21 Day Sugar Detox: Round 2

If you recall, the 21 Day Sugar Detox is a program developed by Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites to crush your sugar addiction, reduce cravings, and re-set your sweet tooth. It has "21 Day" built right into the name; it is not meant to be a permanent lifestyle, but rather a 3-week detox during which you can reclaim your power over sugar and see what life without sugar is life (and how good it can feel!)

The sugar detox rules (which prohibit/limit not only obvious sweets but also alcohol, fruit, and even cashews) can be found in the book available on Amazon.  It gives you all the information on what, why, and how to complete this detox and free yourself from sugar's grasp.

Last January, I completed my first 21 Day Sugar Detox, although I'd cut it short and made it 20 days--a decision I made ahead of time. You can read about that experience in this blog post. Overall, it was a great learning experience.

After this summer, I needed it again. I'd welcomed chocolate back into my life whole-heartedly, and I was beginning to feel some of the effects. With September--a new school year and a new busy schedule--I wanted to re-set my sweet tooth, cravings, and body once more, to show myself how sweet life without sugar can be.

This time, I did some practice and preparation the month before. During August, I consciously tried to cut out chocolate, and it felt really good. My stomach aches subsided and I stopped having "sugar head"--the state where I'm kind of foggy, but it's not quite a headache. Throughout the month, I had chocolate maybe two to three times, which is an accomplishment for me, someone who tended to eat chocolate nearly daily! Plus, those few times were each worth it; it wasn't just my standard Doves or chocolate-covered cashews; they were things like chocolate-dipped bananas. Yum.

Anyhow, enough reminiscing over the good times we had; for the most part, August established a separation between me and chocolate, which I'd hoped would make the transition into the 21 Day Sugar Detox easier.

And at first, it did. I was already out of the habit of simply picking up a bag of my favorite treat just because I could. When I was tired after a long day, I had to think of something else to reward and relax myself--a manicure? curling up with a good book? going for a walk and listening to a podcast? calling a friend?

But something funny happened, too. Saying goodbye to chocolate for August had been surprisingly not as difficult as I'd anticipated. I didn't have too much trouble. BUT: the minute I started the detox, it was all I wanted. Suddenly, all I could think about was getting my hands on chocolate.

The reason was twofold: 1) Knowing it was a "can't" instead of a "don't want to", and also 2) the timing.  I began my detox at the same time that work was starting back up. Stress kicked back in. I wanted to turn to my old soothing friend, chocolate.

Still, I managed.  In some ways, the stressful, busy times make it difficult to make the smarter choice, but at the same time, refraining from sugar kept me healthy and energized during the time I needed it the most.  The Daily Detox Emails from Diane & the 21DSD team were incredibly helpful motivators to keep on keeping on!  Without sugar, I had a clear head and was able to focus on my work.

All in all, a success. I had one evening of sugar-laden indulgence, one part of which was planned (a chocolate pretzel I'd been looking forward to), and the other part which was not planned (other things that, after eating the chocolate pretzel, didn't seem so bad at the time--if I already had one sugar/gluten item, why not just have a few bites of the other things NOW, too?) ... Well, that backfired. Eczema started up a bit and stomach definitely noticed. It was fine, though; these things went away.

 It was just a startling reminder of why I do what I do, further proof that what I consume has a direct and immediate effect on my health.  That's the lesson I need to keep learning over and over, and take with me as I continue to make better choices my default choices.

Other benefits:
- Improved skin clarity
- Improved mental clarity
- Slept well
- Realized that it is addictive; once I had one bite, I wanted more and more.
- Realized that sugar is hidden in many things I think of as safe, real foods

Once it was over -- then what?  Reunited with fruit and wine.  Realized that those chocolate-covered cashews really do make my head cloudy and my stomach cramp.  Taking three weeks away from an ingredient and then reintroducing it is the most effective way to see what it does to you.  And knowledge is power. It doesn't mean I will stop eating sugar or chocolate forever, but I can know and acknowledge its power over my health and make informed decisions about when and how I choose to consume it in the future. 

For anyone looking to crush their sweet tooth, or to discover if your headaches, stomach aches, any aches could be related to sugar, I highly recommend the 21 Day Sugar Detox.

Interested in trying for yourself? Check it out the soon-to-be-released book!

There will also be a companion cookbook, filled with recipes to help ensure your success during the three-week detox: The 21-Day Sugar Detox Cookbook: Over 100 Recipes for Any Program Level

Want it sooner? Check out the E-book.  It contains all the information you need, as well as recipes and workouts to help you along your way.  There are three different levels of the detox; you do not need to be following a paleo template to use the detox.

For more information on the 21DSD program: Read my previous post or check out The 21 Day Sugar Detox website or the active Facebook Page, where detoxers come together to answer questions and offer support to one another.

Have you ever done a sugar detox--or this detox? How does sugar affect YOUR mental and physical health? 

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