Are you ready to break your sugar habit? Sugar is an insidious food additive that is in almost every processed food: fast food french fries, low-fat yogurt and vitamin water, to name a few.
If you are struggling with weight gain, difficulty losing weight, lack of energy, and digestive issues, it might be due to how much sugar you consume.
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic.
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes. Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food, getting some sunshine, and purging unhelpful thinking is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life.
You want a quality long life.
My blog posts are my opinion and the results of things that I have tried that either worked for me or didn’t. My opinions are for informational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. As well, there may be affiliate links in this post. Read more here
I also have a detox course to help you detox over 21 days. You can check it out on my Sugar Detox download page.
Sugar is in almost everything you buy in a package or box, from your bacon to your milk. The following information is going to guide you through the process of cutting out sugar with a simple detox diet.
Why You Should Do a Sugar Detox
While it is a standard joke among people to refer to themselves as a sugar junky, the reality is that it is not funny at all.
Refined sugars are responsible for many medical ills. The average person in the United States eats between 22 to 30 teaspoons of the stuff each day.
It would be much better for them to drop the sugar. The truth is that it would not be so difficult either. The only obstacle is sugar addiction.
So the natural solution is to do a sugar detox
A sugar detox means that you drop all types of sugar from your diet for a specified length of time. This will include things like honey, alcohol, and white bread. The payoff is that you will feel much healthier when you cut the substance.
You will need to cut every kind of sugar except fresh fruit and vegetables.
You need to understand that there is a difference between natural sugar and added sugar.
Natural sugar, which is permitted, is contained in fruits and vegetables. Since they are linked to other substances like nutrients and fiber, they behave differently from the added sugar in processed foods.
Added sugar is bare and without nutrition of any kind; it is not bound to other substances.
This will leave you with some empty calories.
Refined sugar is added to other foods, like french fries, to give them a golden color when they are finished cooking.
It is also added to foods to make them more addictive, because fructose (the worst sugar culprit) goes right to the pleasure center of the brain. It sends a signal to your brain telling you that it is good and necessary, which leads to sugar addiction.
While ingesting sugar from fruit or vegetables will provide some energy, the main purpose of eating these foods is to get all of the nutrients they provide and which will increase our health.
Fruit and vegetables give a stabilized amount of energy, packaged with other benefits.
This is not the same as what you getting eating a chocolate bar.
Refined sugar may make you feel good in the short run, but this short burst of energy can be followed by a dip in energy.
The way that this works is that this kind of sugar is released into the bloodstream rapidly.
This will cause a spike in blood sugar. As a result, there is an increase in insulin in the body. Then, the insulin knocks down the sugar level. This low sugar level stimulates appetite. The cycle then repeats itself.
This cycle is extremely taxing for your pancreas, which has to regulate your insulin to keep your blood sugar stable. If your pancreas gets over-taxed it can lead to Type II diabetes because your pancreas no longer works properly.
Sugar Addiction is Real
While some people will claim that sugar addiction is not a true addiction, research indicates that it is.
After you consume sugar, your body releases opioids and dopamine. Those substances stimulate you in a way akin to addictive drugs.
The worst of the worst is high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is used to replace the more expensive sucrose (table sugar) in foods.
As a liquid sugar product it mixes better in liquid foods like soda and has become popular with food manufacturers because of its lower price.
From 1970 to 2000, there has been 25% increase in “added sugars” in the USA.
Its most popular use is in soft drinks and pancake syrup.
HFCS is an additive in liquid honey and Agave syrup, so it is important to read labels. The other reason that HFCS is used so much is because of high concentration of fructose, which causes the addiction.
You could never eat as much fruit, which contains true fructose, to cause the addiction that you will get from processed foods that contain fructose or high fructose corn syrup.
Research also indicates that you can go through sugar withdrawal.
While the withdrawal is not as severe as it is with a substance like heroin, still there is a real effect.
The stages of sugar with-drawl:
- Feeling good and ready to be sugar free!
- Thoughts about sugar foods that you are missing already – and it’s only been 2 hours!
- Cravings – You can’t stop thinking about sugar even though you are not hungry. You just want it.
- Sugar detox hangover – much like quitting alcohol, drugs and cigarettes you may feel super crappy as the sugar leaves your body
- Feeling queasy – “Flu-like” symptoms may set in. How bad depends on whether you quit ‘cold turkey” or eased off slowly
- Freedom! Once the excess sugar is out of your system, you feel much better. Normal even. FYI- you will now be able to taste the sweetener in fries.
Many researchers hold that, while sugar isn’t outright poison, it is a rather toxic substance for your body. Even sucrose (table sugar) is very highly processed and far removed from the original source, the sugar cane plant.
