Hi guys! In the spirit of creating more community, I wanted to jump start this holiday season and start a 7-day a sugar cleanse starting November 1st. This is something I chose to do on a whim with my Instagram community, as women were reaching out to me asking the same question, what was something they could do today to start eating healthier? Come join me on Instagram if you want to be part of the community!
I will also be updating this post, as I have new recipes as well as new tips, so think of this as a go-to reference guide!
One of the best things we can do today to start eating healthier is to cut down on processed foods and sugars. For some of you this will be an easy challenge, but for others this will be difficult, and I get it. In this busy, grab-and-go life we all lead, it’s easier and more convenient to grab something off the shelf and eat it NOW, and not really think about what’s in it. Also, when we hit that mid-day slump, we tend to fuel our bodies with sweets and caffeinated sugar beverages, because we just need a little something to keep going to get through the day. We’ve all created a habit of convenience, and to break that habit we have to start small, because if you go big and fast, you will find that it’s not sustainable. The ultimate goal is to really downplay sugar in the diet and have that be a permanent lifestyle change, and to move forward with less dependence on refined sugars.
When I refer to “sugar” in this post, I’m referring refined sugar, table sugar found in most processed foods, condiments and desserts, not sugar found naturally in fruits, grains, beans, vegetables that come from mama earth. There is also “hidden” sugar in so many pantry staples, such as mustard, ketchup, nut butters, bread, almond milk and salad dressings. Below are two videos I created to give you an example of hidden sugars that are in some of your common pantry staples, that I bet you didn’t even know about. I mean who would have thought mustard had sugar? If all you do today is just make one change by reading ingredient labels, then you’re already on a great path.
Really this 7-day sugar cleanse is more of an awareness of what you’re putting into your body and why. It’s the start of choosing YOU! Choosing to slow down and read labels, being more mindful of what you’re choosing to put in your body, and hopefully getting you off of that additive emotional blood sugar roller coaster of highs, lows, highs and lows. What we really should be doing instead of reaching for that sugar pick me up, is checking in with ourselves and tuning into what we truly need. I’m going to do a whole post on intuitive eating later, which isn’t just about food, but factors in all those other parts of our lives that we’re craving more nutrients in such as; relationships, purpose, exercise, less stress and sleep.
Did you know that sugar qualifies as an additive substance?
- Once you eat even a small amount, it creates a desire for you to eat more. It’s a viscous, addictive cycle we have created by comsuming processed sugar, feeling the rush, crashing, and then eating more sugar to being the cycle again.
- It can cause withdraw symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue. Pretty much the same withdraws as giving up coffee.
I wouldn’t recommend going cold turkey and eliminating all sugars, such as fruit and natural sugars. Just start small by cutting back on refined sugars. For instance, if you add sugar to your coffee, then try using a natural sugar such as date sugar, and use half the amount you would normally use. Then slowly see if you don’t need sugar in your morning cup of Joe. As you start to slowly decrease your sugar intake, you will notice your palate changing, and you will crave fewer sweets. Sweet potatoes, butternut squash and fruit will taste super sweet to you on their own, and raw cacao will taste less bitter and more sweet. Trust me, this is what I experienced, and it’s awesome!
7 Day Sugar Cleanse with Marin Mama
I’ve broken down the major steps below.
- Read ingredients labels and look for “hidden” sugars. Hidden sugars are in foods that we may not expect to have sugar in them. They can be listed as:
- Sugar, cane sugar
- Cane juice
- Corn syrup
- Corn sweetener
- High fructose corn syrup
- Fruit juice
- Sugar syrup
- Cane syrup
- Rice syrup
- Sorghum syrup
- Diastatic malt
- Demerara sugar
- Go through your pantry and place all of those triggering snacks out of sight for the week. Take the temptation away. Take away the cookies, baked goods and candy. Start filling your fridge and pantry with healthier options. Also, start to plan out what you will eat once that craving hits. I’ve listed some ideas below.
- Go through your condiments and pantry staples, read the ingredients and slowly replace them with healthier alternatives. I’m not asking you to toss items in the garbage, and waste things you already have, but be conscious of replacing them in the future with better alternatives. See my above videos, for some recommendations. Also, make sure your maple syrup is 100% maple syrup, not flavored with corn syrup.
