Everything I learned by the halfway point of my 21 day sugar detox rang true for my entire three-week journey. During the detox, I filled the void of sugar with more fat and protein, so it’s no wonder I felt good on the program. My body welcomed more nutrient-dense food, which was crucial as all three of my kids became sick during the challenge. Thankfully, I was fairly prepared when it came to meals and snacks, otherwise the compounding sickness might have caused me to veer off course to more convenient processed foods. Let me just say that if I can manage 21dsd compliance with three sick kids (including a new baby), then most anyone can succeed.
Based on my first-time experience eliminating sugar from my diet, I’ll give you a quick rundown of what I learned on the detox as well as what made my experience successful.
- I really don’t need sugar to survive. Contrary to what my palette may tell me, I really don’t need sugar all.day.long. I found that by cutting it out, I staved off a majority of cravings starting on Day 1. I had expected terrible cravings for the first week, but thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Maybe it was partially a mind-over-matter thing, as well as being fully satisfied at meals from fat and protein. I really don’t know. But it wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be. Toward the end of the challenge, I was looking forward to having my early afternoon hot cocoa (during the boys’ naptime), which may have more to do with clinging to my normal routine than anything else. Maybe I just craved peace and quiet and stillness for a few minutes 🙂
- I was getting too many calories from sugar. You’ve heard of empty calories, right? Well apparently I was getting so many calories from sugar that when I cut it out and upped my fat and protein intake, I still lost weight. Only 3 to 4 pounds over three weeks, but still, weight loss wasn’t a goal of the challenge and yet it still happened as a by-product.
- Meal planning makes life much easier. If you set aside some time on the weekend, meal planning isn’t hard and actually makes life a heck of a lot easier. It was so nice making less trips to the grocery store. I meal planned, grocery shopped and prepped as much as I could on the weekend, and we had enough to last us through the week (except for the occasional milk run for James for those days he downed a gallon a day).
- Fat is where it’s at. Scarlett’s sleeping habits have steadily worsened over the past month, but I feel like eating cleaner with more fat actually caused me to feel better than a couple weeks prior when I was getting slightly more sleep. Even on less sleep, by body was being fueled by plenty of fat (hello bulletproof coffee!) so I was able to push through the day without my tank running too empty. Don’t get me wrong, I was exhausted. But I’m sure I’ll still be exhausted at the end of the day in another year when she’s sleeping well.
- My food outlook changed. Though I’ve only been off the detox one week, I think that one great benefit is a shift in the way I see food. I realize how crucial good food is for fueling my body. I was reminded how not to shy away from fat. And I realized that just a little sugar goes a long way. I made two recipes this week and added in 1 to 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, whereas a month ago I would have added three times that amount.
Keys to 21DSD Success
- Well-stocked pantry: Thankfully, I usually keep a well-stocked pantry. I love cooking and baking food on the fly depending on my mood, so I keep my own version of basic staples on hand. These staples may not translate to all pantries, but would to those who often ‘eat clean.’ Such staples include alternative flours (almond meal, coconut flour, cashew meal, etc), alternative thickeners (arrowroot powder, tapicoa flour, xanthan gum) and alternative sugars (coconut sugar, raw honey, maple syrup) even though none was allowed on this program. These staples made it easy to whip up recipes, especially snacks, on the fly while the kids were napping. I know the book suggests removing all temptations from your pantry, but this wasn’t an option for me since I was the only one from my family on the detox. In a way, I think it made me more determined to stay strong when I spied some of my favorite non-compliant nut butters, dark chocolate squares or other weaknesses.
- Meal and snack planning: Though I often have a few dinners planned out each week, I never plan out the whole week’s worth of food, accommodating for dinners, lunches, breakfasts and snacks. But I made sure to plan for everything while on this detox, and I truly believe it made the challenge so much easier because I wasn’t caught off guard with a wave of hunger and nothing to satisfy it. I scoured Pinterest for recipes and even created a 21DSD board. When I have time (which feels like never) I’ll share my favorite recipes that I made during the detox.
- Meal prep: I tried to do some meal prep for the week on Sunday afternoons, when I knew James would be around to help with the kids. Sometimes this meant partitioning meat to freeze for the week or chopping up veggies. Prepped meals made it easy to throw ingredients in the crockpot in the morning or whip up dinner during naptime. I’ll admit that it was rare for me to cook at night because I’m dealing with putting all three kids to bed since James is still working. I try to only cook at night during the week if it’s something quick like sauteed fish or sauteed green beans. To that end, meal planning and prepping was crucial for me.
- Crockpot: I know some people are very against the crockpot…and I get it. I rarely used the crockpot before kids. But when time is limited and you still have to feed the masses, the crockpot becomes your best friend. It can turn even the toughest piece of meat into something tenderly delicious. I made quite a few crockpot meals on the 21dsd, and what’s great is they provided leftovers for lunch and often dinner the next night. Win-win.
- Lots of fats: I’ve never been shy of fat, thanks to James’ influence, but I made sure to up my fat intake on this challenge to ensure I was satiated and to avoid any negative impacts on my breastmilk supply. Basically, I just ate more of the fat I typically eat, including olive oil, coconut oil, grassfed butter, coconut butter, avocados, nut butters and seeds. I only felt really hungry once on the challenge, and I’m chalking that up to not eating enough breakfast.
It took me a week to churn this post out because my 19-month old has not been napping well (just cut out the paci), but I’m hoping to post my favorite 21dsd recipes soon. Stay tuned…