Have you ever had a sneaky suspicion that you would feel a lot better and probably lose quite a bit of weight if you could just quit eating so much sugar?
Do you feel frustrated because you constantly think about food and crave sugary snacks?
Have you gotten to the point where your desire to feel better is outweighing the relative ease of staying the same?
In my experience, when people decide once and for all to eliminate sugar from their diet, they usually start to freak out about how hard it’s going to be. It is easier if you have a strong, compelling reason to step outside of your comfort zone!
If you are considering a sugar detox, you are probably struggling with one of the following:
- You have pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes (90% of Americans have not been diagnosed)
- You have belly fat that you would like to lose
- You are overweight and low-energy
- You always crave sugar and carbs
- You have trouble losing weight on conventional diets
- You eat when you’re not hungry
- You get withdrawal symptoms if you cut down or stop eating sugar or flour
If any of these sound like you, what follows is a comprehensive guide to your sugar detox. I highly recommend you detox for a full 10 days.
1. Make a Decision to Detox
There are lots of other symptoms you may be dealing with including bloating, gas, reflux, irritable bowel, joint or muscle pain, brain fog, memory or mood problems, sinus or allergy symptoms, and more. You know intuitively that these conditions are not normal and are somehow tied to sugar consumption, so by choosing to detox from sugar, you are making a decision to feel healthy and happy!
2. The Tried and True Turkey Approach
The tried and true turkey is cold turkey. You have to go all the way. There honestly is no half-way for this one if you want to reset your body’s neurotransmitters and hormones.
Sugar, as we know, is highly addictive and lights up the same centers for pleasure in your brain as cocaine and other drugs. It’s a sugar “detox” for a reason! Stop consuming all forms of sugar, flour products, and artificial sweeteners, which cause increased cravings and slow metabolism and lead to fat storage. Ideally, for 10 days, you avoid any food that comes in a box, can, or package, and any food that has a label. Stick to real, whole, fresh food.
3. Detox Your Drinks
We forget that juices, sports drinks, and sweetened teas are just as bad as solid food with sugar or flour. In fact, when we drink sugary sodas and juices all that glucose goes very quickly into your bloodstream, raises your blood sugar, causes your body to release insulin, and ultimately begins the cycle that leads to belly fat and high triglyceride levels! Stats: a 20-ounce soda has 15 teaspoons of sugar; Gatorade contains 14 teaspoons of sugar in one bottle.
4. Protein Power
Lean, clean protein at every meal, especially at breakfast, works wonders for balancing blood sugar and insulin and cutting cravings. Traditional breakfasts based on pancakes, waffles, cereal, and fruit are not part of this equation. You are better off with whole eggs in an omelette with veggies, or even a high-quality protein shake. You will have to plan ahead so you can have nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, chicken, or grass-fed meat on hand for protein at every meal.
5. Eat Green Carbs
Did you know that vegetables are carbs? You get to eat as much as you want. Yep, unlimited green carbs … non-starchy veggies such as kale or dandelion greens, anything in the broccoli family (cauliflower, kale, collards), asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, fennel, eggplant, artichokes, and peppers, to name a few. Go sparingly with things like sweet potatoes and beets.
6. Fat is Your Friend
I’ve said this about a million times, but here I go again. Fat doesn’t make you fat, extra calories and too much sugar does. Fat makes you feel satiated, helps balance your blood sugar, and is necessary for healthy hormone production. Along with protein, I encourage you to include good fats at every meal or snack. Sources of good fats include nuts and seeds (which also contain protein), extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and omega-3 fats from fish.
7. Be Prepared for the 911
To set yourself up for success you need to think ahead and avoid a food emergency when your blood sugar is dropping and you find yourself in a food desert such as an airport, the office, or a maze of convenience stores, fast food joints, and vending machines. You will need to pack yourself a collection of good snacks that will rescue you when things look grim. Look for things like:
- Justin nut butters that come in single serve packets
- Almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds in ziplock bags
- Salmon jerky or turkey jerky
- Fresh fruit or veggies
8. Stress Less
There is a direct link between stress and the hormone cortisol. When you are stressed, your cortisol levels go up. This makes you hungry, initiates that belly fat storage pattern, and leads to type-2 diabetes. The trick here is to be aware that you are feeling stressed out and learn to PAUSE.
Studies show that taking deep breaths activates a special nerve, called the vagus nerve, that shifts your metabolism from fat storage to fat burning and quickly moves you out of the stress state. All you have to do is take a deep breath.
9. Don’t Fuel the Flames
Food allergies and stress can cause inflammation which in turn triggers blood sugar imbalances, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and type-2 diabetes. The most common sources of inflammatory foods are sugar, flour, trans fats, gluten, and dairy. We often crave the foods we’re allergic to. This might be the perfect time for you to eliminate gluten and dairy for 10 days. Getting off them isn’t easy, but after just 2 or 3 days without them, you’ll have renewed energy, relief from cravings, and will see many of your common symptoms disappear.
10. Sleep It Off
Have you ever experienced not being able to lose weight, being stuck on a plateau even though you’ve been doing all the right things, and then all of a sudden you take a couple days off and get plenty of sleep only to find you lost 5 pounds overnight? Sleep is exactly what you need for your body to heal, to reset hormones, and to decrease stress and inflammation. Let’s be honest, most of us are not getting enough sleep. Without the recommended eight hours of sleep, you experience a rise in hunger hormones, a decrease in appetite-suppressing hormones, and big cravings for sugar and refined carbs. You literally can sleep your cravings and your weight away.