Start A Sugar Detox, Stop A Roller Coaster
The craving for sugar isn’t in your head, it is your body’s cry for fuel!
Until recently fat was condemned as the big baddy but now we know sugar is the real culprit in lifestyle diseases and weight gain. Today obesity is classified as a state of malnutrition caused from the consumption of refined foods. Holistic health coach Gail Wicht helps reboot the body by taking us through a 21-day sugar detox.
The Blood Sugar Roller Coaster
Plain sucrose, free of any fibre or nutrients, creates an unhealthy blood sugar surge in the body. Pure unadulterated organic sugarcane is filled with a whole host of vitamins and minerals and other nutrients. Once it goes through the refining process you are left with plain white or brown sugar (colored with caramel), devoid of any nutrients and useless to our bodies. It doesn’t just give us a quick buzz, it actually interferes with our hormonal processes.
By consuming chocolates, sweets, cakes, sodas and sports drinks, we force our body to produce large amounts of insulin. This hormone protects us by reducing the sky-high glucose levels in our blood. But the sudden drop in free glucose levels leaves us feeling tired, so we reach for the ‘goodies’ once again setting the glucose yoyo in motion.
Breaking the Addictive Cycle
Sugar doesn’t give you energy, it takes it. Since sugar is devoid of nutrients, yet it demands a boost in fuel, it is essentially burning up your reserves. When the sugar spikes out weigh the nutrients, the body shifts into a state of physical desperation and mental anxiety.
Your mind doesn’t control your hunger, your hormones do. The feeling of being full comes from the hormone leptin, and hunger comes from the hormone ghrelin. Once ghrelin begins to pump rapidly into the body there is no room for self control, you need fuel and you need it now, no matter what it is! This is the moment any old junk food begins to pass your lips. When this continues for years, you can reach the point of insulin resistance. Here the ‘ghrelin tap’ is left on most of the day.
The endocrine systems prime directive is to keep our blood glucose levels stable for healthy brain and organ activity. When this is not the case, we begin to have hormonal problems, which can lead to weight gain, adrenal fatigue, reproductive disorders, Type-2 diabetes, mood disorders, high blood pressure, sleep problems, memory loss, impaired concentration and more. The only way to break this cycle is to consistently fuel the body with high density nutrient foods and dump the sugar.
Ditch the Refined Food. It’s not just sugar, refined carbohydrates such as pastas, grains and bread, and artificial sweeteners (including soft drinks) are just as shocking. Look out for products that say ‘fat free’ because these usually mean ‘sugar laden’. Processed food is no longer food, it just looks like food.
Safe Sweeteners. Naturally sweet plants such as stevia, lucuma, mesquite and coconut blossom nectar are low GI sweeteners and won’t spike your blood sugar levels. Adding vanilla and cinnamon to your smoothies or breakfast tricks your body into thinking that the food is sweeter than it really is.
Fuel your Day
Eating in the morning before 10am gives your body the energy it needs to create a stable blood sugar level for the day. This prevents you from becoming so hungry you just reach for the nearest quick fix food. Your main energy supply comes from proteins, fats and fuels.
In fact protein cannot be absorbed into the body without fat, therefore a superfood smoothie or breakfast filled with coconut oil, nuts and hemp, or soft boiled eggs with mushrooms and spinach, would be a good start to the day.
Enjoy Good Food
- Allow yourself to graze throughout the day, e.g. having three smaller main meals and snacking in between these meals. By doing this, you are maintaining your blood sugar levels preventing the usual energy dips and cravings.
- Get in your good quality, easily absorbable proteins, such as avocados, olives, seeds and nuts, they are great to eat anytime of the day.
- Don’t hold back on your vegetables! All vegetables have carbohydrates in, but good ones, like resistant starches. Help yourself to as much sweet potato, butternut, beetroot and carrots as you like; they are filled with vital nutrients that also balance the natural sugars. Green foods such as broccoli and green leafy vegetables (Kale, spinach, coriander, parsley, etc) are filled with minerals and enzymes, both of which are essential for absorbing fuel from food. These therefore play a role in lessening the craving for sugar.
If you crave sugar, it’s your body’s signal that you need glucose. Fruit can give you the instant glucose without the spike. The fibre buffers the fruit sugars preventing the release of insulin. Due to the current trend around sugar people have become scared of fruit, yet organic fruit has so many essential vitamins, minerals, fibres, water, antioxidants, enzymes and phytonutrients. As with a lot of things, moderation is key. Berries are the best low GI fruit packed with phytonutrients.
When your body is well rested, your cortisol (hormone that regulates blood glucose) levels are stabalized and you will minimise your need for sugar-based energy. Regular exercise can help you get a good night’s sleep.
In a Nutshell
1. Cut out refined sugars and artificial sweeteners.
2. Cut out breads and pastas that have white refined sugar and flour.
3. Cut out soft drinks and other foods that have low fat and hidden sugars in different names such as maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup, glucose solids, ethyl maltol, lactose, galactose.
4. Cut out alcohol.
5. Add in more green leafy vegetables, green powders such as wheatgrass and barley grass, vegetables.
6. Drink at least 2L of water to hydrate properly and to flush out the toxins that your body will be letting go of.
7. Take spirulina tablets daily to help draw out the toxins.
8. Have smoothies with vanilla, cinnamon and sugar substitutes such as stevia, coconut blossom nectar, lucuma and mesquite. Also add in berries for low GI sweetness.
9. Drink herbal teas, such as chamomile, mint, ginger and hibiscus.
If you are still craving sugars, try to leave them out until you feel like you can continue with life without it. Your palate does adjust and once you have taken these out of your lifestyle and reintroduce them they tend to taste artificial and not enjoyable. Obviously, everyone is different so they may still taste good to you, but know that they are not beneficial for you in any way and rather reach for the healthy fruits and other alternatives, as mentioned above.
You do not have to continue life without sugars entirely, enjoy your fruits, preferably in their whole food form, as juiced they still contain a lot of sugar and no fibre to stop the blood sugar hike.
Honey and dates are good sources of sugar if eaten in moderation. However if you are insulin resistant, it is best to have these sporadically. If you feel like eating something sweet and your only options are a chocolate bar or a date, a date would be the better option as there are still vitamins and minerals in the date.
It’s also not going to be detrimental to have the ‘naughty’ sugars in a while (as in once a month) but don’t feel guilty about it, this is worse than what the food itself is doing to your body.
Learn more about how your food choices can influence your overall health. Boost your immunity with the following food hacks. Follow the link to read more.