Sugar is the New “S” Word

Just chatting a bit about the effects of sugar.

About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. I want to wish you luck with your one-month challenge. I can tell you for a fact I am not addicted to sugar, don’t laugh I am serious. I am allergic to cane sugar and have had some serious reactions thus am all too aware about how prevalent it is in processed foods. This was a huge impetus for me to cook a lot of my own food from whole foods. Luckily being pregnant right now is giving me some tolerance with my lowered immune system so I can be less diligent when eating out. I can do beet sugar and high-fructose corn syrup but shy from them unless I am making treats to share with people or am looking for some convenience food in a pinch. I don’t do artificial sweeteners unless it is HFCS in an absolute pinch. If you want any help with anything I am a great resource for using natural unrefined sweeteners.

    I already know that for your squash stockpile maple and honey may be too sweet for muffins and breads. For those kinds of quick breads I prefer brown rice syrup or barley malt syrup. Both are decently low on the glycemic index (so I use them when baking for diabetics), and have a less sweet and earthy taste.

    For fun check out this blog from Mani’s Bakery in L. A. when you want to be decadent. I am going to post the link to their fruit juice reduction page since it is a great base for their over-the-top treats:

    donielle Reply:

    @kia, Huh, never heard of that allergy before!

    And thanks for the link, I’ll go check it out!

  2. I would love to try this! I did a sugar free challenge for a week a couple months ago and it went pretty well, although I don’t think a week was long enough because as soon as I started to see positive results, I was back to sugar. I will give it my best effort, which is the best I can say! Although I am currently in a season of doing a lot more cooking from home, so hopefully it won’t be too hard.
    I have been making my own bread in my new bread machine, though, and am yet to come across a recipe that doesn’t involve at least a little bit of sugar. The way it is described by the manufacturer of the machine, the yeast needs to feed off the sugar for the bread to rise. I will have to check their website and see if there are any sugar free recipes.

    donielle Reply:

    @Kelly, Glad you’re joining me!

    And I just use honey in my bread without any issues. Seems to rise just as well as using regular sugar.

    Sarah Reply:

    @donielle, I bake bread all the time without any sugar, honey, maple syrup etc. It might take a little longer to rise, but it will.

  3. Good on you for going without sugar. I gave up sugar about ten years ago, one of the best things I ever did.

    Having done it myself, and thus know the pitfalls, I can highly recommend that you take a certified organic probiotic (I can let you know the name) only a small bottle but it can really help you to balance the good bacteria, which are ‘craving’ the sugar that makes it a challenge for you to quit sugar.

    Many folks beat themselves up about being weak-willed on sugar but Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, who you no doubt know, talks about “white death” which I think is an apt title, and I feel it is the bacterial imbalance that is fueling these cravings.. When I was going off sugar I used probiotics and accepted that the die off reaction was likely so I nurtured myself too.

    Well done you and blessings on your quest.

    donielle Reply:

    @Joanna, I definitely think my gut flora is imbalanced since most my issues stem from antibiotics I took last year. I did finally buy more probiotics as I was out for the last few weeks, but if you’d like to send me the name of the organic ones, that’d be great. You could DM me on twitter!

    I loved the GAPS session at the WAPF conference but have yet to get the book. It’s on the top of my to buy list though!

  4. Donielle,

    I am so with you on this but yet so overwhelmed… Being new to the real foods life (we switched to total wheat and rapadura and sucanate but still eat a little processed foods), I don’t really know where to begin. If you don’t mind walking side by side with me, I would love to do it.

    Thanks for the opportunity!

    donielle Reply:

    @Jodi, So glad you’re on board!

  5. I’m in! I’ve actually been doing this all month, but in the context of switching to real food. I didn’t specifically tell myself “no sugar” per se, but I did specify no processed food, mainly to get away from refined sugar & carbs & chemicals/fake stuff. The only sweeteners I currently use are a bit of stevia in my coffee (been doing this for awhile now) and a little bit of raw honey, either in plain yogurt or just off a spoon, if I’m really wanting something sweet. Like you I also baked at the holidays and ate what I made…UGH!! I could have a tiny bit, maybe 1-2 cookies and half a piece of fudge tops, and not feel bad, but more than that (and of course, who stops there?), and I’d start feeling terrible. I even got that light-headed, blood-sugar-is-messed-up feeling once! So I said no more. Not worth it!

    I have a wonderful recipe for flaxmeal “bread” (no flour or sugar) that I put dabs of honey on…absolutely hits the sweet spot! I’ll post the recipe this week. :)

    donielle Reply:

    @Sara, Awesome! And cutting out processed foods definitely does take care of a lot of the sugar. That’s one area I luckily don’t have to fight too since I buy so little of it as it is.

  6. I’m in! I know sugar affects me and yet it is soooo hard to kick the habit and it’s like you say, you can be so “good” in your diet and mess yourself up with one little brownie. Something I notice in myself is that the dark stain on the back of my neck (acanthosis nigricans, associated with insulin resistance) gets a lot DARKER when I eat lots of sugar.
    A few months ago I bought a blood sugar meter (on sale at Target!) and have been using it everytime I try a new food to find out what foods affect me the most. It has helped immensly. By doing this, I found I can’t eat honey or succanat. I will be limiting my sweetners to agave, date sugar and palm sugar (coconut sugar) since they don’t seem to affect my blood sugar.
    So, can I walk beside you too? I have the hardest time kicking the habit and staying on hte sugarfree wagon! I decided I’ll keep a diary of my 30 days.

    BTW, Donielle, your hair is AWESOME!

    donielle Reply:

    @Deanna, Awesome! SO glad to have another trying to kick the habit too! :-) And I’d love to try out palm sugar one of these days, just haven’t found the extra $ in my budget the last few months.

    *and thank you! I sure hated it when I was little though!

  7. I went sugar-free (not even honey or maple syrup) a week ago because I was told I had yeast. It hasn’t been hard at all. I occasionally crave fruit or some grains, but sugar? Nope. It may be “nice” to eat something I see but I’m fine without (tomatoes, on the other hand, I crave strongly!). I’m having trouble believing I ever had yeast issues since no-sugar is no problem, and I never had any symptoms. But I’m right alongside you with this! (By the way, if you have any heavy-metal build-up, like aluminum or mercury, which I do have, it can be affected by yeast and I think this was showing up as yeast in me when it’s not.)

    Fun side note, my daughter saw the pictures of Cheerios or cereal on your screen and pointed and them and said “Eat.” lol.

  8. Hi, Donielle!

    Good for you!!!!

    The first time I renounced sugar was in my 20s when I had a BAD yeast overgrowth. I reversed my arthritis, chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivity, and allergies and chronic sinus infections. It was so awesome to produce such AMAZING miracles in my health, I didn’t mind at all living without sugar. I stayed off sugar (only had honey) and wheat for 2 years, and took very strong probiotics and other supplements (mostly glandulars) to build up my immune system.

    I recently reversed my daughter’s eczema by giving her Biokult every day in her milk. The eczema appeared right after she had a round of antibiotics when she had an ear infection (I think that was the only time she’s had antibiotics).

    I didn’t really even have to limit her sugar — although she doesn’t get a whole lot to begin with. Just honey in yogurt or maple syrup in her ice cream. Occasional treats like cookies that I make with rapadura (maybe once or twice a month.)

    So the probiotic you take makes a huge difference. I don’t think most of them work at all.

    If you can’t afford to buy a good probiotic, you can make kefir daily and actually eat the kefir grains. They are so powerful!

    These days I don’t eat sugar very often and I don’t really crave it. I use stevia in my morning coffee. My daughter gets dessert sweetened with honey or rapadura maybe 2 or 3 x per week. I don’t usually eat it. I do taste the desserts when I’m testing recipes. I can take it or leave it.

    I notice that when my yeast flares up, I crave sugar more. I think once you clean up the yeast and get your gut flora built up, you don’t miss sugar. You can eat it when it’s around here and there — or not — but you don’t NEED it. At least that has been my experience.

    Hang in there and you GO GIRL! You can do it!

    donielle Reply:

    @Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE, Antibiotics were the start of my problem as well. I had 2 rounds of them last year during Sophia’s birth and while I’ve come close to getting rid of the eczema, it hasn’t gone away completely. So I’m hoping between giving up sugar and taking my probiotics again (ran out for a few weeks) it’ll be gone in no time!

    And you’re right – when my body was better balanced before, I didn’t crave it at all. Now, I want it all the time, and I hate that!

