21 Day Sugar Detox

In May I did the 21 Day Sugar Detox and wanted to blog about it similarly to how I blogged about whole30, but with a little more detail and backstory – that’s this post. Another post will have my food log.
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For a long time now I’ve been feeling the need for a “reset” with food, but couldn’t bring myself to do it – with leaving Japan (and needing to stuff myself with all the sushi, ramen, and okonomiyaki as possible before then), then the holidays (where I actually did pretty well with self control), then settling in here, it always felt like too much to take on or like I would be passing up food opportunities that would never come again.
I also felt like I had lost a lot of self control with food, something I’d struggled with after whole30 when S was little and then again after Ellie was born (pregnancy cravings have nothing on nursing cravings!), and my attempts at limiting myself just weren’t working very well. I think I do a lot better with more challenge and accountability than just “one treat a week.”

My main goal was to reset some bad habits:
– grazing at potlucks
– finishing S’s food when I was already full
– eating out of craving and not hunger (lack of self control!). One thing I read recently said “Live to eat VS eat to live,” and as someone home most of the time and with a kitchen always available I often found myself in the former camp rather than the latter and wanted to change that.
– snacking on veggies not healthy treats
– eating when I was really just thirsty (mostly a problem in the morning)
– no freezing foods to eat after
– and no pinterest as much as possible – probably in some ways the biggest cravings-buster!

I was also watching a few other things, like irritability, focus, fatigue, some indigestion, and my skin to see if there was any difference there (I’ll be upfront… there wasn’t).

Daily food goals – I knew I needed clear daily food goals to help me not flounder when I was hungry. So every day I aimed for 1 Tbsp coconut oil, my supplements, 1 c bone broth, 1 Tbsp collagen, Brewer’s yeast, and water.

What I ate
I mostly followed the plan outlined in the book for level 3, but changed things up a bit the first week. I wanted to avoid sweet things completely, so instead of doing sweet potatoes and plantains for the energy modification and eating the allowed fruit, I allowed myself small portions of buckwheat or quinoa. I also indulged in some peanut butter because I woke up so hungry I was nauseous and jittery a few times and just had to eat something immediately and that was the only thing that worked then.
But after the first week I followed the plan almost exactly, though also threw in the “no treats” rule from whole30 (a few breakfasts and camping excepted). That had more to do with my goals and the habits I was trying to reset than anything else.

So that meant: no dairy, legumes, treats, most grains, most fruits. I also for the most part avoided coconut and almond flours and milks since they both are hard for me to digest.
This is a nice “cheat sheet.

What S & Ezra ate
Ezra wasn’t too keen on doing it with me, but since we eat almost all our food at or from home, he was still eating differently than normal, and I would try to do quinoa or buckwheat as a side grain instead of other things, and wasn’t making baked goods, so he was getting more fruit and veggies at home, but still eating everything at potlucks.
The same for S – I considered restricting her fruit and dessert but then decided against it since the only reason I would have would have been behavioral considerations but we aren’t really dealing with any of that so I found it unnecessary. However, that did mean not getting healthy baked goods for snacks so she now accepts a cucumber as a snack. 😉

I’m currently in the middle of reintro and may or may not blog about that. Since the things I was hoping to resolve didn’t go away during the 21DSD I don’t expect reintro will show me anything, but I didn’t want to skip it just in case.

I didn’t feel any different and my digestive issues only got worse if anything, despite restricting more foods as I thought they might be bothering me. I do think it did help with cravings a little, though.

The real challenge of “eating well” is what starts now. It’s easy for me to not eat or crave things if I put them completely off-limits. Moderation is much more difficult! But one thing I realized on the 21DSD is that having portion control for some foods is not bad if instead of demonizing those foods they’re controlled to help you eat more of what’s not just “not bad” but more nutrient dense and “good.”
So here are some of my rules:
– one sweet treat/week (portion), and up to one “bigger” dessert/month (ie, out for ice cream)
– one homemade “healthy” treat/week (recipe, not portion)
– no mindless snacking/grazing
– “eat to live, not live to eat.”
– treat any non-fruit added sweetener as a treat.
– aim for half plate veggies at each meal (breakfast is tough!)
I love Jess Connell’s thoughts on food & body image at the end of this post.

I don’t plan on restricting any kinds of food completely. I felt this way after whole30 and this just reemphasizes it, that I think “healthy” is different for different people. I do much better with grains, and the alternatives are much harder for me to digest. 21DSD was probably the highest fat/lowest carb I’ve ever been and while I felt fine on the lower carb, I think some of my indigestion was from the higher fat content. Plus, for the most part, grains are more nutritive than coconut flour and almond flour, and easier for me to digest, so I think I’ll try to use the alternative flours less for my treats.


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