I was once badly addicted to sugar. I felt like I needed it to get through the day. I'd start my day out with a sweet espresso drink from one of my favorite cafes. These drinks can contain up to 100 grams of sugar. However, the World Health Organization recommends that adults only consume 25 grams of sugar per day. So right at the beginning of my day, I was already nearly quadrupling my recommended daily intake. Not to mention I was spending around $5.00 on something that was not doing any favors for my health.
I also felt the need to end my day with something sweet. Even if it was just a piece of organic dark chocolate after dinner. I felt like my day wasn't complete until I got something sweet into my mouth at the end of the day. If I didn't get a sweet treat after dinner, I would have trouble falling asleep. No joke. Maybe you can relate.
This went on for most of my 20s. But then I came to realize that sugar is one of the most addictive food substances on the planet. It's so addictive, in fact, that some researchers found that it can be up to 4x as addictive as cocaine. I didn't want to be an addict of anything, especially not something as nutritionally void as sugar. So I set out to quit sugar. But quitting is hard. Especially when sugar is such an addictive substance.
I realized that my sugar addiction was a problem when I was giving into sweet cravings after dinner even though I wasn't hungry. The thought of giving up sugar cold turkey made me anxious. I didn't want to do it. I knew I had to because I was overeating sweet stuff. It was a vicious cycle though because my overconsumption of sugar actually made me more anxious and depressed. It created a blood sugar rollercoaster effect in my body and left me with a clinical diagnosis of reactive hypoglycemia. I was also diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) which is a hormonal condition affecting the ovaries that has strong ties to blood sugar dysregulation. My hormones were a mess and I was experiencing monthly premenstrual syndrome (PMS). I was constantly thirsty and was waking up in the middle of the night to pee all the time. Then I found it hard to get back to sleep. Little did I know that this was a symptom of sugar dysregulation as well.
Some studies estimate that nearly ¾ of Americans are addicted to sugar (about 50% of those people are children). I knew I was one of them. The food industry, with all its processed 'carbage' had me hooked. I didn't want to be hooked on anything. I'm a rebel by nature and I wanted to be free from sugar addiction. So I did a sugar detox.
Doing a sugar detox alone was tough. I eventually sought out support. I was told to remove all sugar and sweeteners from my home (even the artificial and alternative stuff like stevia). I replaced high sugar fruits like some of my favorites - mango and pineapple - with lower sugar fruits like green apples and mixed berries. I also limited my fruit intake to once a day, usually after dinner. I'm not going to sugarcoat it (pun intended). This was very difficult for me at first. But after a few weeks, I realized that I had less cravings for sweets. It only took a few weeks to reset my hormones and neurotransmitters.
Other things that helped me included staying hydrated. I drank a lot of water, and I drank the majority of it before 3:00 pm. I also found it helpful to rethink breakfast. My breakfasts started to look like dinner. I would eat meat and vegetables with some healthy fats. There's no law saying that breakfast has to consist of sweet danishes, sugary cereals or donuts. And don't get me started on coffee house marketing. They may have you convinced that you need that 16 oz. pumpkin spice latte but you don't. I replaced my fancy espresso drink favorites with plain green tea. Planning and preparing meals in advance and getting plenty of quality sleep were two other things that helped me beat the sugar beast immensely.
If you're ready to detox from sugar, that's something I can help you with. Trust me. It's so much easier when you have support from others. Lucky for you, the Idaho Functional Health Alliance hosts regular sugar detox classes through the Restart program. It's all online so you can 'meet up' with me in your PJ pants. Or no pants at all if that's your preference. I don't judge. I hope you can join me for our upcoming class so that you can get control over your own sugar beast as soon as possible. Class starts in two weeks, on Monday September 23, and lasts for 5 weeks. The detox itself is 3 weeks long, and I'll walk you through it every step of the way.