    I’m so glad I actually understand how the body works now – makes it so much easier to be healthy. :-)

  9. Oh, and I totally forgot about Manis! I used to get their peanut butter cookies when I was in my 20s and working down here in LA on business (lived in SF at the time). They are fruit-juice sweetened.

    Of course, I don’t eat peanut butter cookies anymore unless I make them myself — it’s bad for your teeth!

  10. I am totally addicted to sugar. My body craves it. I do use a lot of raw honey and maple syrup, but also used Sucanat for brown sugar and Sucanat with Honey as a white sugar substitute. Recently, however, I ran out of Sucanat with Honey, so I reverted back to the nasty white refined sugar.

    DH and I were discussing our 4yo DS last night. DS is on the Autism Spectrum and we were debating whether to start the GAPS diet or not. DH said that if we’re going to do this, then he wants to start it ASAP because DS seems to be getting worse. So, reluctantly, I am trying to formulate a plan to start GAPS soon. I’m not looking forward to it, but I believe it’s necessary for DS. I guess we will be joining you on your “No Sugar Challenge” since sugar is off-limits on GAPS. Good luck and I hope you see great results in this endeavor!

    donielle Reply:

    @SAHMville, Ahh the cravings! When our bodies actually and physically CRAVE sugar, it means there’s an imbalance of bacteria in our guts. The bad yeast and bacteria feed off of it and NEED it to grow. I’m also taking probiotics to help with those.

    Re: GAPS – Do it!!! Don’t wait. :-) I sat in on the GAPS session at the Wise Traditions Conference and was amazed at the stories of healing!! I’d go for it. :-)

  11. @SAHMville – I have a guest post that will be on my blog next week about a family that has been doing GAPS and all the benefits they have been experiencing. Check my blog next week.

    @Donielle – It is amazing to me how people take antibiotics like they are candy. Antibiotics literally ruined my health so I am VERY careful and avoid them at all costs. I know how long it takes me to rebuild after I take even one round. I had constant rounds of antibiotics as a child due to chronic strep throat. I remember often being constipated and had chronic impetigo. It never occurred to these doctors prescribing all these antibiotics that I needed to rebuild my gut flora in order to get healthy. Pasteur’s germ theory just does not hold water.

    donielle Reply:

    @Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE, Unfortunately I let them give me antibiotics during birth because of the Group B Strep and it was just something I didn’t want to fight since I had to fight for everything else. Then a month later I got mastitis (thanks to the antibiotics) but didn’t catch it in time and ended up horribly sick with a 103 degree temp. I tried for a day to fight it myself and finally succumbed to more antibiotics. Ugh! Then I dealt with mastitis for the next few months but was able to beat it each time naturally after doing my research! Nine months later though, I’m still fighting the effects of them. :-(

    If any good could come of it, at least I’m smarter now! :-)

    SAHMville Reply:

    @Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE,
    @CHEESESLAVE, I check your blog nearly every day, so surely I’ll see it. Can’t wait!

  12. Have sucanat and rapadura been linked to the same problems that you mentioned in your video that refined sugar has?

    donielle Reply:

    @Leslie, Basically….yes. Even honey and syrup (and breads and fruits) are sugars and cause an insulin reaction in your body. The benefit to using natural sugars is that your body knows what to do with them unlike the refined sugars. And while sucanat is on the list of less refined sugars, I know giving it up will also stop me from eating to many breads, muffins, and the like!

  13. @Donielle – Wow I did not know mastitis was connected to gut flora imbalances!

    BTW did you know that eating butter can help with insulin resistance?

    Eating bread leavened with sourdough also helps:

    donielle Reply:

    @Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE, Yea, the more I researched it, the more I found it was just brought on like a cold. A clogged duct might ‘start’ it, but it’s being run down and not eating the way you should coupled with an imbalance in bacteria. I was able to fight it off naturally just like I would a cold. Mega doses of vitamin C, sleep, broth, lots of water, etc.

    Thanks for the links! I had heard that about butter, but lost where I found it. Interesting w/ the sourdough…..

    Carrie Reply:


    I just found your blog. I would love to get some links from you about mastitis and fighting it naturally. I get mastitis chronically. I’ve had it 8 times. I want to have more babies, but the thought of getting mastitis again makes me want to cry!! Please help! Thanks!

