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It is time to detox from sugar.
There’s been a lot of talk about how bad sugar is for your health and that you should to reduce your sugar consumption. Are you ready to cut out sugar?
It’s not just the obvious items like baked goods, sodas and candies that contain lots of sugar. There are surprising amounts of sugar in items that are commonly considered “healthy.” If you’re consuming coffee creamers, low-fat yogurts, fruit juice, ketchup, sports drinks and even granola each day, this isn’t going to be easy.
But keep reading to make sure you know what you’re in for, so you’ll be prepared. That alone will help you tough it out and make it through your sugar detox days and help you see how to detox from sugar.
Sugar detoxes take a lot of willpower.
It’s going to take some willpower to make it through a sugar detox. You’re going to want that candy bar or donut.
Are you ready to make it through a few days of intense sugar cravings? Fair warning: your body will try to talk you out of your decision.
The sugar addiction struggle is real.
The key is to keep in mind that it will get easier as time goes by and that you’re doing this for an important reason—to improve your health, lose weight, look better, feel better and reduce your risk of developing Type II Diabetes.
Keep reminding yourself that you can do this and that it will be worth it in the end. If you want it bad enough, you will find the willpower to make it through your sugar detox.
Of course, keeping all sugary treats out of the house will help with temptation as well.
Sugar withdrawal symptoms aren’t pleasant.
This isn’t going to be easy and it isn’t going to be enjoyable. Ax the idea of a happily cleansed, rested body and mind for a minute. It gets worse before it gets better.
In addition to craving your favorite sugary treats, you’ll likely experience the following sugar detox symptoms:
- Possibe nausea
- Joint pain
Knowing this ahead of time will keep you from being shocked and surprised when these detox side effects start to present.
It helps to start your sugar detox on a Friday. You can make it through your workday before the headaches start and then have all the weekend to detox. By the time Monday rolls around you should be through the worst of it.
Just keep yourself busy or spend a good amount of time sleeping as you make it through to the other side.
The side effects of a sugar detox are temporary.
Keep reminding yourself that this is only temporary and you will feel better after you are done. In fact, you’ll feel great.
For a little motivation, let’s talk about the benefits of quitting sugar. First of all, once you know how to detox from sugar:
- You’ll feel more energetic.
- Your oral health will improve.
- You’ll lose weight.
- You’ll reduce your risk for Type II Diabetes.
- Food will taste better.
- You’ll become mentally sharper.
- You can reverse health problems — including heart health.
- You’ll sleep better.
- You’ll extend your lifespan.
By keeping all of these personal benefits in mind—you will be able to tough it out. When your cravings are really bad, do an activity to occupy your mind. Go watch a movie, call a friend or go for a walk. Distract yourself and before you know it, the intense cravings will have passed.
Keep it up hour after hour and you’ll get through your sugar detox before you know it.
Remember that this is only a temporary feeling.
I promise you’ll feel much better after a few hours. The health benefits of freeing yourself from your sugar addiction are well worth the unpleasant side effects of a sugar detox.
How to cut your sugar habit in less than a week
You know all that added sugar you’re consuming isn’t good for you. How’d you like to stop eating it and change your diet in less than a week?
Best of all, would you like to stop craving candy and sweets and eat healthy, real food instead?
You can do it by following this simple sugar detox plan, step by step.
Each day you’ll focus on something different and before the week is over you’ll have broken that sugar habit. Then boom you will know how to detox from sugar. Let’s get started.
Day one: Keep track of your daily sugar intake.
For the first day, simply keep track of how much sugar you’re consuming. Write down everything you eat and drink and start adding up how many grams of sugar you consume throughout the day.
Now the gram amount probably won’t mean much to you. Grab your calculator and use this formula to figure out how many teaspoons of sugar you’ve had.
Each teaspoon of sugar has about 4 grams of sugar in it.
So take your total grams and divide them by 4.
How many teaspoons of sugar have you had today?
If you need a visual aide, grab the sugar jar and measure it out into a bowl. And if you’re anything like the average American, the amount will surprise you. Seeing the sugar in front of you will help you make it through the next five days.
Day two: Cut the sugar from your favorite beverages.
There’s a lot of sugar hiding in your favorite drinks. Today I want you to focus on cutting it out of everything you drink. That means no more soda, no sugar or fancy creamer in your coffee, no sugar or honey in your tea and no fruit juices.
Pay attention to everything you drink and if it has sugar, skip it.
Stick to water, club soda, black coffee (with milk or cream) and unsweetened tea.
Keep up this habit of sugar-free drinks throughout the rest of the week.
Day three: Change your breakfast.
Today we’ll change up breakfast. Instead of grabbing a bowl of sugary cereal, a breakfast bar or a donut, go for something without sugar.
Fry up some eggs or fix a bowl of unsweetened oatmeal with some berries, nut butter and cinnamon. Unsweetened yogurt is another great choice. Just make sure the yogurt isn’t low-fat. I know that sounds counterintuitive but low-fat yogurts are actually higher in sugar.
