What to expect

So, you wonder, why did you have to give up artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols? These products can be anywhere from 100 to 600 times sweeter than sugar, which has the potential to set you up for more sugar cravings! Repeated exposure to sweetened foods and beverages trains flavor preferences. Studies have found that sweet taste, whether delivered by sugar or artificial sweeteners, enhances human appetite.

It is common to choose “diet” or “light” products to lose weight. Systematic reviews of several research studies suggest that artificial sweeteners, when substituted for regular-calorie versions, can result in modest weight loss.1,2 However, there are conflicting studies about artificial sweeteners and there is no reason to assume that they are healthy. They should be consumed in moderation.

What about sugar alcohols?

Sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, are ingredients used as sweeteners and bulking agents. As a sugar substitute, they provide fewer calories (about one-half to one-third less calories) than regular sugar. Common sugar alcohols listed on a nutrition facts label include: mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, lactitol, isomalt and maltitol.

Many "sugar-free" gums including Trident and Extra are made with sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols add texture to foods, help food retain moisture and prevent foods from browning when they are heated.

Unfortunately, there are some negatives associated with sugar alcohols. The most common side effect is the possibility of bloating and diarrhea when sugar alcohols are eaten in excessive amounts. There is also some evidence that sugar alcohols, much like fructose (natural fruit sugar) in fruit and fruit juice can cause a "laxative effect."

It is best for our health and waistline to cut artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols from the diet, along with added sugars. Choose naturally occurring sugars found in fruits, vegetables and dairy products!

Another great idea is to flavor foods and beverages with cinnamon. Cinnamon is a great spice to use in place of sugar. You may have noticed I try to throw cinnamon in everything! Sprinkle it in your morning coffee, oatmeal, smoothie, yogurt, on a banana or in your hot tea!

Start sprinkling more cinnamon today!

What to eat

Here is a suggested meal plan to follow for day 7 of the Sugar Shutdown. Please note you can make changes to fit your tastes, dietary and calorie needs.

As always, our important reminders:

  • Do not skip any meals. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Listen to your hunger cues. Eat until you’re satisfied, but give yourself a break before you start to snack to see if you’re actually hungry. (If you’re hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re probably hungry.)
  • Remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water.
  • Eat snacks that have both a protein and a carbohydrate (nuts and fruit, hummus and vegetables, string cheese and grapes). This will keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day and help you stay full and keep cravings at bay.
  • If you mix and match any meals, remember you want: A maximum of 2-3 servings of fruit daily. Watch your serving sizes and your snacks! 4-6 servings of non-starchy vegetables. Half of your plate at lunch and dinner should be nonstarchy vegetables. If you can get them in at breakfast too, the more the merrier. Snack time is an easy spot to get another serving in as well! We encourage using leftovers, especially at lunchtime!

You will be surprised to see how much sugar is hidden in some of our favorite breakfast foods. Take a look! 


½ cup old-fashioned plain oatmeal

2 tablespoons nut butter

Half banana

Optional: cinnamon and chia seeds

Morning snack

Boiled egg and fresh fruit


3-4 ounces of grilled chicken or lean cut of beef

Roasted bell peppers and onion or any other vegetables from non-starchy list


Afternoon snack

Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt with other half of banana

Optional: toasted almond slivers, cinnamon and chia seeds


4-6 ounces grilled chicken breast

Greek Kale Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup baby kale, stems removed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup walnuts (optional)
  • Feta cheese for topping
  1. Cook quinoa as instructed on package.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to a medium bowl. Toss in cooked quinoa.
  3. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of feta cheese or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Peel a banana and cut into several small pieces and lay flat in a freezer bag or a glass container in the freezer to freeze overnight to use tomorrow.

How you should be feeling today

Get excited! You’re one day closer! Be proud of yourself.

At this time, you might be feeling like you’ve done what’s best for you (and you have)! If the scale is not moving in the direction you would like, please remember that weight loss is not the only goal here. Some lose weight right off the bat, while others hold onto fluid and lose it quickly later in the process. Likewise, body composition (fat and muscle) is different in each person. Some of you may not even be looking to lose weight. Remember your end goal and think about how good you feel already! It’s not all about weight, but about a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle and commitment to eliminating added sugars.


Some people feel like if they don’t get in a strenuous heart-pumping workout, they haven’t really worked out. In other words, some of us focus too much on cardio, while others do not get enough. It is important to maintain a well-rounded exercise experience. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of exercise per day, five times a week. This should include at least two days per week of moderate- to high-intensity muscle strengthening (weights, lunges, squats, push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, etc.) So be creative and get moving!

Interesting fact

Broccoli contains twice the vitamin C of an orange. It has almost as much calcium as whole milk--and the calcium is better absorbed. In addition, broccoli contains selenium, a mineral that studies have suggested may have anti-cancer and anti-viral properties. Broccoli is a modest source of vitamin A and alpha-tocopherol vitamin E. It also has antioxidant properties.

Source: USDA

Novant Health is here to help with lifestyle and nutrition services, sports medicine, and primary care physicians and clinics backed by caring support teams ready to help you live your best life.

  1. Miller PE, Perez V. Low-calorie sweeteners and body weight and composition: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Sep;100(3):765-77
  2. Rogers PJ1, Hogenkamp PS2, de Graaf C, et al. Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies. Int J Obes (Lond). 2016 Mar;40(3):381-94