So you have signed up for the Glow Better Sugar Detox, you’ve eaten the last of the chocolate in the house (necessary, obviously) and now…what do you do?
Well, you get prepared of course. Sugar can be hidden in the most unsuspecting of places, so first up is learning to detect it. A sugar detox isn’t a sugar detox if you unknowingly increase your sugar intake with so called “healthy” options.
We are not aiming to cut out all possible sugars, simply to bring the total sugar consumption down. This includes “healthy” or “natural” sugars, as these sugars typically behave in a similar manner to added sugars, they just may provide your body with added nutrients or minerals (or not!). A very simple guideline to stick to on a sugar detox, or to just lower your sugar intake as a lifestyle adjustment is to look at the back of any packaging and check the “total sugars” section. To maintain a very low sugar intake, I aim to keep this measurement at 2g per 100g. This is perfect for a plan like this detox. It’s also pretty handy for minimising that “secret” sugar intake, so that you can spend your sugar budget on foods you truly love and enjoy.
I have found this is really the easiest way to compare different foods and get an idea of how much sugar they each have compared to each other. Many breads, sauces and cereals may surprise you in their sugar content. I am not advocating a misery-filled future with no real chocolate or fun, please do not misinterpret this as some weird obsession with a low-calorie or super restrictive diet. But many of you will find that this detox will open your eyes to how insidious sugar can be, and be able to consciously choose what you consume after a week of new habits.
I have found some of the worst “healthy” option offenders frequently include:
- rice and corn cakes (even wholegrain ones)
- tomato based soups
- corn pasta
- cereal or breakfast bars
- breakfast cereals
- white bread
but check the packet for yourself – there is a wide variation.
When trying to change a habit, cut back on something or give up something, I always find it helps to focus on what you can do, what you can eat or how you can benefit. The simple change in mindset can make all the difference. It makes the same challenge feel more rewarding, less like drudgery and it makes you more likely to achieve what you want. Because that is the part you are focusing on.
From a physical standpoint, I have found that making sure you are stocked up on foods that will fill and satisfy you also helps. If you are nicely full, you are far less likely to cave to to the sugar craving. So what are the foods that can help you with this? Nourishing, tasty ones with enough fat and protein to switch off your hunger pangs. These foods will also help keep your blood sugar stable, which helps your mood and energy levels sail along more smoothly. I have added a list below of some of my favourites. Feel free to adapt to suit your tastes, lifestyle and any allergies you have obviously.
- fresh or frozen vegetables: broccoli, courgette, asparagus, spinach, green beans, radishes, cauliflower, carrots, garlic, onion, celery
- low sugar fruit: avocado, cucumber, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, lime, berries, cherries
- nuts and seeds: almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, flaxseeds (a.k.a. linseeds), pumpkin seeds
- butter, eggs, natural yoghurt (full fat), olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, ghee, coconut milk
- fish, meat, tofu, beans and lentils
- spices, herbs: turmeric, basil, oregano, mint, chives, coriander, parsley
- slow release carbohydrates: basmati rice, lentils, chickpeas, rolled oats (as opposed to instant), sweet potatoes, wholegrains
Sticking to fresh foods is always going to be an easier way to avoid hidden sugars, but that’s not always a reasonable option. With any packaged food, get into the habit of checking the sugar level and you will soon identity the brands or options that will work best for you.