How To Successfully Complete a Sugar Detox
Not all detox programs are created equal, and many can be downright daunting. The good news is, undergoing a simple but effective sugar detox doesn’t have to be all that complicated, and is definitely doable.
First and foremost, it is important to have a solid understanding of the many benefits of sugar detoxing, as this will keep you motivated.
Sugar addiction is a serious problem that is ever-growing in the modern day diet. The dangers of sugars are many, so check out our article here for general rules on reducing your sugar intake. Short recap: sugar lowers your immune system, is the leading cause of obesity in the United States, it offers zero nutritional value, and seriously increases your risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Now, let’s consider what constitutes a successful sugar detox, and how to do it.
If you suffer from any of the following symptoms regularly, you can benefit from a sugar detox:
- Foggy brain/poor memory
- Frequent sugar and carbohydrate cravings
- A history of refined sugar consumption
- Regular headaches
- Low energy/energy dips and spikes
- Mood swings and excessive irritability
- Muscles pain not associated with exercise
- Excessive thirst
- Increased hunger
If not, consider yourself lucky! If these sound familiar, keep reading.
How to Complete a Sugar Detox
In an ideal world, you will allow yourself 3-4 weeks to detox. If that is not doable, start with 10 days and go from there. The goal of this time is to maintain stable blood sugar levels by breaking the cycle of spikes and dips (the blood sugar roller-coaster, if you will), which is the number one cause of sugar and carb cravings. Also, including a blood sugar support supplement like herbal tea can help take the edge off.
During your detox, minimize not only refined sugar but all foods that provide a sweet sensation:
- All sweet sensations add to a spike in insulin levels.
- Artificial sweeteners are linked to a host of problems such as migraines, dizziness, mood disorders, vision and heart problems, insomnia, and more. Best to avoid.
- While fruit contains natural sugar, during a sugar detox, it is best keep your consumption moderate, around 2 pieces per day.
- Aspartame (equal)
- Saccharin (sweet n low)
- Stevia that is white (truvia)
- Sucralose (splenda)
- HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)
- Maple syrup
- Agave syrup
- Date, palm, and coconut sugar
- Fruit juice
- Packaged/processed foods (these are usually high in added sugar)
- Refined carbohydrates including bread, bagels, brownies, cakes, candy, cereal, chips, cookies, crackers, cupcakes, muffins, oats, pasta, spaghetti, pastries, pizza, popcorn, tortillas, and couscous.
- No diet or sugar-free foods (highly processed)
- Sugar-sweetened dairy products (stick to whole, plain and organic if possible)
Foods to Include
- All meat (opt for grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised whenever possible)
- Wild caught fish
- All vegetables except potatoes
- Nuts and seeds and their butters including almonds, walnuts, pecans, sesame, hemp, and flax seeds.
- Good fats including avocado, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, olive, sesame and flax oils.
- Herbal teas
- Keep coffee to 1 cup per day, no sugar added
- Unsweetened almond and coconut milk
During your detox, do your best to avoid and include these foods.
More Tips for Success
If you slip up, don’t panic! Simply get back on track and keep going. An “all or nothing” attitude when it comes to anything diet related is usually counterproductive, but do keep in mind that eating sugar during your detox will make the process of reducing those cravings that much harder.
Take it one day at a time. Cutting sugar out for the next four weeks may seem overwhelming. Instead, tell yourself that today you’re going to avoid sugar. Then, do it again tomorrow. Mentally breaking up a program like this will make it more feasible.
While any detox can certainly be challenging, the beauty lies within the fact that the better we feel, the more we are motivated to create long-lasting diet and lifestyle changes. Breaking sugar addiction through a simple sugar detox is an excellent place to start, and might just lead you to a lifetime of healthier eating.
Rachel Fiske is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and graduated from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition in Berkeley, California. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Rachel focuses on issues of weight management, GI problems, hormonal imbalances, fatigue and more via a whole foods diet and lifestyle changes.