Find a couple of sugar-free breakfast options you like and start having them from here on out instead of your sugary breakfast options.
Day four: Skip the sweet treats and snacks.
It’s time to give up your favorite sweet treats, snacks and desserts. That also means no more cookies, candy or ice cream. Yes, this is going to be hard, but you can do it.
Instead, focus on eating whole foods and bigger portions during your main meals. Whole foods are plant-based and are as unprocessed and unrefined as possible. This includes fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Without the blood sugar spikes and dips your favorite sugary treats cause, you’ll find you won’t be as hungry in between meals.
The first few days will be hard, but it will get easier.
Day five: Find healthy sugar busters.
When you really crave a little something sweet or feel like you must have some sort of dessert choose a natural option. Have a piece of fruit instead of cake or turn frozen banana slices, cream, and vanilla extract into mock ice cream in the blender.
Fruit smoothies are also naturally delicious, sweet treats that don’t have any added sugar. Remember to skip the fruit juice and flavored yogurt as a base and choose unsweetened almond milk, whole milk or water with some plain greek yogurt for thickness. Add berries for flavor, spinach for fiber and a half a banana for sweetness.
Find a few things you enjoy. If you’re craving chocolate, grab a bar of dark chocolate with little added sugar and allow yourself one or two squares a day. Moderation is key with these healthy sweet treats.
Day six: Watch for hidden sugars.
Last but not least start watching out for those pesky hidden sugars.
Get into the habit of reading labels and avoid things like low-fat salad dressing and ketchup because those things have a bunch of added sugar.
Words like glucose, fructose and high fructose corn syrup – pretty much anything ending in -ose will alert you to added sugar sources.
Cook what you can from scratch to have control over what goes into your food.
Follow this advice and you’ll be free of that sugar habit in less than a week.
Be prepared for these sugar detox symptoms.
When you decide to cut the sugar out of your diet, you may go through quite the withdrawal. Before you jump in cold turkey, let’s take a look at some of the sugar detox symptoms you can expect over the coming days. We touched on these earlier, but let’s go into greater depth about what you’ll experience.
When you know what’s coming, that it’s normal and, most importantly, that it will only last a few days, it is much easier to make it through this tough transition period of detoxing from your sugar habit. Here are some sugar detox symptoms:
- Intense cravings: The first thing you’ll notice is that you start to crave sugary treats. It starts out with wanting a cookie. Then the cravings get worse until you’re ready to do just about anything for a sweet treat. Your best bet is to get anything sweet out of the house before you start to crave and cave.
- Mood swings and tiredness: Don’t be surprised to go from “I can do this” to “no way” in a matter of minutes. Mood swings, crankiness and lethargy are common as your body starts to detox from the sugar. Distract yourself and do whatever it takes to make it through the first few days. Remember that no matter how crappy you feel, this won’t last long.
- Headaches: Sugar has quite an effect on the brain, as does detoxing from it. It’s not uncommon to have a headache as your body gets used to running without the sugar. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. A cup of black coffee or an aspirin will help as well. If you are experiencing nauseous in addition to a headache, try drinking some unsweetened peppermint tea.
- Joint and body aches: Some people experience flu-like symptoms including joint and body aches. That is your body going through the sugar withdrawal. Try drinking some warm chicken broth or take a hot bath in Epsom salt. The symptoms could be caused by an electrolyte imbalance and both of those will help.
- Shakes and chills: It may feel like a fever or you’re coming down with some nasty bug, but again, it’s just sugar withdrawal symptoms. Crawl in the bed and sleep through the worst of it if you can. By the time you wake up you’ll be through most of it.
Don’t let these sugar detox symptoms scare you away from giving a sugar detox a try. Chances are you won’t experience all of these and many sugar detox symptoms won’t be very severe.
Above all, keep in mind that this will only last for a few days and you’ll come out of it without the sugar cravings and with a chance for a much healthier diet and lifestyle.
3 tips for alleviating sugar detox symptoms
While you experience some of these negative side effects, there are a few things you can do to ease the process.
They key is not to give in and have a piece of candy. Instead try these three tips to help you make it through the relatively short detox period.
- Drink lots of water: First and foremost make sure you drink plenty of water. Not only will staying hydrated help alleviate many of the detox symptoms, it will also keep you full. Feel a headache coming on? Get a glass of water. Want a cookie or donut? Get a glass of water. One of my favorite strategies when I don’t think I can make it without another sweet treat is to pour myself a big glass of water, drink it slowly and then make myself wait 15 minutes. By then the craving has usually passed, or at the very least, I’m so full with water that I can pass on the sugary stuff.
- Supplement with a good multi vitamin: Vitamin C, B vitamins and Zinc are all known to help with cravings. A good multi vitamin can help reduce detox side effects so you can make it through the first few days of getting used to consuming a lot less sugar. In addition, you can talk to your medical care provider about supplementing with a few of these micronutrients in higher doses. Don’t do this without medical supervision or the advice of your doctor though.
