For someone who claims to have quit dieting, I seem to be doing a lot of it lately. I can see why I swore it off, because after my paleo disaster, I spiraled down an ugly wormhole of eating all the carbs and processed food I’d eschewed during that experience. A month later, I’m feeling bloaty and generally gross, which is not how one wishes to feel with summer upon them and a birthday approaching. Enter the 21 Day Sugar Detox. This is allegedly going to fix my blood sugar and stop me from craving sweets so I’ll stop doing things like downing half a batch of cookies in one sitting. 21 days seems like a long time, so I’m willing to try it for a week and reevaluate. I was supposed to do a sugar detox a few months ago with a friend (she chickened out). I did pretty well for a week, and lost a respectable amount of weight despite the fact that I was attacking a peanut butter jar with a spoon every night. Apparently sugar is actually the worst thing you can eat, ever. I have high hopes for this, particularly because I usually eat okay but have an extreme weakness for baked goods.
The night before
I look at the list of foods I’m actually allowed. It is short. The sugar detox I did a few months ago was just about cutting out added sugars (fruit was okay). This is about no sugar at all. I look sadly at the bananas and blueberries I just bought at the grocery store. Apparently I will be freezing them, since I am not allowed to eat them this week. I am also not allowed oatmeal, which means breakfast is going to be a challenge. I can eat vegetables and protein. I’m going to be super fun to hang out with this week. I make an emergency grocery store trip to stock up on veggies and meat (fruit and carbs are kind of my staples). I attempt to find a green juice that is actually just vegetables, but it turns out this doesn’t really exist. Why is it even called green juice? I go home and actually make breakfasts and lunches for the week, knowing that my ability to find acceptable food in the cafeteria is going to be limited.
I kick off the day with some lemon water, because lemons and limes are the only fruits you’re allowed on this stupid detox. I predict myself to be eating lemons like oranges before the week is out. Breakfast is an egg muffin with broccoli, sausage and sundried tomato. It’s not the worst, but is weirdly unfilling and I find myself dipping into my stash of cashews that I’d meant to save for later.
Lunch is quinoa and vegetables. It’s fine. I am impressively satiated for hours afterward. As an afternoon snack, I have carrots (which I am only allowed half a cup of, apparently) and my beloved Trader Joe’s spicy hummus. Yum.
I have a running date with a friend tonight, about which I am slightly concerned because I can’t have a banana beforehand. I always have a banana.
I survive the run, fueling with a spoonful of peanut butter beforehand. My running buddy happens to be a nutrition nerd, and she’s horrified by what I’m doing. “You’re not eating any fruit?” Then again, she’s doing a raw food thing and is eating four bananas a day. Diets are weird, guys.
Dinner is kale with garlic and olive oil, because apparently I am not allowed vinegar.
I wake up hungry, which is a refreshing change; I usually wake up still full from whatever I had the night before. In my infinite creativity, I once again start with lemon water and have egg muffin for breakfast (the recipe made a giant batch; I’ll be eating them all week).
Lunch is quinoa, black beans and veggies. It’s strangely satisfying. Snack is hummus and carrots.
After work, I head to the gym, which seems incredibly difficult. I wonder if this has anything to do with the detox, or just the ridiculously hard pilates class I took Monday. The next stop is kickball, where I take my one turn to kick and then spend the rest of the game sitting out. ”Are you okay?” my friends ask. I explain about the detox, and immediately get, “Well, no wonder you’re so exhausted, you’re not eating anything!”
I get home and am ravenous but all my food requires cooking, so I have… a refreshing glass of V8. I then actually make a meal, despite it being 11 o’clock at night. This is weird because I don’t cook; dinner is always one of two things: something on toast or a poached egg on veggies. Tonight I actually make salmon and sweet potato and a salad and put it on a plate like a grownup. It’s amazing.
I wake up and have coffee and breakfast (egg muffins) at home because it’s “donut Thursday” at work and I don’t want to be tempted. I am able to resist the sugar, but I do notice I’m incredibly grumpy. I blame the detox. Also, I still feel completely exhausted from workouts that happened days ago. I’m eating all the protein in the world, so what gives?
By 10am, I’m starving and planning on going to a noon yoga class, so this is a problem. I snack on cashews but they’re insufficient. I find myself daydreaming about the jar of peanut butter I shouldn’t have left at home.
Fortunately, yoga ends up being cancelled, so lunch (salad/quinoa/beans again) is sooner than expected. Even after this I’m still ravenous, so I hit the cafeteria for a V8 and eat some almonds. I feel slightly better, but not a lot. ”Just eat something real – you’ll feel better,” advises the coworker I’ve been complaining to. I mumble something about journalistic integrity and refuse.
I have hummus and carrots before attempting yoga again, this time successfully. I try the gym cafe for a snack afterward, but they don’t have anything I can eat, so I head home for another salmon/sweet potato/kale dinner. It’s delicious, but not as filling as I want it to be. Fortunately, I’m saved by the only worthwhile food consumed while on a sugar detox: homemade chocolate nut butter. Take a cup of nuts of your choice, throw it in your food processor, add some cocoa powder, and mix until it resembles a grittier nutella. It’s amazing. Or I’m losing my mind.
I wake up starving; have egg things and a green juice which may or may not have trace amounts of fruit in it. I sort of don’t care.
At work, I start losing my damn mind. I’m eating enough cashews that I’m full, but I can actively feel my blood sugar being low. Strangely, going to the gym at lunch improves this. Post-gym, I hit the grocery stores where I spend an absurd amount on “goji berries” because they are one of the few “fruits” allowed on this “diet.” They are probably disgusting, but at this point taste amazing to me. Quinoa salad again for lunch. Whatever. I receive an invitation to a “sangria party” the next day and all I can think about now is sangria. And how I can’t drink it. I spend some time Googling “Is a sugar detox safe?” and sadly can’t find anything telling me that I might die from lack of sugar.
I have kale and a sweet potato for dinner in a sad attempt to ‘carb load’ for my six mile run the next morning. I then head out to a friend’s birthday party, where I cite the run as my reason for not drinking, too lazy to explain about the detox to a bunch of strangers.