How Cutting Sugar Out Has Made a Dramatic Change in My Life

How Cutting Sugar Out Has Made a Dramatic Change in My Life

finding balance
I went sugar-free two weeks ago, after I was blindsided by the results of a nutrition response test. The doctor believes that sugar is the cause of my fibromyalgia.

I know sugar is a major cause of inflammation, but I thought I wasn’t consuming very much, if any. I had no idea how much I was ingesting every day. Between a couple of alcoholic beverages to sugar-laden smoothies, I was a sugarholic and didn’t know it. I didn’t understand that the potato chips, white rice and beer I was putting into my body daily could have such a profound impact on my health.

In the last few months, my health has deteriorated rapidly. I’ve been under a lot of stress, so, of course, I attributed my recent struggles to that. I didn’t realize I was increasing my consumption of sugar at the same time.

After two weeks of eating only whole foods and no sugar, I’ve not only lost 15 pounds, but also my pain level has decreased considerably! For the first time in years, I vacuumed my entire house in one day. I haven’t accomplished something even close to that in recent years without getting sick and being stuck in bed for days.

Going sugar-free isn’t easy. Sugar is in everything. I thought going gluten-free was difficult, but that was a walk in the park compared to giving up sugar.

Staying away from processed food is a must. Shop the outside aisles of the store. I can still have meat, grass-fed only, and one serving of fruit per day. Otherwise, it’s veggies, nuts, seeds, beans (not canned), eggs and dairy. I can have one white potato per week. I used to have at least one a day.

I’ve had comments about how much weight I’ve lost. Most of it was inflammation or water weight, but the change is dramatic. I am a large woman, more than 200 pounds, so losing 15 really doesn’t seem like much, but I can see a huge difference.

My double chin is almost gone. My stomach is smaller and so are my feet. The swelling is totally gone. I look in the mirror and I almost cry with happiness. I’ve hated, and been embarrassed by, this double chin for years. To see it disappear almost overnight is amazing.

But then I started to experience withdrawal symptoms. First, I became extremely crabby and agitated, to the point that I had no patience with anyone. Everything got on my nerves. After a few days of that, the headaches kicked in.

I suffered from horrible headaches for about a week. Just when I thought I was starting to get back to normal, along comes a flare. I went from feeling better than I had in years to worse than I had in years! I felt crushed.

As I emerge from this flare, I have to give myself some credit for sticking with the new diet plan through these struggles. I had used food for comfort and now I use it only for nourishment. I didn’t want a glass of wine or run for the nearest bag of chips, like I used to do. The changes I am beginning to see and feel are way more important to me than the temporary satisfaction I got from stuffing my face with sugar and bad carbs.

When I see the doctor again in three weeks, I hope the tests show that my BMI has decreased while my muscle mass has increased. Even though I am still somewhat skeptical that this is really the answer to my health woes, I am motivated and dedicated to my new way of life. Even if this doesn’t “cure” my fibromyalgia, it does make it easier to cope and endure.


Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.


  1. SandraM says:

    Kudos to you for giving up sugar! That is not an easy thing to do.
    Just the thought of giving up sugar makes me a little weak in the knees. But I have wondered about sugar in my diet making things worse. Actually thought about gluten first, but that is another thing that would be hard to give up.

    Did you go to a naturopathic doctor for the test? I hope your follow up with the doctor is positive.

  2. Em says:

    T’would that more folks would realize this about sugar. I ceased w/ all refined food, gluten and sugar over 3 years ago. Also eat whole foods and absolutely none of those boxed or frozen quickies I am seeing from some of the popular cooking shows that folks enjoy…gag a gnat!!!!

  3. Julie Shenk says:

    Disturbs me greatly for a doctor or health care provider to say ‘sugar consumption’ is the cause of your Fibromyalgia. If that were true, then I assume everyone without a Fibromyalgia diagnosis goes sugarless? I think not. It is way more complicated than that. However, striving for better habits and better eating and not using food for our emotional welfare is great to do and will improve overall health. But cure FM? Kudos indeed for the changes you are making.

