A sugar detox may sound extreme but the benefits that you will see and feel are worth the uncomfortable first few days
August 08, 2017
(press release: summitbehavioralhealth) // New Jersey // Maria Ulmer MA, LMFT, CAADC | Chief Clinical Officer
Millions of Americans suffer from high blood pressure, obesity, and fatigue due to the diet that they put into their bodies. It’s unfortunate, but feeling lousy, achy, tired, and carrying extra weight has become the new normal for many people. If you are one of them, you may be suffering from a sugar addiction that is contributing to your ailments. It may be time for you to consider a 30-day detox from sugar.
A sugar detox may sound extreme, but the benefits that you will see and feel are worth the uncomfortable first few days. Not only will it help you physically by restoring balance to your blood sugar, reducing spikes of insulin, balancing your hormones, boosting your metabolism, and reducing inflammation, it will also improve your mood and self-image, and you will likely lose weight.
Many people today eat diets that are high in sugar, and as many as 10% of Americans are true sugar addicts. While sugar addiction may not be on the same level as drug and alcohol addiction, there are many similarities. In fact, research shows that for the sugar addict, sugar affects the pleasure center of the brain and induces cravings that are similar in extent to those same symptoms in drug addicts.
For many people, one of the most concerning facts about sugar is just how much is added to our diets without us even realizing that it’s there. When we think of sugar, we think about cakes, cookies, and ice cream. But the reality is, it’s in many foods that don’t even taste sweet. – bread, sauces, salad dressings, and pasta. You may be eating sugar all day and not know it.
Even if you are not a true sugar addict, you will benefit from reducing the amount of sugar in your diet, or be doing a 30-day sugar detox. It will require that you read labels, eat whole foods, and stay away from prepackaged foods, but the results will be worth it.
How to Detox from Sugar
Getting the sugar out of your system requires that you go cold turkey for the first three days of the detox. This sounds daunting and you may wonder why it’s not recommended to just cut down on the amount of sugar you consume. The reason is simple, you would not ask a drug addict or alcoholic to just have a couple of pills or beers a day. For true addicts, this would be impossible. If they could moderate their use, they would already be doing it. The same is true for sugar addicts, and that’s why the first three days have to be sugar-free.
For the first three days, you should have no added sugar. That means no fruits, grains, dairy, starchy vegetables (corn, peas, potatoes, and squash), and alcohol. You can fill up on proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats.
A typical sugar-free day may look like this:
Breakfast – Three eggs, cooked any way you like them
Lunch – As much as six ounces of poultry, fish, or tofu, and a salad
Dinner – Same as lunch, but you can substitute steamed vegetables for the salad
Snacks – Nuts (1 oz. servings), hummus, vegetables
You will want to stay away from artificial sweeteners because they may make you store more fat and end up overeating. Stick to water, unsweetened tea, and black coffee.
Starting on the fourth day, you add one apple and one dairy food (full-fat and unsweetened) each day. You’ll find that after three days of no sugar, your taste has recalibrated and things that didn’t use to taste sweet now do. You can also add back in some of the higher sugar vegetables like carrots and peas, and have up to three glasses of wine for the week.
For week two, you add another serving of dairy, a serving of berries, and starchy vegetables like squash and yams.
Week three allows you to include grains (like oatmeal, quinoa, and barley), and additional fruit like grapes, tangerines or another citrus, and bananas, and an ounce of dark chocolate.
Week four begins the maintenance part of the plan. You can add two starches each day, and up to five glasses of wine per week.
By the end of the four weeks, your addiction to sugar should be broken and be eating healthy sugars, like fruit and whole grains should be satisfying enough that you no longer crave sugar-laden foods. Of course, once you complete the 30 days, having a small dessert or piece of birthday cake isn’t going to send you back into the throes of sugar addiction. Now is when moderation is possible because the addiction to sugar is broken.
Benefits and Risks of Sugar Detox
Doing a sugar detox can result in significant weight loss. Some people lose between five and 20 pounds in the first 30 days, depending on their starting weight and severity of their sugar addiction. People who detox from sugar also experience increased energy, fewer mood swings and blood sugar fluctuations, and have improvements in the appearance of their skin and brighter eyes.
The drawback of any detox is the discomfort you feel in the beginning. The first three days of a sugar detox can make you feel irritable, tired, and anxious because you are actually going through withdrawal. It’s important that you plan to start your detox at a time when you will be around supportive and understanding people who will help you through the challenge.
Doing a 30-day sugar detox will be helpful to nearly everyone – but if you are diabetic or pregnant it may not be right for you and you should check with your doctor before starting.