Ah sugar. That oh so good feeling of when sugar hits your tongue and your brain does a dopamine happy dance. After a study done a few years back, it is commonly known that sugar is more addicting than some of the hardest of drugs, like cocaine. Yet, sugar is still a regularly used ingredient is almost everything (processed) that we eat, like ketchup, spaghetti sauce, granola, and even protein bars. Many foods that we think are healthy, really aren’t, like low fat yogurt, vitaminwater, and bottled smoothies. Loaded with, you guessed it, sugar.
It has only been recently that I have realized I have a sugar addiction. The cravings can be intense and I can usually hold off by eating an apple, which contains natural sugar, but I always give in. When I have made it a few days without sugar I start going through somewhat of a withdrawal, I get super cranky and mean, and my cravings intensify. It also doesn’t help that over the holidays sugar is a main ingredient in pretty much everything, and candy fills our stockings, adding to the sugar craving fuel.
Here are some sugary filled foods that I was either given or that was apart our Christmas meals: peanut M&M’s and Reeses’ minis cups in my stocking, wine, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie and whipped cream, rolls, ham, etc. Most people think that by using artificial sweeteners or gluten free options are healthier, but can be just as addicting. For example, Rice Krispies’ treats are gluten free, but contain sugar. Artificial sweeteners are also in many foods that we don’t realize, and if we do know we think they are a healthier option. Not true.
A list of some artificial sweeteners to be on the lookout for:
So what’s the best way to eat healthy without including sugars or artificial sugars? Lately I have been hearing to eat foods that have previously had a life (similar to the Paleo Diet), like meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, vegetables, and seeds. But instead of calling it a diet, just learn to eat in moderation (or portion control) and try to watch your calories. Some people even use the “counting macros” methods.
(<IIFYM pictured left; Paleo pictured right>)
As of late, I have been trying to introduce a combination of Paleo and IIFYM (macros) methods into my meal planning. I pick foods that are more Paleo, but I try and make them fit the macros. I have done an “okay” job of sticking to it, but I still crave sugar and end up giving in by the end of the day. I want to lose weight in my thighs to be able to run faster and increase my endurance, but it can be tricky as I need calories to weight train (mainly clean protein like chicken and fish) and carbs for cardio training (mainly clean carbs like vegetables and pasta). Trying to balance these two is where I am having trouble because I tend to start craving sugar halfway through my day and give in before the day is done.
So, I am going to do a Sugar Detox. Cutting sugar completely from my daily meals (not including natural sugar which is found in many fruits and vegetables). I would say diet, but it really isn’t a diet, I just want to cut out a drug that can lead to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, gout, liver disease, and Type II Diabetes.
- Set a Goal: already done, three (3) weeks (21 days)
- Read Labels: I added this one myself because if you still plan on eating processed foods, you should be on the lookout for added sugar with other names:
- Eat Breakfast with Protein within 90 Minutes of Waking: I am terrible at this. I do not like getting up in the mornings, and usually eat when I get to the office, which means protein is out. So my goal is to pre-make a protein shake the night before, then pop it in the blender in the morning, only taking a few minutes.
- Making Lunch and Dinner with Healthy Fats filled with Omega-3’s: This is where sticking to the “if it had a previous life it is good for you” mantra comes in. So these two meals are going to be filled with fish and chicken, and vegetables. Lots of vegetables. This should satisfy the protein that I need for weight training, and the carbs I need for running.
- Snacks: Non-starchy vegetables, so I am going to stick to tomatoes and celery. I’m not a huge fan of much others as a snack. Absolutely no potatoes though, including sweet potatoes.
- Fiber: Fiber helps to curb cravings and reduce hunger; bananas are one of my favorite fruits, so I’ll be having at least one a day, as well as an apple.
- No Sauces: Instead of sauces (like dressings and BBQ sauce) adding herbs and spices is much healthier. Luckily I do not add many sauces on my foods, so this one will be easy to follow.
- Drink Lots of Water: Another rule that I am working on, but have been doing pretty well with lately, I’ve been setting a timer to remind me at work. Many people actually think they are hungry when their body is just thirsty, so they fill that void with food. You should be drinking plenty of water every single day so your body is not dehydrated. The recommended amount of water to consume on a daily basis is eight 8-ounce glasses a day, or 64 ounces. Another recommendation says this depends on each person individually: multiply your weight by .67 (2/3 or 67%), and the result is how much water you should be drinking daily. For example: you weigh is 150 pounds, so you multiply 150 by .67 and that equals 100.5 ounces of water per day. If you workout, you should add 12 ounces for every 30 minutes you workout or six (6) ounces for every 15 minutes. In short, you should be drinking two thirds your body weight in water every day, plus how ever many ounces you require to workout.
- Exercise: Everyone already knows that, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” Endorphins also happen to fight the craving for dopamine and help brighten the crappy detox mood. Luckily, I also already workout at least five days a week, so I’m already moving in the right direction with this step. A combination of weight training, HIIT, and LISS help me tremendously when is comes to craving sugar. Usually, when I am done with a workout I go straight for the water and a protein filled snack / light meal, which is normally two eggs. I don’t even think about sugar after a good workout to be honest.
