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January 1st, I was sitting on the couch recovering from a champagne hangover from NYE and trying to mentally prepare myself for the 21 Day Sugar Detox which I was starting the next day. It was hard for me to grasp the whole no stevia part of it because I LOVE that sweet stuff, but it was only 21 days and I felt comfort in the fact that I could always add it back in after the detox was over. I decided to do level 3 of the detox since I was already living a life without dairy, grains and legumes with the exception of an occasional "cheat" meal on some weekends.
For me level 3 meant cutting out my stevia (the hardest part for me), vegan protein powder (I use vegan because of my soy allergy and lactose intolerance), sweet potatoes (except for a couple post-workout meals), the occasional glass or three of wine on some weekends, red apples and banana omelets. Other than that, I didn't really have any issues with other fruits as I am doing my best to only eat what is in season.
I was actually quite nervous about cutting out my protein powder because I was using it daily post-workout and sometimes it is hard to get protein in on the go. But on the other hand it had a lot of unnecessary junk ingredients in it including glucose and the protein came from pea protein isolate, artichoke protein, organic sprouted amaranth powder and organic sprouted quinoa powder. I don't consume peas or quinoa in my everyday diet, so it really has no place in my protein shake. I did really enjoy how delicious they were and how I easily could get my protein in while on the go. But on the other hand, I was excited to consume real food post-workout because from what I hear that is best for the body. Plus who really needs all those extra ingredients floating about our body!
A normal day of food pre-detox would go like this:
- Wake up - 1-2 cups coffee with almond milk and tons of stevia. Breakfast would potentially be sweet potatoes sprinkled with cinnamon and stevia with a side of eggs or a banana omelet with cinnamon, stevia and topped with almond butter.
- Go to the gym and after have a post workout vegan protein shake with a Gala apple.
- Later have about three more meals spaced out throughout the day with protein, healthy fats and vegetables with a cup of green tea with stevia.
As you can see, I wasn't going crazy on sweets or real sugar but I was including quite a bit of stevia daily and using the vegetable based protein powder about 5-6 days a week.
A day of food while on the 21 DSD:
- Wake up - Have a warm glass of lemon water and 1 cup of coffee black with cinnamon and vanilla extract. Breakfast was eggs with carrots, avocado, tomato, mushrooms, ect. or Paleo pumpkin pancakes topped with coconut butter. I wrote an entire post about breakfast ideas because my dishes were getting so creative!
- Post-workout I would have two hard boiled eggs or chicken and a green apple. Towards the end of the detox I had 1/2 cup of sweet potato post workout.
- The next three meals would be meals like chicken tortilla-LESS soup, grassfed ground beef with vegetables, curry chicken drumsticks, spicy chicken thighs, spicy shrimp and vegetables in tomato sauce, or curry salmon mixed with vegetables.
As I mentioned, I finally started to get used to life without stevia and started to drink black coffee with cinnamon and vanilla extract. I think the hardest part of the detox was that I couldn't sweeten my coffee because I knew just how delicious a sweetened coffee was. But I survived and didn't give in at all!
I didn't miss wine really except one night when I had an exceptionally stressful day, but I still did not give in. I even went to a bar to watch the Denver Broncos play and enjoyed my time while everyone around me was boozing it up. I think the fact that I was felt so amazing and energized kept me from feeling like I was missing out on the fun.
Benefits I received from the detox:
- Within three days of the detox, my jawline acne cleared up completely! I believe this to be either hormonal or from consuming dairy on the occasional weekends in a "cheat" meal. It usually takes weeks for the acne to clear up because it is deep. So I was completely shocked that it was gone.
- I was bursting with energy! Normally when 8pm rolled around, I feel sluggish and just want to crawl into bed or lay on the couch after a long day. Sometimes I would even fall asleep riding home on the subway. But during the detox I was zipping around my apartment cleaning, cooking, blogging or doing school work and never felt as though I just wanted to sleep. It was amazing!
- I always had a good nights rest no matter how many hours I slept. I really loved waking up so refreshed in the mornings and never really felt like I wanted to hit the snooze button a million time.
- I lost 5.8lbs! I weighed once during the middle of the detox and was quite pleased with the results. I only worked out during the last two weeks and would have been curious to see if I lost any more had I been working out the entire time.
- I could taste the natural sweetness in foods such as carrots and green apples. I was a bit shocked and thought I was cheating so I posted a question onto the 21DSD Facebook wall and was reassured that I was not, but that I was just tasting the natural sugars.
During the detox I never cheated or slipped up, but I did binge eat a couple times on foods that tasted sweet to me and that was a bummer. I ate roasted carrots quite a bit and one evening they tasted so exceptionally delicious, I ate about three 1lb bags in one sitting. Then another night I made homemade almond butter with just raw almonds and proceeded to eat an entire jar in only 2.5 days. I had a couple other weak moments with raw almonds towards the end of the detox. I think I missed sweet stuff so much that I would go overboard when I found something that tasted sweet to me. But I guess there could have been worse things to over indulge on.
Since finishing, I have had a few treats here and there and am giving organic green leaf stevia a try, but so far it tastes like grass to me and I don't recommend it. Overall I really enjoyed the detox! I ate a ton of great food, had some impressive results and I proved to myself that I could survive without stevia! I would definitely recommend to anyone who feels like they have a dependency to sugar or like me, just wants to see how your body responds without artificial sweeteners. I also recommend this program for people who want to transition into a more whole foods based or Paleo lifestyle.
My tips for others who are starting the 21 Day Sugar Detox:
- Plan ahead! Find recipes you want to try during the detox and make a grocery list of all the items you will need. I made a Pinterest board of approved recipes and would use that to plan out my meals. If you can, try to go shopping before day 1 of the detox.
- Cook in large batches. Take one evening to cook several different meals and pack them in containers for the week. Don't forget, you can always freeze foods if you don't think you will be able to eat them in time.
- Always be prepared on the go! Make sure you bring food with you everywhere you go. Since you've already cooked and prepackaged your meals ahead of time, you can just throw a couple food containers in your bag and head off for the day.
- Eat spicy food! I have never really been big on spicy food, but since the detox I learned to love a heavy amount of cayenne pepper, cumin and curry seasonings on my foods. It for one, stopped all sweet cravings and two, it kept me feeling full for a few hours. If you aren't into spicy foods yet, start with a very small amount and add more as you are able to tolerate it. You will most likely learn to love it and become and addict like I did!
- Drink a ton of water! Most of the time we mistake hunger for thirst, so to prevent the hunger pangs drink lots of water throughout the day. I started my mornings off with a warm glass of water and half of a lemons juice, then used the other half of the lemon in my water bottle to drink during the day.
- Find your beverage of choice. It took me a while to get used to coffee black or with cinnamon and vanilla, but after a while I acquired a taste for it. I also used coconut oil and grassfed butter in my coffee towards the end of the detox and those were also enjoyable. But if black coffee is not your thing, find a tea that you love such as mint or ginger tea and enjoy.
- Lastly, just remember that it is only 21 days and the sweet stuff will still be there waiting for you once it's all over. But hopefully after the amazing benefits you receive from it, you wont get too crazy :)
Would you ever do a 21 day sugar detox? What is one thing you would feel like you couldn't live without for 21 day?
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