Need a Sugar Detox Challenge?

Okay, friends.  I’m ready to tackle sugar.

Earlier this week, I was preparing for a talk I’m giving on Sugar Cravings next month and found myself making trips to the freezer for handfuls of chocolate chips.  The irony was not lost on me.

It’s ridiculous how much power sugar has! I know I need to take a little break from it, and thought a detox challenge could be fun.  (Like this story about Gandhi, how can I tell others to cut out sugar if I’m not doing it myself?)

I put the question out on Facebook and Instagram, and many of you responded.  So let’s do it… I certainly need the accountability.  Feel free to join in!

Why Detox in the Spring?

Did you know that spring is the best time to detox? It’s actually nature’s timing. If we were living off the land, it would happen naturally as we would begin to consume healing roots, sprouts and new baby vegetables.

These foods work with our system to cleanse the body of toxins from winter’s increased consumption of animal products and heavier foods that our ancestors relied on to make it through until spring.

Detoxes come in all shapes and sizes and some are quite radical.  I don’t believe we need an extreme fast to cleanse our body- it’s a powerful machine that is always working to clean us out and balance itself.  However, we can help it along (and help ourselves to feel better) by cutting out some of the most unnatural foods.

Sadly, cupcakes do not grow on trees.


The Sugar Addiction

Sugar is the biggest challenge for me.  William Dufty writes in Sugar Blues that “Like heroin, cocaine and caffeine, sugar is an addictive, destructive drug, yet we consume it daily in everything from cigarettes to bread.”

Those are serious words! But I’ve certainly experienced the sugar addiction.  And the roller coaster it brings with it- our blood sugar spikes, we feel a temporary boost, and then we crash and want more sugar… which can lead to irritability, mood swings, exhaustion, and the list goes on.

I don’t believe we have to give up all treats. Life (and food!) is meant to be enjoyed!

But sugar is a very slippery slope.  Even a small amount creates a desire for more.  And suddenly quitting can cause withdrawal symptoms including headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.

Is Sugar Toxic?

There is also a growing body of research pointing to sugar as one of the main culprits in our country’s health crisis, with ties not only to diabetes and obesity, but to heart disease and cancer as well! (For more on this, check out the NY Times article, Is Sugar Toxic? or watch this segment from 60 Minutes.

Kind of scary!

As you all know, I consume most of my sugar in the form of dark chocolate, and I can usually justify it, especially with organic, fair trade varieties. But I do like to step back a few times a year to prove to myself that I am still in control!

Benefits from cutting out sugar:

  • acknowledging how powerful our “addiction” is
  • allowing the body to detox and cleanse itself
  • resetting our palate so that sweet foods taste even sweeter when we add them back in
  • identifying what triggers our sugar cravings (stress, exhaustion, boredom)
  • practicing alternatives to satisfy those cravings (fresh fruit, a short walk, calling a friend, etc)
  • weight loss and finding foods with more natural, longer lasting energy

Okay, enough talk.  Would anyone like to join me in a short and sweet challenge to avoid sugar?

Edited to add: This challenge is complete.  I now offer a monthly Sugar Detox Jumpstart teleconference.  Find more information here!

Here’s what I’m proposing:

  1. What: Choose Level One- eliminating all added sugars (honey, maple syrup, rice syrup, added fructose, etc) OR Level Two- sugars and processed foods, which often have the same effect as sugar when broken down in our system, including white flour/bread/crackers/energy bars, etc
  2. When: Seven day detox, from Monday, April 1st to Sunday, April 7th (have your Easter Sunday final treat if you want to!)
  3. For extra support, use the hashtag #sugardetox to connect with other participants on Twitter or Instagram
  4. PRIZES! Sign up below, and (optional) tweet or share for an extra entry to win a few fun prizes, including ProCompression socks, a box of healthy snacks from NatureBox,  a box of Bites of Bliss Superfood Bites, and more.

 You could tweet something like this:    “Need accountability to cut out sugar? Join @mommyrunfaster for a 1 week sugar detox + chance to win prizes!”


In the next week, I’ll share some of the foods you should include to assist your body in the detox process, and snack ideas for when the sugar cravings hit.

I’ll continue to host sugar detox challenges every 2-3 months.  If you’d like more simple tips for living a healthier and happier life, subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

Tell me about your relationship to sugar.  Do you crave sugar? Have you experienced the sugar blues roller coaster?


177 thoughts on “Need a Sugar Detox Challenge?

