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Book Summary: The 40-Day Sugar Fast – Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

The 40-Day Sugar Fast (2019) is a spiritual journey to having a healthier relationship with food. With Biblical stories, personal anecdotes, and mini-sermons, it shows how putting a distance between yourself and sugar can lead you closer to God.

Give up sugar to get closer to God.

A jilted suitor reaches for a pint of ice cream. A loving grandfather hands out cookies to his grandchildren. An anxious worker scarfs down a candy bar as she races to meet a deadline. These scenarios are stereotypes – but they serve to illustrate a deeper point.

Sugar is empty in more ways than just calories. For too many people, it serves as false cheer or artificial comfort. Relying on sugar to help us through pleasure and pain can actually damage more than just our teeth; it can distract us from what’s truly important.

Book Summary: The 40-Day Sugar Fast - Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

In this summary to Wendy Speake’s The 40-Day Sugar Fast, we’ll explore the idea that the only true substitute for any earthly pleasure or distraction is the Word of God. Through a series of sermons, you’ll learn how a sugar detox can bring you clarity and understanding – and help you live a richer, more spiritual life.

Sugar: A false savior to the bored and sad

It’s midafternoon on a dull Wednesday at the office. Yawning, you glance at your watch – still two hours left in the workday. While in search of coffee in the break room, you see that someone has brought in a plate of brownies. Nice. You grab one, fill your coffee cup, and settle back to let that spike of energy carry you through the rest of your day.

Here’s another scenario. Your best friend asked you to be her maid of honor – but planning isn’t really your forte, and now the bridal shower is just weeks away. You’ve just gotten off the phone with the bride’s pushy mom, who called you – yet again – to check on your progress. Stressed, you head straight to the kitchen for a bowl of ice cream.

Or maybe it’s your daughter’s graduation day – a celebration with the whole family! You put in an order at the best bakery in town, because how can you celebrate without cake?

See a pattern here? Whether we’re wallowing in our lows or soaring in our highs, all too often, we reach for sugar as both a cure and a commemoration.

But can that cookie, candy, or ice cream really cure your boredom, your anxiety, your depression? And is it really the only way to celebrate?

You don’t need this summary to tell you that sugar won’t just not fix those ailments – it will create a host of other health concerns.

Past hunger, anxiety, and boredom lies the real abyss – an emptiness that can’t be filled by anything corporeal. This emptiness can only be filled by a spiritual cup. Only by replacing sugar with the word of God can you truly address the root causes that cause you to turn to sugar in the first place.

Undertaking a 40-day sugar fast is an excellent way to commit to that process – and rediscover the true source of joy.

Setting the detox ground rules

You’ve made the important decision to jump in and commit to a 40-day sugar detox. Now, let’s get into what that actually entails.

When will you schedule your fast? Ideally, don’t pick a time when you have travel plans, big family events, or are hosting out-of-town friends in your home. You want to reduce the potential for confusion – and not place added temptations in your way.

Here’s another question: How exactly will you define “sugar?” Will you just cut out candy, chocolate, cake, and other sweet treats? Or will you take it one step further by refusing anything that includes sugar or high fructose corn syrup – think ketchup or certain seasonings – as well? Will you keep stevia or monk fruit on hand to sweeten your morning coffee, or do without completely? How about carbs such as pasta or bread, which contain sugar and will break down into sugary substances in your body – will you find ways to substitute those through these 40 days?

There’s a lot to think about! But the key here is to relax. There are no formal rules. It’s your detox, and therefore your personal decision about how you want to structure it. Once you’ve drawn up the ground rules for yourself, go through your pantry and home, and clean out the items you’ve decided to avoid. Stock up on nut butters, dried and fresh fruits, and lots of seasonal vegetables.

A word of caution before you start: be careful not to turn one obsession into another. In the process of eliminating after-dinner sweet treats, it may be tempting to dive deep into cookbooks and social media in search of sugar-free alternatives. But the idea isn’t to replace one kind of dessert with a slightly healthier one. Instead, the goal is to dispense of that need altogether by filling yourself up with healing spiritual comfort.

Faith: The most powerful weapon in your arsenal

If you’ve read the Book of Joshua, you’ll know the triumphant story of the Battle of Jericho.

While journeying in search of their promised land, the Israelites encounter an obstacle: the walled city of Jericho. A man with a sword appears to Joshua, telling him to take off his sandals because he is standing on holy ground. Joshua then follows God’s commands to lead the Israelites around the city once a day for six days. On the seventh day, they walk around the city seven times and then blow their trumpets. At the sound of the horns, the walls collapse. The battle is won, and Joshua rejoices.

Now what does this have to do with a sugar fast? Well, the Battle of Jericho is a lot like our battle with sugar addiction. Joshua takes off his sandals because he was on holy ground. What if you thought of your body as holy ground that was worth protecting and fighting over?

