Your sugar detox guide
When we hear the word “sugar” we often think of that sweet granular ingredient that goes oh so well in baked goods, coffee or on top of hot breakfast cereals. But while sugar is unique, it is still a carbohydrate like bread, rice or potatoes, and plays a role in fueling our bodies every day.
Last week we dove into the epidemic of diabetes among Americans. Although our bodies use sugar as a fuel source, we tend to consume dangerously large quantities of it, leading to weight gain and increasing the risk of diabetes. Because there is no known cure for the disease, taking preventative measures is the best way to combat all forms of diabetes, along with many other health risks directly associated with sugar, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, poor dental health, and poor gut health. Adopting a healthy lifestyle by detoxing from sugar can improve your quality of life tremendously.
Why do a cleanse?
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (38 grams) for men. The AHA limits for children vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 - 25 grams) per day. Despite recommendations, studies show that the average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) everyday, which translates into about 66 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person. Added sugar creates a chemical response in the body and affects the natural balance of hormones responsible for our daily functions. A simple increase in blood glucose leads to a release of insulin (transport hormone) and a change in leptin (the “full” hormone) levels, further contributing to insatiable feelings of hunger and excessive food consumption. Whether it’s short term or long term, embarking on a sugar detox could mean the difference between losing weight easier, having more sustained energy throughout the day, and most importantly, preventing long term health complications.
Here are a few ways to start cutting back:
1. Detox the kitchen - Eliminate boxed and preserved foods with a high sugar content (over 5g). Stock up on low-sugar items that you do like, to avoid binge eating later on. If it's not in your pantry, you won't be so prone to snacking!
2. Make a food plan. You will naturally begin making better food choices if you simply focus on eliminating sugar from your diet.
3. Drink more water and herbal teas. Sodas with high fructose corn syrup, commercial coffees and even flavored waters, can have as much as 69 grams of sugar in a 20 oz serving and should be completely avoided.
4. Start a juice cleanse. This is a tasty shortcut for getting natural sugar and a surge of veggies.
5. Stock up with whole grain foods (brown rice, oats, quinoa), vegetables, and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocado oil) that steady your blood sugar levels and take longer to digest, leaving the body feeling fuller longer. For a complete list, check out our guide to eating for diabetes.
In the first few days, you make experience headaches, grogginess, increased hunger, and even anger, as the body tries to break the addiction. But the benefits far outweigh a couple mood swings. Cutting down on your intake of “added sugar” can lead to weight loss, fewer cravings, more energy, better sleep, better skin, and an overall happier body. The first step in detoxing is simply deciding to live cleaner, for your body and for your future. As you take on each day, remind yourself that you have the power to overcome cravings and the little sugar packets at the espresso machine. There’s nothing sweeter than feeling good from the inside out.