This is a long post…
Today is Day 21 of the 21-Day Sugar Detox. I survived and am healthier for it. My goal with this detox was not to lose weight (although I ended up with a 6 pound loss), but to cut the things in my diet that I shouldn’t have let creep in over the past few months – sugar, gluten, wheat, etc. It was also a great way for me to transition to eating Paleo.
Losing the sugar wasn’t a huge deal for me. I’m not much of a sweet’s person, per se. The primary goal was to get me off the gluten, wheat, and other things that are harmful to my health and to eat more protein. I have to be gluten-free – it is not a fad thing for me, it is a necessity. I also have to eat more protein – a long time issue for me.
The first week
The first week of the detox was the most interesting. I wasn’t accustomed to eating that much food, let alone that quantity of protein, and that was a hard adjustment to make. Funny thing about eating all that protein – I sure felt better. Uh duh, really?
I had cleaned out the cupboards of all the things that I couldn’t have before beginning the detox. No temptations here. I made a shopping list of all the things I needed to add to my pantry (and there were many) and what I was going to eat for the first week. Starting at Level 3 (the “cleanest” level), I could not eat any grain, dairy (except for whole butter), bean, seed, legume (good-bye peanut butter), rice, corn, or any form of sugar (real or otherwise), except what could be found in a green apple or greenish banana (my only allowed fruits). I was allowed some nuts and stocked up on raw almonds, walnuts and roasted pistachios. I found satisfying substitutes (some were rather expensive, but oh so worth it) that also helped. Let me just say that a green apple and almond butter is divine.
Being hungry was a new feeling
I’m not a breakfast person, and if I don’t think about it, I can go the entire day without eating. I don’t eat when I’m not hungry and over the years, I’ve taught my brain that it’s ok to not eat. That’s not a good thing, for many reasons. I had to force teach myself to eat in the morning and then again over the course of the day. Funny thing about eating breakfast, you get hungry later. That was a new thing for me and I really had to pay attention to what my body was telling me. I ate three meals a day and had good healthy snacks when I wanted them. I don’t think I’ve ever been that full in my life. I was full, but not stuffed. That was a huge adjustment (mentally and physically) and definitely a new feeling. I found that I was able to do my hardest workouts more energetically and could do them longer. I just felt better all around. And this was just the first week.
You know, we are taught that we need to fuel our bodies, but some of us don’t listen to that and come up with our own ways to manage our food intake. Some do it wisely, and others like me, don’t. Ok, lesson learned.
No pain – anywhere
An interesting thing happened as I transitioned into week two. I noticed, almost as an afterthought, that my joints and gut weren’t hurting. I mean not at all. I couldn’t tell you when it stopped. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis – two very distinct auto-immune diseases that affect different joints in my body. While I am not Celiac, I am highly intolerant of gluten & wheat which adversely affects my gut.
My joints and gut have been screaming bloody murder over the past few months, and why I didn’t notice something was bothering me so intensely over the past few months, suddenly wasn’t, is beyond me. Maybe it was that I wasn’t eating grains or beans. Maybe it was the protein. I really couldn’t tell you and I don’t care. I didn’t hurt and I still don’t. That to me is worth whatever sacrifice I have made over the past 21-days.
What did I eat?
Surprisingly, I ate rather well considering the limitations I placed on myself by starting at the strictest level. I ate plenty of good protein – chicken, fish, pork, turkey, and eggs. There were a ton of fresh vegetables to eat and nibble on, good fats (olive oil & avocado ftw!), nuts, and nut butter. I learned how to eat salmon as a steak, and not only as lox and I found a butter that is to die for. Go me!
About the butter. I have never liked “real” butter – it was the taste and texture that would make me cringe. Margarine or other spreads are not allowed, only butter and I was concerned. I posted a question on the 21-Day Detox Facebook wall asking for help with this. Let me introduce you to Kerrygold Irish butter. It’s made from grass-fed cows and let me say, there is absolutely NO comparison to the butter you buy in the market. The taste is subtle and delicious. Although the texture is a bit heavier than American butter, it melts perfectly. It was a bit pricey – but comparable in price to organic butter. We will never use another butter or margarine again.
I made egg frittata’s with spinach, mushrooms, red peppers, scallions and new spices. I learned how to make spaghetti squash (that’s in the picture, as leftover’s) without smothering it in pasta sauce. Simply roasted with a little olive oil and seasoning made it delicious.
I made pork chops with sautéed onions, grilled turkey burgers with Ortega chili’s, guacamole and tomato, baked chicken with rosemary, and so much more. Really, it wasn’t much different from what I made or ate previously, there just weren’t beans, or potatoes or other things that I used to eat along with these.
I ate three meals in a restaurant and didn’t have one problem finding something that was suitable to eat while on the detox. I had the most delicious Salmon Provence salad at Mimi’s Café and except for the feta cheese, it was absolutely perfect. I ordered it without dressing of any kind. The feta cheese was my only “oops” during these three weeks and honestly, it didn’t bother me at all.
Speaking of fish, I love tuna. Seared Ahi and tuna sashimi are my favorite. I also like tuna in the can for salads and sandwiches. Like many people, I have eaten tuna packed in water for years…until this past month. I will never eat it again. Did you know they add soy to tuna in a can? Soy. I have no idea why that would be added, and didn’t know it until I started reading labels. We found a tuna at Costco that had nothing but tuna in the can. It is hand caught and trolled with no other preservatives or ingredients. Yes, paying $13.00 for six cans of tuna is expensive, but oh my heavens, it is delicious. What a huge difference in taste. I still have the can of tuna that I purchased that is packed with olive oil. I’m saving that for a “kitchen sink” salad when the Mr goes out-of-town.
Now that I’m at the finish line, my next step is directly into the Paleo lifestyle. I’ve been prepping for it for three weeks now and won’t have any trouble continuing along this path. I can slowly start adding a few things back into my diet that are allowed, but weren’t on the detox, and will continue experimenting and trying new foods. Kale is something I have held at arm’s length – I hear it’s terrific as a chip.
A friend has the most incredible recipes that she shares on her website and I purchased and downloaded two Paleo cookbooks that were recommended. I have already bookmarked recipes to try.
It has been an interesting three weeks for me. I learned what it really feels like to be hungry and to eat more protein. I have more energy, am sleeping better, and I found I didn’t miss (and still don’t) the things I ate almost daily. My skin looks better, my joints and gut don’t hurt (which is huge), and I feel fabulous. My clothes fit so much better even though my weight loss was minimal. You just can’t beat tha.
For me, going Paleo is the right thing. I should have listened when my ND/MD told me two years ago to transition to this. Better late than never, right?
Stay tuned…the adventure continues.