sugar

How to do a sugar detox

Most dieting fads are eventually proven to be either ineffective or actually dangerous. One such fad is the “detox,” about which you have no doubt heard. Maybe you’ve even tried it. And maybe it made you feel better for a little while. But was this merely a placebo effect? If it wasn’t, and the detox actually helped, how long did the benefits last? Probably not very long.

While most detoxing regimens lack any evidence demonstrating their efficacy, there is one that some medical experts support, namely the sugar detox. Sugar is not good for us: we’ve known that for a long time. So it follows that eating less sugar, or hardly any sugar at all, will improve our health. You’d be hard pressed to find a doctor who says otherwise.

“What we’ve discovered in the last couple of years is that sugar is keeping us overweight,” dietitian and author Brooke Alpert told CNN. “It’s also a leading cause of heart disease; it negatively affects skin, and it leads to premature aging.”

There’s also the fact that sugar is addictive. CNN reports that roughly 10 percent of the US population are addicted to sugar. Moreover, many times we don’t even realize that what we’re eating contains a high amount of calories from sugar.

“There is no one person who wouldn’t benefit by eliminating added sugars from their diets,” said Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics and member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco.

Cutting out sugar can help you lose weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and simply feel better.

Conventional wisdom holds that it’s best to reduce your sugar intake gradually. But medical exerts are beginning to challenge this.

Alpert says it’s “ineffective to ask people to eat less of something when they’re struggling with this bad habit. You wouldn’t ask an alcoholic to just drink two beers.”

In her experience, quitting sugar overnight is a much more effective solution:

“What was so successful in getting my clients to kick their sugar habit was to go cold turkey. When they would go cold turkey, I wasn’t their favorite person, but the number one positive effect was that it recalibrated their palate. They could now taste natural sugars in fruits, vegetables and dairy that they used to be so dulled to.”

Here are Alpert’s sugar detox guidelines:

— no sugar for three days (including fruits, dairy products and artificial sweeteners)

— on day four, add one serving each of fruit and dairy, as well as some wine

— during the second week, add berries and another serving of dairy to your diet

— during the third week, add grains like barley and oatmeal, as well as a couple more servings of fruit; you can also have some dark chocolate

— during week four, eat two starches per day and up your wine intake to five glasses (per week, not per day!)

After four weeks, you may occasionally indulge in a sweet treat or dessert, and you may eat any fruit you want, since your sugar addiction should now be kicked.

So give it a shot. What do you have to lose besides some weight?