How to Detox from Sugar: A Plan to Kick the Habit for Good
Do you feel like you eat too many sweet things? You’re not alone. Sugar is one of the most addictive substances out there, and it’s hard to break free from its grasp. But once you have mastered your cravings, not only will you be healthier, but you’ll feel great too.
In this blog post, we will discuss how to detox from sugar and kick the habit for good.
We’ll talk about why we crave sugar, the risks associated with addiction to it, how to avoid cravings, and the foods to have or avoid during your detox.
Let’s get started!
What are the Benefits of Eating Less Sugar?
When you reduce sugar in your diet, you will immediately experience many health benefits. These can include:
- Weight loss
- More energy
- Better mood
- Less brain fog
- Clearer skin
- Reduced inflammation
- Stabilized blood sugar levels
- Decreased insulin resistance
- Reduced cholesterol
- Improved heart health
- Better dental health
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure
28-Day Sugar Detox Diet Food List
The first step in this detox is to add healthy foods to your regular diet so that you can manage cravings. These foods will help to regulate your blood sugar levels and provide essential nutrients.
When you eat protein, it stabilizes your blood sugar so that you feel fuller for longer. This can help to avoid the spikes and crashes in energy that often leads to cravings.
Good sources of protein include:
- Chicken or turkey
- Tofu or tempeh
- Greek yogurt
Did you know that healthy fats can actually help fight sugar cravings? Consuming healthy fats also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels to help you manage your cravings.
Healthy fats also help to promote satiety, so you’re less likely to overeat or snack on sweet foods.
So, next time you’re struggling to fight a craving, reach for a healthy fat like nuts, seeds, or avocado. You might be surprised at how well it works!
Good sources of healthy fats include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive and avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Fatty fish
Foods high in fiber help to slow down sugar absorption, which can help to keep cravings at bay.
Fiber also works to regulate blood sugar levels, keeping them more stable for longer periods of time. As mentioned above, keeping these levels even means you don’t suffer the highs and lows that can trigger your cravings in the first place.
So when you’re feeling the urge for something sweet, reach for an apple or a handful of nuts instead – your body will thank you for it.
Good sources of fiber include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
Dehydration and hunger are often confused by your body. Many times you feel the urge to reach for food when, in fact, what you need is a big glass of water.
When your body is dehydrated, the liver cannot produce glycogen (a source of energy for the body), causing unhelpful cravings.
What to Avoid in a Sugar Detox
While there are many foods that can help you kick your sugar habit, there are also some that you should avoid.
Pastries, Cookies, Candy, and Ice Cream
These are obvious sources of sugar that you’ll want to avoid during your detox. Pastries include items such as donuts, pies, tarts, croissants, danishes, and scones.
This includes soda, fruit juice with added sugars, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened teas or coffee.
Even though fruit juices contain natural sugars, they are still able to trigger cravings.
Many processed foods contain hidden sugars, so it’s best to avoid them while you’re trying to detox. This includes packaged snacks, baked goods, condiments, and sauces.
Read the food labels to find out the amount of sugar in your favorite processed foods. Be aware of the difference between total and added sugars.
Sugar in All Forms
Sugar includes the granulated table variety, cane, brown, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, and molasses.
While you may be tempted to reach for artificial sweeteners as a substitute, they, too, can actually trigger sugar cravings, so they should be minimized during your detox.
While alcohol contains little or no sugar, it can still affect blood sugar levels and trigger cravings. For that reason, it’s best to avoid alcohol or limit your intake while you’re trying to kick the sweet habit.
28-Day Sugar Detox Plan
Foods to Add to Your Diet: Protein and Healthy Fats
Help reduce sugar cravings by adding proteins and healthy fats to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This will help you feel satisfied and reduce sugar cravings throughout the day.
Start your day with a high-protein breakfast like eggs or Greek yogurt. For lunch, include a source of healthy fat like avocado or nuts. And for dinner, focus on protein and vegetables.
Foods to Avoid: Pastries, Cookies, Cakes, Candies, and Chocolate
Let’s start the sugar detox process by removing obvious sources of sugar.
This means that cakes, cookies, pies, tarts, quiches, muffins, donuts, éclairs, cream puffs, danishes, and scones must go! There are endless recipes for each of these sweet treats, but they all have one thing in common: sugar.
Also off-limits are candies, chocolates, ice cream, and other sweetened snacks. This includes candy bars, chocolate bars, gummy bears, fruit chews, jellybeans, marshmallows, and more.
This is a big change and it’s not easy. But it’s important to remember that you’re doing this for your health!
Eating three meals a day that include protein and fat can help you fight sugar cravings.
Foods to Add to Your Diet: Water
There are two reasons to drink water this week.
First, plain old H2O can actually help to fight sugar cravings.
How? Well, when we’re feeling thirsty, our bodies can sometimes mistake that sensation for hunger. As a result, we may find yourself reaching for a sugary snack when all we really need is a glass of water.
Second, water is the perfect substitute for sweetened beverages.
