How to Do a Sugar Detox
If a sugar detox seems overwhelming, I’m breaking down how to detox from sugar easily with some simple steps!
We live in a day and age where companies are adding sugar to literally EVERYTHING. It’s pretty clear that whether America knows it or not, we have a sugar addiction!
Just start reading your labels, even on things you wouldn’t expect to have sugar like salsa or peanut butter or whole wheat bread. So many of the “healthy foods” even have a lot of sugar in them—yogurt, granola, meal bars. So, chances are your sugar intake is higher than you might think. It’s wild!
But, sugar is addicting, and if a customer gets addicted to your product, it’s good for their bottom line. But, what’s it’s really caused is an epidemic. Eating too much sugar has led to obesity, type 2 diabetes, brain fog, fatigue, cancer, heart disease and chronic illness and other health issues.
Back when the big fat-free craze happened in the 90s, companies started adding more sugar to make their products palatable after the fat was taken out of them.
So, like I said, sugar sneaks its way into so many of the foods we eat everyday, and if you’re dining out, you have no idea how much added sugar you’re consuming. I’ve always had a bad sweet tooth, and wanted to do this experiment to see if a sugar detox diet would help curb my sugar cravings and also wanted to see how it would benefit my health overall.
After doing one sugar detox, I think it’s a good thing to do from time to time. It allows our bodies to reset by getting your blood sugar level balanced, and curbs cravings for sugar and for other unhealthy foods too.
How to Detox from Sugar
I’ll get into the specifics in just a second, but let’s talk about some basic things before you get started!
At the very least, you need to give yourself five days. Honestly, seven is probably better, but if you can’t swing seven, you’ll still feel the effects after just five days.
Before you just jump straight in, look at your calendar. It’s best to avoid weeks where you’re busy with dinners or plans with friends. For the majority of your detox, you want to eat at home, or bring prepared food with you so you’re never stuck in a situation where there’s no good options.
Instead of thinking of this week as restrictive, think of how you’ll be nourishing your body, giving it thanks for everything it does for you and this just a little favor to thank it for keeping you alive every day. When you focus on this is a positive thing, instead of dreading it, it makes it so much easier and more enjoyable!
The Benefits Of Sugar Detoxification
If you’ve dealt with fatigue or adrenal issues, you’ll know that brain fog is a real thing and it sucks. By the end of the detox, my brain fog had cleared up a lot. Not totally, but gave me the motivation to do another detox.
Energy has always been such a struggle for me, and was a big motivator for me to do this detox. The first few days, I felt more tired, sluggish, drowsy, but as the week went on, I felt more energetic and more clear-headed. The final day, I felt AMAZING! We were out an about all day and I never got that energy slump I normally would.
I was skeptical on this because the first part of the week, I didn’t notice much better sleep, but as the week went on, it definitely improved.
If you crave sweets, you’ll notice this one big time. Your cravings just about disappear, it’s crazy! When you eat something that is sweet, it will taste so much sweeter and honestly, you might not like it anymore.
This wasn’t something I was hoping for personally, but I know that a lot of people experience weight loss when they give up sugar. I don’t think that I was eating enough before to have made a big difference in my weight. But, a friend of mine gave up soda for Lent one year in high school and lost 15 lbs. from doing that alone.
Sugar Detox Symptoms
It’s pretty common to feel some symptoms during your detox. After all, your body is used to getting sugar, and it’s now going through withdrawals, but these things are short-lived and soon will all be improved.
I had a major dip in energy the first few days, but it quickly came back. Don’t feel bad, give yourself some grace and know that your body is just adjusting and figuring out how to do life without excess sugar. After a few days, my energy came back and then increased!
If you are a big sugar consumer, this one might hit you hard. It feels a bit like your head is in the sky and you can’t focus. Give it a few days and these sugar detox symptoms should subside. Don’t forget to drink tons of water too! That will help with the brain fog and also help flush out your body.
I actually experienced better sleep after doing this detox, but at first, you may experience some issues with falling or staying asleep. If you’re used to having wine before bed to help you relax and wind down, you might notice this, but after a couple of days, you’ll be sleeping great.
Lastly, but most obviously, you will likely have some sugar cravings. This is totally normal because your body is used to having sugar, so once it’s gone, it’s wondering where the heck it is. If you have intense cravings, sip peppermint tea, have a piece of fruit or get outside and move—I found all of these to be really helpful.
