Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms and Duration: What you can Expect

It's not actually just the sugar that's the problem.

sugar withdrawl symptoms and duration

Sugar withdrawal symptoms vary and sugar withdrawal duration usually lasts between two and four weeks for most people. Tiredness, depression, flu symptoms, and irritability are common problems when you first give up eating sugar. Sugar does release opioids and dopamine, so some scientists believe it can be addictive.  Most people don’t realize why sugar withdrawal symptoms are so difficult to overcome. You may be surprised to learn that it’s not actually just the sugar that’s the problem. It’s more than likely a fungal problem too.

Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms: A Sign of Fungal Overgrowth Issues

On a diet? Feeling sick? Learn the reasons why sugar withdrawal causes you to feel rotten and what you can do about it.If you haven’t yet read about my son’s very trying battle with a chronic multifocal tic disorder several years ago, please check it out.  I tried to explain the many different natural treatments for tic disorders that we used. For us, and for many who suffer from chronic illness, the cause is not always apparent at first. When it comes to sugar withdrawal symptoms I think most people assume the sugar is the culprit. But it’s actually much deeper than that.

Our journey to help our son’s tic disorder included a sugar withdrawal diet. When we were searching for a cure for our son we also learned quite a bit about fungus. We learned that there are hundreds of thousands of species of fungi in the world. We also learned that science knows very little about most of them.

Fungi are living organisms that act like parasites. Only unlike the leach that might attach itself to your legs while swimming in a pond, the fungi inside our bodies are quite tiny. They are one celled organisms. And they live in colonies. And most importantly, they are behind the long sugar withdrawal duration people suffer.

The most common fungus among us is candida albicans. It’s a yeast more and more doctors are becoming familiar with. Candida overgrowth is a condition where your body allows this yeast colony to get too big. Many things can lead to candida overgrowth. If you’ve been on too many antibiotics or steroids you are likely to have yeast overgrowth problems. It also seems true that people with lower immunity will get yeast overgrowth more. But what role does yeast overgrowth have in our sugar withdrawal symptoms?

Sugar is food for fungi. They need it to function and to reproduce. This is why sugar withdrawal symptoms can be so difficult. Fungi are living organisms. When you stop feeding the fungus it starves and dies. So eliminating sugar will cause bad die off symptoms.

Common Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • feeling lightheaded
  • having sugar cravings (and possible moments of binge eating)
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • headaches
  • moodiness, irritable
  • tiredness
  • muscular aches

Why it’s Important to Rid our Bodies of Harmful Fungi

There are over 400 fungi that can harm your body. If you get tested for candida and it comes back negative don’t rule out a fungus problem. Your sugar withdrawal symptoms may in fact be due to another type of fungus. If there is a fungal issue you may benefit from removing certain foods, not based on allergy results but because they are loaded with fungus and could be exasperating things in general.

With a Sugar Withdrawal Diet, If Candida is also a Problem then Limit:

  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dried fruit

These foods are full of fungal organisms due to the way they are harvested and stored. This is why Doug Kaufmann is against it. Folks with fungal overgrowth issues have to eliminate sugar, grains, starches, and certain fruits/nuts that might contribute to the ‘diet’ of the organism that is attacking them. Of course cheese is also a problem. If you also have symptoms of a distended abdomen with gas, bloating, and pressure, read about wheat belly syndrome and learn more about the connection that grains have to dysbiosis and candida overgrowth.

How Long is a Sugar Withdrawal Duration?

The first 5 days are usually the most difficult. This is why most people describe sugar withdrawal symptoms as ‘flu-like’ symptoms. But to be honest, the problems for me and for my son lasted much longer than a week. Your sugar withdrawal symptoms will slowly start to wane until they stop completely. This usually happens about a month after beginning a low carb sugar free diet. Don’t give up if you are still having sugar withdrawal symptoms two weeks later. It takes time for the body to heal and adjust.

If the problem involves candida then there is a good chance you will see a slight increase in symptoms initially. In the case of my son’s tic disorder, we saw more tics at first. This is because candida feeds on sugar in the diet. If candida dies off quickly that may cause a regression for a few weeks. There are lots of technical reasons for this. Candida will produce toxic waste that the body needs to eliminate. If the body is overwhelmed with waste then you will get ‘flu-like’ symptoms. You will also be very, VERY irritable. You may be tired, suffer from headaches, and be very gassy. Enzymes are supposed to help, as is molybdenum. We did see an increase in sugar withdrawal symptoms before we saw improvement.

How to Survive Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms

If you are worried about die off symptoms here are some things you can do to help yourself feel better:

  • Slowly taper off your sugar intake instead of going cold turkey.
  • Drink plenty of water. Make a habit of drinking at least 8 oz before every meal.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity will stimulate your immune system naturally.
  • Eat healthy whole foods  rather than processed food products.
  • Set goals for yourself and think positive. You will get through this and after a few weeks you are going to feel great.

It’s Also Important to Rebuild the Intestinal Flora

If you pay attention to yogurt commercials you understand flora. It’s just a fancy term for the population of bacteria in your gut. Yogurt helps balance the flora. It gives you more good bacteria. Why is this important? Because bacteria competes with fungi. If you don’t have enough good bacteria then you will have either yeast overgrowth issues or bad bacteria in there. Do you have diarrhea? Are you constipated? These are signs that your flora is out of balance. Try kefir for the irregularity.  Don’t get a yogurt that is loaded with sugar or aspartame. A lot of times they add fillers in them like corn starch. Buy a plain yogurt. Get an organic brand like Stonyfield yogurt.  Good bacteria will ward off the viral/fungal/bacterial attacks to your body.