- When that sweet craving hits you, think about what it is you’re truly craving? Do you need more sleep, are you bored, is reaching for a sweet a habitual part of your day? Slow down and ask yourself that question, and journal the answer.
- When a savory recipe calls for sugar, such as curry, don’t add it. Try it without the sugar and see how it tastes first before you automatically add it in. The same goes for salad dressings. You don’t need to sweeten a balsamic vinaigrette, add some pantry herbs like crushed basil or Italian seasoning to enhance the flavor.
- Coconut milk goes a long way to sweeten a beverage. Try adding it to your morning cup of coffee, and add a bit of cinnamon and see how it tastes. Feel free to add a bit of vanilla as well if needed.
- Another great step is to increase your intake of healthy fats with each meal. This change can help reduce your cravings for sugary foods. Healthy fats include avocado, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut butter, nut butters, grass-fed butter or ghee, and nuts and seeds. Aim for 1-2 tablespoons of healthy fat with each meal.
- Drink more liquids. When we drink water, herbal tea, it helps fill us up and we’re not as hungry throughout the day. Sometimes when our body is craving sugar or food, we really need more water. Try my warm turmeric golden milk, it’s a creamy, soothing, dairy-free, warm drink that’s chock full of nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties. It also takes just 5 minutes to make.
Craving something sweet, or need something to snack on? There’s no need to feel deprived when while avoiding refined sugar. I’ve listed some healthier choices below, and I will keep adding more as I create more recipes. Please feel free to share some of your go-to snacks.
- Snack on fresh fruit such as, blueberries, raspberries, green apples, as they have a lower sugar content than other fruit. Better yet, slice an apple and pair it with some almond or peanut butter or tahini or tahini with dates (use code mmcooks15 for 15% off). I also have these sautéed cinnamon apples that taste like the inside of an apple pie. They caramelize with the coconut oil and cinnamon and it creates a naturally sweet syrup. I toss these on my easy overnight steel cut oats.
- Add some berries, or my berry compote to some plain Greek yogurt, or unsweetened coconut yogurt. I love this plain one from coconut cult.
- Replace your milk chocolate pick me up with these raw cacao wafters from Imlakesh- I eat these plain as a snack, or top them on a spoonful of almond butter or peanut butter when I’m craving something sweet and salty. I also put these in my oatmeal, and they melt like chocolate. These wafters are 100% pure cacao and contain no sugar. Imlakesh will have the cacao wafers back on their site in November, but in the meantime check out their site for more organic super foods and use code marinmama10 to save 10% off your order. If you’re in Marin, Good Earth carries these wafers.
- Top a rice cake with some almond butter and coconut butter warmed with some raw cacao wafters melted into it. Just take some coconut butter and add a few cacao wafers, melt them in the microwave together.
- Drink a low fruit smoothie. I love my green ginger smoothie.
- Blue corn chips and guacamole.
- Smoked salmon (get one with no added sugar) on top of a GF cracker or whole-grain fresh toasted bread with some cream cheese or DF cream cheese.
- Create raspberry chia jam and top it on your morning oats, pancakes or yogurt. Just smash up a handful of raspberries with a fork, add 1 tablespoon chia, and mix them together. You can also make my blackberry chia compote, it has no added sugar plus has some chia in there for calcium, fiber and omega-3 fats.
- Roast some sweet potatoes in coconut oil! Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and a great healthy potassium rich snack. I always have these on hand when I’m craving a mid-day snack. They are also filling to boot! You can roast them in cubes or cut them in half and roast them.
- Good old cheese and crackers, I love these GF and grain-free crackers from cult crackers.
- Hummus with sliced peppers, carrots and cucumbers.
- Have a cup of bone broth. It’s super soothing, great for the gut, has collagen and fills you up. I love this one from Kettle and Fire. I simmer it over the stove, add a pinch or two of pink Himalayan sea salt and some freshly ground pepper.
- Try my warm turmeric golden milk, it’s a creamy, soothing, dairy-free, warm drink that’s chock full of nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties. It also takes just 5 minutes to make, and it fills up your tummy!
- Avocado half sprinkled with a bit of pink Himalayan sea salt and some hemp seeds, or feel free to top toast or crackers with this combination.
- Create your own trail mix of nuts, raw cacao wafters, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
- I make my almond flour pancakes and top them with some almond butter and a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt for a snack.
