Instead of the usual RV related topics, I decided to share my experience on my recent sugar detox.
I have always had a sweet tooth, which I know was inherited from my mom. Although desserts were for special occasions, there was always Hershey bars, candy and ice cream in the house growing up. And real Kool-Aid, the kind in the tiny packets you mixed with 1 full cup of sugar! Of course, I have a mouth full of cavities to go along with the sweet tooth. Halloweeen was a time I look forward to, not because you could dress up in a costume. It was the bags of fun-size candies, like Dots and Mild Duds, that were always on sale in October!
But after exercising and doing a lot of walking without seeing any results, I realized it was time to face reality, and change my eating habits. I have met others that gave up sugar, and they all stated the same thing: ‘the pounds just melted away.’ I was very skeptical.
I decided to start with small changes, such as giving up my beloved Diet Pepsi, and stop putting in Splenda and flavored cream in my daily cup of instant coffee. I quickly discovered instant coffee tastes horrible all by itself. So I splurged and bought a small 5 cup coffee maker, and now have “real” coffee. What a difference in taste that makes, even without sugar and cream!
The Diet Pepsi habit proved to be a lot harder to break than I expected. That’s when I knew I needed to just go all in on cleaning up my eating habits. I purchased “The Sugar Detox” book by Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN and Patricia Farris, MD, FAAD, which offers an easy to follow plan on kicking your sugar habit. I chose this book over others, because you eat “real food,” not just supplements and shakes. You start out with a 3-day sugar detox. Absolutely no sugar for the first three days, along with no fruit, dairy, grains or pasta. You are allowed protein, nuts and specific vegetables. You can also have 1 cup of coffee (black) and unsweetened tea as well. No alcohol of any kind during the first three days.
After the 3 days are up, you progress on a four week plan. Each week, more categories of food are allowed, which provides natural sugars. No processed foods of any kind are allowed during the entire 31 days. The focus of the book is on sugar. This is not a “low carb” diet. Good carbohydrates, such as those found in beans and whole grains, are okay.
The book provides some recipes and has a daily meal plan, including snacks, that help out with keeping you on track. The first three days are the hardest, and by the third day I felt lethargic and had a bad headache. According to the book, this is normal. I did not have any cravings, and I feel that is due to the fact I already stopped drinking diet soda, and had been drinking coffee without additives for a week prior to starting this. Otherwise I would have been miserable!
Once the three day detox is up, week one begins. You can add in foods with natural sugar, in limited amounts. One apple per day is the only allowed fruit during week one. One serving of dairy is also allowed, such as 1 ounce of cheese (who eats just one ounce?!), 5 ounces plain yogurt, 1/2 cup of cottage cheese or 1/2 cup of low or full-fat milk. Skim milk, along with other fat-free products are never recommended, as they generally have higher amounts of sugar to replace the fat that was removed. One glass of red wine is permitted, but only three times per week. More approved vegetables are allowed in week one (the book contains detailed lists of what can be eaten each week), as well as a one ounce serving of seeds, such as pumpkin, chia or flax. I mixed chia seeds in a cup of plain yogurt for one breakfast. It did take some getting used to the taste! No flavored yogurts allowed.
Dan and I did go for a 6 1/2 mile hike with multiple elevation changes up to 600 feet during week one. I was surprised at how exhausted I was during the hike, and had to stop and rest several times. This was not normal for me, as I have no problem hiking or walking a long distance. It made me look forward to starting week two, when more food choices would be added back in.
For the first 10 days, we had been eating a lot of chicken, shrimp, pork, lean beef and fish, along with vegetables and salads (they provide a recipe for sugar free salad dressing). I never felt hungry, and did not have any cravings for sweet things. By the way, Dan was not doing the sugar detox, but did eat whatever I made for dinner, and had “healthier” sides to go along with his sandwich for lunch. But he stills drinks one can of Mt. Dew at lunch and a sugar bomb cafe mocha for breakfast! (he has since switched to regular coffee, which saves 20 grams of sugar.)
More vegetables, such as peas and cooked carrots (raw was okay prior to this) are allowed. Two servings of dairy per day is allowed as well. But the big addition was more fruit! In addition to one daily apple, you can have 1/2 cup of berries or cantelope. Red wine remains at a maximum three servings for the week.
This may sound very restrictive, and at first it is. But knowing that you start to add foods back in, it really makes it easy to follow. I would always look forward to Saturdays, when a new week started!
Starting the third week, you can add in 1 ounce of dark chocolate (62% cocoa or higher). I discovered I did not even need this much chocolate. Just one bite was plenty satisfying.
Also added in week three were grains: quinoa, barley, oatmeal. One serving per day. No rice, cereal or bread yet.
Red wine is increased to a maximum 4 glasses per week.
Dairy was increased to two servings per day. I have been trying out different brands of plain 2% fat Greek yogurt. There is certainly a difference in creaminess and tartness. Greek style has almost double the protein and about 1/3 the sugar than regular plain yogurt. I have been trying out Fage brand lately, which I really enjoy. I put 1/2 cup of blueberries and one tablespoon of chia seeds in it.
Energy wise, I am feeling better. However, my sleep has been poor this week. I wake up after 4 hours, and I cannot get back to sleep. I am not sure if this is related to this sugar detox or not.
The finish line is in view! Added in this week, is whole grain bread, cereal and brown rice, limited to one serving per day. Wine is increased to a maximum 5 glasses per week.
My energy level was back to normal, and I had no sugar cravings.
I never felt starved or deprived on this sugar detox. The fact you continue adding in foods, makes it easier to follow than a very restrictive diet.
I think the biggest help for me was quitting diet soda and drinking black coffee before I started this. Otherwise, it would have been more of a struggle at the beginning. In just 31 days, I ended up losing 8 pounds, and 3% body fat. And I stopped exercising during this time. So yes, the weight does “just fall off!”
My goals are to continue to avoid diet and regular soda, although to be honest, water does get boring!
Making simple changes: brown rice instead of white, whole grain pasta (Barilla brand tastes good) instead of white, and whole grain bread instead of my favorite white bread, which stays soft and squishy for 2 weeks.
If you’re interested in cutting down on sugar, I would definitely recommend this. It’s only 31 days out of your life, and it gets easier each week!
Quote for the day: “If God hadn’t meant for us to eat sugar, he would not have invented dentists. ” – Ralph Nader