Monday, February 25, 2013

I Quit (sort of).

Two weeks ago I began the 21 Day Sugar Detox. That's right; I signed up to go without sugar for three weeks. On purpose.

I've known for awhile that my relationship with sweets had become a needy one. If I was awake I wanted sugar. Even my healthy snacks tend to be pretty high in natural sweeteners: raisins, berries, bananas, etc. We can't even have cookies in the house. Like a good, health conscious mom, I'd pack Emily once serving size of cookies in her lunch. By the time she got home from school the remaining cookies would be gone.

Old-Fashioned Peanut-Butter Cookies from Real Simple

More and more, I'm hearing how sugar is as addictive as a drug, and Americans are consuming toxic levels of sugar annually. I started to worry I had lost my ability to appreciate the natural taste of food. After a suggestion from a good friend I took the plunge - I dropped $21.00 on the 21 Day Sugar Detox and its four supplementary guides, plus a daily e-mail.

The detox promoted its many benefits - higher and more even energy levels,  better sleep, clearer skin, less bloating, and, of course, freedom from craving carbs and sugar.

At first, it went pretty well. Not least because I could still have my coffee. The guide includes "eat" and "don't eat" lists, meal suggestions, and recipes. I must have spent an hour planning my menu for the week followed by Ben and Emily's menu. I had in no way expected they would join me in this crazy dietary experiment, so they only ate about a third of the same meals I ate.

My baked Parmesan tomatoes based on a recipe from Eating Well
Those tomatoes, alongside a nice rib-eye and some broccoli made for a delicious dinner. However, at the end of my first week, I'd had about 10 egg-based dishes. I'm not a huge fan of eggs. So my mood about this deal was quickly souring. Week two started with another long session of menu planning. Still, if I thought I was sinking a lot of time into this detox it was nothing compared to the amount of money going into this thing. By day 11, I was done.

via MB Art Studios
Most of the food, especially the snacks, were either not tasty or I'd eaten so often they'd lost their appeal. I did not have more energy. In fact, if I did not eat every hour my energy level sunk until I felt as though I was moving through pudding. My sleep did not noticeably improve. Finally, every meal and most snacks had to be prepared from scratch so I spent hours each day making food.

A lot of people seem to really like this detox, though. That probably makes me weird, but I'm going to put myself in the "limited edition" category instead. I was actually able to find a few positive aspects.

Things I liked:

The daily e-mails often alleviated some of my fears about failing (my limited ability to buy organic, grass fed, etc.) and offered tips to get me through feeling yucky.

The Facebook community is pretty stellar. 21DSD personnel and other detox participants are usually prompt in answering any questions you may post.

There is a huge amount of support for people who "slip up" during their 21 days. Perfectionism is not a primary goal, which alleviates some of the pressure that comes with making so many big changes.

"Lines " from Important Things With Demetri Martin. Season 2 Episode 7 via A Delicate Point of View

Things I didn't like:

So. Many. Typos. Mistakes in the e-book/manual, typos in the e-mails, poor grammar in the blog posts. It was off-putting from the start.

The links in the manual went to articles and videos six years old! Surely there is more contemporary science out there to support this detox. Also, is it all that hard to update links in an e-book?

Also, some of the answers to my Facebook questions were unhelpful at best. I described some of my issues and received this answer:

"When you think about your food budget consider home meals and restaurant meals. I usually freak out when I see the grocery bill for weeks I plan to eat at home everyday, but I save money going out."
For a plan that emphasizes plain, natural, and raw foods it seems counter-intuitive to turn my meals over to a restaurant. Also, are these people not feeding a family? I can't just say to Ben and Emily "Mommy's going out to eat so you're on your own  for dinner. Peace out!"

As I said, a lot of people seem to like and have benefited from completing the 21 Day Sugar Detox. You might be someone who finds this sort of cleanse a perfect start to achieving your health goals. To you, I offer these tips:

Prepare early! This gets said a lot, but nobody really tells you how to prepare. I chose a start date three days after I purchased the e-book, bought some food stuffs, and called it good. I was wrong. If I ever do something similar I would buy the book and plan to start at least a month later. Then I'd read the manual and all the supplements while simultaneously adding one or two the required food items into my weekly grocery purchases. I might also try a few of the recipes. I think that type of preparation would have spread out the monetary cost, and allowed me to make my meals a little faster once I finally started.

Step away from the TV. When I watch TV I have some sort of Pavlovian response telling me I'm hungry. I am oddly unable to enjoy a show without that hand-to-mouth motion. If you're the same way I suggest you cut your tube time, and, if you want a snack, take only one serving of food to the couch with you.

Don't go it alone. Try as they might, the 21 DSD community cannot give you personalized, in depth nutrition advice.  They don't know me from the thousands of other posters. My lifestyle, habits, weight, height, etc. are all factors in my detox experience and should be taken into account when I need input about my progress. If you can, discuss this detox with your doctor or a nutritionist. Check in with him regularly, and expect that any questions you have will be answered based on your personal health history. You may also find a live group helpful; something more intimate than, you know, the world wide web.

And there you have my dietary experiment. Let me know if you do something similar and how it goes, k?

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