Monday, January 27, 2014

21 Day Sugar Detox - Wrap Up & Book Review

Well, I didn't make it all 21 days (sadness).  The night of Day 19 (last Friday) we went out and I splurged at Max's Wine Dive.  It was a HUGE mistake.  Then on Day 20 I was ok but then we went out to celebrate a friend's birthday and I cheated again which was an even BIGGER mistake.  Due to those cheats, I was miserable all weekend.  By Sunday I was back to being good because seriously, EFF THAT!!!

Let me tell you how awful eating crap makes a person feel when they've been eating healthy for awhile. I was in physical pain. I think I said "I'm dying!" at least 10 times to P. There were multiple trips to the bathroom. I got inexplicably exhausted and spent the majority of the weekend in bed sleeping or napping instead of getting my to-do list under control. It was ugly. I regret all of it. So back to the 21 DSD style of eating. There are still so many recipes I want to try in the books so I really doubt it's going to get boring any time soon.


The 21 Day Sugar Detox book does a really great job of explaining how sugar negatively impacts your health.  It's rather astonishing how many areas of our physical health can be impacted by sugars and processed foods.  You first read through the author's battle with sugar and how it impacted her health.  Then you get a simplified explanation of the science of sugar and how it affects the human body.  There is then a preparation checklist complete with suggested supplements, what to expect each day, and support options.  The book also provides one page quick reference guides on replacing foods, sneaky sugar synonyms, dining out, fats and oils.

Then you get to the dietary part of the book.  There are 3 different levels of the detox, depending on your current lifestyle and relationship with food.  I did Level 1.  There are also modifications for pescatarians,  pregnant and nursing mothers, and active individuals.   In the back of the book you get a list of recommended products, useful websites and blogs, egg-free breakfast ideas, sources of information, and thumbnails of all of the recipes.

Almost all of the recipes are fantastic as written; most don't require anything more than what the recipe provides.  On occasion I added some extra seasoning (usually salt) but otherwise I did not feel a great need to tinker with any of the recipes.  That is usually not my experience with recipes so it was a very pleasant surprise.

Here is a list of all of the recipes I have tried so far (just since January 5...crazy!!!) in the order they appear in the books, and whether I'd make them again (the "yes," "maybe," or "no"):

21 DSD Book
  1. Bacon and Root Veggie Hash - yes
  2. Pumpkin Pancakes with Vanilla Bean Coconut Butter - yes
  3. Buffalo Chicken Egg Muffins - yes
  4. Apple Streusel Egg Muffins - maybe
  5. Tomato-Basil Quiche with Bacon and Spinach - maybe (probably not, the leftovers are icky)
  6. Perfectly Grilled Chicken Breast - yes
  7. Mustard-Glazed Chicken Thighs - yes
  8. Mini Mexi-Meatloaves - maybe
  9. Ginger-Garlic Beef and Broccoli - yes
  10. Shepherd's Pie - yes (with ground beef since turns out I don't really like ground lamb)
  11. Asian-Style Meatballs - no
  12. Double Pork Tenderloin - yes
  13. Shrimp Pad Thai - yes
  14. Salmon Salad with Capers & Tomato - yes
  15. Broccoli and Bacon Salad with Creamy Balsamic Dressing - yes
  16. Fresh Cabbage and Bok Choy Slaw - no
  17. Creamy Herb Mashed Cauliflower - yes
  18. Golden Beets with Crispy Herbs - yes
  19. Savory Herb Drop Biscuits - yes
  20. Baked Kale Chips - yes
  21. Cinnilla Nut Mix - no
  22. Bittersweet Hot Cocoa - no
  23. Grain-free Banola - maybe
  24. Italian Sausage Spice Blend - yes
  25. Healthy Homemade Mayonnaise - yes
  26. Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing - yes 
    1. Banana Vanilla Bean N'oatmeal - yes
    2. Apple Pie Smoothie- yes
    3. Salmon with Creamy Tzatziki Sauce and Dill Carrots - yes
    4. Kombucha Gelatin - maybe
    As you can see the bulk of my experience is with the 21 DSD book.  However, the same caliber of recipes seems to be represented in the Cookbook and I am excited to try lots of new stuff!

    21 DSD PROS:

    The book is well-written and easy to follow.  It's engaging without being dumbed down and it is not repetitive.  The detox itself really did make a difference in my health and well-being.  My chronic heartburn became a distant memory, I was sleeping a lot better, I never felted bloated or that overly full feeling.  I also was feeling happier and more energetic because I was being healthy.  I think allowing myself to eat healthy fats (in moderation!) and proteins left me feeling satisfied with less food too so I wasn't binging or scarfing down more than one serving of whatever I made. I also learned to cope with stress without turning to comfort foods or alcohol.  Getting away from sugar, gluten, processed foods, etc. did not cure my joint pain, but overall my knees have bothered me less.  Lastly, I lost about 7 pounds in under 3 weeks without exercising, just sticking to the detox.

