then another misstep you could be making is not knowing the various terms that refer to sugar on ingredient lists.

Food manufacturers use many sneaky ways to hide the amount of added sugar listed on nutrition labels, and this can cause you to buy a food product with more sugar than you wanted, without knowing it.

You might have difficulty at first navigating the nutrition label on the foods you look at, but trust me it’s super important to recognize all the possible names of sugar which can be found in the ingredient list.

Here’s what you should do:

To make sure you're really steering clear of excess amounts of sweet stuff, you'll have to read nutrition labels (or, if you're eating out, start asking questions). Check out my ‘27 Hidden Sugar Foods to Watch Out for Checklist + Shopping Guide’ for a full printable list of sugar under other names, such as: cane sugar, agave nectar, barley malt, date sugar, blackstrap molasses, carob syrup, corn syrup solids, dextran, and the list goes on and on….

You may have been told that some of these, like agave, are “healthier” forms of sugar. Sorry but, sugar is sugar and they all break down during digestion and raise your blood pressure.

It’s also important to note that the earlier on in the ingredient label that sugar is mentioned, the larger amount of sugar is in the food.

Mistake #3: Going Sugar-Free?!

Be super careful when navigating ‘sugar free’ foods. What? Why?

So basically what we’re talking about is not avoiding sugar free foods in general, but making sure to check that your sugar free food/drink doesn’t contain any nasty alternative sweetener.

The sweeteners that many companies use in place of sugar can have so many negatives effects on your health, and possibly even cause cancer - yes, CANCER. Pretty scary.

If that's not enough to get you to quit sugar free replacements in yo' lattes and such… maybe because you think that it's helping you destroy those sugary cravings for whipped cream and candy, this next one might just be the reason to get you to stop using them.

When you are using those alternatives, say Splenda, it's actually just tricking your mind into thinking that you consumed something SUPER, SUPER SWEET, way sweeter than even SUGAR.

You guessed it: this only makes your brain crave foods and beverages that are even sweeter.

Also, some so called ‘no sugar added’ processed foods often include artificial sweeteners, excessive amounts of sugar alcohol, and naturally occurring sugar.

Read those ingredients.

Researchers found in a study that when participants drank diet or ‘sugar-free’ drinks, they consumed around 48 more calories from HIGH-CALORIE and NON-NUTRITIOUS foods like pastries and fries, compared with the days when they did not drink diet beverages.

This kind of defeats the point, right?

If you do still want a good sugar alternative though, I do have a more natural option for you.

I only ever use Natural Pure Stevia, because it is the purest and healthiest sugar-free sweetener out there. I also find it doesn’t make you crave sugar either, as long as you only use it in moderation.

My favorite is the Vanilla Crème Drops by Sweetleaf.

Here’s what you should do:

Stop consuming artificial sweeteners and only opt for Natural Pure Stevia in moderation.

Mistake #4: Being Scared Of FAT!

Many people may praise "fat free" for all it’s wonderful weight loss gifts, but you body actually needs GOOD FATS (yes there is a difference), and fat-free usually comes with a high-sugar price tag.

This all goes directly back to the food industry, who in their scrambling to cater for the fat-free weight-loss market added sugar in some shape or form into nearly EVERYTHING we eat, to make up for the lack of flavor.

There is a dogma around fat, that fat makes you fat, causes high cholesterol and that low fat is the way to kill fat and be HEALTHY, but there is much evidence proving otherwise.

Basically, fat-free varieties of foods are most likely packed with sugar and your body needs healthy kinds of fat like that found in avocado, egg yolks, and fish - the fats you should worry about the kinds found in margarine, beef or pork fat (saturated and trans fat).

Consuming more lean protein and good fats like eggs, salmon, halibut, and chicken can help keep your tummy full for longer periods of time. This means that your blood sugar levels will stay more balanced, and that you’ll experience fewer sweet cravings.

As for healthy fats, well, I can’t praise them enough.

Eating lots of healthy fat in tandem with protein at breakfast time helps stave off hunger and energy crashes, and, you guessed it, prevents cravings.

I always recommend high-fat meals in my Cut The Sugar Program, and in fact, all my programs!