I will let you read this article from livestrong.com on how sucrose is created.
Sugar can be responsible for various ailments.
The fact is that one-third of our country is clinically obese. That is a serious problem. Diabetes is rampant, and even young children now are falling prey to the illness.
Other research also indicates that sugar is responsible for a myriad of health problems, including rapid aging and certain types of cognitive issues. Sugar has even been linked to some kinds of cancer.
The reason for this is because the sugar added to foods is not a real food.
It has been “created”, mostly in labs. Your body does not recognize it as food and treats it the way that it does to other invaders by trying to expel it.
However, if you eat enough sugar, your body cannot keep up. So you get rapid aging, inflammation, and other health issues.
The Advantages of a Sugar Detox
You will be surprised at how much benefit you will receive from doing a sugar detox.
You will be able to:
- Lower your weight
- Drop those headaches
- Gain surplus energy
- Basically feel healthier.
A 2015 study showed that even cutting sugar for 10 days aided the metabolic health of obese children.
Another benefit of a detox is that you will become more sensitive to the natural sweetness of produce.
If you have lost this sensitivity by eating added sugar, then you will be pleasantly surprised at your newfound experience.
The truth is that many people who go off of sugar find that refined sugar is just too sweet for them.
You may find that you will no longer crave cookies and cake like you once did. And now you can taste the sugar on your fast-food french fries.
How to Cut Back Your Sugar Intake
The problem with having a sugar dependency is that the more that you indulge, the worse the problem becomes. Your cravings are bound to get
By taking on a sugar detox, you can begin to halt the cycle.
To do your detox, you need to make a plan.
There are various lengths of time that you can do the detox for. Some say that the full scope of benefits will emerge after a detox of three weeks.
If that seems too hard for you, you can try an abbreviated program first of a week-long detox.
You won’t get the full set of benefits, but this may be all that you can handle at first. It will help you to understand how a sugar detox will affect you and your life.
One thing to watch out for is restaurant food.
Restaurant food tends to be packed with added sugars. Also, for the most part, restaurants do not provide the nutritional information concerning their offerings.
For this reason, you will need to make your own dishes during your detox.
To do it right, you will need to plan your meals out ahead of time.
You don’t want to be caught in a pinch with only processed food in the cupboard.
The best thing to do is to plan things out on the Sunday at the beginning of the week. Check out this blog post from Buzzfeed for some ideas on how you can make a plan that will work for you and your family.
To keep things palatable for you, you will need to add some spice and variety to the foods on your list.
During your sugar detox, do not concern yourself with eating “off plan” if you eat Keto or low-carb.
Just go for the lowest sugar foods that you can prepare that will satisfy everyone. The priority here is to quit sugar as best you can.
You may not be 100% successful, but it is good to try it out and get feedback from your family on what they like and don’t like. Adjust the meal plan and try again.
It is more important to learn what you can get away with as far as low sugar foods.
Some people in your family may resist going fully sugar-free. I have had that happen in my home. Just keep trying.
When people realize how bad their own addiction is they will be more open to trying again. So gather as much feedback as you can for future detoxes.
Avoid High Sugar Natural Foods When Doing A Sugar Detox
Obviously, your detox will be more focused on the avoidance of certain foods than on the consumption of certain foods. However, you want to make sure that you are sticking to a healthy eating plan.
So, what foods do you need to avoid?
The key is that you should avoid foods that have a high glycemic index.
High glycemic foods tend to spike your blood sugar quicker and for a longer period of time. Many people in low-carb groups will use a glucometer to check their blood sugar after they eat specific foods, just to see what happens.
I have read multiple posts that white rice spikes fastest, while others may find that wheat products like bagels are the worst offenders for them.
Blanket statements like “eating grains are healthy” are inaccurate.
It completely depends on what your current health is like. If you body is sick, eating grains is the last thing you should be eating.
Foods high on the GI list are usually processed. Bread is one of the highest processed foods there is – think of how many steps it takes to turn wheat into a baked product.
The short answer is lots.
Obviously, you will need to avoid sweets that are made with refined sugars.
You need to remember that most processed foods contain a lot of added sugar.
The most common source of sugar in the American diet is that found in soft drinks and energy drinks. Both of these are pretty much liquid sugar. Energy drinks contain caffeine or a caffeine-like substance, adding more stress onto a taxed body.
If you did not know, caffeine causes stress in your body. That is the buzz people get and why they use it to “wake up”.
Hidden Sugar: What To Know
Many people are actually shocked when they learn about some of the hidden sources of added sugar in their diet. This is probably because these people are so used to really sweet things that they don’t think that some added sugars are present.
