One of the main reasons for our ever increasing waistlines and poor health is the high intake of sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup found in thousands of food products and drinks.

Too many people live in â??food desertsâ?? consuming only calorie rich, refined foods with very little fresh vegetables and fruit.

Go cold turkey on sugar

To beat a sugar addition, lose weight and improve your health, cut out all sugars for 30 days. This includes artificial sweeteners, maple syrup, fructose and Agave because theyâ??ll keep your cravings going.

You also need to eliminate wheat, which releases sugar during digestion, all dairy, grains with gluten, yeast and any foods that may include hidden sugars like salad dressings, sauces, fizzy drinks, etc. Really, you just have to cut out any food or drinks that contain sugar, including hidden ones, such as those in alcohol.

You can eat almost all types of protein such as chicken, fish and shellfish, non-roasted nuts and seeds, non-gluten grains such as quinoa, brown rice, millet and spelt and non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli and green beans.

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Sample sugar detox meal plan

Sugar detox: Day one

  • Breakfast: Quinoa porridge with some grated apple, cinnamon and nuts or seeds

  • Mid-morning snack: Fresh fruit with some raw almonds

  • Lunch: Poached chicken breast with mixed baby greens and half an avocado

  • Afternoon snack: Sliced peppers with two tablespoons of spinach hummus

  • Dinner: Salmon with stir-fried broccoli and mushrooms

Sugar detox: Day two

  • Breakfast: Three eggs scrambled with sautéed spinach or quinoa porridge with fresh fruit and almond milk

  • Snack: Nuts

  • Lunch: Tuna salad with loads of fresh salad and some olive oil, you may add a sweet potato or some brown rice or beans

  • Snack: Sliced peppers with hummus

  • Dinner: Beef tenderloin, sautéed Brussels sprouts and mushrooms with lettuce salad and avocado

Sugar detox: Day three

  • Breakfast: Three-egg omelette with sautéed spinach and fresh tomato

  • Snack: Nuts

  • Lunch: Grilled chicken breast with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, and sautéed mushrooms

  • Snack: A few pieces of biltong

  • Dinner: Baked fresh fish and mixed greens and brown rice

Drinks allowed One cup of unsweetened black coffee per day, unsweetened green and/or herbal tea in unlimited amounts and fresh water with lime or lemon!

Top tips:

  • Consume small helpings of lean protein such as poultry, fish and eggs.

  • Eat large helpings of fresh fruit and in particular fresh vegetables

  • The more fibre in your food, the better

  • Snack on raw, unsalted nuts

  • Substitute sweetened breakfast cereals, white rice, bread and processed potatoes with legumes, oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa and a small amount of 100% rye bread

  • Eat several small meals a day instead of three main meals or eat three small meals a day and consume healthy snacks in between

  • Use olive and coconut oil instead of vegetable oil

  • Avoid processed meat (which is laden with dangerous trans-fatty acids), high-fat diary, pastries and excessive alcohol.

  • Do not smoke

  • Eliminate fizzy, sweetened or artificially sweetened drinks and replace with water, rooibos or green tea. Drink no more than one cup of coffee a day (without sugar). One glass of red wine a day is adequate

  • Avoid fruit juices as they contain too much sucrose â?? if you do drink them, dilute heavily with water

  • Explore the paleo diet, an age-old hunter-gatherer diet which encompasses seafood, lean protein, vegetables, fruit, nuts, fungi/mushrooms and roots. It excludes processed grains and dairy products

  • Change from high GI foods (chips, biscuits, cakes, potatoes, white bread, pies) to low GI (basmati and brown rice, vegetables, lentils, whole wheat or preferably 100% rye bread, oats and citrus fruits

  • Aim to exercise vigorously for at least half an hour a day

  • Keep sugar and all temptation out of the house so that you wonâ??t give in in times of stress or hunger

  • Always be prepared, carry fresh fruit and nuts with you so that you are not tempted to reach for something else

  • Exercise reduces cravings

  • Chromium and L-Glutamine are great to reduce cravings

  • Eat more protein and fat. This will keep you fuller for longer and balance your blood sugar levels, you will be less likely to crave something sweet

Breaking a sugar addiction can be challenging, but be patient and consistent. More than likely you will fall off the wagon a few times before making it, always get back on and start again, it is worth it!

There are few things in life where we have a lot of control what happens to us, but the food we put into our bodies is something that is totally within our control. Making better choices in food has a significant impact on our level of health, emotionally, physically and on so many different levels.

Regardless of whether you’re trying to improve your health or protect it, removing sugar from your diet is probably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your health.

Recommended reading: The truth about sugar

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.