This week beat me up. On Monday, I had an interview for a job that was 90% perfect for me. I didn't get the job. And while I know I'll someday find a job that plays to more of my strengths than this job did, it put me off my groove for the rest of the week.
But it's the weekend. Time to recharge. One week until my trip to Florida, and I'm so excited!
Tonight, I'd like to share with you my experiences with the 21 Day Sugar Detox. I'll review the book and program and share my new awareness of sugar.
Why The 21 Day Sugar Detox?
I've done a couple Whole 30 and have had positive experiences, but I felt like I was still having major sugar issues, especially after the holidays. I'm not sure how I first heard about the program... I'm sure it was from one of the many blogs I follow. But it made a lot of sense to me - cut out sugar and sugar triggers for 21 days, then reintroduce foods one at a time to see how the body reacts. I read the sample pages and liked what I read.
One thing I love most about this program is how it can work for everyone. The program is broken into three levels: level 1 is for anyone who follows the Standard American Diet - full of refined grains and fat-free foods. Level 2 is for anyone who follows a gluten-free diet. Level 3 is for anyone who already follows a grain-free, paleo or primal diet. Of course, you can do any level you want regardless of current diet, but level 1 is the most lenient and 3 is the most strict. There are also modifications for those who are pescetarian, pregnant or nursing, lead highly active lives, or are diagnosed with an autoimmune condition.
For all levels: no refined carbs, no processed food, no soy, limited non-sugary fruits
Level 1: Certain gluten-free grains allowed, some legumes, some full-fat dairy
Level 2: No grains, no legumes, some full-fat dairy
Level 3: Excludes all grains and dairy.
Sounds like a lot of "no" foods, but all levels include tons of veggies, protein from meat, fish and eggs, some nuts, fats/oils, and more. There was plenty to eat! Each level has it all spelled out in the book.
Diane Sanfilippo writes in a style that is informative, understandable, and caring. She starts off describing why sugar can be a problem, and for me it was a checklist of so many things I had been experiencing:
- sugar cravings - paleo treats and bananas
- spikes and dips in energy levels throughout day - I was back to wanting a nap around 3pm...something that only started after Thanksgiving
- tired upon waking - I had been blaming it on seasonal affective disorder
- trying to burn body fat - it just wasn't coming off!
- meals leaving you unsatisfied, hungry and snacking every 2-3 hours - yes, and I suspected part of it was due to all the paleo treats I had baked
Diane then gives a brief description of the program before she gives some scientific background on sugar and carbohydrates. I seriously wish she could have been my science teacher because she made the science easy to understand while keeping me interested. She describes good carbs vs bad, nutrient density, how the body digests carbs and stores glucose, and more. It's one of my favorite resources for just the science chapter, but the whole book is great.
Then the book discusses the levels, how to prepare for the detox, handy food lists, dining out guides, food swap list...it's a whole bunch of useful resources, and many of these guides are on the website for free.
Another favorite part of the book is how Diane spells everything out. She gives you a meal plan and all the recipes. That's 21 days - three meals and a snack, every day, for 21 days. She even has a roadmap for the detox - a day-to-day description of what you might feel and advice to get through the rough times. Diane is your friend throughout this whole journey, guiding you to success.
And it's more than just eating the "right" things - it's becoming aware of our relationship with food. So if there's a day where things don't go so well, there's no need to start back at day 1. Learn from what happened, and continue on. I love that concept.
The 21 Day Detox Facebook page is very active, and so is the forum. It is an amazing comfort to know that anything physically or emotionally you experience during this journey, others are experiencing it too! I definitely came down with detox flu for the first three days, and then on day 5 I just couldn't stop eating. I was eating all 21dsd foods, but I would need to eat every few hours...I was just insatiable. I felt like I was eating two days worth of food one day. I went on the forum, and there was a thread on day 5 hunger. It was normal for some people to be that hungry! What a relief.
Most groups begin on the first Monday of every month, but there are people on a variety of days on all different levels supporting each other. It's a wonderful community.
Oh goodness, I almost forgot about Pinterest! Recipes are being posted all the time by the 21DSD team and by many other paleo bloggers. Just search "21DSD" and you'll finds lots of yumminess. Yes, yumminess is a word, even if my computer doesn't recognize it.
I've already mentioned my first five day, so I'll skip that here. My birthday was on Day 10, and by then I felt pretty good, so the rest was smooth sailing. I do remember being antsy on Day 20 for it to just be over, but I think that was my desire for brownies.
The first thing that I noticed improving was my sleep. I slept so well I started dreaming again. I woke up feeling refreshed. I had energy to make it through a krav maga class without feeling drained afterward. That wad awesome. I also noticed my taste buds changing. By the end, granny smith apples and green-tipped bananas were deliciously sweet without setting off sugar cravings. And the recipes from the book were delicious! My favorites were: Green Apple Breakfast Sausage, Tomato-Basil Quiche with Bacon and Spinach, and Ginger-Garlic Beef and Broccoli. I loosely followed the meal plan in the book, because most of what I already cooked was 21dsd compliant.
Cutting back on bananas and sweet potatoes was trickier than I thought it would be. I could only have one banana a day, and I was used to sometimes having two...occasionally three. I love bananas (they're full of potassium)! Sweet potatoes were only allowed for me on days I did krav maga for the energy modification. I didn't have a sweet potato until day 11 or so, and it was seriously the mist delicious sweet potato I've ever had.
On Day 21, pants that had felt tight before the detox felt lose. Not sure how much weight I lost because I don't weigh myself that often, and I neglected to use my body tape measure before I started. But hey, pants fitting better, food tasting better, sleeping better and living with more energy - all after only 21 days? I'll take it!
After Day 21, I tried so much to take Diane's advice and introduce only one food at a time. I wanted brownies - I didn't get any for my birthday. And that was fine. I had some cheese - and that was fine, too.
But then I had the idea to make FOUR different kinds of brownies (partly for the blog, and partly because I really wanted to try different recipes), and go out for all-you-can-eat sushi, and then there was Superbowl and wonderful meatballs made with gluten-free breadcrumbs...
What I Learned About Myself
- When I have too much sugar (like, more than 20 grams at a time) it will perk me up for about 10 minutes and then I'll be sluggish, and sometimes will get a headache afterward.
- This whole week I've been exhausted. I blame sugar for a lot of it.
- Strawberries are a trigger. I had made the SB&J Burgers from Well Fed 2 - so amazing - and before I knew it, I had eaten all four burgers. That was a pound of meat!
- I can't do any grains anymore, except maybe rice. Sushi was fine...at least I didn't notice any adverse reaction. But the gluten-free breadcrumbs definitely did not agree with me. Good to know, but kind of annoying.
- I've been without brownies since Monday, and I'm incredibly aware of the sugar cravings that I now have.
- Cheese, while doesn't create any sugar cravings, does create a bit of belly bloat. Not yet sure if it's all cheese or just cream cheese and the bagged shredded cheese that has extra chemicals in it to prevent caking. I think the goat cheese is fine, but hard to tell now because I reintroduced everything at once. DON'T do that.
- Preparation is crucial to success. When I'm not prepared with good food, I'll find quick food, which is not always good.
So, starting Sunday I'm doing a mini detox. I don't want to restrict myself too much on vacation - I want some tropical alcoholic drinks while in Florida. But for the 6 days I hope to get these cravings back under control. (The lack of brownies will help!)
Overall, my experience with The 21Day Sugar Detox has been wonderfully positive. I love the new awareness I have, and when prepared I can make better food choices.
Speaking of brownies, my next post will be a review of those four different "paleo" brownie recipes I mentioned. Stay tuned!