My 30 Day Sugar Detox
Hi. My name is Stacie, and I am a sugar addict.
The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? 😉
People who know me today may be surprised by this admittance, but it is absolutely true. Blame it on my Danish heritage, or something else completely, but sugar has definitely been one of my drugs of choice throughout my lifetime. The more decadent and sugary something was, the more I loved it… I craved it… I needed it!
About 10 years ago I eliminated all refined sugar in my diet, and switched to natural sugars such as pure maple syrup, honey, molasses, etc. Better choices, yes… but, still sugar.
Over time I reduced my sugar intake completely, and eventually eliminated added sugar of any kind, switching to natural sweeteners that don’t affect blood sugar like stevia or monk fruit. Today these are the primary sweeteners I use… unless it’s the holidays. 😉 For my holiday baking I use the natural sweeteners such as pure maple syrup and coconut sugar… still less impact on blood sugar than refined cane sugar, but they are still sugar. Let me tell you… when I add those things back into my diet, it lights up those receptors in my brain, and I crave sugary sweets like crazy! I used to live that way ALL THE TIME… needing to have something sweet after each meal, or something sweet for breakfast to go with my coffee (a Danish tradition), or a 3:00 sweet pick me up… sugar ruled my eating habits… and let me tell you… it was miserable.
Now that I rarely eat sugar, I feel like shit when I do… I have aches and pains throughout my body, including old injuries. I have brain fog. I am soooooo lethargic all the time. I don’t recover from my workouts. It’s hard for me to find the motivation and energy TO workout. I feel depressed or anxious. My sleep is disrupted. I have crazy cravings… the list goes on and on…
Sugar is inflammatory, so it manifests in an overall state of not feeling well…. NOT how I like to live. Normally, I have great energy. I’m happy. I am able to workout and feel great. I don’t require an afternoon nap or tons of caffeine to get through my day… all of that goes away when my diet isn’t on point. Suddenly, I feel my age (40), and everything is harder to accomplish… including workouts and even daily activities such as cleaning my house. It takes so much more mental and physical energy to get stuff done. Just like a car doesn’t run well on cheap gas, I do not run well on cheap food…
Everything we eat has an affect on our performance… I prefer to perform at my personal best, whenever I possibly can. I prefer to feel happy, healthy, and energetic. I value these things greatly. So, I do the things necessary to have them… like eat healthy, and avoid the things that make me feel like crap.
But, I do make an exception for about a week over the holidays, as I do not want to live a restricted life either… I know that I’m going to take a hit on how I feel for a few days, so I have intentional indulgences… I eat the things I love, without guilt, and I know that I will immediately get back to my healthy eating habits… not to lose weight, but to feel well.
So, knowing I am a sugar addict, for the past few years after the holiday festivities I do a sugar detox… doing this resets my taste buds, and I no longer have continuous sugar cravings. I’m not going to lie… it sucks, and is really hard to do, but it is worth it in the end. I know I’m able to white knuckle it for a week or two avoiding sugar all together, and then the cravings go away…
I used to be VERY against anything referred to as a detox… because it usually involves crazy things like juicing or detox teas, etc… I’m not advocating those things. However, I have changed my perspective over the years due to trial and error of living a healthy life. There are those that are very against anything referred to as a “detox”. They advocate moderation in all circumstances, and for the most part I do too… but, I have found that going a little extreme, and eliminating all sugars (temporarily) has a much better outcome for me… not for weight loss or to “punish” myself for indulging over the holidays, but because it jump starts me back to feeling well again…
I’ve heard it said that our bodies are not a bank account… they are a chemistry lab. From my own experience I know this to be true. When I used to eat the same number of Calories, but still had sugar in my diet, I would have sugar cravings that I had to fight off every single day. I had to use extreme willpower to not eat too much day after day after day… eventually I ran out of willpower, and I would overindulge in sugar, feel like crap, and beat myself up for not being “strong” enough to stay on track.
Now that I make a conscious decision to eliminate all sugar for a month, I have to use that willpower for a few days or weeks, and then my cravings go away… I get to a point where having a sweet potato or very dark chocolate is a satisfying sweet treat. When I get to this point I can use the energy I was using to fight off sugar cravings to do other things in life… like accomplish goals I set for myself.
Here are some tips and tricks I’ve used to fight through sugar cravings…
Purge the pantry – I don’t keep junk food in the house. Knowing that my natural instinct is to be a junk food junkie… I don’t even tempt myself because I know if it’s there I will choose the cookies over broccoli 100% of the time. It’s just a fact. So, instead I keep the ready made treats out. During my sugar detox month I even keep things such as chocolate chips out of the house. After the month is over I do keep ingredients on hand to make goodies for me and my daughter if I so choose… then when I have a craving for something sweet I have to go to the trouble of making it from scratch. If I don’t feel like putting in the effort, then I just ride out the craving, because it’s not that bad. When we do have something sweet, it becomes a bonding experience between the two of us… either we bake together, or we go out for a single serve ice cream treat or something… instead of mindlessly eating a tub of Ben and Jerry’s in front of the tv. If you’re telling yourself you need junk food in the house for your kids or your spouse… you don’t. They don’t need to be mindlessly eating that crap either. 😉
Move – If I’m having strong craving I either workout or go for a walk… 1) to get away from my pantry and 2) because movement reduces my hunger signals. The hardest part is getting out the door, but I know if I can do that, then I’ll be ok… I’ve developed a strong discipline over the years to just get started when it comes to exercise, and it has served me well.
Opt for sour or mint – A recent trick I’ve learned is sour will reduce the craving for sweet. I am a person that craves sweet after a meal. The meal does not feel complete unless I end it with sweet. So, during my sugar detox I drink a large cup of hot lemon water with each meal… saving most of it for after the meal. Doing this helps me not need something sweet, plus lemon and water are both good for you… it’s a win-win. Just be sure to rinse your mouth out with water afterwards, as lemon juice can be hard on your tooth enamel. Another trick I use is peppermint essential oil in my water or to brush my teeth immediately after the meal. This will also eliminate a sugar craving.
Increase fats – So, when I do my sugar detox I don’t actually cut Calories. When you cut Calories your body will release hormones signaling your brain to eat more… it makes cravings a 1000 times worse. So, I simply swap carbs for fat, and I keep my protein levels high. Doing this helps with satiety, and makes me feel more satisfied after a meal.
This too shall pass – I look at my cravings from a logical perspective – they will go away, eventually. I know I’m not actually physically hungry because I am getting enough Calories… it’s just my brain playing tricks on me. I know how much better I feel when I don’t eat a bunch of sugar, so that is enough incentive for me to push through a craving… give up the good to go for the great.
If you are a sugar addict yourself, hopefully you find these tips and tricks helpful. Everyone is different in how they approach a healthy lifestyle… there is no right or wrong way. The key is to find the way that works best for you and your biology… if you’re able to simply reduce sugar, and not have massive cravings – good for you! But, if you’re like me, and it becomes an endless struggle of self control, then maybe a 30 day sugar detox is just what you need as well to reset your system and feel healthy again.
If you’d like to join me on this 30 day sugar detox, let me know! I’ve got several people doing it with me. There is strength in numbers. 😉
To your health!