Were you on the “hummingbird diet’’ during the holidays? You know: flitting from sugar source to sugar source from Thanksgiving through Christmas and on to New Year’s? Perhaps the cookie jar, the dessert buffet table and the mugs of hot chocolate were frequent stops.
Take comfort. Jennifer Oikarinen, a registered dietitian at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, says there are ways to help “detox’’ yourself from the sugar you were living on during all the festivities.
Stopping the cravings
It takes about 48 hours without sugar for your body to stop craving the sweet stuff, she says. During this time, it’s a good idea to eat healthy portions of lean protein and fiber, both of which will help you feel fuller and make you less likely to go back for dessert.
Most of us tend to overindulge on treats during the holiday season, but there are many reasons why it’s important to back away from the sugar-heavy diet during the rest of the year, Oikarinen says.
The problems with too much sugar
Too much sugar can lead to obesity, increased risks for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and depression. It can affect your skin, energy levels and, of course, dental health.
Grandma’s fudge, eggnog and cookies are obvious causes of too much sugar in the diet, but there are a lot of hidden sugars in our normal diets to be aware of, Oikarinen says. Alcohol, ketchup, salad dressing and peanut butter all contain sugar. The good news is many of these staples now have sugar-free versions.
Diet soda, even though it doesn’t contain sugar, can also play havoc when it comes to sugar consumption, Oikarinen said. “The aspartame found in many diet sodas can heighten the sense of what sweetness should be. It affects how you taste things.’’
Once you stop going overboard with sugary treats and diet soda, your taste buds can be recalibrated to better appreciate the natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables, Oikarinen said.
Enjoying nature’s sweetness
Babies who haven’t been exposed to most sugars, for example, love carrots because of their natural sweetness. Laying off sugary items means you can appreciate carrots and other nutritious items, Oikarinen says. “You will find that fruits taste as sweet as candy.’’
Don’t believe us? Once you’ve done the sugar detox, grab yourself an orange or an apple and enjoy. You won’t be disappointed.
Trying to eat healthier this year? We have you covered!