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How to do a sugar detox safely

Swop your sugar-laden food for healthier options

Experts often advise against going cold turkey when modifying your diet, but in the case of oh-so-addictive sugar, you might want to try doing just that.

Eating in moderation becomes a tough feat when it comes to sugar because most people eat more than the daily recommended amount of 11 teaspoons, which is about 55g.

Here is how to cut back and do a sugar detox safely, according to clinical and sports dietitian Jaclyn Reutens, the founder of Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants.


First of all, it is important to understand the difference between sugar and sugar-containing foods, said Ms Reutens. You can eliminate sugar-containing foods but it is extremely difficult to eliminate sugar from your diet, which is perfectly fine because our bodies need a certain amount of sugar to function.

Sugar from natural sources such as fruits, starchy vegetables, dairy and grains is not bad for you when taken in moderate amounts.

To do a sugar detox, you will have to try to avoid added sugars as much as possible.

This includes sugary drinks, desserts, sauces and recipes that are high in sugar, as well as white sugar, brown sugar, sucrose, agave nectar, honey, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, maltose and malt syrup.


Ms Reutens recommends identifying where sugar is entering in your diet. Are they from obvious foods like sweetened beverages and cakes, or hidden sources like honey glazed almonds and ketchup?

Once you are aware of your eating patterns, it is easier to narrow down the main culprits. People who are mentally strong might be able to go cold turkey on those foods, but it is much easier to cut back gradually over two weeks.

Replace those sugary foods with fresh fruits and vegetables that contain fibre, potassium and other vitamins and minerals. Not only will they help to keep your sugar levels under control, but they will also make you feel more energised and focused. You can also eat more nuts and seeds for healthy lean protein and fibre.

When you have gotten past the withdrawal symptoms and no longer crave sugar desperately, it is okay to allow more foods with added sugar back into your diet once or twice a week.


Start by swopping your sodas with plain water with a squeeze of lemon. When ordering coffee or tea, opt for no or less sugar.

Ms Reutens also recommends keeping snacks away if you get peckish in the afternoon, and place fresh fruit near you instead. People with a sweet tooth can go with healthier dessert options like yogurt and fruit instead of cakes and pies.


Doing a sugar detox has considerable benefits. Aside from being weaned off sugar, you might also notice fat loss, clearer skin and an increase in energy.

The first few days will be the most difficult, but they will pass, and you must stay hydrated.

Before embarking on a sugar detox, check with your doctor to make sure you are suitable for it. This method is unsuitable for diabetics, athletes, pregnant women or people taking medication for blood sugar.

If you feel faint after reducing your sugar intake, you should take a look at other aspects of your diet to ensure you are eating balanced meals.

This article was first published in Shape