Yes, sugar tastes super good, but is it good for you? The answer is clearly no. Unsurprisingly, most people tend to eat way too much sugar than is recommended by dietitians. In fact, the average American consumes over 150 grams of sugar per day -- far too much. The World Health Organization recommends that people consume no more than 25 grams per day to maintain optimal health.
Giving up your sweet tooth might be easier said than done. Sugar is ubiquitous, and it's even found in savory foods, such as pasta sauces, salad dressings, canned soups, and bread. Too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Consuming too much sugar:
- Increases your risk for heart disease
- Leads to weight gain
- Prematurely ages your skin
- Lowers your immune system
- Results in mood swings
- Increases your risk for diabetes
Want to cut back on the amount of sugar you eat? Here's how to survive a sugar detox.
It's all about added sugar
While you might think you have to cut down on all forms of sugar, the truth is you don't. The real culprit is added sugar. What's that? Added sugar is refined sugar or syrup that has been added to processed or prepared foods like cereals, flavored yogurts, bagels, ketchup, and protein bars.
During a sugar detox, it's still fine to eat sugars naturally found in foods, such as fruits and unsweetened dairy products. But you want to avoid consuming fruits that contain high amounts of sugar, such as mangoes, grapes, and apples. You'll want to stick with low sugar fruits, including berries, apricots, kiwis, watermelon, and grapefruits.
How to overcome sugar withdrawals
The most challenging part of doing a sugar detox is the withdrawal symptoms you might experience from cutting out added sugars. The intensity and severity of withdrawal symptoms all depend on how much sugar you were consuming and for how long. Withdrawal symptoms might include:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Mood changes
- Flu-like symptoms and headaches
These symptoms tend to last anywhere from a few days to two weeks. But there are ways you can make your sugar detox more tolerable:
- Taper your sugar intake. If you currently consume a lot of sugar, then you should slowly decrease your sugar intake rather than
goingcold turkey. For instance, the first week you could cut out all sweetened beverages, and then the second week eliminate all processed foods. This will make sugar withdrawal symptoms less intense.
- Satisfy your sugar cravings. While you can't eat refined sugars during a sugar detox, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit. Even though fruit does contain natural sugar, it's also filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Exercise regularly. Even though exercise might be the last thing on your mind during a sugar detox, it'll help you better cope with withdrawal symptoms. Cardio exercise helps boost feel-good hormones in the brain, reducing anxiety and depression.
- Eat protein-rich foods. As you begin a sugar detox, your body's blood sugar will become low. But you can help stabilize blood sugar levels by eating foods high in protein because they are digested more slowly than carbohydrates.
- Drink lots of water. As your body is detoxifying from sugar, it's important that you drink a lot of water. This will help keep your body hydrated and flush out harmful toxins.
- Sleep more. Getting extra sleep can help you better cope with sugar withdrawal symptoms. Sleep allows your body to repair itself. Try to sleep for 7 to 8 hours each night.
Don't fall into these sugar detox traps
Although there are so many health benefits to reducing your sugar intake, in order to be successful on a sugar detox plan, it's crucial that you don't fall for these common sugar detox traps:
- Ignoring your sweet tooth. Contrary to popular belief, you can still eat sweet things while on a sugar detox -- just nothing that contains added sugars. Feel free to indulge in healthy fruits and dark chocolate sweetened with stevia.
- Only avoiding foods that are sweet. Unfortunately, added sugars are found in savory foods, too. Bread, bagels, cured meats, and pasta sauces all contain added sugar. It's important that you read all food labels carefully.
- Not realizing sugar comes in many forms. Don't just look for the word "sugar" when reading food ingredients. Refined sugar comes in many forms, such as high-fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, honey, and corn sweetener.
Sugar, spice, and everything...not nice
Let's face it -- while sugar might taste delicious, it's bad for you. Eliminating added sugar altogether can boost your energy, help you lose weight, clear up your skin, and stabilize your moods. Remember that when it comes to doing a sugar detox, make sure to read all food ingredients carefully and don't deprive yourself of natural sugars.