In our blog “A Spoonful of Sugar Keeps the Medicine Around,” we discussed how we, as a society, are becoming more aware of the problems of sugar and how prevalent it is in our food (http://drhyman.com/blog/2014/03/06/top-10-big-ideas-detox-sugar/). Which leads us to this blog…living a naturally sweet life by taking out the processed sugars and eating pure foods.
How to detox yourself of processed sugars:
There are two trains of thought on reducing your sugar intake. Some experts say go “cold turkey” and others say go slow (about 8 weeks). We suggest you gradually reduce the amount of sugar in your diet so you don’t experience such severe sugar withdrawal symptoms. And, after all, this is a long-term change, not a short-term change. In any case, some symptoms of sugar withdrawal you might experience include:
- Severe or intense cravings for sugary foods
- Headaches and nausea
- Mood swings and crankiness
When you begin to cut down on sugar your brain receptors are going to be screaming “SUGAR”, but be encouraged, the addictive properties of sugar is a learned behavior and we can change it! Here are some basic steps to reduce the sugar in your diet and begin the healing process.
- Find Your Baseline: Last week we challenged each of you to take a look at your sugar intake and find your baseline (figure out the number of teaspoons of sugar you are consuming daily). To do this, you needed to read your labels and then take the number of grams and divide by 4 (four grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon). The simple task of reading food labels can be difficult. Here is a helpful link to help decipher the 61 different names of sugar in our foods today (http://www.sugarscience.org/hidden-in-plain-sight/). Keep a record for one week of the sugar you are consuming (there are many online tools that can help make this easier to do).
- Reduce Sugar: After you’ve found your baseline, I am guessing you will be pretty shocked at the number of teaspoons of sugar you are consuming daily (even those of you thinking you are eating healthy). Right? Review your sugar intake sheet and identify the times of day/meals the most sugar was consumed and make an effort to change those “at risk” times. For example, breakfast is one of the most common “at risk times”. The morning yogurt (which can have up to 7 teaspoons of sugar in a cup) and the quick granola bar. Even these so called “healthy foods” can contain a large amount of sugar, thus using up a big portion of your daily allotment of sugar. And, when it comes to the “Modern American Diet”, the morning sugar intake is huge (cereals, donuts, creamy coffee drinks)! By changing your morning breakfast to include scrambled eggs, sautéed veggies, meat and black coffee this one meal change will drastically reduce your sugar consumption. Another big “at risk” time is when you reach for a beverage to quench your thirst. Sodas, sweetened teas, sweetened lemonades, coffee drinks and fruit juices are full of sugars. If you need a little treat, purchase some carbonated water and add some lemon. Another great option is a cup of hot green tea or glass of unsweetened tea.
- Renew Your Mind: While you are trading out your sugary treats, you may feel you are depriving yourself…and begin focusing on what you are missing, not what you are gaining. We strongly encourage you to focus on the positive…mind over matter is true in this case. If you are only focusing on what you are missing, you will eventually go back to the sugar trails of sickness, but if you are focused on nourishing your body with healthy choices, the sugar trail will stay in your rear view mirror and eventually disappear.
- Get Rid of Processed Foods: We believe the easiest way to reduce your sugar intake is to rid your cupboards of processed foods and turn to eating pure whole foods. This includes fruits and vegetables in their purest form and using more natural sugar, like honey (in small amounts) in your meal plan. Get the processed foods out of your house so you are not tempted by them!
- Buy Our Book, Eating Pure in a Processed Foods World™: We created our book for this reason: to mentor YOU back to health. We have created the tool, now you need to use it. There are 39 sections of different fruits and vegetables that can be baked, roasted, steamed or sautéed. Plus, over 300 recipes to assist you in eating pure, whole food, made in your own kitchen.
- Make a Plan: Getting healthy doesn’t just “happen”, you need a plan. Set up your meal plan (we have a sample plan for you to try), and make sure you have healthy treats available when those sugar cravings attack. Part of your plan may include partnering with a friend to join you on this mission. It is nice to have someone to hold you accountable and be an encourager when you are having a hard day.
- Reward Yourself (without food): Sometimes we think rewards require food. Try some alternative rewards like using some aromatherapy oils and soaking in an Epsom Salt bath. You will absolutely love this time of relaxation.
Are you ready for the challenge? You can do this! Here’s to a naturally sweet life!
(This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease)