As a kid, eating dessert every night was a ritual. We made tea from the loose tea leaves that my dad brought back from Sri Lanka, brewed for precisely five minutes; then we’d dig into the cake or pie. After school, watching He-Man take on Skeletor, there was sugary cereal or brownies. At bedtime, there were bowls of ice cream.
I hated orange juice, would never have drank it during the day. But sometimes at night I would wake up with an absolute need to get to the kitchen as fast as possible and slam an entire glass of juice.
My blood sugar was low.
This was just the cultural norm. My parents didn’t know (come to think of it, that tea probably had caffeine – given to young children two hours before bedtime; no one worried about such things). They did great. They grew their own vegetables and had us sit down to three balanced meals a day. They took us to Disney.
We all need sweetness, and the sweet taste, in our lives. When I say “sugar detoxification”, what I mean is detoxing from the refined white sugar and corn syrup stuff. You know it when you see it, or when you chew it in the form of a Swedish Fish. Yum. So hard on our bodies though. And alcohol is basically turbocharged sugar.
Many of us are searching for (or grew up lacking) that sweetness in life, and we can find it quickly and easily in sugar and alcohol. Since sugar and alcohol are so wearing to our bodies, we need to find other ways to become intoxicated with life. It has been said that Ayurveda is practiced for health, and Yoga for spiritual awakening. And it has also been said that people with dependency issues are spiritual seekers who have found that “feeling” through drugs/sugar/booze. The problem comes when substances don’t give us that feeling for long, and then we are back to where we started.
Yoga or meditation might set the tone for an amazing day. Or even hot lemon water first thing. We feel that we have cared for ourselves. And the ball might keep rolling.
We never know what small action will trigger bigger actions and begin to really catapult us to the next stage.
We want to feel better. It makes sense. Until going without (insert vice) feels better than indulging, it makes sense to indulge! But if we can figure out how we can use habits to add in healthy practices, and we begin to feel better and better, old habits will fall to the wayside. That can require some powering through. Some getting support. Some room for slip-up.
‘Tis the season for so many sugary treats. Sometimes the holiday season is a good time to swear off these treats completely. Then, you don’t have to make the choice. This year, without holiday parties, maybe it’s perfect timing. I did it one December and was able to wear a great dress for Christmas.
Start with a few of the suggestions below and build from there. Beginning new habits or reversing old ones requires energy. Go easy.
Sugar Detox Guidelines
- No Alcohol – if stopping an issue, it can be the only thing on this list you do (unless the others activities/foods assist with stopping alcohol)
- No soda; substitute sparkling water, eventually no carbonation is goal
- Eat fruit and whole grains – will gently bring the body down from sugar
- Eat dairy (except sugary yogurt & if it doesn’t agree with you)
- Eat lots of warm, hearty foods; include root vegetables (think casseroles)
- Eat three meals a day; lunch biggest meal
- Eat mindfully & only eat, no distractions (except talking with loved ones)
- Drink CCF tea (Coriander, Cumin, Fennel seeds boiled & strained)
- Get extra rest
- Get outside daily; after-meal walks are nice. Meander around the neighborhood. I think of adding a dog for just this reason.
- Stevia, Jaggery, or Sharkara as sweeteners; honey in moderation
- Make your own baked goods with the above to sweeten them
- Warm milk with cardamom powder (a pinch) at night (can substitute cinnamon)
- Devise a routine; follow as often as able
This doesn’t mean that we need to go without sugar or alcohol forever; celebrations and special occasions happen. We can see how we feel with a good vacation from them, and then determine what to do. A good vacation is probably around 40 days.
Consider unconventional dessert items, even just a buttered piece of toast (multigrain). Rice with butter and raisins. Baked apples with cinnamon. Biscuits and fruit compote. Oatmeal.
Symptoms of Low Blood Sugar
- pale, clammy, cold sweat
- dizziness, shakiness, lightheadedness, weakness
- hunger and/or nausea
- Blurred vision, slurred speech, unsteadiness on feet
- anxiety, inability to concentrate
- grumpy, angry, weepy
- insomnia, restlessness, nightmares, sweating
If you have any of these symptoms, sit down. I once had to leave yoga class to barf, so there you go. Be aware. Eat a piece of fruit followed by some protein a half hour later (beans, meat, cheese, eggs, peanut butter). Go gently off the sugar. If you historically eat a lot of sugar, you will need to eat plenty of fruit and grains. Have stuff at the ready. Make banana bread (in my experience the bananas provide enough sweetness that you don’t need sugar); a little applesauce can work to sweeten it too.
We do our best! Find joy in other areas of life; creative pursuits are great for that. Doing things for no reason other than that they are fun is good too. Be good to you.