Have you got a sweet tooth? Lots of us have, and for many of us sugar is a bit of life crutch too. Hard day? Reach for the chocolate. Feeling tired? Grab a bag of sweets. Even the more healthier amongst us tend to crave sweet things at certain times of the day, and sometimes even the seemingly healthy snacks can be crammed full of the white stuff too. No matter how hard we try to eat clean and live well, we all have our weaknesses! But too much sugar can play havoc with our physical and emotional health, and once you start to really read the ingredient labels on your favourite foods you might be surprised to see how much sugar you’re really eating. So is a sugar detox the next step for you?
Why detox from sugar?
The effects of too much sugar in your diet are well documented. Weight gain, mood swings and lethargy are the most common side effects of a diet full of sweet treats, but there are other things going on inside your body too. Each time you eat sugar, you are increasing your chances of heart disease, expanding your waist line and diminishing your brain power. Too much sugar has also been linked to increased risks of cancer and liver damage too. Studies have also found that sugar is highly addictive, which is why so many of us find it hard to give up. Sugar releases endorphins in our body so it makes us feel good. No wonder we don’t want to give it up! But the lows follow quickly and you might find you’re reaching for another sweet treat to regain your high.
A sugar detox might be the next step for you if you know that eat too many sugary foods, and you know that you’re suffering for it too.
First steps to a sugar free life
Detoxing from sugar is not easy! Think hard about why you want to do it, and be prepared for a challenge. There is sugar hidden in many of your favourite foods, and it’s up to you to sniff it out. Here’s a quick guide to making the first steps:
- Be honest about what you eat and learn about where your sugar comes from. Read the labels as closely as you can and make a note of the foods that contain sugar. If you can, keep a journal for a week and then highlight the things you’re consuming that are high in sugar. These are the things that need to go!
- Clear out the kitchen cupboards. Check all your labels and put sugary things to one side. Don’t leave anything that might tempt you to return to your sugary ways
- Meal plan. And make sure that you eat as natural as possible. Shop bought tomato sauces, for example, will be high in sugar, so make your own instead. Make a list of the ingredients that are ‘safe for use’ and keep a good stock in for your meals at home.
We’re all for a clean eating lifestyle, and juicing plays a huge role in this. But did you know that too much fruit can be bad for your sugar detox? Fruit and some vegetables are high in fructose, a naturally occurring sugar that is also synthesised and added to foods to make them taste better. Fructose is turned into fat fairly rapidly by the body and although fruit and vegetables are ‘safe foods’ once your initial detox is over, they should be avoided at first.
Foods high in fructose have also been found to lead to slow metabolism, high cholesterol, fatty-liver disease and leptin resistance, which means that the brain is unable to the body it is full. This means that you are more likely to just keep on eating!
Here are some tips to avoid fructose during your sugar detox:
- Stay away from fruit and sweet vegetables for the first two weeks of your sugar detox. Once this period is up, eat them in moderation.
- Stay away from processed foods. These are high in fructose.
- Steer clear of fruit juices. One glass of orange juice contains almost 11g of sugar, and apple juice has even more.
- Add starchy foods to your diet to help stimulate insulin release. Foods such as wholewheat pasta, potatoes and wholegrain bread are fantastic for this.
What to eat instead
So now that you know how bad sugar is for you, and how it contributes towards a vicious cycle of overeating and craving, what to eat instead? Here are some basic rules to follow:
- Eat high fibre and high protein foods such as eggs, nuts, avocados and olive oil. These will keep the body feeling full for longer.
- Switch green leafy vegetables for bread, pasta and refined carbs- the complex carbs found in vegetables take longer to digest.
- Pure dark chocolate is great for releasing endorphins in the body without overloading on sugar.
- Water is your drink of choice. Flush out the toxins, reduce your sugar cravings and help the body feel full.
Are you planning on a sugar detox? Let us know how you go!