If you are like me, you probably ate too much sugar over the holidays. Oops. It happens.
But the aftermath of a sugar bender, or even long-term sugar addiction, usually looks something like this:
• Weight gain
• Skin breakouts
• Yeast infections
• Candida (click this link for symptoms of Candida)
• Sugar cravings
• Anxiety and depression
• Blood sugar highs and lows
• Hormonal imbalance
• Cortisol spikes, adrenal fatigue
Here's the deal: sugar creates a toxic cycle in your body, similar to the effect of drugs. You eat the sugar. Your blood insulin rises. You get the sugar high—dopamine in the brain, a calming effect, and a general good feeling. But then, your blood insulin drops drastically. You feel worse than before—depression, anxiety, fatigue, and restlessness set in. You need something to pick you up. So you are craving sugar, and you eat more sugar. In the meantime, your body is storing the sugar as fat, your body is becoming inflamed and secreting excess cortisol, and your acidity increases, all of which make you crave more sugar. And the cycle continues. If left unchecked, it can turn into hypoglycemia and diabetes.
There is a way to turn it all around, but it takes a bit of work and dedication. Sugar is like a drug, and coming off drugs is no small task. But you can do this, and the rewards are well worth the effort. I have put together Saltwater Chef’s sugar cleanse to help kick-start the New Year. (Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and these are only the opinions of Saltwater Chef. Visit your doctor before beginning this cleanse, and have your doctor review this cleanse and your medications to determine if this program is right for you.)
Here are just a few of the benefits of coming off sugar:
• Weight loss
• Clearer skin
• Increased energy and mood
• Craving healthy food
• Better sleep
• Decreased inflammation and lower risk of sickness
• Increased mental clarity and focus
• Lowered risk of heart disease
To start, do yourself a huge favor, and get rid of all sugar in your house. Read labels. Sugar is in EVERYTHING.
Just like an alcoholic going off the sauce, throw out the cookies, the ice cream, the sugar-loaded coffee creamer, sodas, sports drinks, all of it. Kick it to the curb. This is crucial because when you begin to go off sugar, like an alcoholic going off alcohol, your body is going to fight back with a vengeance. You will be fine for a few days, but then, depending on your level of sugar addiction, you will become moody, depressed, and will crave sugar in a bad way. So get it out of the house so it is not an option.
To begin, let’s talk about what to omit while detoxing from sugar:
• All sugary foods: coffee creamers, processed snack foods, desserts containing sugar, sweet tea, sodas, even some lunch meats
• Fruit (although fruit is good for you, the fructose will prolong the sugar craving cycle)
• Gluten of all kinds (even if you do not need to be gluten-free, gluten increases inflammation in the body)
• Grains (even gluten-free grains for 9 days)
• Sugar of all kinds—needless to say. This includes honey, molasses, palm sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, and all cane sugar.
• Caffeine (this can prolong the ups and downs of sugar cravings)
• White potatoes
• Dairy of all kinds, as dairy contains sugars and forms "mucus" in your gut
The next step is to retrain your tastebuds, detoxify your body, and load your body with healthy proteins, fats, and vegetables. Here is what you will be enjoying:
Meats, Fish, and Eggs
Protein keeps you full, reduces cravings, and helps to build muscle. Keep on hand at all times:
• Roasted chicken
• Boiled eggs
• Grass-fed beef
Coconut Oil and Monounsaturated Fats
Another crucial component of healing your body from sugar addiction and inflammation is incorporating healthy fats.
