To remove sugar from your diet is a great way to improve many health problems. Sugar has made its way into everyday items that you don’t even associate with sugary food, and many Americans are overeating sugar. Most of us are consuming 22–30 teaspoons that is about 88–120 grams of sugar each day. It is substantially higher than the recommended limit, i.e., six teaspoons (about 24 grams) for females and nine teaspoons (about 36 grams) for males.
Once in a while, we all have turned to a decadent dessert, bought packaged processed food for convenience, or ate out to reward ourselves for a hard work day. Sugar cravings are common, and you probably have heard of the term ‘sugar rush‘, which is what happens when we consume a large amount of sugar on an empty stomach. The sugar goes right to our brain.
Eating sugar fuels every cell in the brain which programs it as a reward-seeking behavior. To remove sugar from your diet is going to take intentional eating and planning.
What Exactly Is Sugar?
Sugar is the broad name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Three of the most common are:
- Fructose: It is a natural sugar found in fruit, honey, agave, and most root vegetables. Though it’s a natural form, consuming it in excess can be bad for health. It’s also commonly added to processed foods in high-fructose corn syrup, about 50% fructose and 50% glucose.
- Sucrose: It’s a scientific name for white table sugar that many Americans use daily. It’s a natural form of carbs found in many fruits, grains, and vegetables. It’s also added to processed foods, such as ice-cream, cookies, candy, breakfast cereals, soda, canned foods, and other sweetened beverages.
- Glucose: Glucose is a simple sugar your body creates with the food your intake. It’s your body’s preferred carb-based energy source; when your body starts accumulating too much glucose in your system, the likelihood of blood sugar (also known as blood glucose) reaching to unhealthy level increases.
Does Sugar Detox Help?
It’s important first to understand why removing sugar from our diet is a good thing. You don’t have to be a sugar addict to want a break from sugar. The reason for going on a sugar detox is to purge your system of sugar. Most recognize it as a way to lose weight, but there are many side effects of too much sugar which can lead to long-term health problems such as diabetes.
First, discover the root cause of your sweet or carb cravings. Backtrack your daily routine and start cutting out one sweet food from your diet every week. For instance, put less to no sugar in your morning coffee, no bread with dinner and no dessert post-dinner. You will be surprised to see how your body responds to these changes almost immediately.
Whether you choose to go cold turkey or opt for incremental method to cut down on your sugar intake, these six nutritional and lifestyle tips can help you remove sugar from your diet:
Keep Yourself Hydrated
Hydrating means replenishing thirst with water, not coffee, caffeine teas, or aerated drinks. These beverages may taste great and provide immediate relief, but they also tend to dehydrate your body. Avoid drinking water with your meals because it dilutes stomach acid and leads to poor digestion.
Experts advise drinking 6-8 glasses of water every day for oxygen to flow freely in your body and help the kidneys and colon eliminate waste. What’s best, it helps in flushing out excess sugar from your body. You can add lemon slices, cucumber slices, or mint leaves into your water to change the flavor without introducing unhealthy additives.
Increase Your Protein & Fat Intake
Eat right for your breakfast; it has a significant influence on the rest of your day. Having protein in your meals gives you lasting energy and reduces your cravings for sugary food. Eggs, peanut butter, beans, legumes, protein smoothies, fatty fish, and nuts are all high in protein.
An increase in healthy fat intake also helps in sugar detox. Healthy fats include avocado, unsweetened coconut products, grass-fed butter or ghee (unless you are lactose-intolerant), nuts, and seeds. Aim for 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fat with each meal.
Choose Fruits Over Desserts
Most desserts like ice-cream, cake, or cookies are filled with crazy amounts of sugar. It causes a blood spike, one reason you feel tired, hungry, and craving more sugar. Choose healthier alternatives like easy to pack apples and mandarin oranges.
Fruits not only bring down your sugar cravings but also increase the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in your diet. Berries such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, pears, and plums are the lowest in natural sugar.
But if you are craving a sweet dessert, you can binge on a few chunks of dark chocolate. It has high cocoa content that makes it relatively less sugary yet tasty. You can also enhance foods with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, or lemongrass instead of sugar.
Eat Complex Carbohydrates
Carbs are good for your health but choosing the right carb makes all the difference. Complex carbs are high in fiber and digest slowly. It makes them more filling that means they’re a viable option for controlling sugar cravings or irregular eating habits. Sweet potato, butternut squash, beans, nuts, etc., have complex carbs.
Fibrous vegetables like green leafy vegetables or pumpkin seeds also help in keeping sugar levels under control.
Monitor Your Sleep Patterns
Whether you sleep well or not, your blood sugar increases every night as a part of the natural human circadian rhythm cycle. Many studies have confirmed that short sleepers (who get less than 6 hours a night) alter your appetite-regulating hormones. These people crave added sugar, have irregular eating habits, and snack on unhealthy food items.
Getting a good night’s sleep helps you lower stress levels, improve your memory, and help you make healthier food and lifestyle choices. It will also be beneficial for your health to avoid daytime napping.
During stressful situations, your insulin levels drop, and stress hormone levels go up. And sugar is believed to have a calming effect on stress hormones, contributing to your desire for sugar when feeling stressed.
It may not be easy, but setting a schedule for your day can keep your stress levels in check. It will, in turn, be more comfortable to cut sugar from your diet and help keep those sugar cravings under control.
You may feel more relaxed if you start taking a short walk, breathing deeply, meditating, or practicing mindful behaviors that help you relax, like yoga. Talking to your loved one or reading your favorite book also have a calming effect in diffusing stress.
Make It a Family Practice
Too much sugar isn’t good for humans, no matter what age. We all know that it affects children by making them hyper-active. Families that eat scheduled, intentional, unprocessed, fresh foods will see everyone benefit. From sleep to mood, too much sugar can be a trigger for what is making us feel sick and tired. Parents who promote healthy eating as a family, benefit from controlling how our bodies are fueled. Children who learn to eat healthy, low sugar meals take those good habits into adulthood. Everyone benefits when we remove sugar from our diet!