At the beginning of February 2016 I decided to cut added sugars out of my diet, and really started paying attention to what I was putting into my body. That meant cutting out ALL added sugars and sugar substitutes (definitely no Splenda or Sweet n Low either!). It was eye opening to say the least. There was so much to learn!
Not only was there the typical granulated sugar to look out for, but also the dozens of other names for sugar I wasn’t even aware existed. Trips to the grocery store took much longer when I actually started reading the labels. I also learned I had been reading them all wrong! More on that here. I expected to have to cut out my favorite sweet treats like candy and cookies, but I was not prepared for the amount of food that unexpectedly had a sugary element hidden in the ingredients list.
Have you ever thought about how much sugar you consume in a day? Not just that obvious afternoon piece of chocolate or that donut in the break room at work, but also the sugars hidden in everything from ketchup to salad dressing, to sliced deli meats and chicken stock. Why on earth is sugar included in these “savory” foods?!
I quickly figured out why when I stopped eating them. It’s addictive as hell!!! And by addictive as hell, I mean that in a study of lab rats given both sugar water and cocaine, they went back for the sugar.
For the first few weeks of detoxing from sugar I experienced terrible withdrawal symptoms. I must admit though, I did have quite the sweet tooth before starting this journey. I loved a flavored creamer in my coffee in the morning, a piece of candy in the afternoon, and probably some kind of cookie or ice cream for dessert, on a daily basis—and those were just the obvious sugars I was consuming.
If you’re looking to make this switch and feel like you’re already eating pretty healthy, the detox process might not be as extreme for you. But, I guarantee you are consuming A LOT more sugar than you realize, and you have to prepare yourself because….
WEEKS 1-2 WILL NOT BE FUN.
I experienced the following:
- hot flashes
- cold sweats
- stomach pains
- and more!
During this time I also had extreme cravings for sugar. I knew if I just had a tiny bit I would feel better. I almost gave in, but luckily my boyfriend reminded me why I was doing it, and convinced me to stick it out. You will need someone to do this for you. Convince your mom, your wife, your friend or your coworker to start this lifestyle change with you. I promise you will appreciate having someone to call for moral support when you have that piece of chocolate in your hand, because…
THE NEXT 2 WEEKS ARE AMAZING!
Once you get over the withdrawals you will feel like a new person! You will experience more energy, heightened brain functioning, less anxiety and irritability, and an overall amazing feeling! I hadn’t felt that great physically or mentally ever in my life. It will make you realize just how much poison you were putting into your body beforehand and give you much more of an incentive to stick with the healthy changes. After a couple weeks of feeling that euphoria, it will slowly taper off a bit, and you will find your new normal.
They say it takes 21 days to make something a habit. When I quit consuming added sugar I did not consume ANY added sugar for 30 days. Cold turkey, baby! No honey, no date sugar, no maple syrup—nothin’! Only naturally occurring sugars like those found in fruit, nuts, veggies, and dairy. I highly recommend doing this if you want to cut out added sugar.
If you have even little tastes here and there, you will continue to crave it. After 30 days of none at all, the cravings were pretty much non-existent. And once your taste buds have acclimated to the lack of added sweeteners, naturally occurring sweets like apples or blueberries taste that much sweeter! You might even find that the sweets you craved previously are unappealing or too sweet.
AFTER 30 DAYS…
You will have detoxed from sugar. You’ll be in a routine of eating healthy, feeling great, and have the knowledge to keep it goin’. Trips to the grocery store will be easier and quicker, and you can start giving yourself a chance to consume less healthy foods on occasion—like a night out with friends, or a family meal you didn’t cook. Allow yourself those times. I personally let myself have a cheat meal once a week. But even my cheat meal isn’t crazy. It’s usually just something like a pasta dish from that restaurant everyone is raving about, not a brownie sundae with a side of cookies. I know that if I eat those foods, I will feel it the next day (hello, brownie hangover), so the thought of a migraine makes it easier for me to stick to the healthier options.
You deserve to treat yo’ self! Just don’t let the treats lead to days or weeks of being unhealthy. Get back at it when you’re done.
Have any of you started detoxing yet? If so, what was your experience? Let me know in the comments section!