Sugar. We know you’re sweet on it. We also know that you’re trying to break up with it. Check out how to manage the break-up without breaking your health?
For many years, certain foods such as fat and salt have been demonized. With increased researched, better understanding, and more people becoming aware of their health, we’ve found that sugar, particularly added and processed sugar, is also detrimental to our bodies. While too much of anything can be harmful to our health, too much sugar can be especially damaging, notably when coming from highly processed sources.
We can all agree that being careful of the type and the amount of sugar is vital to optimal health. Because of this, sugar detoxes are on the trend. Detoxing from sugar sounds like an ideal practice, but it’s one that should be well understood and done appropriately to achieve the health we desire.
When considering detoxing from sugar, there are a few concerns to be aware of to make sure you’re approaching sugar in the right way.
Weight Gain and Disordered Eating
Typically, one of the desired outcomes of doing a sugar detox is weight loss. While eliminating foods such as candy bars, soda pop, and other highly processed sugary foods can indeed help with weight loss, any obsession over anything can cause issues. First, when we are dieting or detoxing from something, we tend to fixate on it. This leads to greater feelings of hunger, appetite, and cravings. The fixation on what we can’t have forms a void that we feel we need to fill. Many people avoid sugar by turning to other alternatives such as crackers, chips, or other such foods. The shift from unhealthy eating habits to other unhealthy eating habits actually causes weight gain.
Anytime we have a diet or detox mindset, we feel restricted. Whenever the mind is in a restrictive state, balance and nourishment don’t occur, and the result is mental and physical issues with food that cause disordered eating. Restrictions heighten cravings simply because we’re telling ourselves we can’t have those things. Humans tend to want what they can’t have. This situation can create an unhealthy relationship with food, which can lead to a number of emotional and physical problems. Lastly, for many, once the sugar detox is over, they tend to binge on sugary foods again because they’re still having cravings and often times tell themselves they deserve the sugar because they went so long without any. This creates obvious problems and negates the whole point of doing a sugar detox in the first place.
A detox is essentially a diet and has the same lack-mentality mentioned above. Diets are usually short term fixes. They do not teach or encourage long-term lifestyle changes and habits. Rather than doing a sugar detox for an X amount of days and then going back to normal, it would be better to adopt small and steady maintainable improvements.
Different Sugars are Different
A sugar detox aims to get in no, or as little as possible, sugar in the diet. Like stated above, highly processed and added sugars aren’t healthy and should be avoided, but this doesn’t mean it’s ideal or even healthy to avoid all sugar. The body requires sugar to function and keep you alive. Without glucose, our brain and every cell in our bodies wouldn’t be able to function. So while it is important to avoid the bad sugars, it is important to be getting some sugar from fresh, whole food sources such as fruits and vegetables.
There’s More to Health than Sugar
When considering health and weight loss, avoiding too much sugar is an important consideration. However, it’s not the only consideration. The problem with a sugar detox is it only focuses on decreasing or eliminating sugar without looking at other key factors, such as the source and quality of the food you’re eating and how it’s prepared. To really boost health and weight loss efforts, consume a lifestyle diet consisting of fresh, wholesome, traditional foods.
Gradual, slow, and steady wins the race. Switch out a few meals a week where sugary items are substituted with healthy options. Creating good life-time habits are better than the short term detox and diet method.
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