The start of a new year is a common time for us to reflect on what wasn't working in our lives previously, and take the necessary steps to change it for the coming year. One of the most common ways we do that in our society is with food.
In the past, I've helped groups of people looking to change the way they eat by leading them through Diane Sanfilippo's 21-Day Sugar Detox.
While I love focusing more on breaking the emotional bond to sugar, the physical benefits are an added bonus; but sticking to your guns and holding strong against the lure of sugar can be hard work. So, during a periscope live video, I talked about strategies to stay strong and committed during the 21-Day Sugar Detox and they were so good that I wanted to share them with you today.
3 tips to stay strong during a sugar detox:
Find your why.
There are two types of motivators: strong ones and weak ones. In order to commit to a new habit, you must have a strong motivator. Is your motivation strong enough to keep you on track when you're feeling stressed and reaching for that piece of chocolate?
When I started my first sugar detox, it was a couple years after I had switched to a gluten free diet. That diet shift made a huge impact in my health and I was finally able to stop taking pharmaceutical meds for Crohn's Disease (an autoimmune disease of the gut I had been diagnosed with five years prior). Going gluten free allowed the Crohn's to go into remission and I finally felt like I was getting healthier, instead of just cruising in neutral gear where my health was concerned.
But even though I was off of the crazy drugs, starting to get more energy, and digesting food better overall, there were a few stubborn symptoms that I really wanted to ditch: mainly skin symptoms like acne, eczema, and hives. I knew that sugar contributes to inflammation and that all of those skin symptoms are key indicators that there's too much inflammation in the gut still, so I figured I'd give it a shot.
For me, clearing up my skin and staying off the immuno-suppressant meds was a crazy strong motivator. It gave a purpose to my sugar detox and helped me make a commitment to it. Even when I did fall off the wagon once (and into a box of lemon wafer gluten-free cookies!) my motivation to get even healthier was strong enough to keep that slip-up from turning into a full-blown dive-bomb.
I've found that the two most common triggers for falling off a sugar detox wagon are stress and boredom. Now, stress is somewhat unavoidable (though practices like meditation can greatly help our bodies handle and adapt to stress), but avoiding boredom is completely within your control.
Consider that lengthy list of things you always say you'd do "If I just had the time..." Put that list to paper and take action. Have 15 min between phone meetings? Instead of wandering into the kitchen, ready to graze, you could: fold your laundry, prep a slow-cooker meal for dinner, write that email you keep putting off, clean out your car, or walk around the block. You'd be surprised at how much you can accomplish in 15 minutes.
Similarly, avoid snacking while watching TV or working on your laptop. Our focus is anywhere but our food when we do that, and it's extremely easy to mindlessly eat a whole bag of chips of something (be it a healthy option or not!) when you're distracted. Take a few minutes to portion out your snack and eat it at the table, really tasting and enjoying every bite. Paying attention to your food will help satisfy the craving better too.
Eat healthy fats.
You're used to getting that quick hit of energy from sugar over and over again throughout the day. Now those quick bursts of energy are gone and need to be replaced with a more sustainable energy source: fat. Fat provides long lasting energy for the body and triggers satiating hormones that tell our brain that we're full.
The best way to create long-lasting energy to fuel your body for the whole day and stave off cravings, is to eat some healthy fat at each meal and snack. This will keep your blood-sugar stable over the course of the day and give you the energy to perform both physical and mental tasks.
What might this look like? Here are some examples of healthy fats and how you could incorporate them into your meals:
- Scrambled eggs and avocado for breakfast
- Green apple and almond butter for a morning snack
- Grilled chicken Greek salad with feta cheese and kalamata olives for lunch
- Whole milk cottage cheese and carrot sticks for a snack
- Broiled salmon with mashed cauliflower and roasted asparagus in ghee for dinner
Having a sugar craving? Try eating a fat-filled snack and see if that satisfies it. A mug of canned coconut milk sprinkled with cinnamon is one of my favorite ways to calm a craving.
Are you thinking about taking the leap and cutting back on sugar? Download more of my tips below in my PDF guide: 7 Tips to a Successful Sugar Detox!
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**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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