The holiday season can be great. An excess amount of family time, yoga, game nights (my newest obsession is Pandemic), and binge-watching Netflix (Gilmore Girls revival!). But there can also be an excess amount of holiday cookies, mom's famous chocolate chip meringues, and a 5lb block of chocolate fudge that "accidentally" gets left at your house after a party (not that I know this from experience or anything).
So, naturally, our bodies can end up on a two-week sugar high - and not be too happy about it! If your energy flops, your usually peaceful sleep was suffers, your skin was breaks out, and you feel like your immune system is working harder than ever to fight off all of every virus running around town, then there's a good chance that a sugar detox is just what you need.
THE 21-DAY SUGAR DETOX
When this happened first happened to me, I knew I had to make a change. Lucky for me, a new 21-Day Sugar Detox was about to start. The 21DSD (as most participants refer to it) is described by creator and nutrition counselor, Diane Sanfilippo, as a "clear-cut, effective, whole-foods-based nutrition action plan that will reset your body and your habits." While I'm not generally a fan of detoxes, cleanses, or diets (and as many of you know, I can be quite vocal about my distaste for many of the programs out there), I like Diane's emphasis on REAL FOOD. Basically, by removing the empty calories in sugar, alcohol, and refined grains (which act like sugar once they're in the bloodstream), it demands a greater intake of nutritionally dense foods such as vegetables and high quality fats and proteins.
The rules are quite simple:
1. No sugar. This includes natural sugars such as maple syrup, honey, and coconut sugar. It also includes artificial sweeteners such as stevia.
2. No alcohol. Alcohol is a sugar so it's out for 21 days. No if's and's or but's about it.
3. Limit fruit consumption to a single serving per day of one of the following fresh fruits: grapefruit, green apple, or green tipped (un-ripe) banana. Fruit is also sugar so it's easy to replace your nightly chocolate binge with a bag of dried cherries. Your blood sugar can't tell the difference so it's also out for the 21 days.
4. No refined grains. The refining process breaks down grains into quick energy (read: sugar) to be used by the body. In the 21DSD whole grains are allowed in limited quantities per day and only in their whole, unrefined state (ex: cooked rice, millet, quinoa, etc).
There are a few other rules such as no fake food (ex: protein bars and shakes), avoiding vegetable oils (for their inflammatory properties) and limiting certain starchy vegetables to one serving per day. To view the full program, check out the website here.
MY EXPERIENCE SO FAR AND NUMBER ONE TIP
Today is day eight of my 21DSD and so far so good. The first day was pretty easy since I tend to eat semi-paleo most of the time. But once I finished dinner, my usual cookie monster started to whisper in my ear. I was able to ignore it, but it happened again and again on days two and three. Finally, by the latter half of the week I wasn't noticing it as much anymore.
In a future post I'll discuss my personal tips for a successful 21DSD, but for today I'll start with the most important one: EAT MORE FAT.
It's of vital importance that you eat enough healthy fat during the 21DSD. Adequate amounts will help you: curb cravings, stay satiated (and therefore avoid cheating), fuel your body's energy needs, support your hormones, help you absorb the fat-soluble nutrients in your food, and the list goes on and on... For those of you who grew up with the "fat is bad" mantra, please read this 2014 TIME Magazine article on why fat isn't the enemy (no surprise - sugar is!).
"WHAT TYPES OF FAT?"
Here's a list of some 21DSD approved fats:
- Butter, ghee
- Coconut oil, coconut butter, coconut meat
- Nuts, seeds, and nut/seed butters
- Full fat dairy (for those of you that tolerate dairy well)
- Olive and olive oil
- Animal fats (remember to use grass fed animal fat when possible since antibiotics and toxins reside in the fat cells of animals)
Adequate fat in your morning meal is the most important because it will give you longer lasting energy than carbohydrates alone. My preferred 21DSD approved breakfast is free-range eggs scrambled in Kerrygold butter (we go through two sticks of this stuff a week at our house!!) with a side of roasted veggies, and topped with some Valentino hot sauce.
But, alas, my sometimes rushed morning routine doesn't always allow for a home-cooked meal. So my go to breakfast in a cup is a smoothie with three (yes, three) different types of fat in it. It gets me up and running in the morning and the small amount of caffeine in the matcha green tea powder keeps my caffeine addiction satisfied. While I'm not usually a fan of smoothies in the morning (they usually contain too much sugar and are too cold for the digestive system first thing in the morning), I've planned this recipe to be extremely low in sugars, 21DSD approved, and served at room temperature.
Try it out this week and let me know what you think!
21 DSD GREEN TEA MATCHA SMOOTHIE RECIPE
1/2 green tipped (unripe) banana
1/2 cup hot water**
1/2 cup half & half (or coconut milk for a dairy free option)
1 tsp matcha green tea powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut oil
Place all the ingredients into the blender. Start blender on a low setting for a minute, and then increase to a high setting for another minute. Pour, serve, and enjoy!
* Did you know that you can freeze avocados? I love having avocados on hand for an extra boost of fat in my smoothies, so I buy them in bulk and freeze them using this method: Slice them in half and remove the pit. Scoop out the fruit and cut into quarters. Place quarters on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for an hour. Once frozen solid, the slices wont' stick together and can be piled into a freezer bag or freezer safe container for storage. It's super easy and saves you money from tossing out too-ripe avocados! The same method works for bananas as well.
** I choose to use hot water instead of cold to both: defrost the frozen avocado and/or banana andneutralize the temperature of my smoothie. I avoid drinking ice cold smoothies in the winter because most people's digestion (including mine) can't handle such cold beverages first thing in the morning.
I am not affiliated with the 21-Day Sugar Detox in any way and am NOT paid to promote the program - I just want to share what works for me with all of you!
**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
***Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life - duh!