If you can’t get going in the morning without a sugary coffee, need a treat to boost your energy in the afternoon and have tried and failed to cut down on eating carbs, then you could be a sugar addict.
It’s no secret that too much sugar is bad for our health. The NHS recommend about 70g of sugar a day for men and 50g for women but many of us are exceeding this.
Either by regularly indulging in treats such as cakes or thanks to ‘hidden sugars’ in products like low-fat yoghurts, excess sugar consumption can cause weight gain, energy slumps and even wrinkles.
So what’s the secret to cutting down on the sweet stuff? Nutritionist Brooke Alpert and dermatologist Dr Patricia Farris say they can help people kick the habit with their new book, The Sugar Detox.
They are aware of how our sugar addiction is ‘making us fat and sick, and is prematurely ageing our skin’ – but say you can start to reverse the effects in just three days.
They write: ‘Sugar truly is addictive: Your body reacts to it like a drug and craves it constantly. What we’re asking you to do is to quit – cold turkey.’
Alpert and Dr Farris explain the numerous benefits of cutting down on sugar from losing weight to having more energy and looking younger – because of the adverse effect too much sugar can have on the skin.
Their Three-Day Sugar Fix involves: ‘no dairy, no fruit aside from lemon or lime, no wheat or starches, and no added sugars.’
This means for the first three days, breakfast consists of eggs – scrambled or poached – lunch is salads, such as tuna nicoise or poached chicken on a bed of leaves, and dinner comes in the form of protein, such as grilled fish, chicken or Tofu, with a selection of vegetables.
The only snacks allowed over the three days include nuts and pepper sticks with hummus and you can only drink green/herbal tea and one black coffee with no added sugar per day (along with lots of water that can be jazzed up with a slice of lime).
While they admit sticking to the plan is not easy, they believe going ‘cold turkey’ and cutting out all sugar – including that found in fruit – for three days is necessary to set people on the right path.
They explain the rationale: ‘After seeing the Three-Day Sugar Fix meal plan and shopping list, you might think that the Sugar Detox is just another low-carb diet.
‘It’s true that the Three-Day Sugar Fix doesn’t allow you any bread, rice, or pasta, but that is because starchy carbohydrates are a major contributor to sugar addiction.
‘We replace them with good carbohydrates that are full of fiber, come from vegetables, and can actually help lower your blood sugar. You may also have noticed that we’re not offering a low-carbohydrate diet where you can eat tons of fatty protein, such as bacon and steak.
‘Instead, we give you lean, low-fat protein options and plenty of vegetables that will fill you up without weighing you down and clogging your arteries.’
After the initial three-day detox, some sugar is then re-introduced as the diet progresses to make it more manageable.
While healthy eaters may lament the loss of fruit in the three-day plan, the writers explain why it’s necessary:
‘How can something be considered bad if it comes from nature? That’s a common question we get, regarding why we limit the amount of fructose you can have. Fructose is one of three major dietary monosaccharides (a monosaccharide is the simplest form of sugar), also known as single sugars.
‘While, calorie for calorie, single sugars look the same to the body, fructose has been shown to have a different effect on the body’s metabolism than other single sugars. When the body is presented with fructose, it does not use it as an energy source.
‘Instead, the fructose is metabolised exclusively by the liver, where some of it is turned into fat and stored. This is why consuming too much fructose from baked goods, sugary cereals, or products that contain high-fructose corn syrup contributes to development of a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
‘If fructose is consumed in liquid form, such as some fruit juices, sodas, or flavored milks, then the sugar reaches the liver even quicker and even more fat storage occurs.’
After the first three days, the writers recommend a four-week eating plan, with recipes to help readers maintain a low sugar diet. They offer advice on how to avoid sugar when eating out and how you can still enjoy some of your favourite treats by combining them with certain sugar-burning foods.
Written by Lucy Waterlow and published on the Daily Mail, August 16, 2013.
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