In addition to water, drinking unsweetened teas, soda water or mineral water, lemon water, or coffee without sugar will all help keep you hydrated.
Foods to Avoid: Sweetened Beverages
This week, we’re going to avoid all sweetened beverages. This includes sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices, sweetened teas and coffee, and more.
Replace sweet beverages with water, unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water, coffee, and other sugar-free drinks.
You may find yourself feeling thirsty this week, but that’s a good thing! It means your body is getting used to not having sugar.
By the end of week two, you should be feeling more energetic and less sluggish. You may even notice that your skin is clearing up!
Foods to Add to Your Diet: Fiber-Rich Foods
This week, we’re going to add fiber-rich foods to our diet. Fiber helps to regulate blood sugar levels and can also help you feel full, which can reduce cravings.
Foods that are high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Try to incorporate as many of these foods into your diet as possible.
Foods to Avoid: Refined Carbs
This week we’re going to avoid food made up of refined carbohydrates. Refined carbs are found in processed foods like white bread, white pasta, and pastries. They cause blood sugar spikes and can trigger cravings.
Stick with complex carbs like whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa this week.
Foods to Add: None
This is the final week of the sugar detox! By now, you should be feeling great and have more energy than ever.
There are no specific foods to add or avoid this week. Just continue eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of protein, fat, fiber, and complex carbs.
If you find yourself craving something sweet, try to satisfy it with healthy alternatives like fresh fruit, or a snack that’s high in fiber.
Foods to Avoid: Processed Foods
This week, we’re going to avoid all processed foods with added sugar. This includes cereal, granola bars, sweetened yogurt, salad dressings, ketchup, and more.
Check food labels carefully this week and avoid anything that contains more than 5% sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Picture of food label here
Beyond the 4th Week
By following this plan, you should be able to kick your addiction for good! And, by week four you’ll already be well on your way to a healthier, happier life.
And remember: it’s okay to indulge in moderation every once in a while. Just don’t let cravings for sweet things take over your diet and your life.
Congratulations on completing the detox! Now go out and enjoy your new-found health
Sugar Detox Side Effects
If you habitually consume a lot of added sweetness, cutting back or quitting cold turkey can result in some withdrawal symptoms. After all, sugar acts like a drug, and the sense of addiction is very real.
Common symptoms of sugar withdrawal include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle aches and pains
Fortunately, these side effects are only temporary and are well worth the short-term inconvenience in exchange for how good you will feel when you have cut it from your diet completely.
Here are some ways to ease the transition and make your detox a little easier.
- Drink plenty of water. This will help flush out your system and keep your energy levels up.
- Eat small, frequent meals. This will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and ward off cravings.
- Eat enough protein and healthy fats. Both of these nutrients help to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can prevent cravings from happening in the first place.
- Increase your intake of fiber-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, thereby helping to prevent those urges for something sweet.
- Practicing meditation techniques or simply mindful breathing can help to calm the mind and body, which is a great way to combat cravings.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise helps reduce stress, which can be a trigger.
- Get plenty of sleep. A good night’s sleep will help your body recover from the detox and keep your energy levels up.
Added Sugar vs Natural Sugar
You might be wondering what the difference is between added and natural sugar.
Simply put, the natural type is that found in whole foods that grow on trees or come from the ground—fruits, vegetables, grains, and so forth.
Added sugar is any type of sweetener that’s added to food during processing or preparation (think: white or brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, and the like).
Can you eat fruit during a sugar detox?
The short answer is yes!
While fruit does contain natural sugars, it also contains fiber, water, and other nutrients that help to offset any adverse effects.
In addition, the fiber in fruit helps to slow down sugar absorption and keep blood sugar levels steadier.
Total Sugar vs Added Sugar in Food Labels
Have you ever wondered why sugar is listed twice on some food labels?
The first listing is for “total sugar,” which includes both natural and added sugars.
The second listing is for “added sugar,” which is that which has been added to the food during processing. Although the two are chemically identical, they have different effects on our health.
Natural sugars are found naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, and dairy products. They are an important source of energy and essential nutrients.
Added sugars are often used to give processed foods flavor and usually add calories without providing any nutritional value.
Consuming too much added sugar has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and dental cavities.
When reading food labels, it’s important to be aware of the difference between total and added sugar.
Look for foods that are low in added and high in natural sugars. This will help you make healthier choices and avoid potential health risks.
The Bottom Line
A sugar detox can be difficult, but it’s worth it! By following the tips above, you can make the process a little easier for yourself and kick the unhealthy habit once and for all.
Remember to stay hydrated, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep. And most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the fruits of your labor—literally!
Make it easier by finding great recipes for healthy desserts, snack foods, and substitutes for your favorite processed foods.
Do you have any tips for sugar detox? Let us know in the comments below!
Dr. Su-Nui Escobar is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist in Miami, FL. She is passionate about helping women over 40 live their best lives through healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. Su-Nui is a doctor in clinical nutrition, able to translate complicated evidence-based science into practical advice. Su-Nui is the former spokesperson of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.