Coconut oil is the primary ingredient in the Saltwater Chef Sugar Detox. Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, as well as lauric acid and caprylic acid, all of which have strong antifungal properties that can kill Candida. Monounsaturated fats, which are found in nuts, avocados, and flaxseed oils, have a strong anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and soothing effect on your body. These fats also keep you full and help to reduce cravings. Often, when I am craving sugar, I will eat a spoonful of almond butter or hazelnut butter and it takes the edge off. Incorporate foods such as:
• Nuts and seeds
• Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive oil (here is a link to a delicious smoked, cold-pressed EVOO that tastes like bacon)
• Coconut oil
• Coconut cream
• Grapeseed oil
• Nut butters
• Flax seed oil (high in omega-3 fatty acids)
• Walnut, Almond, or Hazelnut Oil
Organic, Non-Starchy Vegetables and Herbs
You will want to avoid all fruit (except avocado) for the sugar cleanse, but go crazy with the organic vegetables. During the sugar-cleanse phase, this will only include non-starchy vegetables.
Keep a pitcher of filtered water on hand. Add 1–2 lemons and even some fresh mint. Try to consume about 1 gallon per day.
High Quality Protein Shakes
These will fill you up, provide your body with adequate protein, and satisfy sugar cravings. Quality protein meal-replacement shakes will also provide adequate vitamins and minerals for your body while you are recalibrating your system. Make sure the protein is of good qulaity—NOT from soy protein. Stick to undenatured whey, rice protein, pea protein, and hemp protein. I use undenatured whey shakes. Although I do not tolerate dairy well, the enzymes in the undenatured whey make my shakes highly digestible.
Chia seeds are a magical superfood, low in calories but jam-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Chia seeds form a gelatinous substance when added to liquid, and this “pudding” is made of hunger-satiating soluble fiber. Consuming chia seeds daily stabilizes insulin levels and reduces food cravings, but also nourishes your body with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Bone broths are a critical element to healing leaky gut syndrome, a condition that often accompanies autoimmune disorders and that can develop with Candida infestations. The gelatin in bone broth coats and heals the lining of the intestines. There is a post on the blog at SaltwaterChef.com for chicken stock, but you can use whatever bones you can get from your butcher (grass-fed, healthy meats only) and drink this broth throughout the day. Also, use bone broths as a base in your savory recipes.
Probiotics will restore the healthy flora balance in your gut and help your body digest food effectively, alkalize your body, and reduce inflammation.
Herbal Cellular Cleanse
Next, we are going to go through several days of a cellular cleanse (not a colon cleanse) to reset your body chemistry, create a more alkaline environment in your body, and remove stored toxins. A potent herbal cleanse will help your body efficiently and effectively and remove the toxins from your body that have been stored in the fat your body has produced. You can check out my blog for links to the cleanse I prefer. Be sure to use a cleanse that is gluten-free, sugar-free, and provides adequate vitamins and minerals to nourish you as you detox. Cellular cleanses use herbs, adaptogens, and nutrients to remove stored toxins from all of your body systems. These toxins are stored in fat—the fat keeps the toxins from penetrating the vital organs. It is a highly evolved survival mechanism. But guess what? Until you get rid of these toxins, you cannot get rid of the fat. The fat is performing a protective function and will not easily give up its role.
As you remove sugar from your diet, if there is Candida (see below), there will be a period of "Candida Die-Off," which can be brutal. This angry fungus will release toxins into your bloodstream and will fight back with more sugar cravings. A cellular cleanse will aid your digestive system and support your liver and kidneys as they work to cleanse your body from the destructive effects of sugar.
Rid Your Body of Candida, If Necessary
If you do indeed believe you have a Candida infestation, you will want to visit your doctor, and he or she may prescribe Diflucan or another prescription anti fungal. If a prescription is not necessary, but you feel you have symptoms of Candida infestation, be sure to add supplements with a combination of the following antifungal herbs (just not too much at once—you want to go easy with Candida die-off). The die-off process will release large amounts of toxins into your systems and can be hard on your body if done too quickly:
• Oregano oil
• Olive leaf extract
• Pau d’arco
• Black walnut
Here is a chart describing the daily protocol for the Saltwater Chef Sugar Cleanse. Check out my blog for clean, healthy sugar-free and gluten-free recipes you can use on the cleanse.