This is the beginning of the end…
I am being dramatic, but for many people Halloween can signal the beginning of a downward spiral of sugar, desserts, and overeating.
First comes Canadian Thanksgiving, then comes Halloween, followed by American Thanksgiving and topped off with holiday parties, celebrations and finally, New Year. At that point everyone is so collectively stuffed that they’re straining in their winter coats and complaining about the enormous amounts of foods they consumed unintentionally over the last few months (this is where the Slim Down Detox Program can help).
While overeating takes a serious toll on your body, sugar is the main culprit. It will leave you tired, cranky, lazy and sick.
Sugar suppresses the immune system,
preventing your body from fighting off those nasty winter germs.
Your Body on Sugar
When we eat (or drink) sugar or carbohydrates, the body absorbs these ‘nutrients’ and they enter the blood stream. This causes blood sugar levels to rise. Your body always wants to stay in balance and high blood sugar can be dangerous; so return to balance, your body releases a hormone called insulin.
Insulin circles around the body and tells your cells to open up and allow the sugar molecules to enter into the cells. This gets the sugar out of your blood and into your cells. Your body is back to balance and happy.
This is a simplified version of typical process that provides energy for your body. However, when you consume concentrated forms of sugar, where a lot of sugar rapidly enters the blood stream, blood sugar levels skyrocket. Mayday mayday!
This sends off alarm bells and your body starts pumping out insulin like crazy. The cells scratch open and the sugar rushes in. Because this happens so quickly, your blood sugar levels plummet. You start to feel shaky, weak, headachy and grumpy. Solution? So you reach for another sugary treat.
And so up and down it goes throughout the entire day. Sugar rush, insulin injection, sugar crash, and back again. This process is very stressful on the body. In addition, sugar storage in the cell is converted into fat creating larger fat cells. Not only that, insulin is very inflammatory and can cause a lot of damage in the body leading to diseases like type II diabetes, insulin-resistance, obesity and even cancer.
For this reason, we want to avoid concentrated forms of sugar. In addition, always including a little bit of heathy fat with each meal is a good idea. Healthy fats slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, meaning the insulin alarm bells won’t be set it.
How do you include healthy fats in your meals?
Have some nut butter with your apple slices, snack on an avocado
with your (gluten-free) crackers and use a generous amount of
coconut oil when roasted your sweet potatoes and other vegetables.
Which Sugars to Avoid
Concentrated sources of sugar to avoid during a sugar detox include all processed sugar, fruit juices, chocolates, candy, ice cream, cookies, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, brown sugar…and yes, even natural sugars like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar as these have the same effect on blood sugar levels.
It can be very challenging to give up sugar. Particularly because you may be unknowingly consuming it as it is added to so many processed foods, even foods that you wouldn’t think would have sugar like salty crackers. Doing a sugar detox may mean a lot of cooking for you, as many processed foods will set you back in your quest for sugar freedom.
I recently did a strict 7-day sugar detox and here are five real life tips that helped me overcome the sugar cravings:
1. Include ‘sweet’ spices like cinnamon and vanilla in your meals
It may take a few days for your sugar cravings to subside so trying to ignore them won’t work. Instead, include ‘sweet’ tasting spices like cinnamon and vanilla in your meals. Sprinkle these spices on your oatmeal or include them in smoothies and chia puddings. When it comes to snack time, a dash of cinnamon on your apple slices tastes divine and goes a long way to help curb your sweet tooth.
2. Enjoy leftovers for breakfast
Leftovers aren’t just great for lunch or dinner, they also make the perfect breakfast. A hearty, warm soup is both filling and nourishing and a wonderful breakfast on a chilly morning.
3. Snack frequently to avoid being overwhelmed by cravings
When it comes to a sugar detox, prevention is best. Prevent your sugar cravings from overwhelming you but snacking frequently. If you’re out-of-control hungry, you’re likely to reach for the first thing that comes your way. Be prepared by having roasted nuts, hummus and veggies, and hardboiled eggs on-hand.
4. Have a plan and be prepared
Speaking of being prepared, when it comes to a sugar detox, or healthy eating and weightloss, in general, being prepared is your best ally. Outline your meals and snacks for the week so you’re not reaching for chips or cookies after a long day. Spend some time preparing your meals on the weekend so that home-cooked meals become grab-and-go.
5. Foods high in healthy fats are your best friend
In the body, sugar = energy and fat = energy. When you remove sugar from your diet, your body will be looking for energy to burn. Since you won’t be eating sugar, satiated your body’s need for energy by consuming foods high in healthy fats. Foods like full-fat coconut milk, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, nut and seed butters, avocados, chia, hemp and flax seeds.
6. Tea time is the best time
If your sugar cravings strike at night, herbal teas can help to cut that sweet tooth before bed. Try a flavourful tea like peppermint, ginger, or orange spice. This can also provide a great opportunity to de-stress and wind down. Reducing stress is key to fighting cravings. Purchase a good quality tea, one that doesn’t included added sugars and flavours.
7. When all else fails, reach for nature’s candy
During a sugar detox, it’s important to minimize fruits that are high in sugar. These include tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, watermelon and bananas. Consider consuming these in small quantities as treats. These healthy options are a great alternative to processed, white sugar-laden cakes and cookies.
With these tips in hand, I know you’ll be able to overcome your sugar cravings, climb off the rollercoaster for good and enjoy a healthier and more energetic body. If you’re looking for more support, inspiration and healthy recipes, join the Slim Down Detox Program.