How to Detox from a Halloween-Fed Sugar Coma
"The average American eats more than 70 pounds of sugar a year."
Brooke Alpert rattles off this fact, and my teeth hurt at the thought of those piles and piles of Snickers bars, Skittles, and candy corn. But the registered dietitian isn’t just talking about the obvious sugar-laced Halloween candies.
“Just because it doesn't taste sweet doesn't mean it doesn't contain sugar," Alpert said. "Every meal we are eating is loaded with sugar." She’s talking about cereal with milk for breakfast, a bagel sandwich for lunch, and white pasta with tomato sauce for dinner—all containing hidden sugars.
Alpert teamed up with Dr. Patricia Farris, a board-certified dermatologist, after realizing many of their clients' health- and skin-related issues were caused by the same main culprit: sugar. “The overconsumption of sugar is directly related to heart disease, obesity, cancer, and premature aging,” Alpert said. Together, Alpert and Farris penned a book, The Sugar Detox, to help the masses break up with sugar.
“The point of a sugar detox is to cleanse our body of the overconsumption of sugar,” Alpert said. “It is great after Halloween to take a sugar detox.” Below, Alpert and Farris share their tips on how to properly complete a three-day sugar detox.
What to do:
Plan ahead: Alpert does not suggest starting the detox on a busy workday. Since Halloween falls on a Friday this year, Saturday is the perfect day to start your detox. By the third day, Monday, you will notice a difference.
Foods to avoid: Absolutely everything with sugar. Yes, Alpert and Farris say the only way to detox is to quit sugar cold turkey. Avoid the obvious candy bars and ice cream, but also steer clear of the hidden sugars found in crackers, white flour, white and multigrain bread, sweet potatoes, milk, fruit juice, bananas, commercial salad dressings, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and beer.
What to eat instead: Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, proteins, legumes, and nuts. Farris and Alpert’s top picks are spinach, broccoli, kale, bok choy, chicken, turkey, pork, peanuts, soybeans, peas, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, and pistachios. Other go-to foods include soba noodles, lentils, and oatmeal. Flavor foods with healthy herbs and spices, such as cinnamon and turmeric.
Try this healthy recipe from The Sugar Detox:
How to curb sugar cravings: Reach for the water. "Every time you get those cravings, have a swig of water," Alpert said. She suggested switching it up with flavored water and tossing a few lemon slices into your glass or water bottle.
What to expect:
Days 1–2: People who don't usually consume a lot of sugar will not notice many negative side effects during the detox. "Big sugar addicts—they will feel a withdrawal," Alpert said. Such individuals may feel irritable, lethargic, and cranky and may have some headaches, but those feelings are normal when purging your body of sugar. They won’t last.
Day 3: "We have found by Day Three, people come out of a haze and feel better,” Alpert said. That means a more focused disposition, higher energy levels, and no afternoon slump. Farris's clients notice a more even complexion and less bloating in the face, and the dark shadows under their eyes may appear diminished.
Day 4: Congrats, your detox is over! Feel free to indulge in some sugar, but don't grab the white bread and cookies. "No bad sugar!" said Alpert. "There is no reason to add sugar to coffee!" Instead, she suggested enjoying the natural sugars found in apples, berries, and red wine. Dark chocolate is the only approved sweet—but not dark-chocolate candy bars, because they contain too much sugar.
Check out The Sugar Detox for recipes and meal plans, plus a 31-day detox plan to further purge your body of the bad stuff.
Photo by Andrew Nawrocki, Groupon.
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