How To Detox Sugar From Your Body
Rules for the Sugar Detox
No ADDED SUGARS. This means cane sugar, stevia, coconut sugar, anything that ends with -ose in your packaged foods (sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, barley malt, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup, etc.). Ditch all the sugar-y drinks, soda, kombucha (yes, has sugar added!). I also avoided natural sugars like honey, maple syrup and dates. I think those are definitely healthier, but for the detox, I stayed away from them. Another subject—artificial sweeteners. I think this goes without saying, but these are a big no-no, whether you’re on a sugar detox or not, just stay away!
No alcohol. This was the hardest part for me, which makes me sound like an alcoholic, but hey, I love a good glass of wine!
Very little gluten and very little dairy. Next time around, I won’t have any dairy or gluten. I don’t really eat them much, but did have a piece of sprouted toast with avocado one day, but that was it.
Lastly, fruit! I personally believe fruit is really healthy, and I would never suggest eating no fruit. There are so many amazing health benefits! But, for this detox, I did cut back a bit. Mostly because I usually eat a LOT of fruit. If you’re not a big fruit eater, don’t worry about it! It’s also perfect when you get a craving for something sweet—just grab a handful of berries.
Clean Out your Fridge & Pantry
This is a good step to take BEFORE you start. You don’t want to have chips, candy, granola, sweetened creamer, flavored yogurt, etc. sitting around tempting you while you do your detox. If anything, consider this a good time to clean out your fridge and pantry!
Check the back of packaging and look for how many grams of sugar are in the product. Now a bunch of brands are adding added sugar on their packaging which makes it easier to tell if there’s been sugar added or if it’s in there naturally.
Plan your Meals in Advance
Fail to plan, plan to fail. Writing down what you’ll be eating for each meal, plus some snacks, will not only help you with making a grocery list, but make the whole process easier. Being hungry and stuck with no ideas is not where you want to find yourself! I cooked recipes from Easy Weekly Recipes while doing my detox. For the most part, all of our recipes are sugar free!
A few good things to have on hand to fill you up and curb cravings are nut butters, sweet potatoes, avocados, eggs, your favorite veggies, some fruit (opt for fruit that’s lower in sugar like berries, they hit the spot!)
Stay away from products that market themselves as sugar free too. You might not think you’re eating sugar, but when sugar is removed, it’s often replaced with artificial sweeteners or fillers that are likely NOT good for you. Opt for whole foods throughout the whole detox (and life really!).
This is key! I mean, you should always stay hydrated, but especially during a detox. All that extra water will help flush your body, balance your blood sugar and keep you feeling good.
Move your Body
Nothing gives me a boost of energy like getting up and going for a walk or going to the gym for a good sweaty workout. I found that I had a few major energy crashes at the beginning of my detox, and whenever it hit, I’d drink more water and then head out for a walk with Oliver. I subsequently hit 12K steps or more every day the week of my detox, ha!
Get Plenty of Sleep
Usually we go to bed around 10:30-10:45pm and I’ve really been wanting to move that closer to 10-10:15pm, so I took this as an opportunity to get in bed earlier most nights. It was actually easy, because I felt pretty tired those first few days and it started feeling normal to go to bed then.
If you’re someone who used to eat a lot of sugar, you might really be feeling tired, so when you feel yourself fading, just hit the hay!
Sip Peppermint Tea
To curb cravings for a glass of wine or piece of chocolate post-dinner, I’d make myself a cup of peppermint tea, which is something a reader suggested (thanks!). It actually worked well and made me sorta sleepy and ready for bed.
Snack on Fruit
I didn’t eat too much fruit while doing my detox, but when I got a crazy craving, I’d have a small bowl of chopped strawberries (about 2-3) and a handful of blueberries. Fruits have naturally occurring sugars, but since it’s paired with other things like minerals, vitamins, fiber, water, it’s totally fine!
Overall Takeaways and My Plans
Overall, I feel good after my week of no added sugar!
In the past when I’d do a detox, I’d finish it and immediately go back to my old habits. I eased my way into this detox and started cutting out added sugars in the weeks leading up to it which I think made it easier. Of course, you can totally go cold turkey, but you may feel the side effects more intensely than if you eased into it.
I did reintroduce wine, but found that I didn’t crave a second glass like I used to. I’m still not adding sugar or natural sweetener to my coffee and it tastes totally fine! I did have half a donut over the weekend and was shocked by just how sweet it tasted! Normally, I’d be dying for Rob’s half, but I didn’t even want it—progress!
Best of all, I felt like my digestion was better and my stomach was calmer. I’ve dealt with with digestion issues for so long, so this was a huge plus!
Have you tried a sugar detox before? What did you think about the whole process and how did you feel when you removed sugars from your diet?!