What were my perceived results of my efforts with the 21 Day Sugar Detox?
It didn’t turn out as glowingly as expected in some ways. I noticed that I was having a great deal of trouble with constipation. I also found myself leaving too much time between meals. I did get a sense of how much I use food to cope with my emotions. I learned a lot from this experience.
At first I blamed the constipation on the few times I had eaten dairy about a month before. I also blamed it on the supplements I wasn’t taking for at least a month because I couldn’t afford them: probiotics, Magnesium glycinate, Vitamin C, Zinc, B-complex, EPA-DHA, Vitamin D3, or 5-HTP. I also had difficulty sticking to a regular sleep schedule—which is nothing new really.
Finally, I concluded that the problem was a combination of the first three as well as the result of an extremely low-carb diet. This concept occurred to me when I looked at this interesting website called Gut Sense by Mr. Monastyrsky. I haven’t verified that all his information is accurate; but a lot of what he’s got to say makes sense from my experience. Some aspects of his products look good; while I’m skeptical of some of the ingredients especially for those with severe leaky gut.
What’s leaky gut? Learn more by reading Sarah Ballantyne’s What is Leaky Gut? (And How Can It Cause So Many Health Issues?)
Of course, avoid eating foods you are allergic or sensitive to; especially immediately before a detox is important. I have a tendency to go a little overboard with indulgence the days prior to a planned detox. Hint- this is counter-productive. This is only going to increase the amount of inflammation and mucous created in the intestines and throughout the body; making the detox process more slow and difficult.
- Next, it’s important to eat meals at regular intervals. Depending on your level of health, you may have to eat every 2 hours or just 2 meals a day and a small snack. I personally have to eat every 3 hours for the time being. I listen to my body. It wasn’t as easy to listen to my body when I wasn’t completely prepared with 21 Day Detox meals. I did prepare; but obviously not well enough. Next time, I will do my best to freeze up some meals in the weeks beforehand. Now would be a good time to start because I’ve planned to do this quarterly. July 1st will begin my next detox. Another tip is to have a cooler bag packed. I know better than to ever leave the house without some snacks and full meals if I’ll be out for long. I always regret when I slack on this preparation. Either my adrenals suffer, or I end up eating something I’m sensitive to. Dehydrated foods come in handy, but please keep them to a minimum. Hydration is really important for detoxifying. Having a small screw top jar of virgin coconut oil in my purse along with a spoon has been a lifesaver. It’s also really healing to the gut and easy on the liver. Read more about coconut oil:
- Health and Nutritional Benefits of Coconut Oil: An Important Functional Food for the 21st Century
Sleep is really important. It helps regulate various hormones and insulin; which in turn regulates hunger and reduces sugar cravings. It is necessary for regularity of bowel movements as well as supporting the adrenals. I probably missed a ton more benefits of regular sleep. Check out this fun infographic: This Is Your Body Without Sleep. It’s quite the challenge if one’s circadian rhythms are out of whack; but persistence and discipline are necessary.
I have learned quite a few relaxation techniques over the years (meditation, hypnosis, centering/grounding, exercise, diaphragmatic breathing, SRI, EFT, TSM, visualization, writing, energy medicine…). These help to quiet my busy mind in the late hours. I didn’t pull all of those tricks out of my bag for this detox. I regret lapsing on my yoga practice. Yoga not only calms my mind and relaxes my body. It helps my bowels and my lymphatic system eliminate toxins. There are a ton of other benefits for yoga.
So, I had so much trouble with regular bowel movements that I was using enemas sometimes daily. It is really important to have regular bowel movements during a detox so the body can eliminate the toxins efficiently. Having some really misshapen plumbing from years of Crohn’s damage makes it even more important. I don’t want to risk bleeding or bowel perforation.
Yeah, it’s a little gross. Healing is not for sissies. Don’t be afraid of enemas. A lot of old wives tales are out there about how enemas are bad for health. Funny how people are getting sicker while time-tested methods are discarded in favor of “modern” medicine. Learning how to administer them safely is important. I use this Home Enema Kit and Enema Supplies. I find neem oil works best as a lubricant.
I’m still working on the right amount and types of carbs to keep everything on track. I can’t have too many FODMAP foods because I end up bloated and in pain; but I can have them in limited amounts which help me keep up my carb intake. Mastering moderation is unavoidable in my life. Ripe bananas seem to work very well as long as I don’t eat too many. Root veggies work; but I need at least 2 cups of them (provided they aren’t high-FODMAP) in addition to some non-starchy, preferably green, veggies. Carrots were very popular on my detox since they are a 15% carb veggie that aren’t high-FODMAP. One cup of carrots per meal is supposedly around 20 g of carbs. My nutritionist suggested 20-30 g of carbs per meal, so 20 isn’t bad. I had some issues with what felt like sugar spikes in the past with winter squash. It may be time to try using them more often. I’ve found that the health of my gut has a lot to do with the foods I can handle. Instead of writing off certain foods forever, I try adding some back in when my health improves. I want to avoid (or keep to a minimum) gluten, grains, beans, corn, nightshades, and white sugar.
What do I feel was the greatest benefit of my 21 Day Sugar Detox?
I was more aware of my desire to eat emotionally. Honestly, I didn’t have a truly physical desire for sugar or carbs. I attribute this to a mostly clean diet for the last 6 years and a strict paleo and mostly AIP diet for the last 7 months. That is why I was able to go for long periods without eating at times. I was still drawn to calm and comfort myself with food. I ended up getting a lot more done with this awareness. I busied myself with non-food activities. It was actually freeing at times. My life has revolved around my stomach for so long. It is sometimes exhausting. Food is necessary. Breathing is necessary. Focusing on breathing alone creates an unbalanced life. It would get pretty boring. (Even monks do stuff.) The same is true with eating. I also found myself checking in with my emotions and needs more than usual. I’m looking forward to my next detox for this reason. I found myself able to focus more on self-mastery. It was a very spiritual experience in that respect.
Why do I want to detox quarterly?
I know that my body is inundated with toxins from the environment, food, water, and stress that need flushing out periodically. If they aren’t able to leave my body, they will contribute to illness in the future. I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone to do this quarterly, or at all. Actually, I’m open to changing my stance on this depending on how it goes next time. If I feel that it’s making me more neurotic than usual or causing more physical distress; then I may give it up. There are some elements of the detox I can tweak before making that decision.
I want to eat as cleanly and carefully as possible throughout the year. It’s just nice to have a short-term goal like this. My motivation was renewed. It heightened my awareness of what’s going on with my body and my mind.
What will I do differently for my next 21 Day Sugar Detox?
- I’m going to try adding more carbohydrates. 1 ripe banana per day or more depending on the regularity of my bowel movements. I’ll try to eat more winter squash and bulk up on carrots and root veggies.
- Sleep more regularly!
- Prepare more diligently!
- Avoid dehydrated foods and hydrate more with water, broth, and tea.
- Use more relaxation techniques.
- Supplement to the best of my abilities and eat more nutrient dense foods.
- Focus on non-food activities.
Try my Carrot & Beet Salad (AIP) recipe. It’s 21 Day Sugar Detox friendly!