This may sound like a strange statement to make, but hear me out. There are many reasons someone might do a sugar detox. You might be fed up of eating junk because daily urges drive you to it. You might feel guilty after you eat a tub of ice cream or a whole packet of biscuits. You might just be fed up of craving sweets? Or you might just be fed up with how too much sugar is making you feel and look.
By doing a sugar detox you can break the sugar addiction cycle, which will mean no more cravings and no more bingeing. And although you will cut out sugar completely for part of the detox, it certainly doesn’t mean that you can never eat sugar again!
Why are so many people addicted to sugar?
Sugar has only become part of our diet very recently - we have survived for over 200,000 as humans pretty much without any sugar at all. Unfortunately, there is more and more sugar in processed and packaged foods, which has created an obesity epidemic worldwide.
Why do I crave sweets?
The more sugar you eat, the more you crave it because it’s highly addictive stuff. Lab tests have show that sugar can be more addictive than cocaine and because it triggers the ‘happy hormone’ called dopamine, giving you a pleasure response when you eat it, it’s no wonder so many people around the world are hooked.
There are millions of people who are sugar dependent in the world today. Food manufacturers have been coming up with clever ways to entice us into eating their products, with millions spent on marketing and food design.
Scientists work away in laboratories, searching for the ultimate combination of sugar, fat, salt and who knows what else to find what they call the ‘bliss point’. These are scientifically researched ‘food products’ designed to get us hooked and to keep coming back for more.
The problem is that they are getting very good at this meaning that it’s getting harder and harder for people to resist the lure of this carefully concocted junk. Unless you cook your own food, who knows what you might be eating.
What is a sugar addiction cycle?
It can become very easy to get trapped in a sugar dependence cycle. When you eat something with a high sugar content, it quickly raises your blood sugar levels beyond the healthy range. This spike triggers the pancreas to release a rush of insulin, which removes the sugar from your bloodstream and takes to to the cells in your muscles and organs.
It's all about your blood sugar levels
However, because the blood sugar levels were spiked so quickly and intensely, the rush of insulin over compensates in removing blood sugar, which leaves you with a blood sugar slump. You will no doubt know exactly what this feels like - you might experience it as that 3pm slump.
When your blood sugar becomes too low, your brain will then send out signals to rectify the situation because it recognises that it needs energy - so you then experience this as a craving. And because your brain understands that wholewheat grains, or vegetables or any other ‘healthy’ source of energy will take a long time to release a steady flow of energy, it makes us crave junk instead, knowing that will get a quick fix.
What is a sugar free diet?
A sugar free diet would entail removing all types of sugar from your diet permanently. This kind of diet might work for some people, but in the real world, I have found that it is far more practical to eat a low sugar diet instead. This means keeping your sugar intake below the recommended daily levels.
So how many grams of sugar should you eat per day?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) state that the safe recommended daily amount of sugar for an adult is 25g (7tsp) for a woman and 35g (9tsp) for a man. If you keep below this recommended amount of sugar then you are unlikely to suffer from any of the health issues directly related to a high sugar diet. This level of sugar consumption is pretty safe.
So once you are back in control of sugar, and not the other way round, you can still eat the occasional treat and not worry too much.
What are the advantages of a low sugar diet?
Keeping within the recommended amounts of sugar in your diet means that you won't be risking many of the harmful diseases that excessive sugar can lead to including obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, non alcoholic fatty liver disease and some types of cancer.
Instead you'll reap the benefits which include more overall energy, clearer skin, less brain fog, better sleep and you will also more than likely lose weigh too. You can read about all of the health benefits of quitting sugar in by blog post here: 17 Amazing Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Sugar.
What is a sugar detox?
A sugar detox, or sugar cleanse is a process of temporarily removing all sugar from your diet so that any cycle of sugar addiction gets broken, freeing you from the cravings that drive you to eat sugary treats and drink sugar drinks and enabling you to make sensible, healthy food choices that aren’t driven by urges and cravings.
Do I need to do a sugar detox?
Only you can answer that question! The fact that you are reading this blog might indicate that you don’t have a healthy relationship with sugar. If you were to step back and look at your diet you should be able to spot sugar addiction symptoms, is your diet packed with sugary junk? Maybe you can't just eat one slice of cake, or maybe just a couple of biscuits isn’t enough? Maybe you regularly eat sweets or chocolate? These are some of the signs of sugar addiction, but then there’s all of the added sugar in processed and packaged foods that you may not even know you are eating!
Perhaps you should keep a sugar diary (which is part of the preparation process of my 21 Day Sugar Detox Program). This will let you know what you are eating, and when you are eating it, and then if you start to see a lot of sugar sneaking into your daily diet it might be time to consider a detox?
Once you have broken the cycle of sugar addiction, it means that you are back in control of your eating habits. No more cravings to make you pick up whatever is handy to satisfy your sugar urges which means that you will snack far less often.
But it doesn’t mean that you can’t ever eat sugar again. Which brings me back to the title of this blog. A sugar detox will reset your palate and your metabolism, meaning that you will only occasionally eat sweet treats because you want to - not because you are addicted to sugar.
There are lots of blog posts on this site with loads of information on how to cut sugar from your diet and if you would like me to guide you through the whole process you can sign up to my 21 Day Sugar Detox Program here.