Here’s what you should do: Eat more healthy fats, like avocado and chicken, when you’re not starving in the mornings. You’ll be more able to make a healthy decision for lunch, as you’re not being influenced by your empty belly. Additionally, make sure not to opt for low-fat options, which will tend to be packed with sugar.

Mistake #5: Going Crazy for Fruit

Fruit should not be part of an all-gloves-off buffet!!

Fruit 🍎 contains a natural sugar called fructose. If you consume fruit, you still get fructose, but also mineral, vitamins and fiber - fiber which helps to control blood sugar levels and buffers the spike coming from all that fructose.

However, refined sugars (found in baked goods and most sweets) are just empty carbs, with zero nutrients, so these refined sugars metabolize quickly causing trouble.

But, even though fruit is safer for your blood sugar and contains good for you nutrients, you can’t just rely on this fiber. The sugar found in fruit can still have the same blood-sugar-spiking effect if eaten in excess, causing more sugar cravings!

Over-consumption of sugar, means ALL sugars.🍭

When you're looking at your sugar consumption, don't just count for number of spoons of table sugar you've had - this may be the worst stuff for your health, but over-consumption of sugar includes all other types of sugar, including natural sugars like in fruit.

So when I tell you to keep your general average sugar intake to the 25 grams suggested by the World Health Organization, you should know that this means natural sugar too.

Although, people with high insulin levels or who overweight should be careful with consuming fruit at all - if you want more details on the pros and cons of fruit based sugars on your health, check out my post on that here.

Here’s what you should do:

Moderate and focus on eating fruits which are rich in nutrients.

If you have a healthy balanced diet without tons of processed sugar and don’t have high insulin levels, eating a potassium rich banana at breakfast isn’t going put you on the path of diabetes. Try to limit fruit to 2-3 servings per day, keeping the fruit to a serving at a time. You can check out my post here for a detailed list of the fruits with the most and least sugar.

Mistake #6: Not Flipping Your Mindset, Going On A “DIET”

When most people attempt to kick a sugar habit, they go into their journey with the mindset that they are depriving themselves of fun, and a loss of enjoyment.

This mentality will instantly INCREASE your chances of slip ups. Many folks see sugar free and low sugar as a temporary diet, a popular idea in the health section of Western society.

But if you want to cut out sugar, or cleanse your body for a while, you may need to recognize that you are making a lifestyle change - a lifestyle change to avoid the dangerous effects of sugar.

It is not a short experiment to help you drop a pant size (although you may lose weight when you quit sugar).

Never go into it thinking you’ll go back to sugar after you’ve lost a certain amount of weight or stayed ‘clean’ for a certain period of time, instead see this as a total cleanse from sugar, your enemy.

Sugar is not the friend you’re taking a break from for a while, it is a toxin you’re cleansing from.

Here’s what you should do:

Change your attitude to see sugar as it is, a toxin, that your body needs a break from. It’s not all about weight or skin benefits - it’s also about mind and body care.

Mistake #7: Having Uncontrolled Sugar-free Breaks

Maybe there is a vacation coming up, or weekend where you want to take your hair out and relax from your diet.

You want to allow yourself some increased sugar consumption - your old way of eating - and maybe you think to yourself, “you’ll get back to the diet when it’s over, so it’s going to be alright.”

This is almost never the case. ☹️

If you allow yourself to be unrestrained with all the in sugar in the world for a day or so, you might just end up erasing all of the hard work you did to get in control over your sugary daydreams.

Whether you physically or mentally return from the sugar packed ‘diet’ break, your sugar cravings will probably be super intense, and you won’t feel so great from all the toxic sugary junk you’ve eaten.

You’ll be super lethargic and maybe have a headache or two. Yep, all those sugar withdrawal symptoms will be back again!

This means that in the end you may just feel horrible for maybe two or three days and end up binging and feeling horrible, broken and GUILTY!!

Here’s what you should do:

In practice, you need to moderate yourself even when you allow yourself to have the occasional cheat meal. If you eat a cinnamon roll on one day, there should be absolutely no way you allow yourself to get and additional treat like ice cream, even if it’s your cheat day.

Mistake #8: Not Looking For a Replacement

If you remove a food from your diet, you’ll decrease the normal amount of net calories that you eat, making you more hungry.

If you normally snack on cookies, and stop because of the sugar, you’re not replacing that food in your diet. This leaves you hungry and amps up your craving levels, leaving you more prone to making bad food choices.

