Refined sugar gets the blame for everything from diabetes to digestive issues to some symptoms of anxiety and depression. Hence the popularity of sugar detoxes: days- or weeks-long diets that cut the refined stuff out completely. Researchers are hesitant to say that people can be truly addicted to sugar, but as anyone who has tried one of these detoxes knows, it can sure feel like it! Here are 10 tips for surviving sugar detox symptoms and cravings.
1. Replace sugar with protein
When detoxing from sugar, many people experience headaches, moodiness, stomach discomfort and sleeping problems. These symptoms can be calmed by eating or drinking something with protein because it helps regulate blood sugar, which can get out of whack when we suddenly change our intake. Good sugar-free protein snacks include greens, sunflower seeds, nuts and lean meat (not cold cuts, which are often processed with sugar).
2. Satisfy cravings with fruit, nuts, seeds and spices
Even if you don’t have physical or emotional symptoms when cutting sugar out of your diet, chances are you will have cravings, especially if you’re used to eating a sugary snack at the same time every day. Instead, try reaching for fruit, which does have sugar, but not the refined kind, which is what you’re usually trying to avoid! Adding a little cinnamon or nutmeg (like these cinnamon apple chips) adds sweetness without cheating. A handful of nuts and seeds can also help calm cravings.
A lot of the symptoms people feel when detoxing – from sugar or anything else for that matter – can mimic signs of dehydration. And the truth is, you may just need some water! Always remember to hydrate, especially when you’re putting your body through something new.
4. Distract yourself
Sometimes all it takes is a little distraction to get over the hump. Whether it’s taking a nap to sleep off that headache, going for a walk to clear your head or playing a game or reading a book to pretend you’re not having that craving, doing something with your mind or body can really make a big difference.
If you feel up to it, doing some exercise can help with a lot of sugar withdrawal symptoms. Going for a short run or a class at the gym can be a great distraction and, of course, is great for your body in general. Taking a yoga class or practicing at home can have the added benefit of reducing headaches and some stomach discomfort. Just remember Tip 3 and be sure to hydrate!
Mindfulness and deep breathing are wonderful stress relievers, and many people swear by them as part of their daily routine. Even if you’re generally pretty chill, going through any kind of detox can put stress on your body and mind. So take some time to either clear your mind and just be present, or use the practice to focus on the reason you’re detoxing in the first place and what you hope to get out of the experience.
7. Pay attention to food combinations
Even if what you’re eating doesn’t include refined sugar, the way you pair foods may have an impact on your detox symptoms. General rules for food combining include eating fruit by itself and pairing vegetables and starches with protein, but not necessarily with each other. These combinations may also help with weight loss.
8. Try a castor oil pack
Some people feel bloated when doing a detox and many swear by the castor oil pack. It involves putting a castor oil-soaked piece of cloth over the affected area with a heating pad or hot water bottle on top for about 45 minutes. (Special note: this isn’t recommended for people who are pregnant or menstruating, and it’s for external use only. Always talk to your doctor before detoxing anyway!)
9. Take Epsom salt baths
If a castor oil pack seems too intense, try an Epsom salt bath. It’s relaxing, and Epsom salts contain magnesium, which is a vital mineral that many people lack even when not detoxing, but can become even more deficient when not properly hydrated.
10. Be patient
In the end, the uncomfortable symptoms associated with sugar detoxing usually don’t last very long. Headaches tend to subside after a day or two, and moodiness and other symptoms fall away soon after. So if all else fails, just know it won’t last forever!
Post by Kaitlin Ugolik99