7 Day Sugar Detox
"People never get tired of hearing good things about their bad habits." -John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods
Last Monday, I decided to do a 7 day sugar detox. This is probably the tenth time in life I've done something similar, be it a Whole30, elimination diet, or just intentional eating for a set period of time. I don't incorporate a lot of sugar into my normal diet, and I don't consume any added or processed sugar, unless I'm eating out or getting dessert. But, in my past Whole30s and other "strict" endeavors, I've noticed that I tend to over-consume things like fruit, dates, stevia, etc, which aren't necessarily bad, but can spike your blood sugar and increase cravings if you're constantly feeding your body sweet things.
I've also been reading a lot about the benefits of incorporating healthy fats into your diet, which keep you satiated and help your body burn fat as a fuel source, rather than sugar. (Eat Fat, Get Thin by Dr. Mark Hyman is a great resource on this topic). My focus throughout the last week was to limit my natural sugars, avoid all processed and added sugars, and incorporate healthy fats into each and every meal. The purpose of a sugar detox that is this short is two-fold. For someone who has never done one, it's a bit more achievable than doing a 21 day or 30 day reset. As a country, we are literally addicted to sugar (it's the leading cause of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease), so it's so important to learn how to eat without relying on it or other artificial sweeteners.
"When our diet is filled with quickly absorbed sugars and refined carbohydrates, your cells slowly become resistant or numb to the effects of insulin. Your body then needs more of it to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, and you become insulin resistant. More and more insulin is needed to feed the cycle. And because insulin is the fat storage hormone, you get fatter and fatter, and most of that fat is in your belly, coating all your vital organs. It is dangerous, appetite-disrupting, and inflammatory - and it causes diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and dementia. Eventually, your cells become so resistant to insulin that your blood sugar stays up and your pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to fight against the high blood sugar or your numb cells. And right there is where you cross the line into diabetes. But way before that, often decades before, this process is causing diabesity and wreaking havoc on your body – including triggering cholesterol problems, heart attacks, depression, and memory loss, as well as fueling cancer cells. It even causes acne and infertility and lowers testosterone-causing impotence." -Eat Fat, Get Thin by Dr. Mark Hyman
For someone like me who loves nutritional science, intentionally eliminating sugar is a nice reminder of how good your body feels when it's fueled properly, and it allows me to get back on track with the way I prefer to eat after a week of splurging. So, if you're curious, here are the guidelines I followed for my sugar detox and some recipes included!
My Rules for the 7 Day Sugar Detox
-no sugar (refined, processed, added, variations, artificial sweeteners, etc). Check ALL your labels.
-no dairy (besides grass-fed butter and ghee) or gluten (they are inflammatory, even if you aren't allergic)
-no fruits besides the ones listed below
-no sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil, vegetable oil
-no date-sweetened snack bars (Lara Bars, RX bars)
-berries (I had one serving per day of blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries)
-watermelon (low glycemic index)
-fish, poultry, and grass-fed red meat
-nuts and seeds
-olive oil, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, ghee, grass-fed butter
-grains (oats, quinoa, millet, amaranth): if you have never done any sort of elimination diet, I would highly recommend excluding all grains so that you know if your body responds negatively to them. I stayed off grains for the first half of the week, but did have 1/3 cup of oats for breakfast the second half of the week. I know my body responds just fine to grains, and I'm very active, so I thrive on the additional source of carbohydrates in the morning, even though I make a protein and fat-packed oatmeal.
-kombucha: I allowed myself a GT's Kombucha each day because they don't add any sugar after the fermentation process, but they do sweeten with fruit juice. If you include it, I'd suggest getting a flavor like Gingerade or Lemonade, that isn't as fruity.
-legumes: Just like with grains, eliminate them for the week if you've never tried it before. I didn't have any this week, but I also don't have issues digesting them from past experience.
