Sugar Detox Day #5: This morning I ended my sugar-free, detox, by adding 1/2 of an apple to my 40 oz of daily green juice. (For those of you that are just pulling this up. I did an experiment, excluding all sugar for four days). After ninety-six hours hours of not so much as a carrot, my initial reaction to the sugar was: slight nausea. Normally, I would have added carrots and guzzled the juice down within minutes… instead I was able to slowly sip the juice with pleasure… 1 hour later, I cut up two, crisp fuji apples. Again, instead of swallowing them whole, I was able to better enjoy their sweet bite, as I would have a good glass of wine. After being sugar-free for ninety-six hours, I no longer felt the urge to devour my breakfast. I did not feel that I HAD to eat quickly. In fact, I was not even craving them, like I may have in the past. Sugar is a fascinating thing.
The average American consumes over 100 pounds of sugar (sucrose) a year and with millions of advertising dollars invested in its’ manufacture, it is not going anywhere, anytime soon.
Truth be told: Sugar is addicting. An addiction to sugar begins at a young age. It hides in baby food, condiments (like mayo and ketchup), salad dressings, deli meats, bread, pretzels… you name it, and its probably got it.
Sugar, in general, is not the enemy here. Fructose, the sugar found in most fruits, raw honey and some vegetables, is absorbed directly into the blood, where it can then be converted to glucose. Glucose is what gives us that quick burst of energy. Glucose is also the main source of sugar that is used by the tissues and cells for energy. See… it is not all bad… but… and here is the big. fat. but!
In the United States, the average American probably consumes close to 20 teaspoons of added sugar per day. This sugar is in addition to the sugar that is naturally found in our food. Based on a study done by the USDA, and compiled by Marion Nestle in her book, “What to Eat,” there were 142 pounds of total caloric sweeteners, being used, per capita (per person), in 2004. Of these… 61 were refined sugars, 78 were high fructose corn syrup and 1.4 were from other sources (honey, maple syrup, etc.).
That means that your average adult is responsible for consuming close to “a half a pound of sugar per day!” -Nestle
Sugar has been found to contribute to:
- tooth decay
- psychological problems
- mood swings
- stress.. etc. etc.
Sadly, as obesity and diabetes grow more prevalent, society tells us that we need to cut out our fruits and sweet vegetables, pick up our prescription, and grab a box of chemically altered, sugar-free and diet sodas while we are at!
And yet we wonder why we have problems?
Fruit is the most perfect food on earth. Nourished by the soil and kissed by the sun, organic fruit will ripen and drop right into our hand. It is created by Nature to be enjoyed and nourish.
In addition to supplying our tissues and cells with fructose, fruits are high in water, fiber, and a variety of vitamins, minerals and trace minerals. It is for this reason that I am convinced that we need natural sugars in our diet. I find it sad when I hear of people avoiding the natural sugars that Mother Nature has to offer, and instead opt for artificial and sugar substitutes. Fruit is not the culprit.
The problem with sugar, which, I rediscovered during my sugar detox, is that not only does the average American consume an overabundance of sugar, but we have come to rely on it as a main source of energy. Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier in this article, we typically consume sugar in the form of refined sugar, and not natural fructose sugars (fructose is not the same as high fructose corn syrup).
Because sugar is addicting, we hit highs, and lows– that only seem to be fixed by consuming more sugar. When sugar addicts try to omit sugar (sometimes, even for a few hours), they suffer withdrawal symptoms, like: headaches, irritability, fatigue, mood swings… I saw this growing up, as my mom, who grew up drinking Coca-Cola from a bottle, would be unable to function without her trip to BK.
During my detox, I was lucky in the respect that my main source of sugar comes from vegetable and fruit sources (including wine), but that is not to say that I do not enjoy my dark cocoa, raw honey and agave. Because of this, I did not experience any significant symptoms of withdrawal.
Yesterday, somewhere around the 84 hour mark of having no sugar, I felt completely drained. As I self-assessed my eating patterns, I know for a fact, that I would have probably reached for some form of sweet treat (maybe dried fruit, hot chocolate, raw honey…).
In the past, I have also looked for sugar to calm my nerves, offer comfort, or “warm” my body. I have learned, through this sugar-detox, that the body requires natural sugars in order to operate, but sometimes even natural sugar is not what is looking for.
One of the best alternatives I have found for sugar cravings is the sunflower seed. They are energizing, warming, and eaten alone*, can be cleansing.
Next time you are about to reach for that sugary treat… ask yourself what you are really craving. Is it:
Or are you:
tired? cranky? irritable? emotional? anxious? or stressed?
If so… reaching for that snickers bar, soda pop or slice of pizza is the last thing your body needs (not to mention that it never needs any of those things). Those foods provide us with no nutritional value and only spike our energy levels up, just to knock them down again. It is a never ending cycle. Don’t feed the beast… nourish your cells!!
The next time you are feeling low, I suggest grabbing a small handful of seeds (or almonds)… you’ll be surprised by the amount of energy those little guys provide *
- Freshly pressed veggie juice with apples or carrots to sweeten
- 2-4 oz of raw seeds and nuts and perhaps a small handful of unsweetened, and unsulphured dried fruit.
* See my guide to “combining”, in the “My Philosophy” section.