I’d really love to start this post with I did a 21 day sugar detox and I killed it but instead I’m going to say that trying to do a detox when your diet is already incredibly limited was a lesson in what not to do when your diet is already incredibly limited.
For starters, my diet is currently already limited to the following list:
*veggies (minus hard to digest veggies like cabbage. and brussels sprouts.)
*occasionally: grains like rice and quinoa
*coffee, tea, some liquors (I hate sweet drinks, so I drink all beverages with no sweeteners, even mixed drinks.)
The detox I attempted to do limited my diet to:
*veggies (but no potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets or other naturally sweet and starchy veggies)
*grapefruit, granny smith apples, not yet ripe bananas, lemons and limes
*meat, fish (but not cured meat)
Avoiding refined sugar is not hard for me. Unless I can find a dairy and soy free chocolate bar, there’s almost nothing sweet I can buy that is free of gluten, diary, soy and eggs. I also am not a baker, so making sweets is rare. Trying to cut back on my sweet tooth meant eating less fruit, not eating sweet potatoes, and not drinking wine. Ok, no problem.
Here’s what 21 days eating this way (above) translated to: not eating until 2 p.m. (or sometimes 4 p.m.) because I didn’t take time to figure out what I could eat on the detox, so instead, I just drank coffee and didn’t eat until the evening when I’d make a massive meal and go to bed with a headache from not eating all day. Really. Dumb.
Here’s the good and bad of what I learned over the last 21 days:
1. Bad: I already have to plan ahead for every single meal I eat. Trying to limit my diet even more especially when I’m busy translates to: It’s too much work. I’ll eat half an avocado and a latte and call it breakfast/lunch. This move over a number of days translates to massive headaches. That last for days. It basically moved me from eating Larabars and lattes all day to not eating and drinking coffee all day. Not healthy. Ridiculous.
2. Good: I don’t need to learn to eliminate sugar. I hardly eat it anyway. I used to have a major sweet tooth but I don’t as much any more, so why exactly am I trying to do this…? The detox was about limiting cravings. I already have a biologically built-in inability to digest so much that limits and cravings mean very different things to me now. Learning this about myself was really awesome.
3. Bad: Sure, giving up alcohol if a few weeks is probably healthy. When I crave something sweet, I crave a glass of wine, a bowl of coconut ice-cream, or a rice cake smothered in peanut butter and my mom’s homemade raspberry jam. (She makes a special one with less sugar for me now because she rules.) The only thing I craved on this detox was sweet potatoes and wine. These things are not inherently bad for me. I’m not sure avoiding them did me that much good.
4. Good: Avocados in smoothies are always a good idea. New favorite: 1/2 avocado, 1 banana, coconut/almond milk, 1 big spoonful of peanut or almond butter. Tasty good fats. Also, bacon and parsnips are a perfect combo. Who knew?
5. Bad: It’s day 22 and I ate 2 Larabars and an almond milk latte and called it breakfast/lunch. Clearly, I did not kick my Larabar habit. I’m not clear if this is a bad thing or just my reality right now.
6. Good: It was awesome to do this diet with my sister, brother-in-law, and friends. I created a private Facebook group for people doing the detox with us and it was so great to share all our recipes and cheer each other on when we wanted to face-plant into a pile of Oreos. (Or, if you’re me, into a glass of wine and a baked sweet potato.) My one thought is that if you are ever going to attempt to change anything in your diet, get a buddy. It’s easier with a buddy. I know this after 5 years of having to eat drastically different from everyone else. Having two siblings who eat like me makes me feel “normal” when it comes to eating.
7. Super Duper Bad: After 10 months, I decided to try eggs last week. It was a disaster. It deserves its own blog post. I’m currently reading up on the science of egg allergy testing to I can write an informed post on egg allergies. Needless to say, the science is not conclusive.
I think the good out-weighs the bad on the last 21 days. It made me realize that it’s okay to go gentle and remove things from my diet, but only if they really make sense for my well-being. Is a sweet potato and a glass of wine here and there really going to wreck me? No. But I think that given how little sugar (refined and natural) I actually consume, limiting myself more than I already have isn’t really all that worth it, especially if it only causes me more stress. (What the hell am I gonna eat? Answer: Nothing.) I think I’m going to stick to my sweet potatoes. And Pink Lady apples. And ripe bananas. I really really missed ripe bananas.
I committed to this detox to see what it would do for my skin and stomach aches. My skin is no better, but I know enough to realize 21 days is not going to change my skin. Eggs wrecked my stomach. I don’t consider the last 21 days a failure, though. I think of it more as a kick-starter to eating with a “restore” state of mind: gentle foods that heal and give your body some rest. I’m game to keep going with this. Only with ripe bananas.