-potatoes: For the purpose of this experiment, I didn't have potatoes or sweet potatoes this week, which are a staple of mine during Whole30 and regular life. Because I was trying to go heavier on fat and lower on carbohydrates, I left these starchy vegetables out.
I've posted many times about my love for Bulletproof coffee, and thankfully, it's an excellent source of healthy fats and a great way to start your day! I used my Omega Power Creamer all week, which is full of grass-fed butter, MCT oil, and coconut oil. This method was designed by Dave Asprey, owner of Bulletproof, to "supercharge your brain function and create effortless fat loss with no cravings." All you do is blend a cup of black coffee with your Omega Power Creamer (or the individual ingredients), and I like to add cinnamon, as well.
Just FYI, it's not going to taste like "normal" coffee that's made with creamer. However, it is very rich and frothy, and I love the flavor. It's not sweet, but that is kind of the point!
Cauliflower Berry Smoothie
-1 cup of riced, frozen cauliflower
-1/2 cup berries
-1 handful of spinach
-1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
-Wild Friends Almond Butter
-flax seeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds
No, you can't taste the cauliflower, and it helps make the smoothie creamy, even without a banana. I would've added some Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, too, but I just ran out!
The World's Best Oats
-1/3 cup organic oats (use steel cut if you have them)
-1 spoonful of coconut oil
-cover in unsweetened almond milk to cook
-stir in Wild Friends Almond Butter
-top with berries
Sorry the picture is ugly, I am so not a food blogger, and this was mid-bite! I make my own burgers with ghee in the cast iron skillet, and tend to eat them with a huge salad. Sometimes, I ditch the mustard and use avocado on the burger, too.
This salad has spinach, red onion, red pepper, cucumber, and Tessemae's balsamic vinaigrette (totally compliant for a sugar detox).
I use different proteins in my salads, different veggies (both cooked and raw), and different greens as a base. It takes 5 minutes to throw together and is extra satisfying because of the healthy fats. This one has:
- raw kale
-dressing of olive oil and ACV (apple cider vinegar)
-1/2 an avocado
Eggs, because eggs
The most basic of all meals.
-2 eggs fried in ghee in the cast iron skillet
-1/2 an avocado
-cherry tomatoes, spinach, and green onions sautéed in ghee
This took me less than 10 minutes to throw together!
Other simple ideas:
-eggs cooked any way, with any combination of compliant sausage/bacon and veggies in them or on the side.
-salmon with any vegetables (brussels sprouts are my go-to).
-mixed nuts for snacks
-crockpot meals that are basically meat and a veggie or compliant soups. You can find thousands if you google Whole30 or paleo crockpot meals, just make sure there is no honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup in the paleo ones.
You'll notice that the meals I suggest are thrown together and very simple because that is what works for me. When you eat this way long enough, your palette changes to love the taste of these foods, without a bunch of ingredients or a complicated recipe. (I promise, I used to be the world's pickiest eater and craved plain pasta and chicken fingers as a teen). I had a very busy week and didn't have time to really meal prep, but if this is your first time doing a detox, I'd suggest getting creative to show yourself how good clean eating can be!
I also only suggested one snack because, with so many healthy fats incorporated, I was far less hungry for a snack. Normally, I crave my snacks, even on Whole30, and I think that is because I haven't been as intentional about having fat at every meal in the past. I didn't weigh myself before starting this, but I can 100% say that all of my clothes fit better, I do not feel bloated in the least, I have tons of energy, and my skin is clear, all of things I would've complained about a week ago after the vacation-style eating I had been doing.
Personally, "diets" and detoxes that require you to count and measure your food do not work for me. Counting macros and obsessing over portion sizes take my brain to an unhealthy place and make food a chore. I believe that God created our bodies to be fueled by real food, and we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves. Instead of measuring, worrying, and counting, try focusing on real nutrition and educate yourself about ingredients and how they interact with your body. The results are obvious, and I promise that you will not regret eliminating sugar for a week. Hopefully, it will help you make more intentional choices in the long run!