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Well, Julie, I do have to admit that I am currently not having any fibromyalgia symptoms and no pain at all. I feel like I am cured. Only time will tell, but perhaps I don’t have fibromyalgia. Hard to tell with only one month into this change but I’ve never felt this good. Perhaps the doctor is right on this one.

      • Julie Shenk says:

        Delighted you are doing so well. Yes, so many varieties of FM. Mine started after a whiplash exactly 6 mos. later. However, it was on the heels of stress and later on more stress. I also have relatives who have Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. So a genetic component lies–autoimmune, central nervous system, so forth. However, I agree that people will be able to be helped through proper exercise and food intake/elimination. Two percent of FM folks turn out to develop Celiac Sprue. I am one of them. Then some have Thyroid issues (I have Hashimoto’s Disease as well). It’s interesting……but I do agree that we do need to explore and try things out for better outcomes. I certainly believe stress is our #1 enemy. It needs to be handled well or gets accumulated.

    • Debra Kelly says:

      Personally, I can’t eat processed foods without feeling like I’ve been hit by a train the next day. I think there are a group of us that are genetically predisposed to fibromyalgia and for whatever reasons different foods make it worse. In the nutrition school I’m attending, we’re learning about bio-individuality. We’re all humans, but our unique combination of genes causes us all to be sensitive to different foods. My sister-in-law eats bags of candy every day and is a US size 2. If I ate like her, I’d be 400 pounds. Hope that makes sense.

  4. Loraine says:

    When I was diagnosed early last March, I told my doctor that I would not take meds. She encouraged me to go gluten/sugar/dairy/caffeine free. I was already dairy free due to allergies. I immediately started the gluten/sugar/caffeine free. I can tell when I slip and eat either gluten/sugar because the next day I have more aches and pains as well as some fibro fog. I have been able to get by with only tylenol and occasionally advil. I don’t believe this is a cause or a cure but rather that both gluten and sugar exacerbate the condition.

  5. Em says:

    Perhaps we need to start a sugar/dairy/gluten/caffeine/alcohol free club as I have been excluded on most other plains…thankful for those whom are helped by eliminating these foods-works for some and not for all. Yeah Team!!!

    • Loraine says:

      I would love to have a group that is using sugar/dairy/gluten/caffeine/alcohol free to discuss ideas, finds, recipes, etc. I feel like I am doing this on my own and would love to share/compare with others who are fighting fibromyalgia with diet. Maybe even a facebook page group would work.

      • Em says:

        Well Loraine I am a creative cook and do some funky things. Today it was spaghetti squash w/ lots of garlic-I am most fond of this squash and saute -mushrooms, onions and lots of garlic to place with it.
        I am curious as to whether foods in the Nightshade family cause fibro flares for you or anyone else-took me a while to figure this one out as I love peppers-finally I got it as white potatoes are also there and I am not one whom cares for them-it sounded good and sure enough this indulgence solved the problem…no, no no!!! Not peppers. Egads, the sacrifices that are made.
        Not a fb fan and know nothing about starting one, but if you would like to try…you may be on to something. As far as recipes the internet is full of them. I am a green smoothie fan as I have severe TMJ and salads are a no-no. Now that is really a low blow. I grind nuts in a coffee grinder to put with other foods to get healthy fats-okay there is a start girl…feedback welcome. I also love avocados and mash them up with albacore tuna and horseradish thus no need for mayo. Sprout bread is also yummy.

