Posted on Mon, 14 Sep 15
A group of people who cut out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners for 2 weeks found that sugar cravings went away, they lost their taste for sugary foods, and that sugar-free foods tasted better.
It’s often said that quitting sugar makes healthier food taste better, but few studies have examined the effects of a “sugar detox” on taste perception.
To see if your taste for sugary foods does change after quitting sugar a group of 20 people cut out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners in their diets for 2 weeks and then completed a survey of their taste preferences.
Sugar and Artificial Sweetener Challenge Instructions:
1. Do not add any form of sugar (see list below) or any alternative sweeteners to foods or drinks! Avoid artificial and alternative sweeteners including Sweet ‘N Low, Equal, Splenda, monk fruit, neotame, stevia, and xylitol, etc. No added sweeteners!
2. Avoid all sweetened sodas, bottled teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks and juice (even 100% juice), specialty coffee drinks, and any other liquid with added sweeteners.
3. Cut out any foods that have a lot of added sugar or any artificial sweeteners such as cookies, cake, candy, yogurt, soy or almond milk, breakfast cereals, energy bars, or other foods. Read labels! Aim for food with 5 g or less of added sugar. Look at the ingredient lists of foods you eat for other names for sugar such as the following:
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- Maple syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Barley malt
- Coconut palm sugar
- Cane sugar
- Grape sugar
- Turbinado sugar
- Raw sugar
- Brown sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Brown rice syrup
- Date sugar
Note: Plain unsweetened milk and yogurt and fruit contain natural sugar, which is fine because it is not added sugar. Limit dried fruits to 2 servings per day and fresh fruits to 4 to 5 servings per day.
After the 2-week challenge, 95% of participants found that sweet foods and drinks tasted sweeter or too sweet, 75% found that other foods tasted sweeter, and 95% said that moving forward they would use less or even no sugar. And quitting sugar got easy fast; with 86.6% of people reporting that they had no more cravings for sugar after just 6 days.
The average adult consumes around 22 teaspoons of added sweeteners a day, with dire health consequences. Author of the study Carole Bartolotto, MA, RD, commented that these results suggest “a 2-week sugar challenge can help to reset taste preferences and make consuming less or no sugar easier.”
“Physicians should consider recommending a sugar and artificial sweetener challenge to all their patients to help them limit or avoid added sugars, especially those with obesity, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease,” she added.
Bartolotto C. Does Consuming Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners Change Taste Preferences? Perm J. 2015 Summer;19(3):81-4.