When Cravings Are a Good Thing: How to Quit Inflammatory Foods

by JJ Virgin on March 10, 2019

I’ve seen it time and again: Three or four days after starting The Virgin Diet or Sugar Impact Diet, people start to feel uncomfortable symptoms and are tempted to quit. Sometimes they declare, “This diet isn’t working!”

Not so fast. Hang in there while I explain…

These symptoms are actually proof that you’re doing everything RIGHT! And while I don’t enjoy seeing people suffer, I consider cravings for sugar or the 7 high-FI (food intolerance) foods a very good sign.

Read on to find out what I mean, and I’m sure you’ll be motivated to power through the momentary discomfort so you end up feeling better than ever before…

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What are food cravings and withdrawal?

Research has shown that we can become addicted to foods in the same way we can become addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, and other substances.

In fact, sugar has been shown to be more addictive than even some narcotics, and the withdrawal patterns of quitting sugar and inflammatory processed foods are very similar to those who are quitting drugs.1,2

Just as when you remove toxic drugs from your body, removing addictive or inflammatory foods from your diet triggers an adjustment phase, which can feel rough. It’s a sign that your body is clearing out toxins and harmful antibodies as quickly as possible. Signs of withdrawal usually show up about 3–4 days after starting the Virgin Diet or Sugar Impact Diet, and the symptoms can vary for each person. As you detoxify your system, the adjustment phase may cause:

  • intense food or sugar cravings
  • headaches
  • anxiety
  • mood swings
  • skin flare-ups
  • gut issues (diarrhea or constipation)
  • brain fog
  • flu-like symptoms
  • fatigue
  • muscle/joint pain

Stay with me here—I promise there’s a silver lining!

What causes these withdrawal symptoms?

1) Sugar is toxic and addictive.

Unfortunately for everyone eating the Standard American Diet (SAD for short), sugar is toxic to your brain and body.

Studies have shown that too much of it can cause brain degeneration, resulting in memory loss and cell damage.3 It can also harm your liver as much as alcoholism, which can lead to fatty liver disease, blood sugar imbalances, and weight gain!4

Cravings are a classic response when you remove sugar from your diet because, as with all addictive drugs, the more sugar you eat, the more you need it.5 Soon, you start snacking to survive and get “hangry” any time you miss those carbs.

Given how many hidden sugars lurk in the modern-day diet, you can unknowingly develop a serious dependency. And removing sugar from your diet can cause withdrawal symptoms, even when you normally “eat healthy.”

For that reason, we carefully taper your sugar exposure and carb count in Cycle 1 of the Sugar Impact Diet. However, if you’ve been eating high-sugar or high-carb, even a slow taper can still cause some discomfort.

2) Your body is shifting from burning sugar to burning fat.

This is fantastic news! Here’s how it works:

When you’re used to a high-sugar diet, glucose is your body’s main fuel source. Eating high Sugar Impact foods causes blood sugar spikes and the release of insulin to bring your levels back down.

When insulin brings your blood sugar too low, your body thinks it’s running out of fuel and wants to bring the levels back up. The result? You end up with cravings!

As you limit sugar and begin eating a diet rich in clean protein and healthy fats instead, your body learns to use your stored fat for fuel instead. That’s why most people lose up to 10 pounds in the first two weeks of the Sugar Impact Diet!

But that transition doesn’t happen overnight, and you may experience withdrawal symptoms as you make the shift.

3) You’ve removed foods that are causing inflammation.

Cravings caused by dietary changes aren’t just limited to sugar!

When you eat foods that cause chronic inflammation such as gluten, dairy, soy, or eggs, your body creates antibodies to help zap those inflammatory compounds. And as you eat fewer of those harmful foods, those antibodies suddenly have nothing to do.

As a result, you can experience intense cravings for the very foods that were harming you! The good news is that the cravings are short-lived and a sure sign that you’re doing the right thing by removing the foods you crave from your diet.

The antibodies will soon fade away, along with the miserable symptoms of food intolerance that accompanied those problem foods!

Remember, the more of those inflammatory foods you ate in the past, the more severe your withdrawal symptoms may be.

4) Detoxing releases toxins into general circulation.

If you’re used to eating the SAD, your body is being inundated with pesticides, GMO foods, and an endless list of chemicals from processed foods. And when your liver is overloaded with these toxins, they get stored in your fat.

While you’re on the Virgin Diet or the Sugar Impact Diet, you’re eating clean, organic, and non-GMO foods. Your body is no longer taking in additional toxins, so it can start getting rid of what you’ve got!  

That detoxification can be taxing for your body and cause uncomfortable symptoms like those listed earlier.

Also, as you start burning fat for fuel, further toxins get released into general circulation in your system. That can cause those same flu-like symptoms, rashes, and all of the classic signs of withdrawal.

Still with me? Here comes the good news…

Why cravings and withdrawal symptoms are a good thing:

Symptoms mean you’re on the right track and the program is working!

All of the cravings and withdrawal symptoms are signs that your body is releasing toxins along with fat, as you’re shifting from being a sugar burner to a fat burner. Your blood sugar is becoming balanced, and chronic inflammation from food sensitivities and toxins is on the way out.