  6. Michele says:

    Hello All,
    Sugar! but corn needs to be removed from your diet. I’m new to this site and finally realizing I truly have Fibromyalgia, I was diagnosed in 2014. In 2016 my Fibromyalgia exploded and I was in denial, wanting to find a different source to my chronic pain. Last year I found other causes for my over lapping symptoms. My hypothyroidism was Hashimoto’s and I was diagnosed with a parathyroid tumor (had removed, I went gluten-free on the advice of my doctor. As I was bedridden on weekends I was researching Hashimoto’s and came across Dr. K (Dr. Kharrazian, What he is doing for suffers with Hashimoto’s has helped me with my Hashimoto’s and Fibromyalgia. Look under diet tab and you will find out gluten free foods have foods which are not good for you, corn (all forms of corn, corn starch, etc.) flour, soy (salad dressings), almonds, white potato (potato flour), beans, dairy, etc. I was eating gluten-free foods without realizing I was eating foods that were bad for me. I now shop at WholeFoods, Jimbos, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s. Coconut spread for butter, coconut milk for dairy. Read the ingredients label not the gluten free label. I went on his diet, stop taking Cymbalta and lost 20 pounds. It took about 3 months to find all of the great replacement foods. My Fibromyalgia chronic pain is still with me but is less painful. Only when I wasn’t working, no stress from work, my Fibromyalgia went into remission (I thought I cured myself). Then I had a bad Fibro flareup, (STRESS) reality hit me, “I have Fibromyalgia”, all of my symptoms I’m experiencing are related to my Fibromyalgia, many urgent care vists and bedridden days with severe chronic pain. I’m in chronic pain daily with different levels of pain now. Sometimes my pain meds work but you need to find what works for you. I believe Dr. K is onto something with his new research and his advice on diet has helped me to get my Hashimoto’s and Fibromyalgia into remission once and I’m working to get it back into remission. I’m no longer pushing myself to get up and go to work. Having to give up on my passion, graphic design, I’m on disability with a great doctor. She has helped me put all of my symptoms I’m experiencing together, Fibromyalgia. My journey with this condition has been painful, physically and mentally. I believe FM is due to how stress is processed and diet (inflammation foods). You need to find your balance, each person with FM is unique.

    • Julie Shenk says:

      Thanks so very much for sharing your story and experiences. It’s been a lot of ‘food for thought’ (pardon the pun). I will do some more exploring. I have a unique history in that I am an incest survivor who repressed until mid-life. It took a major trigger. In my late teens and early 20s, I tried numerous times to end my life. I did receive some help and even hospitalized for 7 months of my life. However, I suppose I did not feel safe to remember until both of my parents were deceased. I made a grave mistake by telling my sister. That’s another story. Anyway, during the first one-month hospital stay, I developed a binge eating disorder that has lasted to this day. I am better than I’ve ever been–trust me. It was my tool for survival. I’ve been very hard on my body. I also have PTSD but am doing much better these days. I have felt like I am living my life backward. But emotional stress affects our body as does physical the other direction. I have come a long way emotionally and spiritually (I’m a Christian who was unable to unpack all of her suitcases at the cross). Now, I am more fully working on my mindset and also ‘what else’ nutritionally and movement wise I can implement.

        • Julie says:

          Em, thanks for sharing. I am so glad God orchestrated the inner healing–twenty years worth–so many layers to unravel and loads of continued roadblocks and betrayals. But one day at a time to freedom and complete when I meet my Lord face to face. So I have to mindset to seek wisdom for unraveling my health issues. So much damage done with the autoimmune system. Trying hard to decrease and lessen plus heal more so. I’m committed. I used a severe eating disorder for many decades but God is delivering me–better than ever but not cured completely. Much damage was done by myself and done by others. Such a fallen world. Without His touches of grace, peace, joy, and hope, I would not be around. Love and understanding extended!

    • Em says:

      Only my opinion-corn is poison for fibro and all living things due to being one of the foods laden w/ GMO’s. Soy ranks number 2. Gluten-look up info on wheat. Check the IU site and be prepared for nightmares!!! There is a wheat that is only 2 ft. tall and this variety is downright scary-please excuse if I am being too graphic and I am holding back y’all…do some reading about wheat and other grains…a suggestion and not only for fibro folks…

      • Julie says:

        I would agree with you. Some people are definitely more predisposed to food sensitivities and actual autoimmune issues (Celiac). I am one. I’m now including bone broth daily. So much to learn in order to retrain my brain on things we grew up on and thought to be the best for our bodies nutrition. Of course, everyone has a take, don’t they? I’m getting quite an education in research but I love to do so.

