In Part 1, we discussed the importance of determining a plan — either going through a complete detox or a weaning schedule — for cutting back on sugar. Once you’ve determined what will work best for you, you need to anticipate going through a form of withdrawal. Now, we’ll explore more of what sugar withdrawal means and how you can fight it.
Countering the Emotions of Withdrawal
For many, sugar withdrawal often includes feeling anxious or irritable. So to prepare for sugar withdrawal, you should probably ask yourself what usually helps you to feel calm and happy (besides sugar, that is), as well as what can contribute to negative emotions. Try to eliminate any added triggers during the sugar detox period and plan in some soothing, enjoyable activities to help mitigate the difficult feelings you’re bound to experience. Perhaps spend time planning to celebrate when you’ve reached a landmark in your sugar-elimination journey.
Understanding Toxic Hunger
The term “toxic hunger” can be used to describe one of the uncomfortable (and confusing) withdrawal symptoms you can expect to encounter as you reduce your sugar intake — whether you do it by stages or with a more drastic detox-style change. After eating a full meal, you can still feel something similar to hunger. But it’s not real hunger; instead, this toxic hunger is a natural system of addiction-withdrawal. Of course, your natural tendency will be to interpret it as real hunger and do what you do when you’re hungry — eat more. If you know it’s coming, you can endure it for a few days, knowing it will eventually lessen and then completely subside.
Countering the Sugar Rush with Slow Food
Oh, we love that rush of energy that comes with sugar, don’t we?! While every sugar rush comes with a crash, foods that are more slowly digested offer more long-lasting satisfaction. Slow fats and complex carbs offer your body a steady stream of calories flowing through your blood stream, acting to stop the never-ending cycle of sugar rush, energy crash, sugar craving, sugar rush, etc.
But it’s not just sugar that contributes to that vicious cycle. So do simple carbs, such as fruit juice, white bread, and pasta. Those kinds of foods are converted into sugar, causing a spike in glucose levels, which in turn prompts a spike in insulin. Salty and oily foods will also sabotage your efforts, inevitably resulting in excess fat storage and continual sugar cravings.
Planning Ahead for Success
The best slow foods to start incorporating into your diet are nuts, seeds, and beans. A beginning goal is to eat at least a half cup of beans and a serving of both intact whole grains and complex-carb veggies as well as two ounces of nuts or seeds each day. You can increase your chances of following through by planning meals and cooking ahead of time. For instance, you can dedicate some time each weekend to cooking up a complex-carb veggie, portioning out nuts or seeds into 2-ounce servings, and cooking up a pot of chili, bean soup, or another mixed vegetable dish.
Perhaps instead of splurging on dessert, you can spend a little extra on a nutty gourmet salad dressing or on favorite fruits. If you’re on Pinterest, you can stop pinning sugary desserts and start trying to find simple, savory vegetable recipes that look appealing.
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