Sugar is certainly sweet, and many of our favourite treats and indulgences are packed with it. Everyone loves a slice of cake, a sneaky biscuit or a bar of chocolate now and then – but how many people are aware of what overconsumption of sugar does to the human body? How many people know that sugar not only leads to obesity, it can also cause a range of serious illnesses?
Despite its sweet taste, sugar has direct links with diabetes, depression, cancer, infertility, heart disease, dementia and many more incredibly serious illnesses. The increase in sugar in western diets has seen the average waistband size soar in recent years, and diabetes rates have gone through the roof. There’s a growing backlash against this seemingly innocent substance in the health community, with experts now claiming that sugar can be more addictive than cocaine.
In light of these warnings, thousands of people all over the world are taking their health into their own hands and kick-starting a sugar detox diet. If you’re concerned about the threat of diabetes, cancer or any of the illnesses listed above, you can start a sugar detox diet of your own – it all starts right here.
But I don’t Eat a Lot of Sugar!
Eating a lot of sugar doesn’t only come from putting heaped spoonfuls into your coffee or tea, a lot of our most common consumed foods have much more sugar than you realise. Watch the video below.
Once you have accepted the fact that we eat more sugar than is healthy we can start to make the move to do something about it.
Starting your sugar detox diet
Before you start your sugar detox diet, there are a few things you’ll need:
– Know the Different Names for Sugar
A list of all the names that sugar masquerades under. Food manufacturers can sneak sugar into food under a number of different names: cane sugar, sucrose, glucose, corn sweetener, barley malt, agave nectar, dextrose, molasses, sorbitol, refiner’s syrup… what do all of these things have in common? Yep, they’re all forms of sugar and should be avoided. Keep this list to hand when you’re food shopping!
– A notebook, or a food diary app
Keeping a food diary is a great way to keep track of what you’re eating – and seeing that you’ve completed three, or seven, or ten days sugar-free should be great motivation for the rest of your detox. You can go with the popular MyFitnessPal app or go for the much simpler Evernote option (get a free month of premium through the link).
Plenty of fresh meat and vegetables. Your sugar detox should begin with plenty of lean, low-fat, high-protein meals, packed with vegetables that will help you to feel full and will also offer plenty of other health benefits.
How to Follow the Sugar Detox Diet
Now that you’ve prepared your comprehensive list of sugars, got yourself a notebook or food diary, and stocked your cupboards with plenty of fresh meat and vegetables, you’re ready to start your sugar detox! Here are the rules of the diet, and some tips to help you out along the way:
1. Avoid fruit at first
Fruit is full of natural sugar, which can trigger cravings for synthetic sugar in the early stages of your detox. Most experts advise cutting out fruit for the first few days of your detox diet, to help your body overcome those cravings and get sugar out of your system entirely. After a few days of no fruit, you can start to introduce small, healthy portions back into your diet – sprinkling berries onto your breakfast, or enjoying a banana after a workout, for example.
2. Choose the right time
Starting a sugar detox diet just as you’re about to commence a huge project at work, or just as your child’s summer holidays are about to start isn’t a great idea. If you’re embarking on a sugar detox, you should try to pick a time when you have an easier schedule. The first few days of a sugar detox can be particularly tough, and you don’t want to be cranky when you’re trying to give a presentation or take the kids to the beach. Choosing the right time for your detox will help make the entire challenge slightly easier for you.
3. Watch out for wheat and grains
Bad news for bread, pasta or cereal lovers! These three things are off the table during your detox. You should also consider cutting out corn, oatmeal, millet, white rice, bran, oats, granola and other starches that have been stripped of their fibre. If you really must include some grains in your diet, choose whole-grains – these have a lower glycemic load, and they don’t cause that spike in blood sugars that can trigger your cravings.
If you want to learn more about the glycemic load of certain foods, head over to Glycemicindex.com.