  7. Michele says:

    Finding out what could be some of the causes of Fibromyalgia, new research, many FM suffers can relate to. Accident, trauma, siblings and PTSD, stress. Having to deal with a narcissistic sister for 54 years, I have a feeling I know what you experience with your sister. I lost my dad and was diagnosed with FM a month later after a long search in find what was physically wrong with me after experiencing a minor automobile accident when I had 3 weeks from graduating college. I went back to school to finish my degree at 46. Being told I was just getting older, it’s menopause. When you know your body and a doctor tells you, you don’t know after five minutes with him or her, is mind boggling. I have seen up to 14+ doctor’s. I’m now getting great medical support and dealing with my FM then my family. I too have those days but you need to take one day at a time. Plan what you want to accomplish for the next day before you go to bed. Only talk to positive people who has empathy. Don’t let FM define who you are but part of your journey, which you say to God, Why? And my doctor tells me to get mad and have the big cry. I can’t get mad at something I have no control over but I can have control of how I deal with it. Stay strong.

    • Julie says:

      Michele, I agree with you. It’s been rare to get ‘any’ help with my local doctors though some had great bedside manners. I do know that eating nutritiously and keeping weight down plus some exercise helps. As a Christian, I spend loads of time in constant prayer and in Biblical devotions. Positive support groups have helped greatly, too. I’ve had to grieve a lot–and cycle through with things for emotional healing and physical healing. But mainly now, I surrender but don’t give up and have adjusted to my new normals. I still overdo and usually pay for it but some experiences are just worth it! My immediate family always comes first but I pace with grace and they ‘get it’–finally (well, most of the time). I’m so sorry about the situation with your sister. I lament that my sister and I were unable to make this journey as a sincere support team for she has tons going on.

  8. lois Andersen says:

    Wonderful reading all your comments. I also believe sugar has some effect. I’ve also lived with extreme stress all my life – as a child lived in an alcoholic and violent environment. Left home after graduated high school; a few years later married a wonderful man who has problems with depression and anxiety (more extreme stress). I was diagnosed with FM in 2011; am now 66 and having lots of problems. The thing that is bothering me the most is muscle weakness. I can mostly handle the pain, but the muscle weakness is more than I can bear at times. Does anyone else have this issue? I cannot seem to walk more than a block at a time. Also my upper arms are extremely fatigued, as are my quads. Desparately seeking some answers; not getting them from doctors I’ve seen. lalamusic

    • Julie says:

      Hi, I do believe these chronic diseases are even more difficult as we age. I have so many issues with my health that war against each other but most cause a lot of brain fog, fatigue, and pain. Also, muscle tone is an issue for me. I do exercise but I remain flabby in arms and legs. I’m not too weak as still move a good bit (it’s ingrained within as taught exercise classes but I’m not nearly on fire like I was before. Maybe that is good…..maybe I did more harm physically by doing far too much! Anyway, I deal with P.O.T.S. which can come with FM so I can feel like nauseated and feel like will pass out at times especially when overdo or stand in place too long. Always check with your doctor or specialist for heart issues at our age. I sure do. God Bless.

      • lois Andersen says:

        Thanks for your comment. I’m very concerned about the weakness I’m experiencing in my legs especially. At times they tremble and just give way. I have the same problems with my arms. This past weekend I went outside and picked up some branches that fell from trees and carried them only a few yards. I could hardly make it; my arms ached terribly and my legs wobbled. I had to stand by a tree and lean on it for support. Is this a part of FM?

        • Julie says:

          I haven’t had those symptoms. But if I try to rake, mow grass, and the like, my arms, shoulders, neck burn and hands will tingle. Perhaps, you need further testing to be sure????

    • Carrie Anton says:

      Hi Christine,

      Yes, I’m still sugar-free and doing very well. I’ve lost a total of 65 lbs in 9 months and feel better than ever. I’m totally off the pain meds and got rid of 3 other prescriptions. My doctor is amazed at my progress. One of the best changes I’ve ever made.

  9. Gayle Morton-Grant says:

    Your story sounds so similar to the first time I tried nutritional keto for my fibromyalgia. Thinking I had found the cure, I also went into a terrible flare. In the nutritional keto community it is known that you need to supplement certain minerals that are lost more rapidly with a low card diet. Taking Magnesium malate (and pottassium) was a game changer for me. My energy levels soared and my flares lessened. I have slipped back to my carb addict ways after moving house and a number of other stressors and feeling very ill again. Thank you for your article, it motivates me to support my health this way and reminds me what a huge difference it made and will surely make again.

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