Sugar Detox Challenges

I’m on sugar free day 7, feeling amazing and power walking around Vancouver’s beautiful seawall.

The first few days were rough, feeling low energy, foggy thinking and wanting to go home to sleep for most of the day. It truly felt like a typical detox from an addictive substance. Day 4 was better. And now I’m feeling really good and really energized. I’m also spending my spare time researching the effects of sugar on the human body. Did you know that the average North American eats 20 tsp of added sugar per day? 20 teaspoons!! Think about how much that is for a moment. And that’s not fruit sugar.

That’s cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and other refined, processed sugars. 20 teaspoons of sugar is not going to do your body good. That amount will mess with your blood sugar, your hormones and your mood. How can people be eating so much? Try checking the labels of pretty much any packaged food and you’ll find sugar lurking there in some form. Soups, salad dressing, condiments, drinks. There it is. So, before you know it, you’re consuming several teaspoons without even knowing it. I’ve definitely been scrutinizing labels the last week and it’s been an eye~opener.

Step one on a sugar~free journey: Read Labels

Food Combining

 I’ve recently tried food combining. I’ve been struggling with pesky digestive issues lately, and by lately I mean the past few years. So I decided to see if this method of eating would help my bloated belly feel better.

Spoiler alert! It did.

What is food combining? It is the belief that protein and starches digest at different rates and, if eaten together, cause a sludgy build up of undigested food in the gut. This build up can lead to an unhealthy gut, bad bacteria, disease and allergies.

There are a few major rules around food combining and here they are:

  • Only eat fruit on an empty stomach, especially melons.
  • Don’t combine starches and protein.
  • Don’t combine starches with acidic food.
  • Try not to combine too many different types of protein.
  • Only consume dairy products on an empty stomach.

The last rule is to wait at least three hours ~ preferably four ~ between eating starch and protein.

This may sound like a lot of rules but food combining is relatively easy, and delicious, once you get used to it. And if you’re suffering from gut issues and their symptoms, it’s so worth putting the extra thought into your meal plans.

It can be as easy as eating that burger wrapped in lettuce “paleo style” or having your pasta dish with vegetable only tomato sauces.

The benefits of food combing is so worth the extra effort. Here are a few:

  • Kick ass digestion
  • Improved nutrient absorption
  • Glowing skin
  • In cases of overweight – weight loss

Who doesn’t want at least a few of these benefits?

Sugar and your brain

I’ve been sugar-free for a few days and already I’m starting to feel, well, sharper. My memory seems better and my afternoon brain fog is gone. Is this because of my no-sugar eating plan I wondered? So, I googled sugar and brain health and this is what I found.

Not only is sugar bad for your weight, skin and heart, but also your brain.

And here’s what will happen to your brain when you give up sugar:

You may experience cravings – Possibly intense cravings.

I’m writing this blog post on day 3 of my no-sugar lifestyle and, although I slept like a little log last night (a sugar-free bonus) my head is pounding today. And I never, ever get headaches..well, unless I’m hungover and I’m certainly not hungover today. Nope, I suspect this is good old sugar withdrawal. Since sugar helps release the feel-good chemical serotonin in your brain, giving sugar up temporarily depletes your levels of the happy chemical until your body adjusts and manufactures more on its own.

I know this headache and slightly off feeling will only last a few days so I’m staying strong, but on my way home tonight I had a fantasy about opening a bottle of maple syrup and drinking it straight from the bottle (I’ve actually done this before. More than once). So, yes, you may experience intense sugar cravings for a few days.

Your memory and learning skills will improve.

A 2012 UCLA study on rats found that a diet high in sugar impairs learning and memory by literally slowing down the brain by stopping communication between brain cells. I personally don’t feel extraordinarily smarter these past three days but I totally believe that sugar does negatively affect the brain, especially in people who are sensitive to it, so I’ll keep you posted!

 

Your depression and anxiety will lessen.

If you’ve ever had a sugar binge, followed by a sugar crash, you know up close and personal the feelings of crankiness, mood swings, tiredness and brain fog. This has happened to me on more afternoons than I care to count. And it all happens because eating a piece of chocolate cake or drinking a soda causes blood sugar levels to spike and then crash. This is exactly how sugary food messes with the neurotransmitters that keep our moods calm and stable. I’m definitely looking forward to less afternoons of feeling like I’ve hit a wall, very hard.

 

You can worry less about age-related cognitive decline and/or dementia.

There is a body of research showing that a sugar-filled diet increases the risk of cognitive decline as we age as well as developing Alzheimer’s disease. I don’t know about you but Alzheimer’s is one disease that I have watched older relatives suffer from and that I will do anything to avoid getting. If giving up sugar is insurance against future dementia, I’ll buy that insurance, thank you very much. Find out more about the research here.

So, to summarize, these are a few of the sneaky ways that sugar can affect your health, happiness and your entire life. It is now thought to affect our brains in a similar way as cocaine and other opiates.

And even though I’m typing away through an annoying headache and occasionally day dreaming about chugging maple syrup straight out of the bottle, I’m also so excited to see how I’ll be feeling in a few weeks.

Until next time.

Post Holiday Detox Bowl

I started this holiday season full of strength and resolve and my will power lasted quite a while. Right up until someone place a warm, fresh plate of ginger snaps under my nose. Now, after a few weeks of gooey dark chocolate, bread pudding, hot chocolate with (extra) whipped cream and 1st, 2nd and 3rd helpings of holiday meals, I’m back on the path of balance and health.

If you were a little over-indulgent this Christmas season too, here is a green, detox recipe full of vitamins and anti-oxidants to get your day off to a great start:

Detox Smoothie Bowl

  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen mangos
  • 2 T shredded coconunt
  • 2 T hemp seeds
  • 2 T your favourite greens powder

Blend, top with mangos and coconut garnish and get back on track with this delicious and nourishing bowl!

Polar Bears & Smoothies

Happy New Year!

I had an amazing New Year’s Day doing the polar bear swim in English Bay.



  
Now it seems like the holidays are long gone but lots of us are still carrying reminders of all of the feasting and parties around with us in the form of soft, squishy muffin tops. And if you’re like me, the feeling of wearing too tight clothing is annoying the heck out of you and you’re thinking of ways to make your “winter weight” disappear.

A solution? Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie Challenge.

Just drink one of these smoothies every morning for 14 days and, from what I’ve read, your mood will improve, your body will get sleeker, and your energy levels will skyrocket.

Interested? Join the Facebook group “Beauty Detox Group” and dust off your blender.

A little glow in January is a beautiful thing.