Did you fall off the bandwagon this holiday season? Have you been eating sugary, processed, junk food you tried to avoid all year long? A sugar detox might be good for you and help you towards changing your lifestyle for good.
Detoxing your body can be done for 3 to 21 days. It can focus on adding healthier foods into your diet or eliminating/avoiding dairy, meat, wheat, and other grains.
I decided mid-fall to do a ten-day sugar detox. The only thing I eliminated from my diet was sugar, as I don’t consume dairy or much wheat anyway. Now when I say sugar I don’t only mean the refined white table sugar that comes to mind, I mean everything from honey, agave, coconut sugar, and any product that contained sugar (FYI it’s in everything).
My decision to do a sugar detox came around mid-October when I noticed that I was having these intense sugar cravings for foods that I do not normally crave like potato chips, cookies, and alcohol.
Now I know that I had a busy summer entertaining guests. (This leads to occasionally indulging in more “not so healthy” foods & sugary beverages than I’m used to on daily basis). Although I’ve never quite felt that strong of a pull or craving towards sugar.
Being a nutritionist I know that these foods that I was craving have absolutely no nutritional value and that I definitely should not be eating these on a regular basis, but I couldn’t seem to shake the intense cravings. I was trying to have fruit and dried fruits to help ease the cravings as well as the occasional piece of dark chocolate but when the dried fruit and dark chocolate chips helpings were getting more frequent and the portion sizes were growing larger I knew I needed to do something a little more drastic.
It was then that I started to research sugar and found out how addictive it is (8x as addictive as cocaine). That’s probably one of the scariest things I had read, and I thought no wonder I’m acting like a starved animal. I just wanted another sugar fix…
It’s actually a vicious cookie cycle:
- You eat the high sugar or high GI food.
- Your brain releases dopamine “the feel good hormone” your blood sugar spikes, yikes! (Addiction phase)
- Your blood sugar drops quickly, that “sugar rush” or “feel good” drops along with it and you feel tired and have a lack of energy. (High insulin levels cause immediate fat storage and your body craves the lost sugar “high)
- So … What do you do? Well, you want that good feeling and energy back (this is where the cravings come in) so…. You eat the cookie or high GI food again and the cycle continues.
GI = Glycemic Index When you put your body on this blood sugar roller coaster you are setting yourself up for Diabetes along with other diseases.
SO HOW DID I DO IT, YOU ASK?
Well, it wasn’t easy but what was supposed to be 10 days turned into 3 weeks. I felt great after the 1st 7 days and after 3 weeks I had lost 4lbs and noticed the biggest difference in my waist.
Sugar research is showing that excess sugar can lead to belly fat and not the subcutaneous type of fat. That’s the kind that you can grab with your fingers. Sugar leads to visceral fat. That’s the kind that lies deep within the abdominal cavity and pads the spaces between our organs. This is the kind of fat that sets us up for all kinds of health issues such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, to name a few.
I’M SURE YOU’VE LIKELY HEARD OF BEER BELLY? HOW ABOUT SUGAR BELLY??
The 1st week wasn’t easy. The cravings were strong but I knew for the sake of my health I had to push through and reset my body back to craving the healthy foods it normally does.
The best advice I can give is to jump right in and do it cold turkey. It does get easier. The benefits are totally worth it.
The weight loss, especially in the waist (belly area), was great. I mean really who doesn’t want to lose belly fat? Another huge bonus for me was that my complexion has never looked better. My acne wasn’t a problem anymore. My skin was smoother and more subtle. I had so much more energy, I wasn’t tired or lethargic (no more highs and lows/energy crashes). I had the energy to get a lot more done. Plus, I started sleeping better, so getting up in the mornings was a lot easier, which was a huge bonus.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS FOR GETTING THROUGH A SUGAR DETOX:
There are a few things that seemed to help get me through.
White tea really helped me during the 1st couple of days as I experienced some headaches (signs of withdrawal). I also began drinking 2+ litres of chilled water daily to help keep me full and help to avoid cravings. Chromium supplements can help to regulate blood sugar and ease cravings and alleviate increased hunger.
Don’t forget to read your labels!
Sugar is in everything from baked goods to condiments even seemingly healthy foods have sugars. And, remember, whether it’s from a cane or a honey bee sugar is sugar and our bodies process it the same way and it is addictive not to mention everywhere.
Another tough part about doing this detox you will realize quickly how easy it is to get your hands on sugar. You’ll likely be surprised at all the places sugar is hidden. I mean, you can’t go into any store, gas station, or even laundry mat without finding vending machines most store counters and shelves laden with the stuff.
There are 56 names of sugar, so keep your eyes peeled and remember to read your labels.
Go through your pantry’s and refrigerators too. The heart association says that a safe amount is 6 tsp’s for women that’s about 100 calories and 9 for men about 150 calories daily. Most people probably double this in a day and have no idea. Scary, right?
To help you calculate how much sugar you’re eating use this helpful calculation:
1 teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams… So to figure out the number of calories product from sugar multiply the amount of sugar in grams by 4. To figure out how many teaspoons are in a product divide that number by 4.
I urge everyone to do this and see how much better they feel without all the added sugars.