Towards the end of the year after three holiday-related work parties, a few of my coworkers talked about taking a break from sugar in the New Year. I made fun of them at the time ("I'm not going to be a slave to diets!" I said), but when I got home from a Christmas trip home—aka family food fest 2013—and was so over cookies I thought I might give them up for good, I decided I could make it through a sugar fast. Not permanently, mind you, just for 21 days—the supposed length of time that it takes to break a craving (though 6-8 weeks is recommended to make it a long-term habit).
I started doing some research, found some sugar detox plans but they were all paleo-ish (NOT for me. I love bread and cheese), so I decided to just make my own personal rules that involved significant changes, but were still doable.
My 21 Day Sugar Detox Rules21 days eating no foods with sugar in the ingredients, no fake sugars, and no alcohol. (honey, maple syrup are allowed in small portions)
This commitment inadvertently cut about half of the carbs from my diet because it meant almost no bread, no bagels or sweet breads and no cereal. Needless to say, one day into the experiment I was kicking myself (and others, if you must know). Have you ever tried drastically cutting carbs? It makes you light-headed and nauseated and stabby and pretty unpleasant to be around.
It's Friday, and I'm currently halfway through Day Five. I think I've made it through the "I hate everyone" portion of the diet, but I'm still sleepier than normal and feel hunger pangs more frequently than I used to. I chew on dried coconut chips when I want chocolate and I eat a tablespoon of almond butter while my husband wine in the evenings. It kind of sucks, but I'm doing it. And that's more than I can say about any health-related effort from the past.
Follow me on Instagram to see what I've been eating this week!
The main less I've learned so far is the impact of making good snack choices. Other than breakfast, my main meals haven't changed much. But now that I know I can't go get a pastry from Starbucks at 10am, I have to plan to pack a hard-boiled egg and cashews and hummus. And then they're right at my desk and they taste yummy and I think—how has it taken me this long to eat good snacks? Intentionality people.
I hope that at the end of this "detox", whether it turns out to be 7 days or the whole 21, I will have learned that enjoying treats is wonderful, they just cannot be a part of my daily snacking habits. I've already learning that making intentional snack choices takes only maybe five minutes a day. (much less scary than I imagined it to be!)
In case you're interested, here are a few resources I looked to for inspiration:
Meg Fee's series on giving up sugar
The 21 Day Sugar Detox (too extreme for me! but some helpful tips)
Is Sugar Toxic? (NY Times)
I'm feeling a little silly doing this detox and talking about it, since I don't usually subscribe to the strict healthy eating, paleo, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free stuff, nor have I ever been particularly healthy in my life, but I guess we can all make healthier choices, right? Have you made any changes recently? Wish me luck!