The average American consumes 150 to 170 pounds of sugar annually. That’s an enormous amount – the equivalent to drinking four sodas a day for a year. What’s your nemesis? Knowing what you’re up against will help you face your enemy clearly – whether it’s your morning cinnamon bun, 4:00 p.m. Dr. Pepper, or after-dinner piece of chocolate.

If that mountain of sugar is the enemy, and your body is the battlefield, consider your weapon to be your faith in God. After all, that faith got Joshua through his battle. It can help the walls of your addiction come crashing down as well.

As you wage this war, you may feel discouraged, cranky, irritable, and snappy. But look to Joshua once again. As soon as the walls of Jericho came tumbling down, Joshua celebrated. Even before he set foot in the city, he knew he’d won the battle because he trusted God to help him see it through. Celebrating your daily victories with the same faith will help you stay the course.

Seek out enemies that hide in plain sight

Every story has a hero – and an antihero.

Just as Christ guides our steps through the battlefield, Satan walks among us, tempting us … even rooting for us to fail!

When you face the enemy – for instance, that pie you’re covering with Saran wrap before refrigerating, the one that beseeches you to slip a fork in and carry a soft, gooey, caramelized mouthful to your waiting lips – remember that it represents something that can never fill the emptiness you seek to fill. And that’s why it will never be enough. One forkful of pie will often lead you to a whole slice. A fun-size candy bar will lead to three more.

Instead, seek to fill the void with knowledge. Satiate yourself with righteousness and with God. Sugar may temporarily help you overcome your midafternoon slump or ease your heart after breaking up with your girlfriend, but it won’t truly help you in the same way that a sincere reading of Biblical passages can. You may love sugar, but sugar will not love you back – only God will.

While you fortify yourself with the study of the Word of God, help others do so too. Jesus fed others and shared his food with them. If you see salvation as the food with which you fill your plate, serve it to your community as well. Even if people don’t notice your efforts or give you praise, keep reaching out to those who haven’t heard the word of God, and help them in their fight.

Remember that enemies on the battlefield may be hiding in plain sight. Say you feel unsatisfied and restless from your sugar fast, and turn to things other than God for fulfillment – maybe you reach for your phone and mindlessly scroll through Instagram for an hour. You may have stopped yourself from overindulging, but ultimately, all you did was exchange one enemy with another.

Examine your compulsive behaviors. Seek out their root causes. And rest only when you understand that nothing but God can fill the holes in your soul.

Beware of false idols

In the previous section, we discussed how social media might replace sugar as an addictive behavior. While social media is an easy target at which to take a shot, it’s not the only villain.

Think of anything in your life that you feel an unhealthy attachment toward. Now, you may not initially recognize this attachment as unhealthy. For example, let’s say you volunteer for the Humane Society, and love for animals is a huge part of your identity. You take in foster dogs, you help organize an event for dog adoptions, and you donate frequently. All of this is wonderful.

But if your dedication to this activity grows to a point that you can’t live without it, then you’ve merely substituted another filler for sugar. Matthew 5:29-30 says, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It’s better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

If you are Christ-centered, your life is automatically meaningful. You don’t need to replace Christ with any other form of validation – be it food, an activity, or a romantic relationship. If you find that something is trying to fill the space that only spirituality should flow through, identify it for what it is: a false idol standing between you and your belief.

One such idol that really causes waves is alcohol. Suggest abstaining from alcohol for 40 days to your friends, and you’ll definitely feel some pushback. It’s easy to convince people of the benefits of sobriety, but when you tell them to skip their daily glass of wine, they balk.


Question that denial. After all, there is no real benefit to drinking alcohol. It provides empty calories, affects your blood sugar levels, and can throw off the balance of gut bacteria and hormones. Do you really want that drink? A friend may respond that they need that drink … and there you have it: another foe to battle so that spirituality can regain centrality in your life.

Choose your focus wisely

Until now, we’ve talked about sugar as an enemy that has to be fought so that it doesn’t take the place of Christ in our lives. Here’s another analogy to further illustrate the point.

Think of your bank account with its finite resources. You pay the mortgage, the utilities, your car payments, and credit card bills. How will you spend the money that’s left? You might want to donate to a mission project, take a trip, and buy that new dining table you’ve been eyeing. How do you prioritize?

If you equate your attention and care to your bank account, you’ll see that there’s a limited amount you can spend on any one item. Caring for your house and turning it into a home for your family is a laudable task – but you shouldn’t pay more attention to it than to God. Traveling and broadening your horizons is a worthwhile pursuit – but the search for other pastures should not override your spiritual journey toward God.

