Sugar Detox: 6 Not-So-Sweet Ways to Quit Eating Excess Sugar
Eating too much sugar continues to be a big health risk in our modern society.
Within the last two centuries, the consumption of sugar has skyrocketed from 2 pounds for the average American to 152 pounds.
This rapid rate of sugar consumption has been linked to the growing rate of health risks. These risks include heart diseases, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Studies suggest sugar affects mental health. Cognitive decline, depression, increased stress levels, and risk of Alzheimer’s are a few of them.
But that’s not all. Studies show that sugar is a substance that taps into the brain’s reward pathways. These are the same pathways that get activated by addictive drugs.
As a result, sugar tends to releases opioids and dopamine and could lead to addiction.
If you’re addicted to sugar, this article is for you. We’ll talk about ways you can get rid of the addictiveness of eating too much sugar and its harmful effects on the body.
What is sugar detox?
Sugar detox is the process of slashing down your sugar intake.
If you’re like the average person who takes between 22 and 30 teaspoons of sugar a day, your sugar detox goal might be to go to zero teaspoons a day. Or you can aim for six teaspoons.
Regardless of the goal, cutting out sugar is not an easy process, and you could expect some withdrawal symptoms.
Some of these symptoms may include:
- Sleep disorders
- Anxiety and restlessness
- Lack of concentrations
- Feeling of fatigue
True, these symptoms might not be pleasant at the start.
However, if you’re able to power through the detox process, you’ll later enjoy the long term health benefits.
Should you detox from all sugar?
A goal to cut out all kinds of sugar is impossible. Natural sugars help us to thrive and live a healthy lifestyle. Our body needs natural sugar to function.
Natural sugars help us to thrive and live a healthy lifestyle. For example, all fruits like bananas and blueberries and vegetables have natural sugar.
They come with an array of important antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients that give us valuable health benefits. So you don’t want to totally detox from natural sugar.
But sugar additives from junk food are what we must be wary of.
Manufacturers generally add sugar to tons of food and have the potential to cause health problems.
Unlike food and drinks which contain natural sugar, added sugar provides absolutely no health benefit. There are no nutrients that are present in such additives.
Related: 5 Eating Disorders That Are More Common Than You Think
How to detox from sugar
1. Get rid of processed food
Ever heard “out of sight, out of mind?” This can be a good inspiration when you decide to detox from sugar. It’s tempting to convince yourself that you’ll start to carefully read labels to avoid sugar-laden foods.
But you and I know that the reality is often different. It’s better to get rid of that temptation in the first place.
Go to your kitchen cabinet or where you keep food and throw outboxed, sweetened, canned or frozen foods (non-fruits) and beverages.
Instantly get rid of sugar from day one of your detox is ‘cold turkey quitting’ strategy. It’s drastic. But also effective in the sense that it helps to cut a huge amount of the temptation around you.
2. Hydrate with water
Beverage manufacturers have succeeded in marketing sports drinks as healthy. Yet, if you take a closer look, these drinks contain high amounts of sugar. Plus, you only get shortlived energy you get from these drinks.
One way to get on a sugar detox is to cut out all those sugary beverages. Drink water instead. There are so many benefits of drinking water and now might be the time to double up on your water intake.
Drinking enough water helps to:
- Circulate nutrients in our body
- Flush out waste
- Improve immunity
- Support joint health
- Control our body temperature
Not getting enough sleep can cause tiredness. However, dehydration is another big thief of energy.
Dehydration leads to reduced blood circulation. This is because the body stores energy to preserve itself. But, hydration drives our energy levels up. This is because it enables blood to circulate and send oxygen to the muscles.
3. Get enough sleep at night
Sleep deprivation can also affect the type of food you’re interested in. More specifically, lack of sleep will cause your brain to crave foods that have too much sugar and lack any nutritional value.
One study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of four dozen healthy adults.
The first scan happened before a well-rested night. The second can happened when they had a sleepless night.
The results showed that sleep deprivation affects the frontal lobe of the brain. This is the part that helps us to make complex decisions.
The findings also showed heightened brain activity in the deeper part of the reward center of the brain.
If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re likely to make bad and impulse choices. You’re likely to make poor decisions about what you eat. And that’s a slippery slope for getting back to eating sugar.
4. Choose healthy snacks
Sugar detox doesn’t mean you should go hungry all the time. Get ready for the times in the day when your stomach growls and the craving will rise. Do find yourself unaware.
One way to do this is to keep some healthy snacks handy. Nuts, plant-based smoothies, or even seeds are a good way to keep bad sugar out of your life.
5. Prep your own meals
This is not only for people who want to save some money. In fact, preparing your own meals give you a lot more control over the ingredients to add and exclude.
As you embark on your sugar detox, choose differently. Pick and choose recipes, food or meals that don’t contain all the junk ingredients at fast food joints or restaurants.
When you are on the go, you don’t want to find yourself in an emergency situation.
If your blood sugar drops, without health-conscious foods, you’re likely to choose the path of least resistance. That path is the sugar-filled junk food one.
Preparing your own meals also helps you to develop a healthy mindset. This mindset gets you focused on eating the right food so you achieve the goal of sugar detox.
6. Find an accountability partner
Quitting anything is hard. But it doesn’t have to be lonely. Find someone who you can be accountable to.
This accountability partner must be someone who respects and loves you. But they should also have the courage to call your bluff and inspire you.
If you want to take accountability to the next level, increase the stakes. For example, donate a certain of money to charity every time you eat food with excess sugar.
It could be donating $10 for every teaspoon of sugar you eat. While I love donating to charity, I’ve found that those stakes compel me to keep to my commitments.
Related: Best Detox Foods: The Ultimate List of 20 Foods to Cleanse Your Body
Cutting out sugar will be a long journey. But it’s absolutely worth it. If you can’t do the cold turkey quitting like others, try the baby steps.
Find something you eat that has excess sugar. Remove that one thing from your daily meals. Build on the win and make sure to stay consistent.