Article by Dr Marilyn Glenville
The white death, the sweet poison… there is a reason why sugar received so much bad press recently. From weight gain, fatigue, acne and skin aging to Diabetes, heart disease, dementia and even cancer – sugar causes enormous harmful health effects. Unfortunately, we are a nation addicted to sugar. On average, we consume whooping 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is more than double what should!* It’s time to quit it once for good. The question is how?
Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading Nutritionist explains in her new book, Natural Alternatives to Sugar explains what can you expect from our body and mind when we go on The Five Day Sugar Detox. Are you ready?
The problem with sugar is….
‘If you eat up all your greens, you can have pudding’ – how many times have you heard this? From early age we associate sugar with comfort, rewards and love. ‘By the time we have grown up, the pattern is often set. We reward ourselves with a chocolate bar and we comfort ourselves with ice cream. Sugar has the same effect on the reward centres of the brain as opiates – no wonder it’s so addictive. The problem is that, no matter how often you might say to yourself, ‘this is crazy! Stop treating yourself with sugar’, your brain simply won’t take it in.’
This detox gives you the chance to break that pattern and to start to rewire your neural pathways so you can begin to reward yourself with choices that are cleaner, healthier, and kinder to your body and mind.
Ready… steady… go!
Does even a thought of not having digestives with your tea stress you out? To make The Sugar Detox work you need to treat it as a chance to reboot your metabolism not just another diet. ‘Look on this as a chance to rethink the way you eat; an opportunity to recalibrate your metabolism and a way of reprogramming your taste buds to appreciate a variety of tastes in your food, rather than just sweetness. In fact, it’s a very real gift for your body, mind and mood.’
So the question is: what do you gain? Apart from loosing weight there are endless health benefits you can expect after giving up on sugar. ‘Sleep almost invariably improves, as do stress levels as your blood sugar and hormone levels start to balance. Your skin will look clearer and brighter, your face may well lose any puffiness and your eyes will become clearer. These are just the external benefits! Inside, your body will be heaving a deep sigh of relief as it is able to reduce inflammation and allow hormones to return to better balance.’
As giving up any other addiction, giving up sugar isn’t easy – you will need to prepare yourself. Here are a few things you need to remember before you start your detox:
Treat those five days of your sugar detox as a ‘Me’ time ‘You will feel a little tired for the first few days so don’t plan anything too strenuous. It’s also great if you can schedule time off so you can incorporate some gentle exercise and feel-good sessions into your week. It can be tricky eating out on this regime so try to pick a time when you can prepare your own food.’
If your stomach is growling, you may be tempted to grab chocolate so make sure you have a meal before you shop. ‘Do as much as possible of your shopping in one trip, so you’re not tempted by sweet purchases on lots of shopping trips.’
Remember: out of sight out of mind. ‘Clear out your cupboards and fridge, to avoid temptation.’
Unfortunately, coffee has to go too. ‘Wean yourself off it over a week or so before starting the detox. Caffeine not only raises your stress hormones but it can also cause rise and then a drop in blood sugar as well as trigger either sugar cravings or an increase in appetite in general.’
Don’t forget to schedule in some exercise on this programme as it helps the detox effect. Think about things like yoga, Pilates, swimming, gentle toning classes.‘Keep it low-intensity as you are on a very low carb diet – and so you may not have the boundless energy you might usually have.’
Treat yourself to some feel-good pampering sessions during the detox. ‘Not only do they give you a psychological ‘reward’; they can also support your detox. Think: baths with essential oils, massages, steam baths and saunas that will help to sweat the toxins out.’
Side effects of Sugar Detox
Any type of detox often produces unpleasant side effects. ‘Don’t be alarmed though; it’s just your body throwing off toxins.’ So what can you expect? ‘Common side effects include: tiredness, interrupted sleep, headaches, furry tongue, spots, bad breath, upset stomach, and, obviously cravings.’
Unfortunately, you might also hit the wall at some point. ‘Most people who undertake this detox find they hit ‘the hump’ – usually on day three or four. You may feel physically or emotionally low – or both. Don’t panic and don’t give up – this is totally natural – and it shows the detox is really working!’
The five day sugar detox
So what are the rules of The Five Day Sugar Detox? Simply, follow this list of foods you can eat:
Green vegetables. Green really is your favourite colour on this detox. Load your diet with all types of green veg: bok choy, cabbage, kale, broccoli, courgettes, marrow, lettuce, rocket, green peppers, beans, seaweeds, peas, broad beans, sugar snap peas
White vegetables. Cauliflower, garlic, onions, leeks, celery, asparagus, fennel
Purple vegetables. Aubergine, purple sprouted broccoli, red cabbage
Good quality protein. Fish, organic eggs, seafood, quinoa, nuts, seeds, beans, tofu
Seeds and nuts, including nut butters and nut milks
Quinoa. Although this cooks up like rice it is actually a seed and not a grain. It is also a complete protein
Sprouted seeds and pulses
Coconut (fresh, oil, cream)
Herbs and spices
Olives and capers
Cider vinegar, olive oil, flaxseed oil
That really is it! You may be wondering why no starchy vegetables are included (carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes and potatoes)? ‘They are higher in carbohydrates (natural sugars) than the non-starchy vegetables mentioned in the list. Dairy is also excluded for the five days because most of the dairy products will contain lactose (milk sugar) and it is better to eliminate the different kinds of sugars.’
Water bottle should be your best friend during this detox. ‘Drink plenty of water in between meals. However, don’t dilute your digestive juices by drinking water or any liquids with meals. If you want a drink then have a drink 30 minutes before or after food.’
Congratulations! If you have followed the plan for five days, you should be feeling pretty amazing. Not only your skin is clearer but your tongue is probably nice and pink and clean too. Your stomach should feel flatter, less bloated and you most likely have lost quite a few pounds.
‘Now it’s time to start to re-introduce natural sugars into your diet over the next few weeks. Your taste buds will have changed over the last five days so be prepared for a surprise. Even simple foods like an apple will seem really sweet. Take time to focus on each food as you re-introduce it – savour it, enjoy it.’
Keep going with all the allowed foods you have been eating on the five day detox. In addition, you can add in starchy vegetables – parsnip, beetroot, carrot, sweet potato and squash. You can also add apples. Always make sure you have a little protein alongside (a few nuts or seeds maybe) to slow the sugar absorption.
Try and keep to your no-caffeine regime – your adrenal glands will thank you!
Now you can add in a little dairy produce. ‘Pay close attention to how your body feels with this. Many people are intolerant of dairy and you may find it gives you headaches or increased mucous. Keep portions small, at least at first. Try just adding in natural organic yogurt first of all as the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) will aid digestion of the lactose, the milk sugar, in the dairy food. You can also add in other fruits now, such as pears, but I would keep the tropical fruits likes mangos, papayas, bananas and grapes out at the moment.’
Now you can introduce wholegrains. ‘Brown rice, wholegrain basmati rice, organic porridge oats, millet, barley, rye and spelt. If you’re really craving bread, then add in organic rye bread (the dark type)’
Week 4 and beyond
You can include all kinds of fruit now – but remember to take some protein alongside them, to stop those sugar spikes. ‘You can also eat dried fruit – but you may find it too sickly now.’
Congratulations…. you’ve kicked your sugar habit for good!
Natural Alternatives to Sugar (£9.97, www.marilynglenville.com/books/; from all good independent health stores)