Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sugar Indulgence & Sugar Detox

I am back from an amazing summer vacation and I am now completely focused on giving up sugar.  Interestingly, in the time between my last blog and this one, I decided to do an experiment.  I knew that I wanted to give up sugar 100% cold turkey when I returned from vacation so I opted to allow myself to eat as much sugar as I wanted over a two-week period. Let me tell you, I ate TONS of sugar.  I completely indulged in candy bars, ice cream, doughnuts, creme brulee, the list goes on and on.  It was no holds barred.  Seriously.  Yes, I did gain a few pounds, and I knew that I probably would.  But, what I value even more from the experience is that it was the first time in my adult life that I can recall ever letting myself have whatever sugar I wanted without judging myself.  In the past, I have always said, "Oh, you shouldn't be eating that" and immediately felt guilt after I put any sugary treat in my mouth.  This time, I said, "Eat up!  Enjoy every minute of this sugar and eat as much as you want!"  I felt unleashed.  I felt unrestricted.  I didn't feel guilty afterwards for one second because I knew that my over-sugared tirade was limited to a two-week period.  It was an incredibly freeing experience.  And, you know what else?  I discovered that about 90% of the sugar I ate did not taste as good as I thought it would.  I learned that very few foods really satisfied my palate.  This was an eye-opening truth for me.  I realized that most of the sugar that I eat does not really live up to my expectations (and, believe me, when it comes to sugared goods, my expectations are quite low!).  The creme brulee was incredible, but it was the only dessert that was totally mouth-watering.  The rest were just average.  This revelation was incredibly important to me because it allowed me to "test" how much I really wanted and needed sugar in my life.  From a psychological standpoint, I don't think I "need" or "want" it as much as I have previously thought. However, I am in the process of detoxing from sugar, so I wasn't sure how my body would react from a biological standpoint.

Just as I promised myself, first day I was home from my trip I began my sugar-free life.  Today is Day 3 of absolutely no sugar, and I am actually doing okay.  I have experienced a few "symptoms" of sugar withdrawal, but they have been maneagable and expected.  The past few days, I have had a small bumpy rash on the back of my neck and my right arm.  I have also had pain on the ball of my left foot.  My foot pain certainly could be due to the fact that I did a lot of hiking on my vacation, but I thought it was interesting that the pain appeared the moment I got home and not while I was away.  I pulled out one of my books on Reflexology to gain some insight.  Reflexology is a therapeutic method of relieving pain by stimulating certain pressure points on the feet.  Different parts of the feet are connected to different organs in the body, and interestingly the parts of my foot that hurt me correlated to my liver and my lymphatic system.  I chuckled to myself, because, of course, those would be the organs involved!  The liver is our body's largest "detox" organ that processes everything we eat before we eliminate it.  The lymphatic system delivers fluids and transports white blood cells (which fight infection and foreign substances) throughout our bodies.  Sugar is considered a foreign substance by our bodies that needs to be heavily processed by the liver before it is eliminated.  (This is why alcoholics often get cirrhosis of the liver - remember, alcohol is sugar and the liver can become over-taxed when it has to process too much sugar.) 

To support myself during this week of Sugar Detox, I have taken my regular vitamins, drank at least 64 ounces of water per day, consumed lots of fruits and vegetables (which contain lots of fiber to help remove the sugar and toxins from my body), eaten a good amount of protein, and tried to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.  I have also added two specific supplements that are widely know to support the body during Sugar Detox:  L-Glutamine, which is an amino acid that helps to burn fatty acids and balance blood sugar levels, and Chromium Picolinate, which works to assist our cells in taking in glucose and releasing energy.  I have been taking the suggested dose of each supplement once a day. (L-Glutamine is taken on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, and Chromium Picolinate is taken with a meal).  I haven't had any sugar cravings yet this week.  To help with the detox, I have also been eating more fruit than usual.  Fruit contains a natural sugar called fructose which has a negligible effect on blood sugar and can help to ease the transition from my prior sugar-filled life.  However, I will gradually reduce the amount of fruit I am eating as the days go by, and add in more vegetables, protein, whole grains, nuts and seeds instead.  Wish me luck as I continue this Sugar Detox adventure....