Whether or not you have committed to a structured sugar detox or you are simply looking to cut your intake of sweets and manage the cravings – today, I am sharing my 5 simple tips for your sugar detox. It’s not about dieting or crazy rules or restrictive eating as punishment, it’s just about being smart, prioritizing your health and feeling in control of the cravings!
Hey Sweet Thing! Are you addicted to sugar? Do you feel trapped by your constant cravings for something sweet? If you want to break the addictive cycle to sugar, it’s totally possible, it’s not actually as bad (or as hard) as it seems and feeling like you are in control of your cravings – is truly priceless!! Trust me. Removing the addiction to sugar isn’t about extreme restrictions forever or never ever having a sweet again, rather this is about loving your body and your health enough to want to feel your bet, to get yourself out of the constant blood sugar roller coaster and to break free of the sugar cravings that hold you hostage!
I know pretty much all of us can relate and have been there, but I find it’s especially challenging for folks after the holidays. Whether or not you have committed to a structured sugar detox or you are simply looking to cut your intake of sweets and manage the cravings – today, I am sharing my 5 tips to drop the sugar – cuz friends, you are sweet enough already – haha!
Why Cut Back on Sugar?
Sugar at it’s best lights us up, it gives us pleasure in times of stress, depression and pain, but we all know those feelings are short-lived. At it’s worst, sugar in excess can make you feel sluggish, bloated, anxious and crabby – so why do you still crave it? Because it’s addicting. It triggers the same reward and pleasure centers in the brain, that some narcotics do. It’s addicting. Is sugar as bad for us as cocaine? NO – I am certainly not implying that, but I think it’s important to recognize that sugar definitely has the ability to have a very strong hold on us and it’s not our fault.
Excessive Sugar Can:
- raise our blood sugar (blood glucose), which requires our body to constantly be releasing insulin to manage, then we have the crash – it’s highly taxing to the body to be in this constant blood sugar roller coaster of up and down and it can affect other systems of the body, as a result.
- lead to weight gain from overeating, along with elevated triglycerides, insulin resistance, and other indicators of metabolic syndrome. Refined sugar has also been shown to reduce immune system efficiency.1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4748178, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0271531784800573.
- cause elevated blood glucose levels which has been shown to promote cancer growth 2https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0006291X85919308.
- feed bad gut bacteria. When we eat a high-sugar diet, the undesirable bacteria thrive and start to grow out of control, causing a waterfall of health issues, while our beneficial bacteria dwindle in number.
- cause inflammation which can affects our entire body, but very specifically our immune system and our digestion.
Does this mean we can’t have ANY sugar ever, nope! I am not insinuating that extreme, unattainable level of perfection with our eating, but of all the foods available to us, I would argue that sugar is the most pleasure-enducing and therefore the hardest to moderate. Limiting yourself around the sweets isn’t a problem with you or your willpower, it’s a problem with the sweets! They are hyper palatable and designed to make you want more. So, what can we do to break the addiction to sugar and begin to feel like we are the ones in control, rather than the sugar?!
Tips for Your Sugar Detox –How to Break your Sugar Habit:
1) Clean Out Your Pantry.
Out of sight out of mind. Get rid of the cereals, breads, desserts. With all bad habits, if it’s not readily available, if it’s not taunting you from the countertop, you won’t hear that siren call. Make this easy on yourself. If you dont want to throw it out, donate it to a local charity. Be sure to look for all the sneaky places sugar likes to hide, in sauces and dressings, marinades, condiments, yogurts, drinks and other packaged foods. And look for all the other names it hides under, too, there’s the obvious like brown sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar, raw sugar, syrups and honeys, but look out for malt syrups, rice syrup, corn syrups and investigate ingredients that end with -ose or -ide, most sugars end with those. And yes, at the start, I would highly recommend avoiding even the natural sugar alternatives like monkfruit or stevia, as these can still trigger cravings and perpetuate the want for more. If you are looking for a list of foods to avoid for your sugar detox, download the Keep it Simple Keto eBook, and check out the QUIT IT list. (Even if you don’t have plans to eat keto long term, my simplified approach is a spectacular way to detox from sugar.)
2) Do a Structured Sugar Detox.
Whether that’s Keto, the 21 Day Sugar Detox or Whole30, or working one on one with a nutritionist or health coach for a customized sugar detox protocol – find something that will work for you that offers you guidelines to follow to keep you accountable and on track with your goals. There is no denying that for most of us, rules and structure work. And find a buddy to do it with you. Everything in life is sweeter with a friend – EH!! Cute, huh? Give yourself at a minimum 21 days, if not more like 30, to fully break the sugar addiction and create new healthy habits.