In short, when you cut out sugar, you’ll have more time for God. But all this fasting and abstaining – can it get boring?

The truth is that boredom is probably not a result of a sugar fast; it’s actually a trigger that will spark your cravings. Think about the afternoon after a typical Thanksgiving meal, for instance. You’ve gorged on turkey and pie, and the resulting combination of serotonin and insulin makes you lethargic. To wake up, you may indulge in a hot espresso. The resulting adrenaline induces your body to try and calm you down with cortisol, which in turn produces glucose and causes your blood sugar levels to rise. It’s like being on a chemical roller coaster that eventually wears itself out. Being exhausted or sleepy can also trigger this chain of events.

On the flip side, fasting often creates the very opposite feeling. Fasting can lead to mental clarity and alertness. Many who have tried sugar fasts for various reasons (not just spiritual ones) describe how it feels like they’re coming out of a fog when they give up sugar – even after just a few days. When you substitute refined sugary snacks for nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables, and water, you’ll likely find that your brain health improves.

The ultimate reward: A closer relationship with God

Toward the end of your 40-day fast, your mental acuity will become sharper and even more powerful. The clarity you have now can help you help others. When you’re not focused on eating sugary foods – or obsessing about food at all – you can create the kind of mindset that is able to cultivate compassion and generosity of spirit.

Detoxing from sugar teaches you how to shift the focus away from serving yourself, and toward serving God. The best way to do that is by serving others. You could take a very practical and direct approach, such as taking the money you saved by not buying sugary treats and donating it to a worthy cause. Or you could serve Jesus by generously spreading his word to others. Through prayer, hunger and sugar-deprivation can be transformed into something exalted.

Beyond the spiritual perks, a sugar detox also has definite benefits for the physical body. On top of better mental clarity, people who have completed sugar fasts talk about reduced aches and pains, less inflammation in the joints, fewer headaches, better complexions, and lower levels of anxiety and depression.

Hold on to your clarity, in particular. It’s a powerful tool, and you don’t want to waste it – especially as you head into the last few days of the fast. It’s easy to become complacent and to think of a sugar detox as simply another habit. So don’t allow your hard-won victory to be anything other than a thoughtful practice! Continue to couple your practice with daily prayer and focused worship.

Perhaps the most useful thing you can take away from the 40-day detox is this: You were searching for a reward, but in all the wrong places. The truth is that the reward was never dessert. Sugar – or whatever other crutch you relied on – is not the golden apple. There is, and only ever has been, one true reward: a closer, more loving relationship with God.


Sugar is an enemy that seeks to distract you from the Word of God. By committing to a sugar detox through prayer, reflection, and dedicated discipline, you can regain your health and clarity. The biggest benefit is your renewed relationship with God – weight loss is merely a happy side effect!

About the author

Wendy Speake is a trained actress and heartfelt Bible teacher who ministers to hearts through storytelling and biblical life application. During her career in Hollywood, on shows such as JAG, Melrose Place, and Star Trek Voyager, Wendy found herself longing to tell stories that edify, encourage, and point audiences to Jesus Christ. Today she does just that, writing books, speaking to groups across the nation, and leading multiple online fasts and Bible studies each year. Coauthor of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses, Wendy hosts her annual 40-Day Sugar Fast every January. She lives in Escondido, California. Learn more at


Health and Nutrition, Religion, Spirituality, Diets, Christian Life, Healthy Living, Christian Living, Detox and Cleansing Diets, Christian Spiritual Growth, Nonfiction, Christian, Self Help, Faith, Food, Spirituality, Cookbooks, Christianity


What would you be willing to give up to experience the presence of God in your life again?

Many of us sign up for a physical detox program, thinking that if our bodies are healthier, then we’re healthier. But a healthy body doesn’t do us a lot of good if we are spiritually malnourished.

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us more of himself—the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ.

Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

* * * * *

Would you give up sugar to experience the sweet presence of God in your life?

Many of us think that if our bodies become healthier, then we’ll be healthier. But a healthy body doesn’t do us a lot of good if we are spiritually malnourished. Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a process that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us more of Himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this journey you’ll learn how to

  • stop fixating on food and fix your eyes on Christ
  • pinpoint the triggers that send you running to sugar
  • lose weight as you gain faith
  • turn to the Most High instead of the next sugar high

If you run to sugar for comfort or reward, eat mindlessly or out of boredom, feel physically and spiritually lethargic, or struggle with self-control, this fast will help you discover not only freedom from your cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for you.


“More than anything I want to be able to say with Jesus, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me’ (John 4:34). And traveling with Wendy and the 40-Day Sugar Fast community was the beginning of that journey for me.”–Lisa-Jo Baker, bestselling author of Meet Me in the Middle, Never Unfriended, and Surprised by Motherhood

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