This post is a bit overdue as I finished my 21-Day Sugar Detox on Monday, January 30th. But life has been busy (a good busy!), and I am finally getting a chance to sit and write. If you wish to read my first blog post about this detox, you can find it here. First off, I would definitely recommend this detox to anyone interested in cutting their sugar cravings. By day 10 I had absolutely no desire for something super sweet. Yes, I did eat a green apple or grapefruit (allowed fruits) pretty much every day or every other day, but it was really just to get more variety in my diet. I loved exploring new recipes and trying new turnips for the first time!
I made a few recipes included in the 21-Day Sugar Detox book, but as a recipe developer myself, I have a hard time sticking to recipes, and I found myself modifying recipes. This is not to say that Diane's recipes are not amazing because they are! I just have personal tastes and usually season things accordingly. Of the recipes I tried (and/or slightly tweaked), I recommend the Mini Mexi-Meatloaves (this was fabulous!), Bacon & Root Veggie Hash, Balsamic Winter Squash rings, and the Not-Sweet Cinnamon Cookies. Beyond these recipes I made a few of my own favorite recipes. I also made almond milk every week and highly recommend trying it out as you avoid all of the extra junk that is in the store bought versions. You can purchase a nut milk bag on Amazon here; and as long as you have a high speed blender like a Vitamix or Blendec it is super easy!
The 21-Day Sugar Detox really helped me stay on top of my meal prep and gave more structure to my diet. Although, I eat fairly healthy and try my best to make time for my own meal planning and prep, it doesn't always happen when I want it to. But this detox forced me to meal prep (or else I was literally going to be eating salads and eggs all day). That is what is nice about a meal plan, it gives structure, inspiration, and a diverse, nutrient dense diet IF you stick to it and put in a little work! So with all this in mind, my average day looked a little something like this:
Breakfast: 2 fried eggs, ½ cup of my breakfast potatoes (red potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic powder, salt and coconut oil), and some sautéed greens (spinach or kale) in coconut oil or ghee; OR my Zucchini, Kale, Mushroom, and Italian Chicken Sausage Frittata (using Applegate Organics Fire Roasted Red Pepper Chicken and Turkey Sausage - the only chicken sausage I could find that does not contain sugar).
Lunch: a big salad with plenty of veggies (usually beets, zucchini, red onions and whatever else I had), chicken breast, canned tuna or salmon, and dressing (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and dijon mustard); OR my Curried Butternut Squash Soup with some nuts; OR leftovers from dinner.
Snack: a green apple, grapefruit, raw vegetables, ¼ cup of pepitas, a handful of almonds, or unsweetened shredded coconut with almond milk.
Dinner: my Chipotle Shrimp and Chicken Sausage Vegetable Skillet; Mini Mexi-Meatloaves with cooked cabbage; my Chicken Fajita Bowl (recipe coming soon); Pot Roast with potatoes, carrots, and celery; my Paleo Spaghetti; or my Dijon Dill Salmon fillets (recipe coming soon) with baked sweet potato and vegetables.
What I Learned:
1) How to listen to my body - I have always been a grazer, meaning I like to eat snacks throughout the day. But while on this detox my snack options were limited (my typical snack is fruit or trail mix with dried fruit) and I wanted to see if I could go longer periods without eating. My body reacted very well to this! Before the detox, I rarely found myself hungry, but when I stopped snacking as much, my body had time to reset. And since I was not eating sugar I did not experience any of the sudden shifts in energy due to sugar highs/lows. I began to feel more in sync with my body and started listening to when I should eat and how much to eat.
2) Fiber is my friend! - My digestive system was not very happy days 4-8 of the 21-Day Sugar Detox. I will spare you the details, but basically I was blocked up and not very regular for a few days. I think this was due to the fact that I was not getting as much fiber from fruits and more dense carbohydrates. I made some chia pudding (and actually developed this Chocolate Coconut Non-sweet Chia Pudding recipe because of this detox) to help get me flowing again and it helped.
3) Protein is key to satiety and energy! - I am typically pretty good at eating a well-balanced diet, but I learned that if I did not get enough protein one day I definitely felt more sluggish and tired the next day. This is especially true while doing the 21-Day Sugar Detox as you are eating lower carb meals.
4) I do not need coffee every morning - Crazy...right!?!? By day 14 or so, I realized I wasn't craving my morning cup of coffee or even wanting the extra caffeine boost. The last 15 days or so I have been primarily been drinking teas in the morning and feel great! The combination of no sugar, better sleep, and a clean diet left me with a ton of energy and my mood was terrific. Ok, not every day was a ray of sunshine, but I would say that 80% of the time I had more energy and felt amazing!
5) Added sugar is not worth the side affects - I know what you are thinking..."Kelsey, chocolate is my best friend and I cannot go without it!" I agree with you, chocolate is divine, but it is not going to solve any problems. And in fact for me it creates a few that I would simply rather live without. For example, when I eat added sugar (beyond fruit) more regularly, like dark chocolate, honey, maple syrup, a lot of dates, or raw sugar my face breaks out, and I feel more bloated. I have also seen a trend in my mood; if I eat a lot of sugar or even unhealthy carbs I feel sluggish, cannot think as clear, have less energy, and typically am more anxious. This could all correlate to the fact that when I am stressed I tend to crave sugary foods (I am working on recognizing this trigger); but nonetheless, if I simply avoid or limit higher sugar and carbohydrate rich foods I know I will overall feel better. In addition to clearer skin and higher energy, I felt great during my workouts and performed well! Although, I did not do this challenge in order to loose weight or "look" better, I did see a change in my body composition and know it directly correlates to eating more nutrient dense foods and less nutrient poor foods.
Overall, I highly recommend giving the 21-Day Sugar Detox a try! Except for my digestive system getting a bit funky and missing fruits (especially berries and bananas) here and there, the detox was well worth it. Now, I can confidently say that I am not addicted to sugar and am more aware of how much sugar I am eating. I know how to listen to my body, and when I am full. My energy level is more stable and I do not find myself fighting to get up and workout in the morning. If you have any questions regarding my 21-Day Sugar Detox please do not hesitate to email me!