4. Ban the booze
Yes, unfortunately you’ll also need to cut out any alcohol from your regular diet. Whether it’s a pint of beer, a glass of sparkling cider or an ice-cold gin and tonic, you’ll have to go for non-alcoholic options (that are also sugar-free!) if you want to be successful on this diet. If you’re going out, it’s best to stick with water, as fizzy drinks and fruit juices can be loaded with sugar.
If you really must have a drink while you’re out with friends or colleagues, this article from Gizmodo sums up the ‘healthiest’ alcoholic options, with sugar content for each drink.
5. Power up with protein
Sugar gives many people that instant burst of energy that they need to get through the day. But the resulting ‘sugar crash’ afterwards can leave you feeling lethargic and tired. Rather than opting for an instant high, up your protein intake for a steadier release of energy. Protein can also help balance your blood sugars, which is great if you’re battling the cravings. You’ll find protein in nuts, seeds, eggs, fish and chicken – try to incorporate at least one of these into every single meal.
6. Make peace with fat
Fat has been wrongly demonised for many years. Now, many experts are reaffirming that it’s not actually fat that makes you fat – it’s actually sugar that can make people gain weight so quickly! We should all be aiming to incorporate ‘good fats’ into our diets. Good fats are the ones found in natural oils (olive oil and coconut oil are great options), omega 3 fats from fish, and the authentic fat found in avocados. This type of fat makes you feel fuller for longer, which can also help when it gets to 3pm and you’re reaching for the biscuit tin.
7. Prioritise sleep
For many people, it’s the feeling of intense tiredness in the morning that makes them reach for their sugary cereals, or causes them to heap teaspoons of sugar into their morning coffee. While you’re on your sugar detox, make sure you prioritise sleep, to ensure that you reduce the risk of waking up and reaching for the croissants or cereal. Studies have found that getting six hours of sleep instead of the recommended eight can lead to a rise in ‘hunger hormones’ – so make sure you get your beauty sleep, or you’ll be craving unhealthy food when morning comes.
8. Have sugar-free snacks on standby
There’s nothing worse than getting five days into your sugar diet detox and finding yourself out and about without a single healthy snack. In these situations, where you’re feeling peckish and don’t have any snacks, you might be tempted to enjoy some fast food, head for a vending machine or pick up some sugary treats from a convenience store or corner shop. Rather than undoing all of your hard work, make sure you have some sugar-free snacks on hand at all times. Nuts are great for snacking on, and you can also keep meat jerky or unsweetened berries with you for emergencies. Check out these high-protein snacks you can enjoy while you’re on-the-go.
9. Don’t demonise carbs!
Just like there are good fats and bad fats, there are also good carbs and bad carbs. The bad carbs include pasta, bread and cereal – but the good carbs include non-starchy vegetables including broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, peppers and kale. You should try to avoid starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash) for the first few days of your detox, and keep their portion sizes small when you reintroduce them.
Benefits of the Detox Diet
Cutting sugar out of your diet is undeniably a challenge. Most western diets are now so geared towards sugar, many of us don’t realise how much we rely on the sweet stuff to get through the day.
When you cut out sugar, ironically, you’ll have much more energy, and you’ll experience fewer of the energy peaks and troughs that come with sugary, processed foods. You’ll have better focus, an enhanced sleeping pattern, and you’ll likely start losing weight, too!
You’ll also reduce your risk of being diagnosed with several very serious illnesses. Overconsumption of sugar can directly lead to Type 2 diabetes, and it’s been linked with various types of cancer, dementia, heart disease and hormonal conditions including PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). By cutting out sugar, you’ve drastically reduced your risk of developing these illnesses.
21 Day Sugar Detox Diet
Source: Balanced Bites
If you need more assistance, want more detailed help or are left feeling overwhelmed on how to get started on a detox plan, watch the video above then head over to the 21 Day Sugar Detox site.
We hope you enjoyed reading this tutorial – and we hope it’s given you the inspiration you need to start your own sugar detox diet. Similarly you can see our post on how to kill your sugar addiction in 4 steps.
If you enjoyed this article, or if you have your own experience of cutting out sugar, tell us all about it in the comment section below or feel free to share this article!