Just like carbs and fats, sugar seems to be one of the worst enemies when it comes to living healthily and happily. The plain fact is that sugar is associated with many health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity but also mental health problems like depression and anxiety, amongst many others.
Despite all these facts, sugar is not our enemy, at least not the sugar that can be found in fruits, veggies, and even milk. This type of sugar gives us energy on top of all the nutritional benefits that we get when we consume natural foods such as fruits and veggies.
Our problem is refined sugar because this particular type doesn’t behave the same way natural sugar does. It doesn’t digest slowly and then enters the bloodstream; it almost goes straight to the bloodstream, giving us the so-called sugar rush. Moreover, it’s addictive, which means the more sugar we eat, the more we crave it. Add a sweet tooth on top of all that and you’ve got a serious problem on your hands.
Any problem has a solution though; in this case giving up refined sugar and living a healthy sugar-free life. It seems hard, if not impossible, but when you know what to expect and what to do, even an impossible task becomes possible.
Why Sugar Detox Can Make You Feel Lousy
If you tried to quit sugar before and you experienced many unwanted and confusing symptoms, it’s because sugar addiction is a real thing that manifests itself like any other addiction. This means withdrawal symptoms are not only possible but expected.
When you cut out sugar, you’ll crave sweets even more than usual. Moreover, you may experience a few other symptoms. We’re not saying this to make you lose hope; we’re saying it so you know what to expect and to motivate you to keep going.
Sugar Detox Symptoms
Not everybody experiences the same symptoms. In fact, there are people who can quit sugar without experiencing any of the physical or mental symptoms. Every person is different but it also depends on how much sugar you regularly consumed before starting the quitting process. Here are some of the challenges you may have to face:
- Mood swings;
- Feeling down;
- Concentration problems.
Sugar Withdrawal – How To Do It Right
You don’t have to feel discouraged or to stop trying if you experience any of these symptoms. We have a few tips that will help you to push through but first, let’s discuss the two ways to quit sugar.
You can cut sugar gradually to lessen the symptoms and their intensity. Alternatively, you can quit cold turkey. It’s entirely up to you. Both methods have their pros and cons. Quitting gradually is easier and less scary but it also takes longer. Cold turkey is faster but also more intense. At the end of the day, your goal should be to stop sugar from controlling your life so it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you’re committed to the change. To help you out, follow our tips during the detox process and also during your future sugar-free life.
Read Nutrition Labels
The most important habit you need to develop is reading the nutrition labels of every product you buy. It’s not only white sugar or corn syrup you should be concerned about; you should also avoid brown sugar, cane sugar or juice, and artificial sweeteners. These are all forms of refined sugar or alternatives that are just as bad.
Eat More Protein
Most people feel tired when they go through sugar withdrawal. If you want to avoid feeling tired and hungry, eat more protein. This will keep you on track and away from the sugary treats that tempt you. Lean protein is the way to go – chicken and fish are good options but so are nuts, seeds, and veggies that are high in protein such as beans and chickpeas.
Increase Dietary Fiber
Fiber helps regulate blood sugar and it can prevent headaches and nausea. Opt for veggies and legumes that are high in fiber. You can also eat fruits since they contain natural sugar and they are a nutritious and healthy alternative to candy bars or other sugary treats.
Drink More Water
It’s important to always be hydrated but, it’s particularly important to drink enough water when you increase your protein intake to prevent constipation.
More often than not, thirst is usually confused with hunger so drinking more water can effectively keep your cravings under control.
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
If you thought artificial sweeteners are your silver lining during this process, we have bad news. It is best to avoid them because they can be just as damaging as sugar. Yes, they contain fewer calories or even 0 calories but they are just as addictive as sugar is and they create the same cravings.
Choose Healthier Sources Of Sugar
Now the good news! While it’s not recommended to eat treats with artificial sweeteners, some sugar alternatives are actually good for you. You can use coconut sugar, honey, and pure maple syrup for baking, cooking or to sweeten coffee and tea. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that moderation is always key.
Manage Your Stress
Often times we end up eating our emotions instead of expressing them. If we’re stressed, we rely on sugar because it calms us. However, when we eliminate sugar from the equation, we’re left with no relief, thus it is important to keep our stress levels in check when we’re not eating sugar.
To combat stress, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with sugar withdrawal, be active. When we’re exercising, our bodies release endorphins. These hormones can keep our minds off sugar and other unhealthy behaviors.
Accept That We All Make Mistakes
Giving up sugar is not easy so don’t feel guilty if you give in to temptation and eat something sweet. As long as you don’t quit, there’s no reason to beat yourself up. In fact, you can have a cheat day from time to time. We don’t recommend this at the beginning of the process when all your cravings will intensify if you eat something sweet. After a while, however, you’ll be in control and you’ll be able to indulge in a sweet treat without falling into the trap of eating sugar regularly.