What is a sugar detox?
A sugar detox is the process of reducing or eliminating excess amounts of sugar in your diet. This typically involves meal preparation, in which you are pre-planning your meals and snacks for the week with a focus on choosing recipes that contain little to no added sugar.
There are a variety of websites and cookbooks that can help you get started, for example “The 21 Day Sugar Detox” by Diane Sanfilippo has a variety of great recipes to follow. You may also want to refresh your label reading skills by reviewing the Label Reading presentation found here: http://magnawellness.ca/app/Uploads/Lunchlearns/725_file.pdf
People choose to follow a sugar detox for a variety of reasons, the most common being that they feel they have overindulged, made poor food choices, or want to better their overall health. Whatever your reason may be, it is important to clearly define why you want to do it, so that you are better able to stick to it when your first craving for carbohydrates and sugar hits!
Effects of consuming too much sugar
Every carbohydrate that you eat gets broken down into a simple sugar in your body. Your body then uses this sugar as an immediate source of energy. This may sound great, but when you eat too much sugar, excess amounts accumulate in the body and can wreak havoc on your health.
You may be thinking, “but I don’t eat that much sugar!” You will be surprised to know that added sugar is hiding in approximately 75% of all packaged foods. The tricky part is that there are a number of different names for sugar that may be found on labels. These include: high fructose corn syrup, glucose, sucrose, dextrose, molasses, agave nectar, cane juice/syrup, and brown rice syrup. What this means is that you are likely eating more sugar than you realize throughout the day.
When there is too much sugar in the body, it can actually cause harm to your body. Some of the effects of excess sugar are as follows:
- Liver damage. Your liver is where excess sugar is stored. When there is too much sugar, specifically fructose, it can overload the liver, causing damage similar to alcohol.
- Leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full. Excess sugar reduces the effects of leptin, and as a result you eat more which can lead to weight gain.
- Increase risk of metabolic syndrome. This includes weight gain, abdominal obesity, decreased HDL (your good cholesterol), increased LDL (your bad cholesterol), increased blood sugar, increased triglycerides, and high blood pressure.
- Increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
Limit your sugar intake
Whether you decide to do a short term sugar detox or not, it is important to limit your overall consumption of sugar on a daily basis.
According to Stats Canada, in 2004 the average Canadian consumed 110 grams of sugar, or 26 teaspoons, per day. The World Health Organization recommends that sugar intake should be less than 5% of your daily calories, equating to approximately 6-7 teaspoons of sugar per day. This means that we are eating almost 4 times the recommended amount of sugar per day!
Recommendations to decrease sugar intake
- Do not keep junk food in the house.
- Eat a healthy breakfast including fibre and protein.
- Read your food labels. Be attentive to how much sugar is in the products you are consuming.
- Limit the amount of sugar you drink. Many people do not realize how much sugar is found in pop and juice.
- Choose foods that do not have sugar listed as one of the top 3 ingredients.
- Buy foods labelled “no added sugar” or “unsweetened” when there is the option.