We all know that guzzling cans of soda, and noshing on bags of cookies isn’t great for our health. Refined and processed sugars contribute to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, and is one of the main problem-causers we see amongst those embarking on their first 21-Day Cleanse program. While small, infrequent amounts of processed sugar is not a health risk for most people, studies show that refined sugar may have addictive properties, and many of us struggle with limiting our sugar intake. How does the no-sugar diet plan measure up?
Sugar is everywhere
Refined sugar is found in virtually every processed food on the market, and you may be consuming more than you think: yogurt, breads (even whole grain), and pasta sauces all contain added sugar, as do most processed and prepackaged foods on supermarket shelves. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the average American eats 13 to 20 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is double the daily recommended amount of no more than 6 teaspoons per day for women, and 9 teaspoons for men.
What About Fruit?
When cleansing, we recommend most whole, natural fruits; we exclude oranges, grapefruit, grapes, strawberries, and bananas as these can be more allergenic, higher in pesticide residue, and higher in sugar. Overall, though, the natural sugars found in whole fruit are accompanied by fiber, which slows their digestion, and other vital nutrients and these have their place in a healthy and balanced diet. Some people slash fruit entirely on a no sugar diet plan, but we recommend whole, low-sugar fruits in moderation.
Cut Added Sugars
Added sugars are any additional sweeteners added to products by manufacturers to make them sweeter. Refined white and brown sugars, agave, honey, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrate, and brown rice syrup, are all examples of added sugars; on a no sugar diet plan these will all be eliminated entirely from your meal and healthy snack planning. If you desire some added sweetness try stevia instead.
Look for Hidden Sugars
Candies, brownies, ice cream, and sodas are all obvious foods to avoid in order to improve your health, but we also want you to aim a critical eye at processed foods in general. Learn to read food labels: you might be surprised to learn the added sugar is in virtually every prepackaged food on the market, from energy drinks and health bars, to barbecue sauce, salad dressings, and cereals. At Clean, we encourage a diet of whole foods while eliminating food sensitivity-causing items, such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, gluten, and dairy. It’s easy to make healthy substitutions as well.
Benefits of Cutting Out Sugar
So what can you expect once you eliminate the sugar from your diet? Sugar is known to cause inflammation in the body, and by ditching the sodas and cupcakes, you will see clearer and more youthful skin, improved cardiovascular health, and better mood, improved sleep, and mental clarity. You will also have an easier time shedding any excess pounds you have to lose, and you are far less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, and certain cancers.
If the task of eliminating added sugars from your diet seems daunting, take it step-by-step. One of the best things you can do is give up drinking sugar in the form of sodas. Start replacing junk foods with whole, fresh, and natural foods. Get some whole, low-sugar fruit into your meal plan each day, and notice the improvements in your health and your skin as you go. Use the progress you make each day to inspire you to keep going, and focus on making positive and consistent changes over time.
Written by Carolyn De Lorenzo
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