Some folks use a non-dairy probiotic. Kombucha is supposed to be good for you too. They have that at Whole foods. Coconut milk is another option if you have to be dairy free. You could easily do that with a yogurt maker. You could also buy it too at some health food stores.  You can also buy starter probiotic powders at any health food stores.

What Sweeteners are Okay When Doing a Sugar Withdrawal?

  • honey (in small doses, and probably not for at least 2 weeks)
  • stevia (this is fine in any dose, but a little bit goes a LONG way)
  • xylitol (although beware, this sweetener is toxic to dogs)

If you are suffering from sugar withdrawal symptoms take heart. It is not uncommon, and you are not alone. Have patience and eventually the duration of your withdrawal symptoms will come to an end.  That’s exactly what happened to my son. Kicking the sugar habit did wonders for healing his body. It will do wonders for you too, I know.

Research on coconut sugar is ongoing. It seems to have more nutrients and a lower glycemic index than refined sugar, but coconut sugar is not generally suitable for people on a low sugar diet, or a diabetic diet.

Learn More about Sugar Withdrawal and What to Expect

Check out these books to get diet tips, recipe ideas, and helpful information about kicking the sugar habit for good.

Also consider checking out a few additional articles on our website about fungi, too.

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15 Comments on Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms and Duration: What you can Expect

  1. I have been a person who consumes as much as 1000 caloris or more a day of chocolate /sweets. This caused abdominal swelling, etc. I’ve been doing well the last 3 days but I’m still swollen. Is that a normal reaction? Will I be swollen a while? When I did this before or ate very little, the swelling went down quickly; not this time. I’ve been eating lots of fruit and veggies, almonds and fish, oatmeal and eggs. Am I doing something wrong?

    • Kenna, how are you feeling now? Did you have depression symptoms due to eating to much sugar and from the withdrawals? That’s my biggest issue; depression and low energy. I also have blurry vision and dizziness. I’m eating a similar diet to you now: fish, eggs, beef, lots of almonds, greens, sweet potatoes, and I’m going to try brown rice. I just want this depression to go away! It makes it so difficult to get anything done.

  2. Oh yes! After I consume a lot of sweets or even just a little bit anymore, I get depressed. Then it makes me want to eat more until I’m sick. I think the reason I do that is because I feel helpless and I get to where I don’t care and think, “Oh it doesn’t matter anymore.”…..and then I consume more. And I get depressed again. Then I’ll have good days, and then bad days again. I’ve been learning that we have to make a total lifestyle change and replace the sugar with something else; not just try to not have the sugar or sweets but to actually find a healthy replacement. I did really good those three days and now I’m back to eating sweets again. I’ve been learning a lot about how our thoughts affect our actions and our health. I can share more with you sometime if you’d like. You can email me directly or we can continue chatting this way. I have a book I can recommend for you as well that has been helping me understand more about the enemy. I’m not quite there yet but I pray that this faze passes very soon! I don’t want to have sugar anymore but sometimes I get anxious and just the thought of the taste draws me so strongly! 🙁

  3. I stopped eating sugar cold turkey about six weeks ago. 3 weeks ago, I started to get a constant sweet taste in my mouth. Why is this happening?

    • I got this off of a diabetes site- “A constant sweet taste in the mouth can be a sign of your body’s inability to regulate blood sugar — a sign of diabetes. … You may have diabetes. Sweet breath in diabetics is caused by a condition called ketoacidosis, and the fruity breath is the body trying to rid itself of acetone” – you should get it checked out.

  4. Great article. I stopped sugar 3 days and it is a hell of a lot harder than I thought it would be. I’ve quit alcohol and smoking in the past which feel easy compared to sugar. I am getting terrible gas and I think it must be the fungi dying because it smells like death! I have had chronic sinus issues for ages too so I’m hoping that is linked to the fungi or sugar and this sorts it out!

  5. Well, I have decided to cut way back on my sugar intake. I will still eat wheat products, in limitation, fruit, and am contemplating which sugar substitute to use for coffee, tea, oatmeal… It’s day one and I finished eating dinner. I am now craving sugar. Anything sweet!! But I am determined to be disciplined. I am 5’9″, 285, and prediabetic, with Fibromyalgia, chronic pain and severe sleep apnea. Ready to feel awesome. Here goes…

  6. I am currently cutting sugar and I feel terrible! I feel like I am coming down the the flu! I am so depressed and tired. My vision is blurry and I am extremely light headed. I feel like I could just put my head on my desk and nap all day. I have been eating healthy for a few years now and after the holidays I just went sugar crazy after allowing myself a little more sugar than normal. I am drinking coffee to try to keep myself awake at work. I am trying to flush my system out with a lot of water.

  7. I am on a detox currently as prescribed by my natural doctor due to being on antibiotics & steroids for recurring sinus infections. I have a delayed reaction to sugar/carb detox and am just now having symptoms in my last week. The diet is not hard at all (for me), it just takes a lot of planning. Basically no sugar, no carbs, no grains just quality meats, nuts (except peanuts), vegetables, healthy fats and berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.). Hopefully withdraw will be short. I am drinking plenty of water, alternating probiotics and charcoal daily for restoring what was destroyed with antibiotics and flushing toxins. He also put me on what he calls a DMA regimine to destroy bad bacteria in gut. I did the diet/detox before as part of treatment for gastroparesis and it worked. My gastroenterologist couldn’t explain it but said keep it up!

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