Healthy Eating

Sugar Detox

If you're run-down, overweight, or moody, you could be suffering from sugar overload. Our expert plan will help you rid refined sugar from your diet and still lead a sweet life.
Sugar Detox
Pin it Courtesy of Shutterstock

When you rely on sugary treats for a hit of energy during a dull or jam-packed day, you’ll be guaranteed a bout of irritability when the “high” fades. While sugar is a genuine addiction—eat too much and your brain gets hooked on its own chemical surges, as it would with any drug—it is possible to learn new habits, says Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D., a specialist in addictive nutrition and author of Potatoes Not Prozac (Simon & Schuster, 2008).

Try these steps to end a sugar habit and regain control of your moods. But go slowly, says DesMaisons, and remember that this is a cumulative process. You’ll have better long-term success if you give yourself at least two weeks to one month to adapt to each change.

1. Eat breakfast with protein. Within 30 minutes of waking, have a meal with at least ten grams of protein to stabilize your blood sugar. Scrambled eggs or tofu, nut butters, and veggie sausage patties are all good options.
2. Keep a journal. Note everything you eat to help you become aware of how much sugar you’re eating and when cravings occur. You’ll be less likely to slip into unconscious sugar consumption.
3. Stop snacking. Eat three meals a day, on schedule and with protein. You can still have small amounts of sugar of all types (even desserts), but only with your meals. Eating a full meal helps slow sugar delivery.
4. Take these supplements. To optimize your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates, take vitamin B complex (50 mg), vitamin C (500 mg), and zinc (15 mg).
5. Eat a potato every night. Although fairly high on the glycemic index, potatoes can combat mood swings and sugar cravings, says DesMaisons. Eating a whole one at night creates an insulin response that delivers the amino acid tryptophan (a precursor to serotonin) to the brain.
6. Switch to brown foods. Sneak high-fiber whole grains into your diet—eat whole wheat instead of white bread, brown rice not white—to help stabilize blood sugar.
7. Cut down on sugar. Avoid all refined and sweetened foods such as cereals, candy, packaged cookies, and presweetened beverages. Cut out sweet fruits (bananas, kiwi, apples) and eat less-sweet fruits like berries, instead.