3) Increase Protein and Fat.
Both protein and fat help to balance your blood sugar, they will keep you satiated and curb your sugar cravings. A deficiency in protein can contribute to sugar cravings as the body searches for a quick energy source. Start your day savory, with protein and fat and get away from dessert for breakfast so you won’t get trapped in the all day blood sugar roller coaster. Learn more abut the importance of starting savory and how to build lasting all-day long energy, here.
4) Move Your Body.
A large part of the addiction to sweet things comes from the chemical releases in our brain caused by sugar. Sugar triggers our pleasure center, the reward system. Dopamine is released in the brain when we eat sugar, and just the same as we experience with drugs of abuse (and many other addictive substances) or touch, etc., these feelings of pleasure are temporary and then we want more. But guess what, you can also get that same feeling in other ways, those natural highs of mood boosting endorphins, dopamine, seratonin, noraepeniphrine, but that are longer lasting and less detrimental to your health.Find ways that you enjoy to incorporate movement, exercise, increase your heart rate and sweating, things that are sustainable and next thing you know – you’ll find yourself craving that. A few of my other favorite natural ways to boost dopamine, listening to music (and of course, dancing), meditation and (controlled) exposure to sunlight!
5) DRINK MORE WATER.
Hydration is important all the time, but it’s especially important when your body is going through a sugar detox. Water helps your vital organs flush out toxins from the body, it transports nutrients and it empowers the body’s natural healing process. Read more about the importance of hydration.
I know you can do it! Give these tips a try and break that nasty sugar habit, once and for all.
Remember, the easiest way to reduce your sugar intake? Read food labels and start cooking more at home. If you want to learn more about how to make cooking at home easy, from grocery shopping resources to meal planning and more, check out this post. Well-rounded meals made with real, whole, nutrient-dense foods can manage your satiety and hunger levels and are a great way to ditch the cravings for good!
If you want to join us for a 5 Day Keto Kickstart Challenge to jumpstart your sugar detox – sign up here.
We will begin together as a group on Monday, January 14, 2019.
You’ll get daily live sessions with me, a 7-day meal plan, support, accountability and more!
As always, it is important to make sure you are getting adequate sleep and you are managing your stress. Both of these are necessary pillars for any healthy lifestyle, but especially when you are taking on major changes to your diet or working to remove an addictive food, like sugar, from your routine. Find time to meditate and manage your stress and whenever possible try for 7 to 9 hours of sleep, every night.
If you are like me and you love to always read and learn, as you navigate away from your sugar detox and shift back toward every day living, grab this free eBook from Chris Kresser, all about Natural Sweeteners and Artificial Sweeteners so you can be informed with the necessary information to make the choices that will work for you creating a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.
Finally, my very good friend Alison Marras is hosting a FREE webinar on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, all about Freedom From Sugar Cravings. Register for the webinar here.
Some supportive foods and supplements to consider including for your sugar detox:
- L-glutamine – this amino acid supplement is highly effective at battling cravings, you’ve also heard me mention L-glutamine in the past as a supportive gut-healing supplement. By providing energy to cells, it helps to reduce sugar cravings. While you are on your detox, try a few 500mg doses of L-Glutamine per day when sugar cravings occur. Its works!
- Cinnamon – ground cinnamon, specially Ceylon cinnamon helps to regulate blood sugar but it’s also a familiar flavor that our brain associates with sweets, so it can help with cravings. Nutmeg, clove, cardamom and coriander can also work to “sweeten” foods without the need for added sweeteners.
- Herbal teas, lemon water and unsweetened sparkling waters – these are healthful replacements for sugary drinks and can often replace a habit of your afternoon sweet snack or needing something sweet, post meal.
- Magnesium – Magnesium is a common deficiency, found in most people. Magnesium is used in the regulation of glucose, insulin, and the neurotransmitter dopamine; magnesium deficiency can manifest in the form of intense sugar cravings, especially for chocolate
- B Vitamins – B Vitamins have been shown to play a very important roll in the process of cell metabolism and can work to fight fatigue. Many people are deficient in B Vitamins due to excessive stress, carbohydrate consumption and environmental stressors.
- Zinc – Zinc is needed for proper insulin and glucose utilization; a deficiency can also lead to sugar cravings.
- Chromium – is a mineral used in insulin regulation of blood glucose and is important for balancing blood sugar levels and increasing insulin sensitivity.
As always, before taking any supplements, please always discuss your options with your doctor or healthcare practitioners, you want to be sure of any contraindications and to make sure it is right for you!
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