The point of monitoring hidden sugar is that if you eat too much of it, you stay addicted and your detox will take that much longer.
Some hidden sources of added sugar are the following:
- Salad dressing
- Granola bars
- Canned fruit
You really need to look out for condiments.
Most people don’t know that ketchup is loaded with sugar. A sugary salad dressing can turn a healthy salad into a no-no on your detox.
Also, people are not really aware of the fact that refined carbohydrates are no different than sugar.
As mentioned above, avoid foods high on the Glycemic Index. These include:
- Grains, which behave like sugar in the body
- Starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes
- Overly sweet fruits such as pineapple, watermelon, and ripe bananas
- Dried fruit, most of which is coated in high fructose corn syrup.
- Artificial Sweeteners – some of these behave like table sugar to many people. And they can increase appetite.
You do not have to avoid these foods forever…just while you are detoxing. It is recommended to only add back one food at a time from this list and monitor how your body reacts.
If it triggers sugar cravings then your are not detoxed enough to eat it yet. Add it to a “try again in a month” list.
Do This On Your Sugar Detox
There are many things you can do to make a detox easier. The main one is eating whole foods, plain proteins, and quality fats.
Protein and fat are naturally sugar free, with close to zero carbohydrates so they do not spike blood sugar.
You should emphasize vegetables that have a low glycemic index. Particularly good are dark leafy greens and cruciferous types which have the most nutrition.
You can prepare them roasted or raw.
A great “vegetable” (it’s actually a fruit) is avocado, which contains healthy fats. Win-win.
You should emphasize plain meats while detoxing. Add spices, salt and pepper but avoid BBQ sauces, coating mixes, and regular ketchup.
Cook a pot roast, grill some chicken, or poach fish with fresh lemon.
Healthy fats include olives, avocados, and seeds and nuts.
Fat is important to your diet, and it aids in slowing down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. I will always recommend a low-carb diet, with Keto being my favorite.
Personally, I am on a Ketovore diet, which is more meat and fat, with less veggies. I have zero sugar cravings on Keto.
While the effects of a detox are great for your health, if you are strongly dependent on sugar, you might even experience some headaches or other symptoms during a detox.
If you cut your supply of sugar, your energy levels may be affected.
Experts recommend that you should nourish yourself with high-quality foods that can help fight that moodiness. One tip is to keep yourself satisfied.
Tips to help you with with-drawl symptoms:
- Add more foods with healthy fats. Fat keeps your blood sugar stable and fills you up so that any cravings are not from actual hunger.
- Drink lots of water – to flush toxins and also keep you feeling full. Some headaches are actually your body crying out for water.
- Try to eat the best quality protein that you can afford. Ideally (1) grass fed or pastured (2) organic and/or local.
An important thing to remember is that a lot of the withdrawal that you may feel can be psychological.
To counteract this feeling, you should treat yourself to foods that you appreciate and that satiate you.
A sugar detox is a great way to reset your body to a healthier state that will ward off illness and keep you trim.
While there are arguments among researchers about just how toxic added sugar can be, everyone agrees that added sugar is just empty calories.
It is definitely an improvement to your diet to dump the sugar and emphasize nutritious foods.
After the Detox
You need to understand that a detox is what kicks off a future of healthy behavior. Don’t end your detox with a celebration of a big sugar soda.
Look for alternatives to the sugary foods in your world.
You should emphasize fruits and perhaps something like a little pure maple syrup or raw honey to add sweetness to your diet. Find more ways to add veggies and fruits into your daily menu, like fresh strawberries on your leafy greens.
Remember that food manufacturers are trying to make money and that is accomplished if you are addicted to products that they sell. The FDA does not concern itself with food addictions…it is biased towards keeping the economy moving.
Yes, we need farmers. No we do not need food manufacturers creating addiction.
Up until the 1970’s no one snacked. We all ate 3 square meals a day. There were no mass-produced cookies and cakes, except for maybe Fig Newtons (because they are pita to make at home).
We cooked all of our own food and people were proud of their final products. I’ve seen videos of people oven-grilling a 3 inch T-bone steak to serve for company!
We 100% controlled the food we eat.
Now we are being controlled to make money for someone else. And if these foods make us sick? Well some other business will benefit from treating us. Notice I did not say cure us…
It really is shocking when you think about it.
And don’t forget that I have a 21-day Sugar Detox guide to help you quit the “white death” once and for all.
Holistic approaches never just address symptoms of specific health problems, but instead aim to return or keep the patient in a state of balanced health between mind, body, and spirit. Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!