Our 7-Day Sugar Free Challenge begins on April 23rd!
That means no processed sugars for one week.
The purpose of this challenge is to encourage you to be more conscious of what you are feeding your body with. Reading past the labels and reading the actual ingredients on what you purchase. Familiarizing yourself and learning to recognize other names for processed sugars.
It is to help you realize that you do not need processed sugars in your diet to enjoy your food. It is to help you discover healthier alternatives to meet your sugar cravings.
And finally, it is learning how to approach nutrition with a balanced mindset.
Why you should cut out sugar from your life:
If you haven't already heard why processed sugar is bad for your health, here's a few reminders.
1. Sugar causes weight gain. One study found that people who increased their sugar intake gained about 1.7 pounds in less than 2 months.
2. Sugar is addicting. Eating sugar gives your brain a big surge of dopamine, a feel-good chemical. This is what causes the cravings for sugar, because your brain wants more and more sugar to receive the same feeling of pleasure.
3. Higher intakes of sugar have been linked to greater risk of depression in adults.
4. Sugar causes inflammation in the body, which can cause joint pain. Sugar can also increase your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
5. Sugar ages your skin faster. Sugar attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and creates harmful molecules that can damage collagen and elastin in your skin. This means more wrinkles and saggy skin.
6. Too much sugar can cause your liver to become resistant to insulin, meaning that it can lead to type 2 diabetes.
7. Sugar increases your risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes.
8. Sugar can lead to kidney damage if you have diabetes.
9. Chronically high levels of sugar in the bloodstream can make men impotent.
What to avoid:
For the challenge, avoid any type of processed sugar or substitute. Take a look at all the different kinds and names of sugars.
Please note that stevia is not listed here. Although the plant leaves of stevia itself can be a good substitute for a sweetener, you need to be aware that there are many advertised "stevia" products that are processed, bleached, and can be just as bad for you as normal sugar.
If you would like to use stevia, you should find a naturally derived stevia, which is most likely in a liquid form.
How to Prepare Yourself for the Challenge:
1. Eliminate temptations. Check through products you purchase often that are already in your home-- breads, chips, crackers, cereals, sauces, dressings, etc. Unless you are already very conscious about this, you will probably find some form of sugar as listed above in it.
Put the foods that you currently have that have sugar in it aside or in the back of your pantry or fridge for the week. Freeze foods like bread if you think it may go bad. And of course, clear out sugary desserts-- cookies, icecream, etc.
2. Stock up! With healthy foods of course. You want to keep yourself nourished, satisfied, and happy during the week to help ease the cravings and withdrawals that you will likely experience.
When you go to the grocery store and are buying products that involve a list of ingredients, take your time to actually read through the ingredients, not just the label. Look for any sugar derivatives and try to avoid that product if possible. Also note that there are many products that claim to be "sugar-free". Most of the time, this is NOT true-- they usually just contain a type of sugar labeled under a different name, so it is very important to read the ingredients!
While you are reading through ingredients, you will probably notice other ingredients as well, including preservatives or maybe things you cannot pronounce. Familiarizing yourself with ingredients will help you to become more conscious about what you are feeding your body!
3. Prepare for cravings. Try to stop cravings with a piece of fruit, or something with healthy fats like nuts or avocado.
If you really need something sweet, or need to break the challenge, try going for healthier alternatives to sugar. We suggest using these alternatives in general when you are wanting to make or eat something sweet.
These are sweeteners that we think are ok in moderation:
- Natural Stevia
- Coconut Sugar
- Coconut Nectar
- Pure Maple Syrup
- Monk Fruit Extract
* This does not mean you should just replace all other sugars with these alternatives. Try to challenge yourself to make it through the week without any sugars other than the natural sugar from fresh fruit. We listed these alternatives in the event (hopefully after the 7 Day Challenge!) that when you do decide to eat or make something sweet, that you try a healthier alternative.
We hope that you make it through the 7 Day Challenge so that you can feel your best! Just remember that in the end, good health is about balance. Try to purchase and eat consciously, but don't beat yourself up about it if you make a few wrong decisions.
Preparing for Symptoms of Sugar Withdrawal
You may experience withdrawal or detox symptoms due to the addictive nature of sugar.
Take a quick read at this article discussing 9 symptoms you will most likely experience, and how to cope or remedy them.
How to Help Curb Cravings
20 tips on how to ease and eliminate sugar cravings. Read here.