  1. wow, I know first hand about sugar! I am trying to take a probiotic to kill off yeast which feeds off sugar.. and see if that helps my sugar cravings! I don’t think I could do the sugar detox right now :(
    Can’t wait to hear about it though! I like how you keep choc chips in the freezer.
    Natalie recently posted..My fridge + Sunflower Seed DressingMy Profile

  2. I’m really excited to do this detox, I chose to cut out all processed foods because bread is my addiction!! I know I can cut out added sugar, I’ve already started to do that for good! So to make this challenge hard, I will not eat bread or any processed foods for a week!! Hope I can do it! Good luck everyone!

  3. I can’t lie, I have done sugar free challenges in the past on my site and always caved…I have an issue when I tell myself NO you can’t have something. That being said I know that right now the sugar in my diet has gone up quite a bit from where it was so I’m going to do this but with my daily single piece of dark chocolate to keep me from overdoing it elsewhere :)
    Amanda @runtothefinish recently posted..7 Carbo-loading mistakesMy Profile

  4. I might try to join in – sugar isn’t my biggest weakness but I think that is because I’ve fooled myself about how many products actually contain some form of sugar.
    Kim recently posted..BloglovinMy Profile

  5. Yes I’m addicted to sugar-my heart is beating faster just signing up for this! I’ve spent the last year trying to eat healthier by eating as fresh and local as possible. I have actually been cutting out white flour processed foods and “sugar-free” items thinking regular sugar would be better for me (still working on diet cokes) so I am super interested in any ideas you have. Let’s do this!!

    • Wow, great job, Monica! You are well on your way. Yes, I do think it’s important to get rid of the sugar-free foods, they are not any better. Sugar is a tough one… our bodies were designed to enjoy sweet things, and now that it’s all around us it’s very hard to give it up completely. But hopefully one week will give you a chance to notice when you crave it and why, and help you map out a plan of attack. :) I’ll write more on this soon!
      Laura recently posted..Need a Sugar Detox Challenge?My Profile

  6. Great challenge. I am happy to report that I don’t need it, b/c about a month out from my marathon, I decided to cut out all sweets. The first few days were tough–I craved my daily dose of dark chocolate. But once I got past that, I’ve done really well. Now as long as I can make it past the black jelly beans in my kids Easter baskets, I’ll do alright!
    misszippy recently posted..Marathon recovery–don’t get fooledMy Profile

  7. I am SO in! With my broken ankle, I need something to make sure I’m staying smart with all my choices. 7 days is a great start – I’m going to stick with Level 1 — I’ll be staying at my brother & SIL’s for that week so not sure I can do a Level 2! STOKED for this :)
    Melissa Love recently posted..Back to SchoolMy Profile

  8. I am ALWAYS on the sugar roller coaster. Sometimes I can go a while without craving it seriously, but when I do crave it, it tends to be overdrive! I am excited for this challenge. I was going to do level 2, but I know for a fact there will be a few times next week that avoiding something processed will be next to impossible. BUT I am def. planning on sticking to the no added sugar! I am really excited to see how well I do, my main thing is going to be sticking to not putting splenda in my green tea or coffee every morning!

    Thanks for the chance to do this with a group! Support makes it much easier to try!
    Laura recently posted..Around the Bay 30kMy Profile

  9. This is such a great idea. I know for sure if I start my morning with sugar, I overeat and crave more junky food all day. It is powerful and I believe the food companies know this. I’m running Boston, so I need to take Gu, so I can’t really join in but I will be more aware of what I put in my mouth during your challenge!
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..My Favorite Running Things- Spring 2013My Profile

  10. Sugar for me is the worst so I’m totally in. The more I have the more I crave. It is something I need to keep away from for the most part because I struggle with moderation. That said I was sugar free for about 6 weeks (meaning no sugary snacks) but this week I’ve regressed. You challenge comes at a good time!
    Marcia recently posted..Jerky GiveawayMy Profile

  11. Laura, this is going to be exciting for you! Just like you I wanted to get rid of all these sugar side effects – for me especially a permanent fatigue during the day. So, I started a 21 sugar detox challenge, now on day 19 already I feel a huge improvement in sleep quality and don’t wake up during the night anymore. You can imagine how different my day looks like :) Also my husband wants to start next week (mainly to lose some pounds) (for your ref.:

    All the best for your challenge,


  12. well…. Im 16 weeks pregnant and yes sugars so totally what im craving! Im going to try this I dont guess itll be any harm to not consume so much sugar while im growing a baby. Fruit will be my option:) Thanks for the inspiration I need to step away from the reeses eggs! lol

  13. Ahh, I’m nervous but I’m in. After giving up baked goods for Lent, cupcakes are all I can think about. So I guess I’ll enjoy one or 5 on Easter and join you. Great idea!
    Jen recently posted..To race or not?My Profile

