Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sugar Detox Debrief

Eight weeks ago I gave up sugar.  It was supposed to be a one month sugar detox, but it's been nearly two - just call me an over-achiever.  Here's a recap of my not too stringent and fairly arbitrary plan to cut out the sweets.

Sugar Detox Parameters:
  • Cut out overtly sugary foods and sweets.  Foods that were still consumed: condiments and sauces with less than a gram or two of sugar per serving and that sweet was not the overwhelming flavor (ie ranch dressing), low sugar cereals, and of course fruits.  Foods that fell beyond the too sweet line: BBQ sauce, jams, and honey/maple syrup. 
  • Fell off the wagon once.  While I was in Pittsburgh and throwing a tantrum because Brunton's Dairy wasn't producing chocolate milk (thanks for the head's up Jenny!), I had a little slip.  Well, a big one.  I had a DQ blizzard - and I'm not sorry.  It was the most amazing thing I've eaten, like ever.  PS - Brunton's is back in business and I'm hoping Aunt Fanny will bring me a special delivery this weekend.
  • No other diet restrictions.  In fact, there were a couple days that I was like, "man, I really want some thing sweet right now, but I'll settle for cheese fries."  I still ate processed foods and refined carbs as much as I usually do, perhaps a tad more since it felt like another way to indulge that was "allowed".  
The experience has overall been a good one.  I'm glad I did it, but am definitely ready to reintroduce sweets into my life. 

Major Takeaways:

  1. I lost 15 lbs. in 30 days.  I'm overweight enough that it's not very noticeable - but there was a drastic weight loss up front.  It began fast and furious (about a pound per day) and has slowed down to a healthy/normal pace.  I think this is especially notable considering my diet was not drastically healthier than usual.  My guess is that the difference is I'm much more likely to stop eating salty/fatty food when I get full.  I can eat sweets forever.  
  2. I have more energy and my mind feels clearer.  I'm glad I pushed through for the second month because at the 30 day mark I didn't feel much different.  I felt tired, sluggish and foggy - not more than usual, sadly that's just my usual state, but I certainly wasn't feeling major mood effects.  At this point though, I would say I feel like I have a bit more energy and have a clearer head.  My productivity has certainly shot up in the last couple weeks.  Still not a morning person, though.  I don't think there's any fixing that.  
  3. The cravings finally went away.  Again, I think this is more a second month development.  These days, if it's in front of me, yeah it looks good but I'm no longer climbing the walls in the evenings begging for a fix.  (seriously jb had to give me some tough love in those first few weeks - except that DQ Blizzard night...but like I said, no regrets)  Also other sugar withdrawal symptoms and side effects like headaches and moodiness cleared up after a while. 
I'm not prepared to sustain a sugarfree lifestyle (or low sugar - I know very well that I wasn't sugarfree) indefinitely.  I also know that I have issues with moderation.  So where does that leave me?

Now What?  Sugar Future:

I've been slowly reintroducing sugar over the last week.  First a caramel latte - OMG, it felt like coming home (although it did taste a little sweeter than usual).  A handful of chocolate covered almonds when we had a friend over for dinner.  And today I felt myself slipping into the downward spiral that I was afraid of.  I started out the day with a blueberry muffin that our friend baked - not crazy sweet, but not an ideal breakfast - even if it was freaking delicious.  Then around lunch time I snuck a handful of chocolate covered almonds.  At dinner I had more than a couple sips of jb's soda.  And to round out the evening I had a few Andes Candies.  Nothing horrific - but all those little slips in one day is how I became someone who eats sugar several times a day - everyday. 

So my plan is to lay off the sugar for a short while again - and that will be the plan in the future also.  A mini-detox when I have a slip-up and find myself at the end of a sugary day.  Generally I'd like my goal to be one sweet treat per week.  It's not going to be a hard and fast rule, but that's what I'll aim for.  At times when I want to indulge or it's less realistic to stay away from sweets (say vacation or holidays) I'd like my max to be one treat per day for a three day stretch

We'll see how that plays out in reality, but I am really hoping to keep sweets as a treat.

I want to look forward to a treat, choose it deliberately, and not lose that "OMG this is so effing good" effect the detox has cultivated. 


  1. I gave up sugar for a month in February. It was pretty horrific the first week. I think I popped Advil like Tic-Tacs. So, awesomesauce that you pulled it off for 60 days! I'm jumping in this kinda late (reading later posts next, so you may have covered this), but why go back?

  2. I definitely need to do this. I have a major sweet tooth, it's really really bad. I generally eat pretty healthily, but put a cupcake in front of me and I'm DONE. I need sugar in my coffee and have been known to eat only the frosting off of cake. Wonder if I should detox before the holidays to help me control cravings of cookies and pies and... ugh, yes, I'd better start now.

    I have the same question as Liz, why go back to eating sugar? You've done the hard part!

  3. Sticking to your detox for 2 months (or 1 month and 29 days, haha) is a-mazing! I once cut out sugar for 2 weeks straight and felt great. Try as I might, I haven't been able to do it again, especially with my husband bringing home donuts, haagen daz, and all sorts of other treats. Now with Halloween and holidays approaching, I'm thinking the next few weeks are my last chance to detox until new years resolution time :) I do tend to allow myself super dark chocolate without much guilt, and now I'm craving chocolate-covered almonds!

  4. Carrie and Liz - I've been thinking about this question, and honestly, the best I've got is "Um, it's delicious." Although, I think that if I told myself it was forbidden I'd fall off the wagon in a major binge-y sort of way rather than little stumbles. So here's hoping I can keep it in check.

    Aums Mama - We get the huge tub from Costco - sooooo good. And this is the first time it's lasted longer than a couple weeks - eek.

  5. I have a tendency to overdo sugar as well, and had been playing with the idea of detoxing off of sugar. When you reincorporate sugar into your diet, what are some ways you stay in moderation?

  6. westphillymama10/14/2011

    I have to admit, I suck at moderation. What has worked best for me is make a hard and fast rule, like one indulgence a week. If I just say something general like "moderation" or "occasional indulgence" it very quickly becomes 5 a day.