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I'm not into detoxing or extreme diets. I've always found that counting calories and working out is a sensible way to lose weight and I think my liver and skin detox my body just fine. Recently, however, I've felt out of control regarding sugar and carbs. I attribute this to eating whatever I wanted during pregnancy and using food for comfort as I struggled with postpartum depression.
I sweetened my coffee with a liberal amount of sugar every morning and it wasn't unusual for me to eat candy and baked goods on a daily basis. Like A LOT of candy. I'm talking Butterfingers-in-the-glove-box-candy-eating. We ate tons of takeout after our son was born and healthy meals were simply not part of my daily survival plan.
So when I happened to see the book "The 21 Day Sugar Detox" at the library, I decided to check it out and give the plan a try. During the detox I didn't eat any processed foods, simple carbs or sugar in any form beyond the small amounts that naturally occur in foods like carrots. Alcohol is not permitted. If you can get past that horrible aspect of the detox and you're still interested, well then, read on!
The book outlines three plans for the 21 days. Level 1 being the most lenient as you are allowed full- fat dairy products and a half serving of approved grains or legumes per day. Level 2 allows for full-fat dairy but no grains or legumes, Level 3 is basically Paleo-style, no dairy, grains or legumes. I tried to go as hardcore as possible on Level 1. I only ate a half cup of sweet potatoes once and a half cup of brown rice once during the 21 days, but, I'll be honest, I needed cream in my coffee. The rest of the time I ate meat and vegetables and one green apple or green-tipped banana per day.
The first week was really difficult. I felt incredibly hungry and on the third day I got a terrible headache. By the second week I started to feel not so bad and made many of the recipes in the book and also had my own detox-approved meals, i.e, steak and avocado. I ate a lot of eggs.
I didn't feel like I needed that afternoon pastry or candy bar to get me through until my husband got home to give me a break.
I didn't feel horrible but I didn't have the surge of energy others have claimed they felt while on this detox. This could have been because I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I'm also a first-time mom with a six-month-old baby. And if that doesn't make you feel sluggish, then nothing will.
I had two intense moments where I almost lost control and abandoned the whole thing. I was at the grocery store and there was a giant display of cupcakes decorated for Valentine's Day. For one brief moment I actually thought I had torn into the cupcakes and was eating them on the floor like a wild animal. Luckily, it was just my imagination and I left the store with my dignity in tact. The second event embarrassingly took place at the dog groomer's. They had these beautifully decorated doggy cookies in a case and I just could not stop looking at them and licking my lips. They looked so delicious. The groomers practically had to put a muzzle on me to stop me from grabbing one.
On the 21st day I felt proud and amazed that I had made it to the end. I lost five pounds and was relieved to not be eating tons of junk and to have all the tempting foods out of my house. I didn't feel like I needed that afternoon pastry or candy bar to get me through until my husband got home to give me a break. I now no longer need sugar in my coffee—a little half-and-half tastes fine to me now. It's also made it easier for me to skip out on things like crackers, chips and bread that I would have previously just shoveled mindlessly into my mouth.
The 21 Day Sugar Detox did not cure me of my desire to eat sugar or carbs but it did make me realize how much processed junk I was actually eating.
While some of the recipes in the book were um, in need of sugar, some of them were delicious and will be added to my regular cooking repertoire. Noodles made out of zucchini are actually a great substitute for pasta. I thought the Spaghetti Squash Bolognese sounded weird with the coconut milk but it was excellent. The Pumpkin Carrot Muffins were labor intensive until I figured out I could grate the carrots in my blender the second time I made them.
The 21 Day Sugar Detox did not cure me of my desire to eat sugar or carbs but it did make me realize how much processed junk I was actually eating. Now I feel ready to really make my health and weight loss a priority so I'll have the energy, strength and stamina to chase after my son when he starts making moves.
I'm not a nutritionist but I've done my fair share of dieting and I know minimizing the consumption of calorically dense but nutritionally deficient foods (like Halloween candy) can only be beneficial to my health. I'm glad I was able to complete the challenge and my husband is really glad it's over. (Let's be real, the most amazing part of this detox is that I didn't once murder my husband the entire 21 days.)
I don't want to go back to my sugar/carb filled diet and now that I'm done with the detox I'm currently following a "clean eating" plan. Clean eating is basically eating mostly whole foods, and minimally processed foods. Honey, maple syrup and dehydrated cane sugar are permitted. And it's much easier because beans and whole grains are also allowed. I'm pretty sure booze is not part of the clean eating plan, but screw that, this new mama needs wine every day from time to time.
I've been eating clean for a week and getting a little exercise each day and I've lost two more pounds! I'd feel much better with some carbs in my life but I'm sure a homemade blueberry muffin made with whole wheat flour and unsweetened applesauce would not taste so sweet and delicious if I hadn't cut sugar out for three weeks. I know I can't omit sugar and grains for the rest of my life, but I am being far more mindful of what I'm eating and how much—and for a new mom losing her mind, I consider that an amazing result.