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Why and How Does the Sugar Detox Diet Work?

Updated on June 6, 2021
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I enjoy writing about nutrition and health-related topics, especially alternative and plant-based remedies.

Today, sugar consumption is a serious health problem. While natural sugars, found in most fruits, can be good for you in moderation, processed sugar and sugar in excess can damage your health. Sugar is closely linked with obesity and diabetes. Today, there are close to 350 million people in the world suffering from diabetes, qualifying diabetes as a global epidemic under the World Health Organization’s standards.

Even non-diabetics often suffer from an addiction to sugar. With a plethora of sugary drinks, processed foods, chocolate, and candy, we’re all processing a lot of sugar. And the more we have, the more we want to continue eating it. One way to combat this sugar addiction is through a sugar detox, a diet that aims to avoid sugars, balance blood sugar levels, and get rid of your constant cravings for sugar.

How Does the Sugar Detox Diet Work?

Unlike many other detoxes, the sugar detox allows you to eat a full variety of solid food. The goal is simply to cut out sugar. The 'detox' idea is more or less just cutting back seriously on your overall sugar intake. This is more difficult than it sounds, however, as sugar is present in simple carbohydrates, fruit, sweets, and most processed foods. Avoiding it can be tricky.

Most sugar detoxes last between 14 and 21 days. For that period, you’ll need to avoid eating foods such as bread, candy, cereal, cheese, dairy, fruit, honey, potatoes, and pasta. It’s a difficult list of things to avoid, but many have substitutes, such as vegetables in the place of fruits and brown rice and quinoa in the place of white pasta. It’s also ok to eat the following: fish, eggs, nuts, bean and you can eat your meat.

The goal of a sugar detox is to break the cycle of addiction to sugar. At the beginning of the diet, you may feel heightened cravings for sugar. By the end, your body will crave sugar less, enabling you to eat more healthily in the long term.

Positive aspects of detoxing from sugar

Get Rid of Your Dependency on Sugar

When you’re in the cycle of a sugar addiction, you can feel lethargic and cranky when you don’t eat sugar regularly. After a sugar detox, you can break away from this pattern and have consistent levels of energy and mood without sugar. Breaking your addiction to sugar also means that, as your taste adjusts to a diet with less sugar, healthy foods will taste better. You may not even like some of the sugary foods you used to crave.

Lower Your Health Risks

Too much sugar can raise your blood pressure, increase your risk for heart disease, raise your bad cholesterol levels, and greatly increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. Breaking yourself from dependency on sugar and lowering the amount of sugar you eat in your everyday diet will help to balance your blood sugar levels and decrease all of these risks to your health.

Improve Your Energy and Appearance

Dependency on sugar can make you look and feel tired, bloated, and groggy. In contrast, eating less sugar will give you more consistent higher energy and can help you get better sleep, which will also make you more energetic. The sugar detox will also decrease bloating and help you to lose weight. Many people also report that the sugar detox helped to clear their skin.

Negative aspects of sugar detoxing

Cold-Like Symptoms

Most of the negative side effects of the sugar detox diet occur during the first few days of the detox, when your body is undergoing sugar withdrawal. Many of these symptoms are similar to what you would experience with a cold or the flu. You may have headaches, chills, and diarrhea or constipation. The good news is that if you stick with the detox, these symptoms will pass as your body adjusts to processing less sugar.

Mood and Irritability

One of the reasons that sugar is so addictive is that it can lift your mood. While going through a sugar detox, you may experience irritability and greater emotional sensitivity. It’s likely that you will also have lower energy than usual for the first few days. Once you are finished with the detox, however, your energy and mood will not be as tied to sugar, and will stay more consistent independent of your diet.

Now We Know How to Detox From Sugar

Unlike some other detoxes, the sugar addiction detox is accepted by most nutritionists as healthy. It steers you away from unhealthy foods towards foods that are part of a long-term balanced and healthy diet. The sugar detox can also help you to break from an unhealthy habit that increases your risks for some of the most prevalent health problems in the United States.

To add to its appeal, the cons of the sugar detox are relatively minimal and limited to a short period within the beginning of the detox process. The long term benefits for your health outweigh the discomfort and moodiness you might feel when starting the detox.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2016 Sam Shepards


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