Eating too much sugar may be the most apparent dietary faux pas you can make — after all, your body immediately feels the after effects of a sugar rush, and the inevitable dreaded crash that follows. Over time, however, your body may become accustomed to the copious amounts of sugar you consume, maybe without you even realizing it; added sugar has a funny way of sneaking into everyday items that you don’t even associate with being sweet. And since items high in added sugar are often lacking nutrients, eating sugary foods can often lead to uncontrolled weight gain over time. Before you know it, you may be unconsciously reaching for sugary sweet treats at the end of every meal (even if you are full!) as a love of sweets turns into an unhealthy sugar habit and extra pounds.
Stefani Sassos, MS, RD, a registered dietitian within the Good Housekeeping Institute, explains that excessive sugar can spike your blood sugar levels… and then turn into a sudden drop off afterwards. This is why you may feel super fatigued in the moment, or push through a huge mood swing, in any given afternoon. Over the long run, however, eating too much sugar can greatly influence your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, chronic dietary inflammation, and severe fatigue, among other physical risks. “There’s a ripple effect on your body, as it can get accustomed to lots of sugar,” she adds, citing habits like a daily office donut or sugary sweet coffee drink. “Over time, it becomes this difficult thing to decipher: Am I addicted to this, did I train my body to crave this food?”
You may believe that cutting out all sugar entirely from your diet is the best solution. Sassos, however, says this isn’t the case for those with years of unhealthy sugar habits under their belt: Simply cutting out sugar or cycling through compensatory behaviors (like “running it off” after eating third helpings of dessert) can lead to even more unhealthy eating patterns down the line. Whether you like to call it a detox or think of it more like a “reset,” she argues a long term lifestyle change is the surest way to kick the bad habit.
A sugar detox may help you bring your sugar consumption into moderation, away from the levels that average Americans consume in any given day. While Sassos notes that the American Heart Association recommends less than 25g (about six teaspoons) of sugar daily for women, and 36 grams (about nine teaspoons) for men, the organization notes that the average American consumes 77g; an immediate block on all sources of added sugar would be hard to sustain for most anyone, Sassos points out. You’ll need to work on reducing your intake slowly,targeting packaged foods that can be swapped with better-for-you alternatives.
It’s important to discuss any long-term changes to your diet with your primary healthcare provider before implementing lifestyle changes.
Below, we’re exploring the best ways to effectively “reset” your system in the short term, and encouraging more…