My “Sugar-Detox” Journey to Wellness
Jill Csillag, CI-CPT
Ah, sugar……the mere mention of the name invokes childhood memories of refreshing ice cream cones devoured on a hot summer’s day, sticky jelly donuts for breakfast, and pixie sticks (remember those?!) inhaled quickly immediately followed by that wonderful sugar rush.
Of course that “rush” was quickly followed by the infamous post sugar crash, which not only left you feeling tired and irritable, but also craving even more sugar.
There have been a lot of recent studies on sugar and it’s addictive qualities; there are even some theories out there that suggest sugar is more addictive than nicotine, heroin, and cocaine. Apparently high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do, therefore it is very hard to break the addiction cycle for good, especially considering how much sugar is actually present in the average American diet.
For me, I think of sugar addiction as the “CCC” hamster wheel — crave, consume, crash. Lather, rinse, and repeat. It’s very difficult to transition out of this cycle once you become accustomed to how your body feels on a high sugar diet.
As a personal trainer, who happens to be gluten and soy free, I was foolishly confident and perhaps a bit cocky that my diet was “clean” and free of simple sugars. That is, until I had the realization, that after every meal, regardless of how large or small, I was intensely craving sugar. BAD.
I begin to study, really take notice, of the food labels of the so called “clean” foods that were part of my everyday diet – shocker! My favorite organic gluten free/soy free breakfast cereal lists sugar as the second ingredient. Kefir, yogurts, cottage cheese blends, OJ, condiments such as “natural’ ketchup and BBQ sauce, heck even my favorite lunch meat contains high fructose corn syrup-GASP!
I decided then and there that I needed to get this sugar monkey off my back STAT. I consulted my dear friend Google and discovered something called the “21 Day Sugar Detox” which is supposed to purge your system from all sugar and carbohydrate cravings and get you back on track to a more natural Paleo way of eating. If you are interested, you can check out the book HERE.
I was ready to jump in full of enthusiasm, as it was time for a change!
I’m not going to lie – this plan is HARD. For the first 21 days you cannot have any sugar in any form, not even natural sweeteners such as honey or agave nectar. You cannot have any refined flours either, so cooking involves using different ingredients such as coconut flour and almond meal. The first four days were some of the longest days of my life, and I felt some pretty intense withdrawal symptoms, but you know what? I started to immediately feel better, so that kept me going despite the difficulty initially. I could tell subtle changes in my mood and energy levels, and my head began to feel clearer too. I’ve found different ways to prepare food and most of it has been really tasty!
Now I am well into the plan, actually past the 21 days but still going strong, with no intention of stopping anytime soon. I can taste the goodness of REAL food- the freshness of roasted cauliflower, the sweetness of a granny smith apple that had previously tasted so tart. My taste buds are alive and not dulled anymore by all the refined sugars I had been unconsciously eating for years. I’m full before my meal is over, and I no longer have that insatiable craving for something sweet post meal.
Eventually I will probably indulge in some type of natural sweeteners, whether it be some agave in my oatmeal, or perhaps some honey in my tea, and it won’t be the end of the world. I will enjoy natural sweeteners in small amounts and not harbor any guilt about it – after all, life is too short! It’s all about balance for me.
This experience taught me to pay very close attention to every single thing I consume. Sugar can be hidden in so many unexpected places, to it pays to educate yourself and read labels diligently. For me, sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup, has absolutely no dietary benefits and I will go to great lengths to avoid ever consuming it again!
My challenge for you this April is to examine your diet more closely- REALLY take a close look – and look for hidden sugars that your body does not need. I have a hunch that you will be as surprised as I was on this journey by what you discover, and ultimately feel much better once you can rid yourself of your sugar monkey too!
Be well, and best wishes on your journey!
A Dayton Ohio area trainer who will inspire you to be the best possible version of YOU, Jill Csillag, CI-CPT, is a Certified Personal Trainer through the Kenneth Cooper Aerobic institute. Her specialties include – but are not limited to – Athletic Training, Cardio Workouts, Core Training, Fat Loss, Fitness Assessment, Flexibility, Personal Training, Strength Training, General Fitness & Weight Loss.