  14. I think I’ll join in Laura! Sounds fun! Okay, well maybe not fun… but I have noticed my sugar cravings getting a little out of control lately. Especially after dinner. I suddenly HAVE to fix myself a little something sweet before bed every night. It’s usually something healthified (with honey, maple syrup or stevia) but still sugar all the same right!?! Does this include wine? Stevia?
    Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome recently posted..WIAW- a few recipes and a HITT workoutMy Profile

  15. I kind of need to break up with sugar. I’ve been on a bad binge for the past month or so. It IS such a vicious cycle. I know that if I can make it through the first two days, it will get easier. I’m going to be doing it in spirit (timing is off for me the first week of April) but can’t wait to follow along!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..How to watch a surf contestMy Profile

  16. Even Lent wasn’t enough to separate me from sugar this year–not sure why it didn’t work when it was great last year. So I’m in all the way. Thanks for letting us keep Easter, though. :^)

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  18. I’m in! I have 3 more pounds to loose for my diet bet that ends on the 14th! Plus I’m starting a new job on Monday. Perfect time to mix things up!

  19. Yup! I’m in! I am 100% addicted to sugar and processed foods. The more I eat them, the more I eat them. The less I eat them, the less I eat them! Duh.

    I just started a fitness challenge too where my goal is to track calories and eat more fruits/veggies. This fits right in!

    Thanks for hosting!
    Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections recently posted..Buzz Into Shape WorkoutMy Profile

  20. I’m going to try this! I definitely have a sugar addiction. I did South Beach diet about 7 years ago and those first 2 weeks worked wonders on cravings so maybe this will reset my body. Counting on you Laura to send lots of encouragement!

  21. I crave sugar at night especially. I am always wanting something sweet. I’ll have to stock up on fruit to help curb my cravings. I’m pretty excited about this! I’m giving up added sugar but hoping to cut back on processed sugar as well. Let’s do this!

  22. I have been struggling with this since January. When I think about it, it makes me crave sugar more. If I can do this for a week, I can try and keep it going longer.

  23. Great idea! I’m in. It’s funny because I am totally aware of my need for sugar. I do great all day without it and then in the afternoon, I feel like I NEED some chocolate or a cookie or something. I could definitely use some motivation to resist my cravings because I have no will power :)
    Kristen recently posted..Realizing the shoes are the problemMy Profile

  24. I do my best to avoid all the “white poison” already but there are days when chocolate calls my name..Nice challenge with all the Easter goodies still in the house!

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  26. I love the idea of having a sugar detox diet. I am taking part in level 2 because I don’t think level 1 would be very difficult for me, and I want to challenge myself. I don’t have a naturally sweet tooth, but it will be hard for me to cut out break, crackers, and so many of the other processed foods. But I can’t wait to see how my body responds to one week without any of it! Thanks for hosting this challenge!
    Becky recently posted..Sprints and a Sugar Detox ChallengeMy Profile

  27. I really want to do this but I’m doing a 10K-race as part of a 10-mile training run on the 6th and I know I’ll need an energy gel during the race, if not some simple sugars before and after as well. Do you have any suggestions for alternatives? I might do the challenge and just have the energy gel be my exception!

  28. I am a diabetic and I love sugar.

    I went through a Whole 30 in Jan/Feb and just quit sugar cold turkey for the first time in my life. I survived the first day (and I was a 3 coke a day girl) and didn’t want to mess that up. Plus the group mentality helped since I was doing this with a Crossfit group at my gym. Anyway, I went 35 days with no sugar, lost 18lbs, lowered my fasting glucose to the lowest level since diagnosis and switched to a Paleo diet. Ran better, lifted more, and even my cat noticed the euphoria in my swagger.

    Then my birthday hit last week. I enjoyed 2..TWO…only TWO gluten free cupcakes. And the snowball started again. Over the past week and a half, I’ve had sugar in some form every day and I can feel the addictive pull to it.

    COUNT ME IN!!! I’m ready to tackle this again. I’m going on vacation in June and I need to be in the best shape possible (Colorado….mountain climbing!!) I’m still working on losing the last few lbs and I think one week of tightening up will help with the only problem I’m having since Paleo…sugar.

  29. I would love to do this, but I am hesitant because I make my own bread and it uses honey. I don’t know if I want to give that up for a week. Hmmmmm…

  30. I am so ready for this! I try to avoid sugar at all costs because I know it is one of weaknesses that will send me into a spiral of either wanting more sugar or something salty to balance out the taste. Just today, I was sampling treats at my Aunt’s house and consumed so many delicious treats. I had a major crash and felt terrible and off. Very excited and trying to get more of my family on board!
    Lauren recently posted..Right HereMy Profile

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  34. I am addicted to sugar. I didn’t even know that could happen! I’ve had this problem since high school. I can’t have one or two cookies, I eat all 2 dozen! I’m going to attempt level I and see how that goes. Hopefully, I can continue from there!