  14. Donielle,

    I am going to join you in this fight against sugar. I have received some information lately on using coconut oil and flour. The coconut oil is suppose to help you fight the sugar craving. I was able to get a very simple coconut bread recipe and my husband and I both love it. The recipe has 1 or 2 tablespoons of raw honey in it, but you do not even have to add that. The coconut oil has a bit of a sweet taste to it or maybe it’s the flout, but it is a very good bread. You feel very full after you eat it as well.

    The website where I got my information on the coconut oil is If you read the comments after the articles or after some of her recipes, you will find more recipes. I did not get the bread recipe from her site I got the bread recipe from

    This bread is very filling and I did not have any cravings after I ate it.

    Let me know if you need help finding these articles.

    I am looking forward to this challenge.

    donielle Reply:

    @Christy, I LOVE coconut oil! It’s the only fat I use for baking most of the time. I actually went through a whole half gallon of it just in December. :-) And it’s a great fat to use for losing weight as well and I try to include it in my tea when I remember.

    I actually got to meet Kimi (nourishing gourmet) in November and she’s quite awesome. :-) Those are 2 of the foodie blogs I follow!

    So far I’m at the end of day one and doing fine, I just have to keep watching what I grab for since I have a few things around that have a bit of sugar in them yet!

  15. I am in! My 12 month old daughter (who is still nursing by the way) has had some little dry patches showing up on her legs and although they don’t seem to bother her I have wondered what they might be. When you mentioned the eczema I looked in to it and some of the pictures I saw online look as though it could be them. I have a question to ask. Where can I get raw honey? Also, I understand cutting out processed foods and refined sugars but sugar goes by so many names. What should I look for when I am reading labels? Thanks again for putting this out there and for taking the time to share your knowledge with us!!!

    Rachael Reply:

    @Rachael, Ha Ha! Just saw your All About Sugar post and there is the list! :)

  16. Ah sugar.

    I am really sensitive to sugar. As in I get super hyped up from the stuff and crash afterwards. I’ve been tested for hypoglycemia and I was fine. So I’ve been wondering why I react so strongly to sugar compared to others. I’m begginning to think I have an intolerance or maybe even an allergy.

    We’ve cut most of our sugar out (we chucked out those spaghetti sauces and salsas with sugar last year).. But it does still sneak in.

    Question for you: if you cook or bake with raw honey, don’t the nutrients get baked out? Isn’t it equivalent to using pasturized honey once it’s baked? I do a lot of granola bar baking with honey and for baking I buy pasturized honey because I figure I’m losing nutrient value in baking it anyway. For regular eating, I try to do unpasturized. Thoughts?

  17. I wish I could do this but no idea how I would plus I LOVE baking and would hate giving that up. However I have cut down on sugar big time.

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE raw honey and maple syrup so I need to switch more to those.

  18. Another natural sugar substitute is Agave Nectar. I don’t care much for the taste of honey, but I love the agave nectar. It comes from the Agave plant and has a lower glycemic index (no crashing after eating! yay!).

    donielle Reply:

    @Jennifer, I actually stay away from Agave Nectar due to it not being as “natural” as touted. It’s actually quite refined.
    Here’s some great info on it:

    Deanna Reply:

    @Jennifer, Donielle’s right… Agave isn’t 100 % natural though it is low on the glycemic index. It’s very refined. The Aztecs used to use it, but obviously theirs (called aguamiel) wasn’t refined. I wish I had access to it.
    I use agave in my hot drinks only which is 1 cup of coffee in the morning and 1 cup of herbal tea in the evening. I end up using less than a tbs a day. I started using it because I needed a natural, low GI sweetener for my hot drinks and steevia tastes nasty to me and honey was causing my fasting blood sugar to be 100-105 which is HORRIBLE (though I do ocassionally use honey for it’s health benefits).
    Agave, for my specific uses, fits the bill. I wouldn’t necessarily use it for much other than that because it has no nutritional benefits. But since replacing honey in my hot drinks (which I will never give up 😉 ) with agave my fasting blood sugar has been below 99. It’s not as healthy as honey or coconut sugar but not as bad as asparatame or another chemical sweetener.

  19. Donielle,

    Hope you are doing well with staying off all refined sugar.

