By Sitara Hewitt
Whether you are looking for ways to boost energy levels, lower body fat, improve skin, or good digestion, it seems that sugar is the culprit more often than not. Sugar is sneaky. It is an ingredient in so many foods. And, more importantly, when you eat sugar, you crave more sugar. Why? Because yeast, or candida in your gut and body feed off sugar, grow, and cause you to crave more sugar to keep feeding them. Candida is linked to poor digestion, frequent colds, low energy, irritability and cravings for unhealthy foods when you’re not hungry. Sugar also causes your insulin levels to spike, causing weight gain or an inability to loose those last few stubborn pounds.
I set out to detox from the sugar in an attempt to curb the cravings and remedy the constant tiredness, and cut it out cold turkey. The first 3 days were hard; I felt like an addict, getting distracted by cravings around the clock and feeling miserable and cranky! This only proved to me the hold sugar had gotten on my entire being. My system was hooked.
After about the 3rd day the cravings subsided and I began to feel great. Other good effects I noticed were that a few pounds dropped off (though I was still eating a good amount of healthy foods), my tummy felt flat (no more bloating), I had better energy levels, and most of all, the cravings were gone completely and now it’s easy for me to have a bite or two of something sweet and be satisfied, or just pass on desert completely. No self control needed once you get over the hump of the detox!
A few tips to help cut out sugar.
You see, the trick is to cut it out altogether, for a short amount of time, so the yeast can die off and stop causing the cravings and ill health effects. Meanwhile you take some probiotics to re-nourish and rebuild your system. The probiotics are key for a strong immune system, healthy digestion, good skin and energy levels.
1. Cut it out
When you go cold turkey make sure you eliminate all sweet foods, just for a couple of weeks. Yes, even natural sugars! You can re-introduce these later, your fruits and honey and small amounts of processed sugar – and the great thing is a little will go a long way and you’ll get ‘sweeted out’ from just a couple of bites of say, cheesecake. You just don’t want it after a while, which makes moderation much, much easier. Apples, grapes, pears, grapefruits, berries – these are all ok while you’re on your detox. Stay away from dried fruit they have too much concentrated sugar.
Definitely don’t consume any artificial sugars, like sucralose, malitol or aspartame – these are chemicals that your body doesn’t recognize and will not help lose weight. Studies show they get stored in the body as toxins. Stevia is a natural sugar replacement with no calories that comes from a sweet herb, you can try that and it’s nice in a liquid form with flavors like ‘english toffee’. I use that to sweeten my teas and hot cocoa.
2. Eat more
First of al, eat more fat. Yes, you heard me! As long as it’s ‘good fat.’ Like unsweetened nut butters, avocados, whole eggs, nuts, even butter. You may find that even though you’re eating good fats you seem to drop pounds, simply because you’ve eliminated sugar. Don’t diet, don’t eat less, just eat wholesome foods and no sugar and you will be amazed at how flat your tummy gets. Make sure to eliminate all white flour, the body sees it as sugar. That means, no pastries, white bread or white pasta. Find a whole grain or ancient grain versions of these, and add in more veggies. Try my green smoothie, snack on hummus and carrots, salads, steamed veggies, or try my green soup.
3. Develop New Habits
Hang in there with the cravings. Find a substitute activity for sweet snacking. Go for a walk, take deep breaths, journal, call a friend, play a game with your kid, workout or organize your closet. Drink lots of water: often cravings are just thirst in disguise. Have some herbal tea, or some almonds and the craving will pass. My favorite snack while detoxing is an apple cut up with unsweetened almond butter. It tastes so SWEET when you’re not eating other sweets. I love having a big glass of club soda with lemon and stevia. It tastes like sprite and I replace my deserts with it. It fills you up, it’s high in Vitamin C, hydrates you, and kills the sugar craving.
4. Getting Back to Normal
Once you’ve gone a couple of weeks start to introduce sweet fruits, honey and small amounts of say, very dark chocolate (it’s low in sugar if it’s above about 70%). Don’t ruin all your hard work and try to say no to candies, desserts and other refined sugars, and know that it may be much easier to avoid them in the future. My sugar detox changed the way I eat, now I couldn’t eat a whole éclair or dessert, it simply makes me feel a bit sick after a couple of bites. Your body really notices a difference.
Here is my recipe for delicious low sugar Almond Butter Chocolate Cups: good fats, no refined sugars and the whole family loves them. Like healthy Reese peanut butter cups!
1 cup raw almonds
2 tablespoons raw almond butter
2 tablespoons virgin unrefined coconut oil (this form of the oil is key, other forms are rancid)
1 tablespoon coconut manna or coconut butter (optional but so very tasty)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup
dash of cinnamon
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1. Spin the almonds in the blender or food processor until they are a rough meal.
2. Mix them with almond butter, 1 tablespoon coconut oil and coconut manna (increase oil if not using manna). Add salt, 1.5 tablespoons maple syrup, vanilla, salt and cinnamon. Work it with your fingers if clumpy. Press mixture into mini muffin tins, I like the little silicone ones myself.
3. On the stove heat up 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, add cacao powder, remaining maple syrup and an additional pinch of salt. Once smooth and liquid-y remove and pour a little onto each almond cup.
4. Refrigerate or freeze for an hour, and enjoy!
Good luck, stay strong, and let me know how it goes!
Learn more tips from Sitara at livingwellwithsitara.com
Note: Suggestions in Sitara Hewitt’s columns are merely from Sitara’s own personal experience and are not intended to treat, prevent or diagnose any disease. Check with your health care practitioner before starting any new health regimens.
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