If you need to have sweets every day, you probably already know you're at least somewhat addicted to sugar. You also may be experiencing detrimental side effects, like energy highs and lows (also known as sugar crashes), brain fog, lethargy, rashes, breakouts, and bloating, says Lily Kunin, holistic health coach and creator of Clean Food Dirty City. "Sugar can make you feel pretty unbalanced," she says. "Too much is stressful on the system. It can cause chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, candida overgrowth, and more. The good news is that it's all preventable before your wedding," she says.
If you're brave enough, you can quit cold turkey, but Kunin warns that you might experience headaches and fatigue for several days as your body adjusts to a sugar-free diet. For a gentler way to wean yourself off sugar, Kunin recommends starting by swapping out refined sugars for natural sweeteners like coconut sugar, maple syrup, or dates. "Ease into these early days with natural sugars from fresh, whole fruit, sweet vegetables like beets and sweet potatoes, and healthy fats from avocado and nut butters, which help balance energy and cravings," she says. "Healthy fats are also a great way to boost energy without the sugar crash, because when we turn to sugar, it's often because we're looking for an energy boost. You can also drink tons of water, herbal teas—which can also help satisfy cravings—and add blood-sugar stabilizing spices like cinnamon to your diet."
At the same time, cut out all refined sugars for a week—like desserts—then move on to refined carbs like breads and pasta, and finally, focus on the "sneaky places" sugar hides, Kunin says, like dressings and sauces. One thing not to do when cutting out sugar is reaching for sugar substitutes like Splenda, aspartame, and saccharine. "Many of them contain harmful chemicals, and they activate our brain to actually crave more sugar," Kunin says. "Stevia is naturally derived, and I use it sparingly, but not typically when I'm trying to reset my cravings."
Once you've got your sugar addiction under control, you may see clearer skin, better digestion, more energy—and you'll stop wanting sugar altogether, because when you stop eating refined sugar, your body stops craving it. "Our bodies adapt quickly, but to avoid a relapse, explore why you're craving sugar in the first place, whether it's chronic stress or fatigue, and make lifestyle changes to combat these triggers," she says.