Here’s what you should do:

Create plan for what you’ll replace the sugary foods with. I suggest you eat something healthy but also filling. When you’re just starting out with avoiding sugar, you’ll be more vulnerable to sugary snacking when hungry.

Lean protein and good fats like eggs, salmon, halibut, and chicken can help keep your tummy full for longer periods of time.

Mistake #9: Ignoring Your Sweet Tooth

Don’t view a sugar ban as a test of will power and ability to resist sweetness. That's a bad approach that’s not sustainable.

Find whole foods that satisfy cravings instead.

You do need to satisfy your sweet cravings at the beginning, making sure any replacements are from unrefined sources of sugar.

Here’s what you should do:

Make sure you give yourself whole food-based alternatives for sweetness, or else your diet won’t be sustainable and binging will become common.

Search for new nutritious ways to make your sweet tooth happy in the process. For example, to keep my sweet tooth at bay, on weekends I like to eat a bowl of berries and unsweetened cream - this is enough for me to keep my sweet tooth away. Find what works for you!

Mistake #10: Not Setting The Rules Ahead Of Time

Personally, when I do a sugar cleanse, I don’t normally allow many sweeteners and definitely not any sugar - I use a moderated portion of Natural Pure Stevia and fruit.

“Healthier” forms of sugar are better than unrefined sugar, but they break down during digestion and raise your blood pressure all the same. But some people who aren’t use to a sugar-free lifestyle may ween themselves of sugar by using whole and minimally processed sweeteners, that are unrefined like maple syrup, raw honey, and coconut palm sugar.

Not thinking about whether to use raw honey or not before starting a sugar free or low sugar plan (or sweeteners like it) is a big no no.

Here’s what you should do:

Whatever you decide, about which form of sugar you decide are off-limits and on-limits, make sure to set guidelines for yourself in advance.

Mistake #11: Setting Too Long Of A Time-span, Be Realistic

I may be able to go sugar free for long periods (from weeks to months), but this can seem too long and unrealistic for many, and that’s totally okay - everyone is unique and has different needs!

If you set yourself a time that is too long and intimidating, you may just be setting yourself up for failure, and we don’t want that.

Here’s what you should do:

Start avoiding added sugars for 72 hours at first. It’s perfectly long enough to help you readjust your taste buds and start a healthy habit. Start checking nutrition labels, and find ways to satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy sugar free way. From there, work your way up!

11 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Quitting Sugar: Rounding it All Up!

This is it y'all, you’ve got to the end! 🕺

Now, I want you to know that I do believe we can still indulge in an unhealthy sugary treat every once in a while, as long as we are able to control our sugar cravings.

Using brief sugar cleanses can help you achieve a sugar balanced lifestyle and improve your health - even after you’ve broken your sugar addiction.

For example, even though I now have sugar balance, I still like to cleanse my body of sugar for every once in a while.

We have been led to believe for so many years that calorie counting is the way to health and is more important than watching what you eat and staying nourished.

But it can just cause people to starve themselves while on a high carb diet, in the hope that a couple pounds will fall away and that after this, they can just go back to their old diet - packed with sugar and junky processed foods. This isn’t the way! 🚫

Nutrition is a constantly changing subject, but one conclusion we can all make is that sugar is bad and sugar addiction is a real thing!

We CAN break our sugar cravings and get through our sugar withdrawal effectively, without feeling demoralized and getting back on the sugar wagon.

By making a few modifications to your diet and setting yourself up with the right knowledge, overcoming sugar withdrawal and maintaining a sugar balanced life can be easier than ever.

Every one deserves to be healthy and happy! If you’ve made it here, and you are ready to take steps. I want to help!

To make your sugar-free shopping a little bit simpler and to help you get started with reducing your sugar intake, I’ve put together a whole list of everyday innocent looking foods that are hiding a surprising amount of sugar, in my:

‘27 Hidden Sugar Foods to Watch Out for Checklist + Guide’

It’ll also shed some light on the things that are ruining the health benefits of our salads, sandwiches, soups and other healthy foods we love.


It’s YOUR turn!

Do you experience sugar cravings? Have you made any of these mistakes? What has been your biggest issue with reducing your cravings?

That’s it from me, 👋

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