- Stay Busy: A lot of the cravings and symptoms are in your head. The more you focus on the negative side effects of detoxing from sugar, the worse they will get. The best way to avoid this is to stay busy. While I don’t recommend doing a sugar detox when you’re at work, particularly during a busy or stressful time, staying busy is a good idea. Make some plans to head out with friends, go for a walk, reorganize your closet or just settle in for a Netflix marathon. What you do doesn’t matter as long as you stay busy and keep your mind off the sugar detox symptoms.
When detoxing from sugar “cold turkey” isn’t a good idea
Some people do great going cold turkey when it comes to sugar. They cut it all out of their diet, deal with the nasty side effects of sugar detoxing for a few days and move on. But that doesn’t work for everyone.
For some of us, the side effects are just too severe, or going cold turkey just doesn’t appeal to us. In those cases, a more gradual approach may do the trick.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter if you cut all the sugar out at once or slowly wean yourself off the stuff. What matters is how you eat a few weeks from now. What matters is making healthy changes to your diet that you can stick to long term.
If you’ve tried a sugar detox and just couldn’t make it through those days of detoxing, or if the whole idea scares you, go with a more gradual approach.
How to detox from sugar slowly
Start by taking a good look at what you’re eating and drinking any given day. Where do you consume the most sugar?
If you’re drinking a lot of soda, start there. Cut back to no more than one serving of sugary soda a day and replace the rest with water, herbal tea and black coffee. If you’re drinking coffee with a lot of sugar and cream, work on getting yourself used to less and then no sugar in your coffee.
Next, work on the food. Write down what you eat for a few days and you’ll see some patterns emerge. Where do the sweet treats pop up? Is it the sugar-filled breakfast cereal or muffin in the morning? Is it the bag of cookies to get you through your afternoon? Or is it the chocolate and ice cream late-night snack?
Find out when and where you consume a lot of sugar. Then make a plan to break that habit.
For example, you could fix cheese toast, eggs or oatmeal instead of pancakes and syrup or sweet cereal for breakfast. When you need a little “pick-me-up” in the afternoon, grab a piece of fruit or make up some trail mix with various nuts and a few raisins.
If evening snacking is your vice, eat a big dinner and then see if you can make it with just a cup of herbal tea until bedtime. If not, grab some raw veggies and hummus or an apple and almond butter as your evening snack. You’ll balance your blood sugar with protein and the natural sugars in your fruit.
You’ll feel a lot better than if you would’ve consumed that bowl of ice cream.
Keep making gradual changes you can live with until you’ve cut most of the added sugar from your diet.
How to deal with temptation after your sugar detox
Once you’ve made it through your sugar detox and are on your way to a lifetime of eating healthy, wholesome foods, a lot of your sugar cravings will be gone. However, it’s easy to fall back into old behavior patterns and get yourself in hot water when it comes to sugar.
Let’s talk about what you can do to deal with temptation in the weeks, months and years to come.
4 tools to help avoid a sugar binge
Yes, there will always be sugary treats around.
They’ll be offered to you and you may even grab a bite or a sip unthinkingly. What you need are a few tools to help you get through those times without going on a sugar binge.
- Expect The Temptation: The first key is to not let down your guard. Temptation is all around us—from that box of donuts left in the breakroom to the offered piece of homemade pie. While you can keep it out of your house, be mentally prepared for temptation at work, when you go out to eat and when you’re over at someone else’s house.
- Don’t Head Out Hungry: This is why it helps to not leave the house hungry. Believe me; it’s much easier to turn down that donut at the office meeting if you’ve already had a couple of eggs for breakfast. When you’re already hungry, your willpower may slip.
- Carry An Emergency Snack: For those cases when you do find yourself hungry and tempted, carry an emergency snack in your purse, car or briefcase. Make some homemade trail mix or just grab a piece of fruit to take with you. A bottle of water to go along with your snack is also a good idea.
- Forgive Yourself And Vow To Do Better: No matter how well you prepare yourself and how strong your willpower is, chances are you’ll slip up here and there. It happens.
Maybe you’re grabbing a cookie without thinking and don’t realize that you’re eating sugar until it’s almost gone. Or maybe there simply isn’t a polite way to turn down your grandma’s homemade banana pudding that she made just for you because she knew you were visiting.
There will be slip-ups and there will be times when quite frankly it is worth the cheat. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Forgive yourself and move on.
A little sugar here and there won’t kill you. It’s the 160+ pounds per year that does. Don’t use that as an excuse to slip back into old habits. Use it as an excuse to forgive yourself, move on and eat well the rest of the time. Your body will thank you for it
Amy White, is an author, blogger and personal finance expert with a love of personal development and healthy living. Amy has over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience and loves anything related to building and developing long term business growth. You can follow Amy on her blog Daily Successful Living.