Here’s how to detox from sugar like a nutritionist, for fewer pesky cravings and mood dips—and possibly a little weight loss as a bonus.
Don’t cut out sugar (completely)
Quitting sugar cold turkey is too drastic—and a recipe for bingeing, or at least reverting to old habits. “Slow and steady wins the race,” says Tiphani Seibert-Martinez, MS, director of patient education at the Minnesota Center for Obesity, Metabolism, and Endocrinology. Making small, simple changes to your nutrition is easier to sustain, especially since you can train your taste buds to enjoy things that aren’t as sweet over time, Martinez says. Not to mention that the anxiety of trying to avoid “all sugar” creates stress. And stress turns on the “fight or flight” mechanisms, increasing production of hormones that can raise blood sugar levels and suppress immune function, both which can minimize the benefits of eliminating sugar in the first place. Start by learning about these surprising foods high in sugar.
Take a drink
Of water, that is. Adina Niemerow, CN, a culinary nutritionist and author of Super Cleanse, is a true believer that “food heals.” According to Niemerow, sugar cravings could be a sign that you’re dehydrated. Before you hit the vending machine, drink a glass of water and then wait a few minutes to see what happens,” she says. These are the clear signs you’ve been OD-ing on sugar.
Learn all the names for sugar
The ingredient “agave nectar” may not seem like a red flag, but sugar goes by many names. Some terms to look for include lactose, brown rice syrup, molasses, and dextrose, to name just a few. What’s worse, sugar can hide in foods where you least expect it: Barbecue sauce, pasta sauce, reduced-fat salad dressings, breads, baked beans, and some flavored coffees can be packed with sugar. Get in the habit of reading labels, and filter out high-sugar foods before they hit your shopping cart.