It is absolutely no overstatement to say that the 21 Day Sugar Detox changed my life.
Not only did I see great physical changes (many good, one not so), my whole attitude to food changed. Before doing the plan, I’d estimate that 90% of my foods came from a packet. I very rarely made a meal from scratch and my bag hadn’t contained a packed lunch for 10 years. Seriously.
I’ve split this post into sections so you’re not confronted with a big sprawling mess of emotions and experiences. If you don’t want to read it all, I really enjoyed the plan, would recommend it if you feel frustrated and stuck in a food trap, ailments that aren’t improving or want better sleep and glowy skin.
The 21 Day Sugar Detox
Before the plan, I was feeling really down. I was eating two boxes (up to 400g) of chocolate a night, munching two packs of Maynards Sours before filing any copy. Barely sleeping and feeling exhausted. I never felt satisfied and could never drink enough coffee. I was constantly itchy, with eczema on my back, chest, legs, arms and dry skin on my face that wouldn’t clear.
One night, I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to change, ordered the book and decided to commit fully to it.
I know, I’m selling myself as a real catch, right? Well, I also had mood swings and often felt shaky and unwell, which would clear up if I had some sugar.
I’m an all or nothing girl so went for Level 3 of the plan – the hardest, super strict paleo level. It restricted fruit to one portion a day, carbs like sweet potato only after exercise and meant making all of my own meals was essential.
Level 3 is not for the faint hearted. No grains, wheat, gluten, dairy, sugars, limited caffeine. I cleared my cupboards of dates, cereal bars, berries, cakes, Loacker bars and cordial and went for it.
Food prep became my best friend. I prepped everything (and saved a fortune). From muffins and pancake batter for breakfast …
apple mini muffins
banana pancakes, almond butter, cacao nibs
… to coconut cookies and nuts for snacks…
… to salads for lunch…
leaves, cucumber, roasted veggies, tomato
lettuce, cucumber, carrot, tomato, tuna
smoked salmon, cucumber, carrots, lettuce, ACV dressing
… and multi-meal dinners
homemade turkey burgers, lettuce buns and roasted veggies
chicken and veggies with courgette noodles
turkey bolognese with a cauliflower crust
grilled chicken, avocado, stir fried veggies
and a few treats, which I had trouble portion controlling..
almond butter cups, almond butter
Honestly, I never once felt deprived on this plan. I was eating great plates of colourful, nourishing foods. I felt energetic, my mood was consistently up and I sleep deeper.
I took photographs of my face every day to see if there was a difference. Well, here’s the final result:
So if we go back to my original list of aims for 21DSD and look at what I actually achieved on the plan:
I still can’t believe how clear my skin is when I look in the mirror. My eczema has totally cleared, I now longer have to stockpile tissues from constant colds, I feel more clear headed. I haven’t felt this good in years.
Food prepping has also meant I’m eating more regularly, meaning less frantic dashes for food and energy in the evenings to workout – something I never had before.
The down side I’ve mentioned a few times on here before – weight gain and a bloated stomach. If I thought I was bloated before, well my stomach now has brought new meaning to that!
I don’t blame this on the programme. I blame it on me. Comfort eating whole tubs of nub butter. Also, I packed myself off with stacks of coconut cookies and roasted salted pistachios every day. I don’t think they’re bad snacks but they are quite high calorie – an apple or nakd bar would more than sufficed.
I actually did the 21DSD for 25 days because I felt so good. Then, on Friday night, I cracked into a box of chocolates. Oh boy it was blissful! But the next morning, I woke up with a super swollen face, itchy throat, runny nose. It suddenly hit me “I used to feel like this every single day”, which was quite sobering.
So I’ll be avoiding the foods I’ve been allergy tested for – dairy and wheat – and steering away from sugar. I also haven’t felt any need to return to certain sources of sugar in my diet I hadn’t considered.
Pre-marinated chicken fillets, cordial, ready made sauces and soups – I don’t feel any need to return to these as making my own is cheaper and often tastier. Dates, more fruit and nakd bars are back on the menu though – they’re perfectly portable pick-me-ups. Good raw chocolate is also very much appreciated!
I haven’t ruled out doing 21DSD again. There are lots of meal plan options in the book and Diane’s other tome, Practical Paleo, and so many exciting recipes to try! My plan is to keep tabs on my sugar consumption and keep my list of symptoms pre 21DSD on my phone for regular checking – if I start seeing them creeping back in I’ll reassess where I am and going back.
If you’re interested in learning more about 21DSD, check out the balanced bites website. It is beyond packed with resources, from a forum, Facebook group, so many many recipes, Pinterest boards - the 21DSD world really is your oyster!
* Do you watch your sugar intake?
* Have you ever completed a ‘diet’ plan?