The Don'ts of Whole30®: Sugar

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed some extra time with your loved ones. I definitely enjoyed some extra sugary treats that have now made their way to homes of others so they no longer live here. 

I want to start by covering the don’ts of the program. Those seem to be the harder ones to grasp and have people going cross-eyed as they are reading them on their own. I am going to break them down one at a time so you can get a better handle and understanding of them. Break off a small bit and chew before moving onto the next one. If you have questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an email at I am happy to converse with you!

The first avoid item we are going to cover is sugar. 

For 30 days you will consume no added sugar of any kind. The first thing I get asked when I say that is, “What about honey, agave, stevia, maple syrup?” So, I will ask you this, is using honey, agave, stevia, or maple syrup adding sugar, for instance, to your coffee? Or was it already there? If you have to pull it from the pantry or fridge and squeeze a bottle then it is adding sugar, therefore it is off-limits. 


No matter where the sweet goodness comes from our body and mind responds the same, cue dopamine and instantaneous feel-good hormones or stress, willpower (or lack-thereof) and the not-so feel-good hormones. Whole30® has this phrase “the Sugar Dragon.” The Sugar Dragon covers cravings, urges, the pulls towards the sweet and carb-laden stuff. Let me tell you. This is REAL. And depending on how much you consume, whether you realize you are or not, that first week of Whole30® is going to HURT. Think headache, body aches, tired, cranky, don’t touch me or I might bite you attitude.  This may be the hardest item to avoid, but it is the most freeing. 

Here are the different kinds of sugar you need to familiarize yourself on. You will find them in gum, mints, salad dressings, pre-made spices, sauces, coated nuts, beverages, salsa… You get the point. They are snuck into EVERYTHING. 

  • Sugar-brown, cane, raw, beet, etc.
  • Maple Syrup 
  • Honey
  • Agave Nectar
  • Coconut Sugar
  • Splenda
  • Equal
  • Nutrasweet
  • Xylitol
  • Stevia
  • Sugar Alcohols

The list goes on…

I highly suggest downloading and printing this bad boy off for easy reference. As a society we are addicted to sugar and it’s no wonder since it is thrown into everything pre-packaged and pre-made we consume. Even as I am working with restaurants to clean up their recipes added sugar is in all of their dressings and marinades. My hope is one day added sugar becomes taboo. 

One exception to this Whole30® rule is fruit juice-100% fruit juice. Fruit juice really is sugar, however it can be used in your recipes when something is needed. This doesn’t mean go grab a liter of apple or orange juice and chug. It means use a couple of tablespoons in that marinade to balance out acidity or round out the flavor profile. 

I do have a suggestion to help ease the sugar dragon. When I did my first Whole30® I tapered into the program. One week before the start I eased back on the items that are not allowed on the program. I didn’t cut them out completely, but I did back off of my consumption big time. I ate less and only had a headache for a couple of days instead of one that lasted a week or more. I highly recommend doing that yourself. This will also bring awareness to which of your go-to items have sugar in the ingredient list. If you are really nervous about knowing if you are making a good choice on your sauces and marinades for home take a look at Tessemae’s Whole30® approved items. The ketchup was my saving grace at first then I made my own from a Whole30® recipe. 

Here is my referral link to Tessemae’s to save 20% off your order. I ordered the Whole30® kit before I started my program and it helped tremendously. 

Alright, gang! That’s all I have on sugar! The next item with be alcohol.