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  36. Going for it!! First time ever – question – I make our own breads with wheat I grind – but I use raw honey in the recipe as well (about 2/3 cup for 3 loaves of bread) — do you think I should cut that out as well? It’s basically eating a completely unrefined bread product. Would it defeat the purpose? Also, what about making myself a “sweet” treat with stevia? I have a protein shake each morning (using unsweetened protein powder) which I currently sweeten with stevia but would switch to a fruity shake using whole fruits (probably banana as a sweetener) if you think stevia should be off-limits. What do you think?

    • Honestly, it’s up to you. I think to give your body a complete break from sugar, it’s probably best to skip the stevia. If you’re doing level two, I’d skip the bread as well. If you just want to focus on level one with added sugars, it’s up to you how challenging you want to make it. :) Glad you’re in!
      Laura recently posted..March Favorite Reads and SharesMy Profile

  37. A friend and I were just talking about what sugar is doing to us and she sent me the link. We’re both in!!
    Healthy fats and protein will help me get through a couple of long runs.
    Thanks for the challenge.

  38. Reading through all the comments this sounds like an SAA (Sugar Addicts Anon) meeting. Lol. =) I am so in. I will mostly miss the bowls of Cheerios that I shamelessly dump about 4 teaspoons of white sugar into. :/ Thanks for hosting this, just in time too, I have been telling myself over and over again it is time to detox off the sugar again.
    Kimberly recently posted..Running SafetyMy Profile

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  42. I’m in! I was just thinking I need to do this, and I need some serious accountability. I’ve fallen off the no sugar no processed foods for a while now, after being successful with it for almost a year. I need to refocus and get rid of this addictive cravings! I’m also one of those people the struggle with moderation, so it tends to be all or nothing for me unfortunately. By the way, just found your blog on Pinterest and I’m loving it! I’m a newbie runner, and the motivation is so key for me. Thanks !

  43. I gave up sweets for Lent. After having a brownie yesterday and feeling terrible after eating it, I completely agree sugar is a toxin. I don’t even have the desire to eat it again, which is huge for me.

  44. This came at the perfect time! Enjoying the last few Easter chocolate treats. Can’t wait to get rid of these cravings!

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  47. I’m pretty good with not eating sweet treats, but one thing I would love to work on is the sneaky added sugar products like bread, yogurts and jams have. I am a huge yogurt consumer and even the better brands like Chobani have a TON of added sugar. So my challenge will be to cut those items out of my diet, but I am curious to see how my body reacts! Let’s do this!

  48. I saw your original tweet about this a few days ago and I just got around to reading the post. I love the idea ad have noticed myself using way too much yummy creamer in my coffee lately. The accountability will be a huge PRO. I also like the timeframe, I’m sure it won’t be easy but it’s a reasonable 7 days. — Now to finish off my Iced Venti Caramel Macchiato. 😛


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  52. I stumbled on your page by accident. What a Godsend!! I have been struggling with sugar FOREVER. I know I need to detox. Your page was very inspiring and I’m gonna do it. Thank you. I can do seven days, can’t I? I sure hope so. I need the support.

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  54. This is a perfect day to start this challenge. I am without a doubt ADDICTED to sugar. I know exactly when I eat it and why and unless I commit to eliminate it I am unable to control it.
    I have done this type of detox before and felt so much better without it. It is so nice to know that I am not the only one with this “issue”

  55. I can do this! I’m with Amanda – my little piece of dark chocolate a day will help me eliminate the rest of the sugar the rest of the time! :)

  56. After practically OD’ing on my kids Easter candy yesterday, the thought of sugar is almost disgusting. So hopefully I’m off to a good start on this challenge!

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  60. Even people who don’t eat candy wind up eating sugar quite a bit. You may think you’re not addicted to it because you don’t eat candy bars or drink soda but unless it’s a whole food there is most likely some sneaky sugar in there somewhere.

    I’m going to get my five miles in during some speed drills because I need to get ready for my race this weekend. I hope I can get everything done!
    Carli recently posted..Do Members of the Opposite Sex Make Good Weight Loss Buddies?My Profile

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    • Thank you for this recipe. I am gluten intolerant, and I’m a sugarholic, and I’ve been doing this one week sugar detox. So far so good. But now I have an awesome recipe. Thanks.

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  69. I DID IT!!! I am so proud of myself. I gave up sugar for seven days. Thank you so much for your challenge. By doing this with you all, it kept me accountable.

  70. I have started the sugar detox from 10th of April.
    It has not been hard at all.I have cut all surces of sugar and all foods that turn in sugar in our blood.
    So far I have lost 9pounds in 11 days and my skin has started to look radiate.
    I will keep doing this as long as I can get rid of all my weight.
    Once you take the decision it is very easy.

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