Now, that’s exciting and motivating!

In fact, the more symptoms you’re having, the more you know your body is working to heal. And, the bigger the symptoms, the more dramatic the results!

This is why it’s so important to understand what’s behind their cause, so you’ll be ready and willing to push through it and finally reach your health goals.

You’ll also be happy to know that these symptoms don’t last for too long—in most cases, they decrease or disappear after just 3 or 4 days.

How to quit inflammatory foods

When it comes to sugar, easy does it!

Since sugar is so addictive, going cold turkey is a surefire way to trigger the worst cravings and withdrawal symptoms and set yourself up for failure. It took you years to become dependent on sugar, so you can’t quit overnight.

The Sugar Impact Diet has been wildly successful for tens of thousands of reformed sugar addicts because it was designed to lower sugar impact by reducing sugar gradually in two stages.

You’ll use healthy swaps and smart meal timing to cut out snacks and shift from being a sugar burner to a fat burner. In the process, you’ll be able to release belly fat and reduce the inflammation that can make you feel rotten and contribute to pain and disease risk.

With food intolerances, go cold turkey.

It’s important to cut out inflammatory foods all at once and completely. Don’t worry—it’s not for life, just until your system has a chance to heal.

Unlike with sugar, the best approach to ditching foods that cause intolerance symptoms is to start by cutting them all out of your diet without exception. Give your system a chance to calm down, clear out those inflammatory antibodies, and begin to feel better.

And I’ve got you covered while you do it!

I created The Virgin Diet to help you quit the top 7 high-FI foods most likely to cause issues: gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, corn, and sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Once you’ve had a 3-week cleanse where you eat other healthy, delicious options instead, I’ll help you test back the potential offenders to find out which foods are fine for you and which ones need to stay out for good.

This has been proven to be the most effective way to break free from weight loss resistance, gas and bloating, fatigue, and a laundry list of other problems caused by food intolerances.

How to get through cravings and withdrawal

Check in with your mindset

The most important way to get through this uncomfortable stage is to dial in your mindset.

What’s your big why? Remember why you started this health journey and think about what it would mean to reach your health goals once and for all. What would you do differently if you didn’t have to worry about excess weight, joint pain, headaches, cravings, or fatigue?

A positive outlook does wonders, so every time a craving hits, forget about food and write down a few things you’re grateful for and a few wins for the day.

I can think of plenty already: We’re grateful you’re taking responsibility for your health, have Internet access so you can find help, and have the strength and hope to move forward. And it’s a HUGE win that you’re willing to make a change. Go you!

Accountability and support

An amazing way to stay the course and get through cravings and withdrawals on a diet is to do it with a buddy!

That’s why all of my successful, science-based programs include a private community with supportive and active members on the same journey, as well as health coaches to keep you informed, motivated, and inspired to follow through!

Stay hydrated

Infused water is a great way to keep water interesting if you’re not a fan of drinking plain water.  Here are my top recipes: 10 Ways to Make Your Water Taste Better

Upgrade your lemon water with my Lemon-Aid recipe. It will not only cut cravings fast, but also boost weight loss, enhance digestion, and keep you satisfied until your next meal.

Sip green tea throughout the day to keep your spirits and energy levels high. Pique Tea is my go-to source for the cleanest and most flavorful tea around. (Get your Pique tea sampler HERE or try their Sun Goddess Matcha!)

Sweat it out

Burst training (aka high-intensity interval training, or HIIT) is an excellent way to sweat out those toxins and blast fat in just minutes each day! Find out how to do it the right way here.

An infrared sauna is a powerful and relaxing way to draw toxins out of your body through sweat, while boosting your immune system, dialing down stress hormones, easing muscle and joint pain, and increasing metabolism.

I personally own a Sunlighten® Sauna because it has near- and far-infrared technology with the lowest EMFs, and it’s made from the cleanest materials, including bamboo carbon. Learn more here.

Get 7–9 hours of sleep every night

Did you know that your brain and body are detoxing when you’re getting a good night of restorative, uninterrupted sleep? Also, poor sleep habits can aggravate cravings and dial up your hunger hormones while lowering your willpower. No thank you!

Here are my top tips for getting great sleep, so you can break through cravings and withdrawal symptoms more easily.

So, now that you know about cravings, withdrawals, and how to ditch them for good, you’re all set to get through them successfully! It’s time to lose weight, break free from sugar addiction, heal gut inflammation, and achieve your best health ever.

Not sure which program to start? Here’s How to Choose The Virgin Diet or Sugar Impact Diet.

Dial up the yum factor healthily with my FREE Sweet Treats Guide. We’ve got 15 fab recipes for fudge, cookie bites, brownies, pudding, coconut ice cream + more. Drooling yet? And the best part is every recipe is super healthy. Claim your guide here

The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23719144
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666318306196?via%3Dihub
  3. http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/sugar-and-brain
  4. http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/the-toxic-truth/#.XEwKuc9KgXo
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/