As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I know the science behind what happens to your body when you stop eating sugar. But I’ve been blown away by the real-world results from the women and men who have completed my 21-day sugar and processed food detox.
Did you know…
The average American eats 170 pounds of sugar
Since January, I’ve lead three groups on a 5-week nutrition journey as part of the RESTART program. And every time I tell people what to expect from the class, I feel like I’m waving a magic wand around with all the lofty promises that will happen when you give your body a break from sugar.
Note: Things like bread, cereal, cookies and alcohol
convert to sugar in your body.
Here’s the deal though. It’s not magic, it’s a fact. And it happens a lot more easily than you’d think. Some of the things that happen to your body without sugar you’d expect. Others, you’d never realize were connected.
That’s why I wanted to share the 11 things that happen to your body when you stop eating sugar.
- You don’t get hangry. Foods like bread, cereal and low-fat flavored yogurt are filled with sugar, which means you feel great right away (think ‘sugar high’), but then, you get the ‘sugar crash’ and feel cranky and irritable until you eat something again. Sugar and refined carbs are quick burning fuels, kind of like kindling on a fire. But by swapping those foods with protein and healthy fats, you have a steady stream of long burning energy. Another plus? You won’t be thinking about what to eat next all the time.
- You also stop craving sugar. Most people I ask say they could never give up sugar and bread. But after a few days of no sugar or processed food, people in my RESTART classes usually find that their cravings go away. That’s because sugar is one of the most addictive substances out there, as addictive as cocaine. And when you stop eating it, you usually stop craving it.
- You don’t have to count calories. Most of us are programmed to count calories/fat grams/carbs/etc. But when you take out sugar and refined carbs and add in real whole foods like protein, healthy fats and non-starchy veggies, you can essentially eat whatever you want — as long as what you want isn’t a whole jar of almond butter. That’s because foods like nuts and nut butters are easy to over-eat, so enjoy these foods in moderation.
- You sleep better. When you eat sugar and refined carbs all day long, your body constantly releases a combo of insulin and cortisol to regulate it. The cortisol release overnight disrupts your sleep (it also tells your body to store fat). But when you eat a balanced diet of healthy carbs like veggies, protein and healthy fats, your hormones are more balanced, which allows you to sleep better. Here’s a more thorough explanation of how cortisol affects sleep.
- Your skin clears up. Sugar is extremely inflammatory. That means when you eat sugar, your body is triggered to have a chronic, low-level immune response that causes inflammation. This systemic inflammation is known to cause all sorts of issues, including breakouts, so get the sugar out of your diet. And drink more water if you really want to keep your skin clear.
- Your joints don’t hurt. It’s the same inflammation issue as we talked about in #5 above. When you eat sugar and processed foods (and bad-for-you processed and rancid oils) the inflammation in your body makes your joints feel achier. Also, people who eat a lot of sugar and carbs usually eat less fat — and fat can be anti-inflammatory in addition to cushioning your joints. See more benefits of eating fat here.
- You have more energy. A lot of people tell me they don’t have time to cook after work. I get it. I’m a busy working mom myself. But after a few days without sugar draining all of your energy, you suddenly find more time, because you’re not as exhausted. This has to do with the sugar highs and sugar crashes messing with your energy levels.
- You feel less anxious. There’s a huge connection between the health of your gut, inflammation, your nervous system and anxiety. Eating sugar creates a cascade of effects that cause inflammation in the brain — and this inflammation can lead to anxiety and other mood disorders. After removing sugar and processed foods, my clients and RESTARTers always share how calm and peaceful they feel.
- You think more clearly. The brain fatigue you feel at the end of a busy day is similar to what you experience after eating sugar. Your blood sugar raises really high, then crashes down low — away from your brain where you need it. Plus, you have increased inflammation, which messes with your brain function. When you eat a steady amount of healthy fats, protein and carbs, your energy levels are steady and so is your thinking.
- You have more confidence. This ties into #8 and #9 above. The calmness and clear-headedness I described, plus not feeling tired and achy all the time helps you feel more confident. In fact, in my classes I usually have people measure their confidence and energy levels instead of keeping track of inches or pounds.
- You might need to lower your prescriptions. Any time you change your diet dramatically, it’s important to work with a healthcare professional. By removing sugar, refined carbs and other inflammatory foods, there’s a good chance you’ll need to lower your medications too. I consistently have people in my class tell me were able to lower their diabetes medicine, blood pressure medicine and completely eliminated their need to take a sleep aid.