by Stephanie Margolis, R.D.
When it's needed, use this 3 Day Cleanse. It's not about eliminating entire food groups, it's about getting your body to crave the good stuff.
Our body needs carbohydrates, especially to help our brain and muscles function. However, in today’s culture we are absolutely surrounded by the macronutrient in a form that can actually inhibit our weight loss goals. While carbs are necessary, your main source of the nutrient should be fruits, vegetables, and whole-grains. Instead, refined flour, rice, and sweets rule the roost.
If you find yourself stuck in a carb craving mode there is a way to cleanse and reset your body. Cravings are complicated; they can be triggered by hunger but also emotions. If you find you are an emotional carb consumer, it is important to find way to deal with your emotions in a way that doesn’t send you to the pantry. However, if you feel that your sweet addiction is fueled by hunger it is most likely you are stuck in a hunger cycle. This hunger cycle is common and usually centers around sweets and refined grains.
Here is what the hunger cycle looks like. You wake up in the morning feeling hungry but because you have to rush kids out the door and don’t have time to cook, you grab a sugary granola bar or down a quick bowl of sugary cereal. This makes you full in the moment, and meets your calorie needs but 2 hours later you are hungry. Why? When refined carbohydrates, or sugar, are digested they are converted to glucose and quickly hit the blood stream giving you an immediate spike in blood sugar (or blood glucose) which boosts energy. Your body then releases insulin to move the glucose into cells to it can do its job. However what is not immediately used is then stored in the body.
This all happens pretty quickly, sometimes within a 2 hour time period, leaving you feeling hungry. When we get hungry it is one way our body cries out for energy and because our bodies are efficient it craves the most readily available source of energy... sugar. Here is where the cycle begins again.
The good news is you can stop this cycle. By eliminating all added sugars from your diet for 3 days you are giving the body time to deplete some glucose stores while also breaking the hunger cycle. The goal is to replace the normal sugary foods you would reach for with lean protein, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy foods. These foods are metabolized in the body at a much slower rate and have a considerably lower impact on your blood glucose levels.
Cutting all sweets for 3 days will help curb your cravings and help jump start your weight loss. Keep in mind, this is not something you do for 3 days then go right back to what you were doing before. The purpose of the 3 day time period is to give you a goal, but you will also find that after 3 days you are much less likely to crave the food. This does not mean you can never have sweets again, but it needs to be sparingly. Allowing yourself a sweet treat 3 times per week, however if you can replace the desire with a different food such as pears, apples, or banana you will better serve your body and not start a slippery slope back to sweets-ville.
Cutting carbs will help the physiological reason why you are cravings sugary foods, but you may still need to work on the emotional aspect of the food. If you do not address both aspects of your relationship with the food then it is likely you will regain all the weight once you allow sweets back into the diet.
*Please note that we do not encourage cleanses. A lot of the time they rid you of water weight and don't change your eating habits. This 3 Day Cleanse is an All Natural Way of teaching your body not to crave the sugar/refined foods.