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Many people love the idea of cutting out sugar. We all know sugar isn't that great for us. But the actual coming down to eliminating sugar from your diet is something a lot of people struggle. The struggle is real people.
I've cut processed sugar out of my diet several times. My joints feel better, I don't have that up and down crash from a sugar high, and best part (yes, I'm vain enough to admit it) my clothes fit better. Even with all that, I find myself on the need to do a sugar detox.
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Sugar is in so many of our foods, especially processed or pre-made foods from the store. It comes under the name of glucose, high fructose corn syrup (ya'll know how I feel about that GMO storm), cane juice, and just plain old sugar (sucrose) to name a few.
Disclosure: I'm not a medical professional or nutritionist. This is not a diagnosis or treatment plan for you, simply what I've experienced and am doing. Some of the links in this article are affiliate links.
What's the big deal about sugar?
We need a certain amount of sugar and carbohydrates for our bodies to function. The problem is in with modern society's eating habits, we consume way to much sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men and 24 grams (6 teaspoons) for women a day of added sugar.
We get natural sugar in our fruits and some vegetables and grains. But this sugar comes in the whole form, with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that benefit our body. It doesn't go straight into our blood stream causing a huge spike when we have it in a whole food or its natural form, plus, the bulk from the food helps trigger our bodies to know we're full.
In the context of this post and podcast, I'm referring to refined added sugars like brown sugar, regular white sugar, and even evaporated cane juice.
For me personally, during a sugar detox, I also cut out honey and maple syrup. The only sugars I'm consuming are in the form of whole fruits, vegetables, and grains.
For you, it might mean just using natural sweeteners such as raw honey, maple syrup, and/or coconut palm sugar. Totally up to you.
8 Tips for Cutting Back on Sugar
Set a date and get an accountability partner. There's something about setting a date, and it can even be today, that you decide to cut out sugar, or at least cut back. It helps if you have someone else doing it with you and you check in with another for encouragement and accountability.
It doesn't have to be someone in your house or that you see every day. My accountability partner lives across the US and we check in via email.
Decide what sugar is for you. For some of you this might mean cutting out soda, regular white table sugar, and for others, it might mean cutting out anything but what's in fruit. Decide what your definition is and stick to it.
Change your mindset. Don't remind yourself of all the things you can't have and your being deprived. Instead, tell yourself you're fueling your body with foods that benefit it so you're able to __fill in the blank____. For me, it's so I have the energy to meet my book deadline, live healthier so I can fulfill the work God has put me on this earth to do, and so that I can be here for my family.
With every bite we eat, we have a choice to either fuel our body and nourish it, or damage it. When I think in those terms, it helps me make a better choice. Excellent book to help with this is by Lysa TerKeurst called Made to Crave.
Set a cheat meal. Say what? For me, it helps if I have one meal one day a week where I can have a treat. This helps me stay on track. For example, my husband's birthday is this Saturday, so I'm going to be making a homemade chocolate cheesecake and I”ll allow myself to have a slice. It's the whole forbidden fruit mentality, if you can't ever have it, it's all you think about, but if you know you can have it on Saturday, then it's not such a big deal.
Keep starting over. If you have a slip up (and you most likely will) don't let that be your excuse to go off like a chicken in a cornfield. So you had something you didn't want to. Immediately go back to your original game and menu plan. Don't let it be your ticket to a free for all cheat day.
Meal plan. Know ahead of time your meals at least for the day, if not the week. We had steak fajitas, so for the kids that meant tortillas, but for me and my husband it meant using leaf lettuce as our wrap. I made sourdough cinnamon rolls for the kids breakfast for the week, but I had homemade yogurt (no sweeteners and barely any milk sugars when you let it ferment for 24 hours).
Breakfast was sourdough pancakes with fresh ground spelt flour and used a small amount of coconut palm sugar in them. I had one with a 1/4 cup homemade yogurt on top and 1 Tablespoon of homemade applesauce.
Lunch was chicken on greens with homemade salsa (you'll find many store bought items have added sugar). Snacks were nuts, fresh fruit (I try limit my fresh fruit during a strict detox to 1 serving a day, such as 1 banana, 1 apple, 1 pear etc.), pickles (bring on the fermented veggies) for a salt craving, and popcorn.
One of the recipes books I turn to when I'm going sugar free is the Trim Healthy Mama cookbook, they do rely heavily on Stevia as the sweetener for many of the recipes, but all 350 recipes in the book are sugar free.
When you need something sweet. Don't go off plan, instead, pic a healthier alternative. It's amazing how sweet foods start to taste if your taste buds aren't constantly bombarded with sugar. It takes a few days, but fruits can be especially satisfying for the sweet tooth. A ripe pear is like candy now, especially with a bit of cinnamon for taste. I do use a liquid stevia extract for my tea and in my smoothies. This brand –> SweetLeaf Stevia Extract it doesn't leave an aftertaste and I even use it it in sauces, like chicken teriyaki. A little bottle lasts a long time as you're only using about 5 to 6 drops per serving.
Go for fat. The evenings are the worst for me. I really want something sweet at the end of the day after supper. I've found a teaspoon of peanut butter or almond butter (fresh ground or no added sugar) helps to hit the spot and keep me from reaching for sugar.
Want 5 of our favorite no processed sugar recipes? Click here to grab them and get your way to cutting out the added processed sugar.
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.