- And finally, Sleep: You don’t want to “overtax” your body. This is where I struggle, and sometimes I have to take a sleep aid to help me fall asleep before 10 PM, which is the goal, but I hardly ever am able to. If you are exercising on a daily basis, sleep is important so you can recharge your body and rest. Getting enough sleep also helps you stay awake during the day and to avoid that afternoon crash.
So, here we go. Below is my 21 Day Sugar Addiction Detox, day by day journal of kicking sugar to the curb.
SUGAR ADDICTION DETOX JOURNAL
11 AM: I was going to start the detox yesterday, but before I even wrote this blog I already had a banana muffin with a glaze on top because I skipped out on a normal breakfast. So I decided to start today instead, a Wednesday…and so far I am doing alright. Fruit definitely makes it easier and I am glad I have fruit three times a day for sure, the natural sugar helps ignore the added sugar cravings. I also wanted to mention that Luke Milton, from Revenge Body, responded to a comment I made on his Instagram yesterday, and I am super excited about it!!! He is one of my favorite celebrity trainers, and I wish I lived in Cali so I could train at his gym, Training Mate. So please please please open a location here in Northern Virginia, preferably Ashburn!!!
3 PM: One thing I have noticed today is that towards the end of my workday, after 2 PM, is when I start to crave sugar. Maybe I haven’t drank enough water today, which could be encouraging the cravings. I added some humus to my foods to eat as well. I was having a hard time just eating celery alone, and peanut butter is not only sugary but has a lot of ingredients that aren’t so natural. I was able to have two (2) tablespoons to accompany my cup of celery, and will be including it in my everyday snacks. Hummus is mainly made up of chickpeas (which we all know) which is a legume (or seed), so it fits well into my “if it once had a life, it is good for you” mantra. It does have Salt, Citric Acid, and Potassium Sorbate (to maintain freshness) added in, but it is a healthy option to include when you’re cutting out added sugar and need to add some taste.
7 PM: After dinner, I was still super hungry and craving something sweet, and I think I owe that to not having enough to eat at breakfast. I made a terrible protein shake and just dumped it, then only ate string cheese and a tangerine. I told Jake I was still hungry and he made me a much better shake which made my food cravings go away and now I feel more full.
11 AM: Had a rough night last night. Ended up having an allergic reaction to scallops and everything I had eaten for dinner ended up in the toilet over a matter of five hours or so. Adding to my list of lobster allergies, is now scallops. We had thought I might be allergic last year, but after seeing an allergist showed I wasn’t. So this morning, I am very weak and tired, and trying to make up for some calories today. No sugar cravings so that’s good.
3 PM: Since my lunch today was supposed to be leftovers of my scallops last night, I had to go buy my lunch. Now, going out to buy lunch at a restaurant or even Harris Teeter can be challenging. Everything, and I do mean everything, has sugar in it. So, naturally, I headed to Teeter in search of a good meal, with no added sugar and hopefully somewhat paleo. I couldn’t find a damn thing. All the chicken has some sort of sauce on it, the vegetables were also covered in sauce, and the frozen meals were loaded with preservatives. Off to the salad bar I went. I got baby spinach lettuce, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls (to make up for some of the calories I lost, and they are a decent cheese to eat because they aren’t loaded with fat and sugar), some dried cranberries, chickpeas, and cucumbers. Awesome! It looks pretty good, now dressing. And this is where I hit the wall. Every single packet of dressing has added sugar. Ok, no problem, I’ll just head over to the dressing isle. All of it. Sugar. Yes, yes I know you’re going to say get the low fat no sugar options. Well guess what, those have sugar too, even if it says no sugar on the Nutrition Facts label. I bet it says 0g sugar too. Well check out the ingredients list. Remember those two lists above with other names of sugar and artificial sugar? Well, that’s where you going to find those names, and every single one I picked up had added sugar or artificial sweeteners, except one. So I got it. Even those just two tablespoons have 170 calories, all from fat, because why? No sugar added. This entire wall of dressing, and not a one didn’t contain sugar. That’s pretty freaking sad.
Sugar Addiction Detox Conclusion
Cutting out added sugar and artificial sweeteners is HARD! Everything, and I mean everything, has some form of sugar or artificial sweetener in it. Take the dressings for example, I only found one that had no forms of sugar. Sticking mainly to a Paleo way of eating was the best thing I could have done for myself. I felt so much better eating clean, and I even wanted to go to the gym more. When I had sugar, I felt much more lazy and unhealthy, I also tended to reach for more unhealthy foods when I did eat suagar. Also, I didn’t have any bread, because most breaded options are loaded with sugar. My body went into this Ketosis state. I definitely lost some body mass, as I noticed my pants a little looser. So my conclusion to this detox is don’t eat sugar. You will feel, sleep, and live so much better and healthier when you cut out added sugar. Stick to your fruits and vegetables and you will feel just as fulfilled as you would eating Girl Scout cookies or ice cream, but with more full and with more energy.
Categories: Everyday Life