I know about healthy eating and still, I often don’t act like I know about it. I’m guilty of having a sweet tooth, and many times I’ve given in to this sweet tooth. But, on May 1st, I joined a 5-day sugar detox challenge hosted by food blogger Lennis Perez from Cook Dance Love Live. And guess what? I made it! It wasn’t even that difficult. Since then, I’ve been very excited to learn about the topic of living sugarless, and I’m so happy that Lennis has answered 10 questions about sugar and sugar detox for today’s blog post.
If you don’t understand why people make the effort to give up sugar or reduce their sugar intake, then have a read!
When did you do your first sugar detox and why?
Lennis: I did my first sugar detox in 2009, right after Halloween. I ate so much candy I ended up having a sugar crash that lasted for days. My head hurt, my stomach hurt, I just felt terrible. I knew it was because of all the excess sugar I had that day, so I decided it was time to treat my body like it deserved and give it a detox.
Do you currently avoid sugar, if so what types?
Lennis: I avoid added sugars as much as possible. I definitely stay away from high sugar content foods like sodas, candy, ice cream, and cookies. I am always looking at the ingredients of packaged food and if it has added sugars, especially high fructose corn syrup, or fruit juice concentrate I don’t buy it.
We’ve seen other bloggers do sugar detox challenges for 30 or 40 days and never managed to sign up. Why did you choose to make a 5-day challenge?
Lennis: Great question! I felt that 5 days could be manageable, plus easier for people to commit. A lot of times our weekday routines are pretty stable, then the weekends we have social events which make it a lot harder to manage when you are trying to detox from sugar. Also, I wanted the participants to create awareness about sugar and if they possibly had a sugar addiction. 5 days gives you enough indication on what things you need to be mindful of when it comes to added sugars.
Why is sugar so bad for us? Why should I do a sugar detox although my teeth are good and I don’t need to loose weight?
Lennis: Sugar is a very addictive substance, and it doesn’t provide any nutritional value, it actually makes you crave more sugary treats. Ultimately your insulin levels are messed up and you slowly start gaining weight. Down the road, do this for years and you increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Your pancreas and liver get overwhelmed trying to process the excess sugar, which causes higher fat storage in your body and liver itself. Overall, nothing good comes out of eating added sugar. Doing a sugar detox helps balance your whole body, especially your internal system, including your brain, organs and even arteries. Plus you will notice your energy levels will be more steady throughout your day.
your body comes into balance and you feel great, with more energy, a lot more focused
What do you hope people will do after the challenge? Will most go back to eating sugar as they usually do, or do you think they will be more aware of their sugar consumption?
Lennis: I would like to think that most people will create an awareness that will help them stay away from sugar, or at least reduce the amount they usually consumed. Once you do a sugar detox, and your body comes into balance and you feel great, with more energy, a lot more focused, if you go back to eating the same amount of sugar you did before you will start noticing the lack of energy and the cravings come back.
What is a special treat for you?
Lennis: Chocolate, beer and wine are things that I cut off when I do sugar detox, so when I’m done I usually have a glass of wine or a good beer and definitely a piece of dark chocolate. I only consume alcohol in moderation during the weekends, I avoid drinking wine or beer during the week because I know it will throw me off balance and make me more tired during the week.
How do you manage cravings?
Lennis: I always have dates and bananas available. You’ll see them in my purse, in my office and in my house. When I am craving sweets during a sugar detox, I eat a few dates and that is usually enough. If I am not on a sugar detox my treat is a small square of dark chocolate.
How do you manage your surroundings – for example, what do you eat when you’re travelling, or when your friends and family have a different diet than the diet you want to follow?
Lennis: If I know I will be exposed to surroundings that don’t support my sugar detox, I bring healthy snacks and tons of fruits. If I am travelling I usually go to the grocery store and buy some food there. If I have to go to dinner with clients, for example, I certainly skip dessert and order lighter foods like salads with the dressing on the side. Usually, when I explain to people why I eat the way I do, they are very understanding and most of the time will actually help me stick to it. There is always a sense of support and accountability from my surroundings, which is great.
What are your plans for consuming sugar this year? Are there any exceptions, or days that you feel it’s ok to indulge?
Lennis: On weekends, I usually allow myself to consume sugar from dark chocolate, wine or beer. But every year I do a 21 or 30-day sugar detox in November (the length depends on what my holiday plans are that year). At that point I know I will be exposed to a LOT of sugary treats because of the Thanksgiving holidays in the US, and it is easy to fall back into the sugar addiction.
The day before you kick-off your sugar detox try to prepare meals. This way you won’t fall into temptation and will avoid being hungry.
What are your best tips for others who want to take on the 5-day (or even longer) sugar detox?
Lennis: Stock up on fruits and dense vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, etc. The day before you kick-off your sugar detox try to prepare meals. This way you won’t fall into temptation and will avoid being hungry. Fruits are your best friends, they will help reduce your cravings. Hide or throw away any sugary treats you may have a home or in your office. Be gentle with yourself and watch the message you’re telling yourself. Putting too much pressure may cause anxiety which increases your chances of looking for comfort in food, especially sugary treats. And tell your friends, family and loved ones about what you are doing, most of the time they will hold you accountable to be successful and finish the detox for whatever length you decide. Trust me, you will never regret doing a sugar detox.
Thank you so much for your insights, Lennis! The 5-day sugar detox has clearly helped me to try out new foods, be more aware of what I’m eating and stick to my goal of avoiding added sugars.
Lennis has been blogging and sharing healthy and easy recipes on YouTube since 2016 and is certified for whole plant based nutrition. Cooking, natural foods and inspiring others to cook healthily are her passions.
Image credits: Leon Ephraim, Unsplash