    I wanted to let you know that I have done pretty well for the first day of not eating anything with refined sugar. Today is day 2. I have a problem coming up though and hope you can help me come up with a plan. I am helping out with our youth group at church and our winter advance is coming up. We will be leaving on February 12th and coming home on February 14th. Of course they will be having nothing healthy to eat the entire time we are there. I would like to plan ahead and take all the food I can with me, so I don’t have to eat what they are eating, but I am not sure if that is doable. I know I can make coconut bread, pancakes and muffins for breakfast, but I am not sure what to do for all the other meals.

    Thank you for your input!!!

  20. Sarah Bauer says:

    Donielle, this is a great idea! I’m working on getting my family away from so much sugar too. The refined stuff is easy to avoid, since we don’t buy processed foods (except for occasional chocolate and Pepsi for my hubby – the one thing that really helps him kick migraines, go figure). I’ve also heard about the coconut oil and other fats actually helping reduce your craving for sugar. I’ve notice that when I have a sugary something, it takes a lot less to satisfy my “sweet tooth”.

    I also have eczema and have one child that does too, so this maybe something we need to tackle. I definitely need to make kefir and everyone needs to drink some every day. Thanks for the ideas!!

  21. I actually went off of sugar right after Christmas to kick off my desire to lose weight and get healthy this year. I feel SO much better when I am not eating all that sugar! My stumbling block is remembering to read labels, even some salad dressings have HFCS in it! yuck!

    I’m looking forward to learning more about substituting natural sugars too. I feel like that needs to be our family’s next step in our real food journey.

    donielle Reply:

    @Heather @ Not a DIY Life, Reading labels is such a pain! Right now I can’t even have ketchup, cause both the storebought and my homemade have either HFCS or rapadura in them. Now I just have to REMEMBER that fact. :-) I get so used to doing things a certain way I just grab and go.

    And salad dressings are next on my list to figure out, I’m sick of the junk in them!

    So how are you doing?

  22. Thank you for the link on agave. I had no idea! I really need to research these things more…Yikes! We’re definitely giving up the agave nectar!

    I need to start over on the sugar purge since I gave in yesterday. sigh.

  23. Hi Donielle. What a pleasure to find your blog! This post in particular was very relevant for me and my family. Antibiotics, eczema and candida are all struggles for me and my 2 babies. Cutting out all sugar is definitely something worth trying. It will be interesting to be more aware and see how much we are actually consuming even though in my mind we only eat honey and maple as well. For years my 3 year old has had terrible eczema and I can’t get a Dr. to help when I mention that I know it’s a candida-related issue. 15 mo. old baby boy just started showing his own eczema patches after completing a round of antibiotics. Both are on BioKult, but it’s not enough because they’ve been on it for 4-5 months now and still have symptoms. I will be following you on your journey! Thanks again for sharing!

  24. Hey there. This is my first time on your website. One of my friends posted this link on my facebook, and told me it should be encouraging. I have been on a 30 fast from sugar, and am on day 28. I listened to your whole video message and I am highly encouraged. It is a HUGE thing to do. A complete lifestyle change. And I do feel so much better. I have been sleeping better, and I have seen good changes in my moods. I found a website by a Dr. Olson called “30 Sugar Free Days”. The program not only takes all refined sugar out of the diet, but also any food that acts like sugar in your body. Grains, breads, pastas, rices… and so on. This has been a long journey, but a great one with everything I have learned. the only thing that concerns me is that you are still going to use honey and maple syrup. those are medium and high on the glycemic index. They will continue to make your body have cravings for more sugar, thus making it more difficult to ‘stay on the wagon’. Although losing weight was not a factor in me starting the fast… (addiction was), I have lost 9 lbs. and a pant size. I am more alert now, and find physical work and exercise not such a difficult thing anymore. Be encouraged!! You are a good mom for doing this!! Just think how much healthier not only you, but your family will be :) Thank you so much for sharing. It is good to be accountable to others.

  25. Hey Donielle! It’s nice to meet you! I signed up for the challenge to really try it! I have PCOS and can’t get the weight off! I am super fit like a skinny person… but I just can’t lose my weight… I also can’t get preggo at the moment… So far That is the only problem I have with my PCOs that is detrimental to my health. I want to get it under control before it gets any worse! I love your blog and website! You are an inspiration. =) I am so frustrated with all of this exercising and dieting.. it’s not working… I do struggle with my diet… I’m an emotional eater too so.. I’m worried about this challenge but I want to try! Thank you!


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