Sugar addiction is real and it’s a health hazard. Overeating high levels of sugar can significantly alter your brain’s mechanism for pleasure and reward. Basically, those who regularly eat sweet foods, eventually build up a tolerance, feeling less satisfied and needing to eat increasingly more each time.
Refined sugar is 99.4 to 99.7 percent pure calories. There are no vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins or phytonutrients. It’s just plain simple carbs that spike blood sugar levels, followed by a sugar crash. It’s no surprise then that sugar is considered to be the main culprit behind the rising numbers of patients suffering from metabolic syndrome.
In case you didn’t know, metabolic syndrome is the term used to define a group of health problems that include too much fat around the waist, elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, elevated blood sugar, and low HDL cholesterol. Together, this group of symptoms increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. (1)
“The facts are in, the science is beyond question. Sugar in all its forms is the root cause of our obesity epidemic and most of the chronic diseases sucking the life out of our citizens, our economy, and increasingly, the rest of the world. You name it, it’s caused by sugar: heart disease, cancer, dementia, type-2 diabetes, depression, and even acne, infertility, and impotence.” – Mark Hyman, M.D.
So, what can you do about it? Similar to any addiction, the idea of going on a detox is to give your body enough time to reset itself. In the case of sugar addiction, a 10-day detox will allow your body to rebalance its hormone levels and gut microbiota. Use the following 10-day sugar detox protocol to put a stop to your sugar cravings.
1. Quit Cold Turkey
The quickest and most effective way to handle an addiction is to stop it completely. In this case, you should immediately cut out all forms of sugar, flour, artificial sweeteners and processed foods. Also refrain from eating anything that contains trans or hydrogenated fats.
This step isn’t going to be easy and requires a bit of preparation on your part. But if you focus your meals around real, fresh, whole foods, you’ll notice some major improvements within 3 days of starting your sugar detox.
2. Avoid dinking your calories
The most problematic thing about sugar loaded drinks (think juices, sodas, sports drinks, sweet teas) is that you can easily consume too much. And because these drinks don’t have any dietary fiber, you don’t feel full. As a result, you unknowingly eat more throughout the day and crave more sugar and carbs.
What makes this dangerous is that the sugar in these drinks tend to be mostly fructose. When too much fructose is present in the body, the liver turns any excess into belly fat. In fact, one can of soda a day increases a kid’s chance of being obese by 60 percent and a woman’s chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 80 percent. Stay away.
- A 20-ounce soda = 15 teaspoons of sugar.
- A bottle of Gatorade = 14 teaspoons of sugar.
3. Start your day with protein
Consuming 4 to 6 ounces of protein (about the size of your palm) at every meal is the best way to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. This will help you reduce cravings and maintain healthy energy levels throughout the day.
Good sources of protein include seeds, nuts, fish, eggs, chicken o grass-fed meat.
4. Eat lots of (good) carbs
You didn’t read that wrong. As long as you’re eating the right type of carbs, you can have as much as you want.
Non-starchy vegetables such as greens, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, green beans, kale, tomatoes, asparagus, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, artichokes, and bell peppers, to name a few, are all good sources of carbs that you can eat.
Try to avoid starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, gains and beans for 10 days.
5. Replace sugar with healthy fats
Eating fat isn’t going to make you fat, sugar will. Fat is the macronutrient that makes you feel full without causing your blood sugar levels to spike.
Similar to protein, eating healthy fats at every meal is important during your 10 day sugar detox. Snack on nuts and seeds; supplement your meals with extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and omega-3 fats from marine based foods such as algae, fish and so on.
6. Always be ready for an emergency
Forgetting to eat your lunch or having to skip it on a busy day happens more often than we’d like. Going long hours without eating will cause your blood sugar levels to fall. When that happens, your body will send signals to your brain to tell you that you’re hungry. This is completely normal.
However, this is also the main reason why people go off track during a sugar detox. As you can imagine, it’s quite the challenge to resist junk food when you’re starving. Instead of relying on willpower, choose to be prepared.
That’s why having an emergency food kit can make a huge difference. Here are some ideas on what to keep around if you ever need it:
- packets of nut butters and coconut butter
- almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds
- salmon jerky or turkey jerky
- unseated wild blueberries
7. The vagus nerve
Cortisol is the hormone your body produces as a result of stress. When cortisol goes up, you crave sweet foods and this makes quitting sugar more difficult.
To counteract this physiological response, studies have shown that taking deep breaths to activate the vagus nerve can help the whole body relax.
Not only is this something you can do anywhere, anytime, but stimulating your vagus nerve has also been shown to shift your metabolism from fat storage to fat burning!
Here’s what you need to do: take five slow deep breaths—in to the count of five, out to the count of five. Repeat five times before every meal. That’s it.
8. Get rid of inflammation
As counterintuitive as it may seem, eating a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods can actually help curb sugar cravings.
Many studies have shown that inflammation triggers blood sugar imbalances, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and type-2 diabetes.
Consider adding some powerful anti-inflammatory herbs to your meals, such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, parsley and so on.
9. Replenish you gut
The gut is your body’s second brain. Many studies have shown that gut health can affect your mood, cravings and immune system.
Too much sugar consumption can cause an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria in the gut, also known as dysbiosis, which can cause inflammation in the body.
To help your gut replenish good bacteria during your 10-day sugar detox, add fermented foods to your diet, such as kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, coconut kefir, kombucha, and bone both.
10. Get 7-9 hours of sleep
When it comes to sugar cravings, quality sleep is just as important. When you’re in sleep-deprived state, your body craves sugar because it’s looking for a quick boost of energy.
In human studies, depriving college students of just two hours of the recommended eight hours of sleep led to a rise in hunger hormones, a decrease in appetite-suppressing hormones, and big cravings for sugar and refined carbs.