    And after going out and eating whatever on Friday and Saturday, I have confirmed that I want to follow the 21 DSD framework for eating from now on, because all that junk makes me feel like crap!

    21 DSD CONS:

    One thing I have noticed with the 21DSD books is that sometimes they assume you have culinary knowledge under your belt, and maybe you should know the basics, but I try to write for someone who's not knowledgeable but wanting to learn. For example, they assume you know what the "grain" of beef is when butchering it and there aren't always hints to let less knowledgeable people know that you do in fact need to peel certain things like parsnips and carrots.  Or if you're cooking something with high heat there is no suggestion to tent it with foil if it starts to get too dark.  Just little things here and there that might make a difference to people who don't cook that often.

    Another thing that I wasn't always a fan of was when a recipe called for "1 lb. of chicken breasts." That's maybe 2 chicken breasts but then the meal plan says I should have leftovers after feeding 2 adults? Pretty sure that's not going to work out. While measuring meat in pounds is professional and extra useful for things like ground meat or beef that you're going to end up chopping up, it's really unhelpful for things like chicken breasts or chicken thighs or steaks or what have you.

    Lastly, I am not a ninja chef who can chop an onion in 2 seconds.  I have never worked at getting faster with a knife because I am extremely accident prone and really don't need more ER bills related to cutting/slicing/chopping part of my hand up again (yes it's happened before).  Thus sometimes recipes take me awhile to prep and cook and it's not all magically done in 15 minutes.  Some days I was left exhausted from all my time cooking and cleaning in the kitchen.  Read through the recipes and save the more complicated stuff for the weekend.

    These are really really minor complaints though. And they have nothing to do with the sugar detox itself. That part is pretty solid. For example, I used to hate dark chocolate and then I had some dark chocolate on Saturday and it was sooo good.  So I do think by detoxing you reprogram your taste buds. You also benefit health-wise as I discussed above.


    I went with the suggested meal plan for week one to see how it worked out. My grocery bill was about $275 and it only fed us (just P and I) for 7 days. That's not ok for us because that's a huge chunk of money for one week's worth of food. The following 2 weeks I looked at the "Yes Food List" and some recipes and crafted my own meal plan based on what meats and produce we could get at better prices. Use the Yes list!

    To save money on groceries I also took to the internet.
    You can get stuff like vanilla beans, almond flour, coconut butter, etc. much cheaper on the internet than in your average store. For instance, at my local grocery store one vanilla bean was $5.49. You can get a lot of vanilla beans for much less on Amazon and if you have Prime there's not much of a wait.

    Another thing is that I didn't make very many of the snacks or desserts. I am not much of a snacker, especially when I'm eating 3 satisfying meals a day. It seems excessive. Also, I really don't think anyone needs dessert on a regular basis. So to save some money don't make all of the snacks and desserts under the sun. A serving of nuts is sufficient, cheaper, and less time consuming than the snack recipes in the book. Just weigh your priorities. If you're working out a lot you may indeed need snacks!

    If you love soda, I would try Perrier, San Pellegrino, or some other sparkling mineral water.  Not the flavored kind, just plain.  You get that carbonated drink sensation and it's totally healthy.  I slice up a lemon in the morning and then add a couple slices to my water or sparkling water throughout the day too.  Slices of cucumber are also yummy.  Another drink option is herbal teas.  I stopped drinking caffeine on my detox so I stuck with caffeine free blends from Traditional Medicinals.  Be aware that some of the more name brand teas have some weird stuff in the ingredients (not even tea is safe!). 

    Follow 21 DSD guidelines on eating certain foods.  Don't eat a ton of green bananas and apples all day.  If you're on Level 1, you can have ONE of those fruits PER DAY.  Also, don't eat nuts by the handful.  You should eat to satiety, don't let yourself start mindlessly consuming tons of nuts or nut butters.  Sure they're healthy, but they're also full of fat.  A single serving of nuts is not very much, as this chart illustrates.

    The same goes for avocados.  Yes, they are really good for you.  But unless you're working out a lot, you probably don't need to be eating an avocado a day

    If you do try the detox and don't make it to 21 days or even 7 days, just know that a lot of people don't make it the full 3 weeks on their first attempt (including me!). The important thing is that you're trying and if you work at it you'll make it all 21 days eventually, I just know it! And if you decide to do this detox and want any support or recipes from me, comment below or catch me on twitter (you can follow me with the twitter button on the top right side of the screen).

    I hope you give this detox a shot or at least try to incorporate these recipes into your life on a regular basis.  You won't regret it (I haven't so far!).

    P.S. The 21 Day Sugar Detox people don't know anything about my review or use of the books.  I sure wish I was known and getting paid though!

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