A healthy PCOS diet begins with eliminating all simple, refined sugars from your diet. But that is easier said than done. Sugar is addictive. It’s really hard to give up, which is probably the reason diseases like Diabetes Type II, obesity and PCOS are on the rise. If you have PCOS, sugar cleansing or a sugar detox makes a lot of sense.
To quote Kate Callaghan, a holistic nutritionist specializing in hormone healing, “PCOS is the diabetes of the ovaries”. Sugar cleansing gently retrains your mind and body to stop craving sugars and feel satiated from a balanced, healthy diet.
What is Sugar Cleansing?
As the name suggests, sugar cleansing removes all forms of sugar from your diet. This doesn’t just include raw sugar, but also sugars hidden in processed, packaged foods. Think breakfast cereals, salad dressings, condiments (masale), sauces and more. You can do a sugar cleanse for 3 days, a week, 10 days or 21 days, depending on the severity of your sugar addiction. Some people even do it for 8 weeks. The idea is to break the addictive cycle of sugar and carb cravings that robs us of our health.
Since sugar hides in some form or the other in so many of the foods we eat today, eliminating it from your diet isn’t very easy. It requires a careful plan. But it’s well worth the effort, especially if you have PCOS.
Why Sugar Cleansing Works For PCOS
At this point, you may be wondering – how is PCOS connected to sugar? Let us explain:
- Excess sugar intake triggers the pancreas to secrete more insulin, so that it can be removed from the blood and pushed into cells to be used up as fuel. Over time, cells become less sensitive to insulin, and blood sugar levels rise.
- The pancreas responds by pumping out more insulin in an effort to normalize high blood glucose levels. This leads to a condition known as Hyperinsulinemia and creates the vicious cycle of insulin resistance.
- Additionally, cortisol (which is a stress hormone) signals the liver to release more glucose, which pushes insulin levels higher.
- Now, all that excess insulin signals the ovaries to produce more androgens, like testosterone. And this is what causes the hormonal imbalance which manifests as PCOS. These male hormones suppress female reproductive hormones, triggering a plethora of menstrual and fertility problems.
PCOS is also hard on the liver. The liver handles the mammoth task of filtering and cleansing one and a half litres of blood per minute. It does so to ensure the body receives blood free from toxins. Besides eliminating toxic waste, the liver also has many and varied functions like breaking down hormones like insulin and estrogen, producing digestive chemicals and storing glucose, Vitamins A, D, B12, and iron. A diet high in sugars can overwork the liver, making it sluggish. And this affects blood sugar regulation and hormonal balance.
This is why a sugar detox or sugar cleansing can be particularly helpful for women with PCOS. To put it into a simple equation:
No Added Sugar = Increased Insulin Sensitivity = Improved Hormonal Balance
How To Do A Sugar Cleanse For PCOS – Tips & Tricks
Don’t be afraid of a sugar cleanse. This is not a hard-core detox that will leave you starving. The idea is to remove all forms of sugars from your diet. And if you pay attention to a few key things, this will become the starting point for your healthy, clean PCOS diet. After being on a sugar cleanse, your taste buds will adapt to detect natural sweetness again. This way you will learn the right way to start including smaller amounts of natural sugar back into your diet.
Here are some helpful tips and tricks to teach you how to do a sugar cleanse for PCOS to improve your health and wellbeing.
- Eliminate all processed foods, candy, chocolates, desserts, biscuits, sugar-laden beverages and sodas from your diet.
- Check all food labels. Avoid anything that lists white sugar, brown sugar, sorbitol, raw sugar, fructose, maltose, evaporated cane juice, xylitol and barley malt as one of the ingredients. Look for the words ‘sugar’ or ‘syrup’ – for example, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, palm sugar, and cane sugar. Also, anything that ends in ‘ose’ is sugar – like glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltose etc.
- Read ingredients on all your foods carefully. Sugar can often be added to seemingly healthy foods – like ready to eat gravy-mixes, salad dressings, sauces, peanut butter and other nut butters, cheese or sandwich spreads and even protein powders. Make sure to swap your regulars with an ‘unsweetened’ variety.
- Power up on proteins. A diet that is high in protein during sugar cleansing keeps cravings at bay. Since protein takes longer to digest, you feel full for longer, and don’t miss sugary, processed snacks.
- Replace all starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and beets with non-starchy veggies for maximum benefit. Don’t worry; you will still have plenty of choices. Eat unlimited qualities of peppers (kaali mirch), tomatoes, fennel (sounf,) mushrooms, onions, cauliflower, spinach, eggplant, artichokes, zucchini, asparagus, green beans, kale, collards, broccoli, lettuce and other greens.
- Eliminate caffeine and alcohol from your diet while you’re on a sugar detox. Store bought coffees are often laden with sugary syrups, and alcohol is also high in sugars. To supercharge your results, you may also cut back on grains and canned beans.
- Fight sugar with fat. Eating more healthy fats helps with satiety and also adds more flavour to your food. The right fats help keep you full for longer, balance your blood sugar levels, and provide much-needed fuel for your cells. Aim to add good fats to every meal – think fatty fish, extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, nut butters, coconut milk, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
- While you work on removing your sugar addiction, it’s very important that you don’t skip meals. A missed meal results in lowered blood sugar levels, which will only fire up your sugar cravings. Eat at regular intervals to retrain your body into feeling full by eating healthy fats, proteins, and carbs from vegetables.
- Replace your need for sweetness by exploring other flavours. Use fresh herbs and spices to add a punch of flavour to your food. We particularly like adding garlic, ginger, and cinnamon (dalchini) to food. After all, food that tastes good and smells amazing feeds the soul and helps keep you satiated for longer.
- De-stress. Stress triggers an inflammatory response and leads to blood sugar imbalances. Find ways to manage your stress – exercise, dance, deep breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and listening to music – all helps. Also, make sure that you are getting enough rest and sleep. Sleep deprivation can make you feel hungry and also lead to sugar cravings. And since women with PCOS already have their hormones out of whack, plus a tendency to overeat, it’s best to get 7-8 hours of beauty sleep every night.
Sugar Cleansing For PCOS: A Sample 3-Day Diet Plan
To help you get started, we have put together this sample 3-day sugar cleanse diet plan for PCOS.
1 portion Perfect Poached Eggs with Baby Spinach
1 cup unsweetened Green Tea
1 portion Chickpea and Quinoa Salad
1 cup Carrot and Cucumber slices with Hummus
1 portion Grilled Salmon Steak
1 portion Fresh Salad with lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, and tomatoes
1 portion Oven Baked Eggs with Tomato Salsa
1 cup Green Tea, unsweetened
1 portion Easy Greek Salad
Handful of Mixed Nuts
1 portion Mushroom-stuffed Turkey
1 cup Tossed Mixed Green Salad with balsamic vinaigrette
1 portion Scrambled Egg Whites with Chicken Chunks
1 cup Green Tea, unsweetened
1 portion Grilled Shrimp with Spring Greens
1 cup Blueberries
1 portion Moussaka
Sugar cleansing for PCOS comes with a lot of health merits. Don’t be discouraged if you feel tired and fatigued for the first couple of days. It’s common to feel like you’re down with the flu and/or have headaches when you go from a high-sugar diet to a no-sugar diet. As your body adjusts to your new diet, you will start to feel and look much better!