With the New Year comes a renewed focus on our health. And if you’re looking for ways to jumpstart your way to feeling and looking better, you’ll want to try this 10-day Sugar Detox Challenge. So today we’re Getting the Skinny with Molly on why we crave the sweet stuff in the first place, why it’s so critical that we clear it from our diets, and 3 key steps to get started with your own 10-Day Sugar Detox Challenge.
Why we crave sugar: Sugar (particularly when combined with fat) can trigger the release of feel-good hormones and stimulate the same areas of the brain that are also activated by addictive drugs.
Why sugar detox: Sugar is linked to belly fat, weight gain, energy crashes, accelerated skin aging. It’s also inflammatory, and can raise cholesterol and triglycerides, increasing our risk for heart disease and stroke.
Recommended upper limit: Less than 25 grams of of added sugar daily
Sugar in disguise: Check the label – other names for sugar: honey, turbinado, organic cane syrup, agave, coconut sugar, molasses, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup….
Step-by-Step Guide for 10-Day Sugar Detox Challenge:
- CLEANSE: Eliminate all sources of added sugar – and refined carbs.
Take a very close look at what you’re eating. “Added sugar” includes the various types of sugars above (honey, agave, coconut sugar, etc), as well as sneaky sources of sugar, including many seemingly healthful protein bars, protein drinks, yogurt (think Special K bars & drinks, Clif Bars, many flavored Greek yogurts).
Eating sugar & white carbs causes a rapid rise then crash of blood sugar, insulin, and energy, leaving us looking for more sugar for a pick-me-up. Eliminating sugar + white carbs entirely will help to get sugar & carb cravings under control.
- BOOST PROTEIN: Replace sugary, refined carbs with protein-rich alternatives.
Grab a chocolate protein bar instead of a candy bar. Plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries & no-calorie sugar replacer like Swerve instead of sugary flavored yogurt. ICONIC protein drink in place of SlimFast or Special K Protein Shake.
Trade out refined carbs for whole grain carbs, or – better yet – replace white carbs with lean proteins and healthful fats.
Example: Instead of grits + toast, have a smaller serving of oatmeal or one slice of whole grain bread, with an egg or nut butter. Replace white pasta, white rice, and white potatoes with veggies like pureed cauliflower or spiralized zucchini “noodles”.
- EAT OFTEN
Curb sugar and carb cravings by eating a small meal or snack every 3-4 hours. It will help keep blood sugar and energy levels stable, making it easier to want to reach for protein-rich foods instead of carbs and sugar.
3 MORE TIPS for a successful Sugar Detox Challenge:
Watch out for sugar fake-outs. Even seemingly healthy foods can be loaded with sugar. Whole grain breakfast cereals, flavored yogurt, granola bars, green juice blends, frozen dinners, and many ‘diet-friendly’ products can be loaded with sugar.
Stay hydrated. Even low-level dehydration can leave us feeling sleepy. And when that sleepiness hits (think afternoon energy dip), it’s easy to turn to sugar for a quick pick-me-up.
Get enough sleep. Too little sleep can negatively impact hormones that regulate our appetite and blood sugar levels. Most of us need about seven or eight hours a night.
Want more from Molly? Click here to sign up for Nutrition Bites, her weekly e-newsletter with links to her Get the Skinny TV segments here on WGNO, and her weekly column in NOLA.com|The Times-Picayune! And you can follow Molly on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram: @MollyKimballRD