Happy New Year!
It’s been over 4 months since i wrote here last. Time flies! I got lost in my dissertation proposal and didn’t come up for air until it went to committee Saturday, December 21st. I’m about to dive back into months of solid non-stop dissertation writing so I can graduate in 2014 (woohoo!), so I’m starting the new year with a “restore” diet for a few weeks to jump start the semester and rid myself of the massive amounts of sugar and booze I consumed over the holidays. I’m calling it a “restore” way of eating or diet rather than a detox because 1. detox diets are often very short and I intend to eat this way more generally for longer than 21 days 2. this diet is less about “detoxing” and more about feeding my body gentle, nurturing foods that restore energy and balance. Last year, I wrote a lot about sugar-free eating. Over the last 6 months, my functional wellness doctor and acupuncturist (my go-to women for both eastern and western health perspectives on my health) are strongly urging me to get rid of the sugar in order to help deal with my most persistent issues: stomach aches (post too much sugar), consistent skin issues (mainly acne like i’m 13 when i’m 34) and headaches, both caused by hormones, which sugar loves to mess with. I’ve resisted this complete elimination for 6 months because given how limited my diet already is, giving up sugar, even natural sugars, is not appealing.
I’m excited about dropping most sugar because the goal is not to loose weight or try to determine what might be a cause of chronic digestive pain (like in the past). The goal this time is to lessen my sweet tooth and sweet cravings by limiting all sugars: refined, natural, carbs, etc. and to see if it helps with headaches and my chronic skin issues.
Lucky me, I’ve enlisted my sister, brother-in-law, and some lovely friends to join me on the 21-day adventure. We are using Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox book because it has a lot of science-based info on sugar’s impact on the body, lots of recipes, and 3 different levels you can work from so you can figure out how hardcore you want to be based on your current diet. (I’m a level 3 because I’m already so restricted in my diet.)
Today we are literally getting dumped on by snow, which I spent some time shoveling. It was like shoveling endless mounds of confectioner sugar. All I could think about was sugar and how I was getting in a solid workout pushing so much of it off our super long driveway. (And regretting that we didn’t hire someone to plow this year.) Lucky us, I had roasted a chicken, so we came inside to yummy smells. I loved this dinner because it combined some of my favorite things: fennel, avocado, lime, mustard and horseradish. Looking forward to the left-overs after more shoveling tomorrow.
I adapted ideas from the book to create this dinner. I created a mustard glaze (p. 114) to use on the whole chicken (although this glaze could be used on any poultry pieces) but added in horseradish and used olive oil instead of coconut oil. The citrus salad ideas came from the grapefruit salad (p. 166) although the only similarities are the grapefruit, avocado pieces and lime juice. This recipe makes plenty for two people plus left-overs.
Roasted Chicken with Avocado Citrus Salad
1. In a small bowl, whisk glaze ingredients together. (See ingredients list below.) Brush all of the glaze over the chicken breasts, wings, and legs. This glaze can be used one a whole chicken or breast or thigh pieces. If you have any spare veggies laying around, through them in the bottom of the roasting pan around the chicken. I used a few carrots that came out with a yummy mustardy flavor. Roast chicken until skin darkens and meat is cooked through.
2. While chicken is roasting, prep salad. Chop parsley and scallions and place in a small bowl. Add chopped fennel, avocado wedges, and small pieces of grapefruit. Toss everything with lime juice, olive or avocado oil, salt and pepper. Place everything on top of fresh salad greens.
3. When chicken is done, carve and be sure to pour juices at the bottom of the pan on top of chicken pieces. Mix with salad and devour.
2 tbls olive oil
2 tbls spoons mustard (i used horseradish mustard)
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste
small handful of parsley
3 scallions (more or less if you like salads onion-y)
1 fennel bulb
juice from 1/2 lime (or full lime if you like a lot of citrus)
1 tbls of olive or avocado oil
salt and pepper to taste
mixed salad greens
*i’m sure a million people have done this before, but i had never heard of grilling kale.
*so, this week i decided that if i could grill it, it was going to be grilled.
*i’m kinda addicted to grilling veggies with olive or avocado oil right now.
*the last 2 weeks top choices: kale. mushrooms with fennel and lemon.
*i need to do more research: the idea of grilling on aluminum foil fills me with i’m-letting-more-aluminum-into-my-body dread.
*i’m very open to suggestions on this. grill baskets: thumbs down. you loose the oil. everything dries out.
*kale grilled: amazing. tastes like kale chips, only instead of the oven, you get to grill all of it.
*yet another way to get addicted to veggies.