Chances are good that if you’re a health-conscious person, you try to keep up with health trends, separating fad diets from actionable healthy living choices. You’ve been around the block and you know the basics, and you keep track of how much (and what type of) fat, sugar, and salt you get from your meals. As such, you might find that diet detoxes hold some appeal. However, like any diet, it has to be done right if it is to be done at all. Generally, detoxing is one of those things that are “wrong.” After all, it goes against the principles of healthy living in the first place; a balanced diet supersedes the need to detox.
Overall, reducing your sugar intake can do many positive things for your body. For example, it can help control blood sugar levels, which is especially critical for those with diabetes. Excess sugar can also contribute to obesity. Sugar addictions complicate this problem. Sugar is addicting in the sense that people get a rush from consuming it, and then end up crashing when it wears off. In fact, for specific segments of the population, sugar is about as addictive as certain drugs. Supposedly, 10% of the US population is legitimately addicted to sugar, though there is not much scientific evidence for this.
Even so, considering all of the sugar in the average American diet, something has to change. There are a lot of factors that contribute to the high levels of sugar in American diets. First, there’s the amount of added sugars. Much like added salts, they sneak into so much of our processed foods and fruit juices. This is especially alarming, considering the easy convenience of fast food, microwaved dinners and the like, compared to the time-consuming process of cooking. Keep in mind that just because a food does not taste sweet does not mean it does not have added sugar in it.
If you give up added sugar, you’ll likely see weight loss. This certainly seems to be the case in at least one study. While weight loss was not the primary goal at the time, it was a welcome side effect. Still, there’s room for more research when it comes to the detox, and sugar itself, of course. This isn’t just good news for adults. Children who reduce their consumption of added sugar will also grow healthier, as evidenced in this study; this is the case even when children maintain the same amount of calories and the same weight. When it comes to health, both quality and quantity are important, but for different reasons.
When it comes to addiction, it might seem more logical to slowly dial back, using less and less until you’re completely free and clear. However, for many addictions, cutting back a little at a time is much more difficult than just dropping it altogether. Using less of a substance means you’re still exposed to it, fighting the temptation to use even more once you’ve gotten started. However, if you can stay firm while going cold turkey, you have better odds of kicking the habit due to avoiding constant exposure. Sound a little counterintuitive? It has to do with the way the body processes food. According to Brooke Alpert, a registered dietitian, and co-author of “The Sugar Detox: Lose the Sugar, Lose the Weight — Look and Feel Great”, cold turkey is the only way to go. What follows is her diet plan: a cold turkey start, cutting out added sugar and (temporarily) other foods, leading to a diet that helps get results.
Cutting out added sugars may be unpleasant in the short term. If you’ve become accustomed to that sort of flavor, going without could be upsetting. However, during this cold turkey period, your body is adjusting itself accordingly, adapting your body to preferences and mechanisms such that sugar takes something of a backseat. The same thing happens to vegetarians and vegans when they give up meat: their bodies adjust (to a degree).
What does a cold turkey sugar detox look like, exactly? Well, in addition to dropping added sugars, it can help to drop carbohydrates altogether. This means you’ll have to pass on fruits, any vegetables with starch content (squash, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, etc.), grains, and alcohol. No dairy, either. With all of that said and done, that leaves you with a small selection of protein and vegetables. You will have to get creative in the kitchen, but you won’t starve to death.
It is fortunate, however, that eggs are still on the menu. Also, you’ll have access to plenty of nutritious vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli. As far as drinks go, you should be drinking water as it is. However, there are other options such as tea and coffee, as long as you don’t add anything to them. This means that even artificial sweeteners are a no-no. Even aside from potential health concerns, they will slow the recalibration of your body to appreciate sweet foods (in moderation) better.Related: 10 Devious Effects of High Blood Sugar