- Make popcorn! My kids and I love my homemade popcorn with coconut oil. It’s salty and crunchy and you can add some raw cacao or dark chocolate to make it salty and sweet. You can also top it with some nutritional yeast to give it a cheesy flavor.
Try my vegan coconut cacao chia pudding. This chia pudding tastes like bittersweet chocolate mousse, but there is “NO SUGAR.” Mattie, my 14 year old, loves this mousse, so it’s teen approved!
These vegan tahini date (nut free) cookies were created for those of you that want a healthy cookie, but can’t have nuts. They’re vegan, grain-free, nut free, refined sugar free, eggless and dairy free!
Try my gluten-free healthy cookie bites. These are the perfect segway from your traditional refined sugar chocolate chip cookie to a healthier unrefined sugar, whole-food chocolate chip cookie. Kids love them too! They’re also paleo, butter and oil-free, grain-free (so yippee for those of you that are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease) dairy free, and the 2 main ingredients are dates and walnuts!
Love chocolate chip cookies, well, you can have these ones and not feel guilty! These are seriously the best healthy chocolate chip cookies. They’re basically comprised of cashews, almond flour, coconut oil, shredded coconut, a few dates, peanut butter and dark chocolate. Flavor bomb!
These guilt-free dark chocolate cookie bites are another refined sugar free alternative that are kid approved! They’re a take on the classic Cliff Kid’s ZBAR, so they’re more of an energy bar in cookie form.
Try these healthy no bake cacao oat bars. These are refined sugar free and are the perfect bittersweet, crunchy snack for that mid-day craving.
Try these quinoa snack bars. Think of these as a healthier granola bar, but softer in texture.
These no bake cacao energy balls are the perfect snack when you’re craving something fudgey and sweet, but don’t want refined sugar. They are also jam packed with healthy fats, to keep your energy stabilized. They are vegan, GF and dairy-free to boot and only take 10 minutes to make.
We also love this summer berry crisp, no sugar added. You won’t miss the sugar with the natural sweetness of ripe summer berries.
Did you know that most store bought salad dressings contain sugar, gums, refined oils and other stabilizers you don’t need? Instead of buying a store-bought salad dressing, try making your own dressing. Once you start making your own, you will see how easy it is, and you may never go back to store-bought. Here are a few of my go-to dressings. I have an apple cider one that I will be sharing soon as well.
We love my kid friendly caesar dressing.
The best lemon vinaigrette is my GO-TO, and I put this on everything from my famous lacinato kale salad, my vegan Brussels salad to sautéed veggies, and of course salads. It takes just 5-minutes to make.
I also make this 5 minute pantry champagne vinaigrette all the time, and love it because you don’t need any lemons, garlic or limes. It just uses pantry staples.
Most of you know that instant oatmeal packs and cereals contain sugar, so why not start your day with something better. When it comes to breakfast, I have SO many options. I always sweeten my oatmeals with a bit of fresh fruit,1/4 tsp Manuka honey and a nut butter. Here’s a few easy breakfast ideas to get you started.
Easy overnight steel cut oats. This takes just 5 minutes the night before and you get to wake up to a warm, satisfying breakfast! You can also top these with a bit of homemade chia jam, peanut butter, and have a PB&J bowl of goodness!
GF overnight oats with hemp and chia. This overnight oats are not sweet at all, but I do top them with some easy sautéed cinnamon apples, or Manuka honey or this tahini with dates from SoCo, use code mmcooks15 for 15% off.
5 minute warm quinoa cereal. This is one of my newest morning obsessions. I even add unflavored protein powder to give it some extra protein.
If you love quick and easy breakfast options that can be made overnight, then you need to try my overnight refrigerator steel cut oats with chia and strawberries. It’s literally a grab-and-go breakfast and one I travel with.
I love these almond flour pancakes! I top them with my frozen berry chia compote and yogurt, or almond butter.
Here’s another grain-free pancake to try, coconut flour protein pancakes. I top these with melted coconut butter, raw cacao wafter or almond butter.
I hope this helps you all to at least start reading labels and being aware of what you’re putting into your body! Remember the 90/10 rule! If you eat healthy whole foods 90% of the time, you can happily indulge in all the other things you love. Life is meant to be enjoyed and food is pleasure! I still enjoy a slice of cake, warm cookie, scone etc, but I just don’t crave them the way I used to.
Please share below your favorite tips, go-to recipes, or ideas for staying away from refined sugar.