How Giving Up Sugar For Lent Affects Your Brain

If you are a Catholic, you will most likely know what Lent is all about. Known as ‘quaresima’ in Italian, ‘cuaresma’ in Spanish as well as ‘careme’ in French, Lent itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon early English language which means to ‘lengthen’. For non-Catholics who are not aware of what ‘Lent’ may mean, it is a solemn religious practice where a Catholic should abstain from something of their choosing (usually their favorite foods) and it is done around six weeks prior to Easter.


Since the majority of people in the world are addicted to sugar, abstaining from it for the period of around 40 days for Lent will be an extremely arduous and difficult journey. Excessive consumption of sugar leads to weight gain, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure as well as cholesterol level, and if it were to be reversed, below are the effects of abstaining from sugar for a long period of time:

Mood Swings

Similar to other things that are contained in your food, sugar affects the chemicals in your brain which help you to function properly. One of the chemicals that will be released after you consume sugary foods is called dopamine. Dopamine helps to control the brain’s reward and pleasure system, as well as regulating emotional responses. For his reason, it is really foreseeable that once you take all your sugary food away, less and less dopamine will be produced in your brain, leaving you “rewardless” and unhappy. Withdrawing from sugar will cause similar effect to withdrawing from drugs, which may include physical symptoms if it is of severe condition. But as time goes by, the mood swings will stabilize and it will be replaced by mood and mental clarity.

Fatigue and Tiredness

As you give up instant supply of your blood sugar, your insulin count may be a little bit low and as a result, you will experience fatigue and tiredness. Sugar actually provides people with a short-term energy boost, or otherwise known as the “sugar rush”. The body is programmed to obtain energy from sugar, and it needs to adjust once the sugar supply has been stopped. Hence for this reason, it is really possible for people to experience symptoms like fatigue and lethargy during the first weeks of their sugar free journey. In some severe cases, withdrawing from sugar can also cause symptoms which are similar to getting a cold.


Giving up sugar will cause the body to flush out toxins, and this detoxification process can cause headaches for some people because the body is trying to issue a warning to consume sugar as soon as possible. People have also reported the symptom of dizziness after they stop consuming sugar, but this typically affects people who are more sensitive to bodily changes. Such change in the body can also cause tension because the body system does not function normally, but this symptom will alleviate gradually.

Sleeping Pattern Changes

Withdrawing from sugar can cause someone to be moody, tired, lethargic and dizzy. These symptoms can also affect someone’s sleeping pattern, because the energy level drops in the beginning where the brain is forced to function differently. In spite of that, once the body has been accustomed to the absence of sugar, it is reported that someone will actually experience an improved sleep experience since toxins from the brain are flushed out, where additionally the insulin level is finally balanced with the amount of existing blood sugar. A positive result of such sleeping pattern changes would be a more natural and refreshing waking up experience.



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