There’s no shortage of health fads, trends, and crash diets on the market. And if you’re interested in pursuing real change in your diet and lifestyle, it can be difficult to figure out where to start.
From paleo to ketogenic to alkaline, there is a myriad of approaches you can take to overhauling your nutrition. But if you’re looking for long-lasting, potent results, you should begin your journey with a sugar detox
What is a Sugar Detox?
At first glance, it may seem self-explanatory. But, hold on! There’s a lot more to this phenomenon than meets the eye.
The practice of engaging in a sugar detox is the conscious removal of sugars from the diet. Specifically, manufactured sugars that come in boxes, cans, and prepacked foods.
The detoxification process occurs once these excess sugars are removed, and the body is given the opportunity to recalibrate its palate and eliminate the toxic waste products that have accumulated in the cells.
Why Embark on a Sugar Detox?
We’re glad you asked! Eliminating excess sugar from the diet is easier said than done. So, what makes the process worth it?
Researched evidence continues to surface in this niche, and a recent report issued by Harvard Health Publishing suggests that sugar is one of the leading contributors to heart disease and obesity.
Here’s a breakdown of the havoc sugar can wreak in the body:
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of diabetes
- Increased risk of stroke
- Excess inflammation
- Damaged collagen production
- Dental cavities
Suffice it to say: sugar is just plain bad for you! At least, the stuff that gets pumped into our breakfast cereals, carbonated beverages, and pasta sauces. And it’s lurking in more insidious places than you might imagine.
Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms
Before we launch into the nitty-gritty of how to embark on a sugar detox, let’s address the elephant in the room: sugar withdrawal.
A sugar detox isn’t just about switching up the foods you’re eating (although that plays a big role!). It’s also about knowing how to navigate yourself through the pesky sugar withdrawal symptoms that often accompany a sugar detox.
Sugar can do very funky things to the brain, so when you suddenly deprive yourself of something you’ve regularly exposed your body to, you’re likely to feel some ill effects. At least, at first.
But don’t worry! These sugar detox side effects are only temporary, and the end result is worth it.
Top 5 Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms
If you’re working to remove sugar from your diet and begin to notice any of these sugar withdrawal symptoms, interpret that as a sign of success! Your body is letting you know that your elimination of sugar is taking effect as it works to purge the toxins that have accumulated from excess sugar intake.
How to Detox From Sugar
Making the decision to try a sugar detox is a big one, and if it’s something you’ve been considering, then well done! Give yourself a pat on the back for taking a hands on approach to better health.
There are several avenues you can take when trying a sugar detox for the first time. One approach? Total elimination. Go cold turkey for 72 hours.
This can be a challenging approach, especially if you’ve never eliminated sugars from your diet before. It can be a useful technique if you’re eager to get started, but might not be the gentlest tactic for beginners.
The Sugar Detox Diet Approach
So, if you’re not ready to go entirely cold turkey, a sugar detox diet might be your next best bet.
Sugar detox diets can be mightily effective in combating the ill effects of excess sugar. Some sugar detox diets run as short as three days, others as long as twenty-one but you can achieve lasting results in a matter of 7 days. You can follow a preset plan laid out by a nutritionist or food expert, or you can simply try swapping out some higher sugar components of your diet for natural substitutes.
If you’re interested in eliminating some of the worst manufactured sugar culprits from your diet, be on the lookout for the following food items:
- Carbonated drinks
- Sports drinks
- Chocolate milk
- Flavored coffee and tea
- Cereals and granolas
- Protein bars
- BBQ sauce
- Pasta sauces
- Salad dressing
- Baked goods
Spotting Sugar’s Alter Egos
By the way, “sugar free” doesn’t necessarily mean, sugar free. Sugar can lurk in all sorts of guises, and even if a food product advertises that it’s low in sugar, or even sugar free, take a peek the label and see if you can spot any of its alter-ego names:
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Barley malt
- Rice syrup
The list doesn’t stop there. Sugar can come in a variety of forms and can disguise itself in a number of ways. Be vigilant when shopping in the supermarket, and always read the label.
It’s worth noting that not all sugar is your enemy. There are plenty of natural sugars that can and should be included in a healthy diet, including those found in fruits and vegetables. Everything in moderation, of course, but a sugar detox doesn’t have to include the elimination of anything and everything sweet.
3 Sugar Detox Tips to Help You Succeed
If you want to nip that sugar addiction in the bud and help your sugar detox journey be as successful as can be, we’ve got a few important tips you can implement along the way.
Are you drinking enough water? Most of us are suffering from chronic dehydration without realizing it.
By the time you feel thirsty, it’s too late, you’re already dehydrated. The key is to keep your body quenched with fluids, most especially as you embark on your sugar detox.
Water will help to flush the toxins from your body. Remember, this is tough stuff, for both your body and your brain. The more hydration you supply your body with, the better able it will be to grapple with sugar detox symptoms.
2. Satisfy Sugar Cravings with Fruit
When you cut back the sugar in your diet, you may feel some cravings that are hard to stifle. Midday, you may want to reach for a chocolate bar or handful of granola, but why not try snacking on an apple instead?
Prepare some fresh fruit and bring it with you when you’re on the go. When those sugar cravings hit, munch on some blueberries or slices of melon. Your body will get a dose of natural sugars, which should help pacify that craving without the toxic effects of manufactured sweets.
3. Sweat It Out
This goes for any form of detoxification, really. But exercise is a fantastic tool for helping to elevate your detox process.
Not only will exercise help flood your brain with feel-good neurotransmitters, but you’ll also lend a helping hand to your body as it tries to eliminate built-up toxins by sweating. Yes, that’s right, you can literally sweat the junk right out of your system with exercise!
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