My week was tough from Monday onward.
I think it’s karma because I openly declared last week as ‘easy’.
I think part of this was because I had to invigilate exams on site for six hours straight Monday, with a mask on, which made eating or drinking much of anything challenging. That just set the week off on the wrong foot.
There was a shift sometime Thursday, but boy I was surprised we got to Thursday at all. I didn’t think I would make it. I just attempted to focus on making and eating good food that was full of protein and lots of vegetables and getting onto the mat for yoga. Whenever I felt like something sweet, I just made another cup of tea. Then I realized the worst part of the week had passed and I didn’t realize the week had shifted, my focus was elsewhere.
21 Day Sugar Detox
This week I began a deeper dive into the book The 21 Day Sugar Detox by Diane Sanfilippo. I know, had I known about this book two or three weeks ago I would have begun to use it then, but here we are. In her book (and her website) Sanfilippo has a long list of foods and ingredients that essentially are not allowed if you follow her guide. Some of the items are obvious, like brownies, cakes, alcohol, but the list also includes gluten-containing grains, flour-based foods, soy, and vegetable oils.
Maybe it is better that I did discover this book when I did then.
I am most excited about the recipes, and the idea that she champions – planning and prepping ahead of time.
The 21-Day Sugar Detox, Daily Guide is a great purchase if cutting sugar is something you are interested in because the author essentially holds your hand throughout the twenty-one plus day process. There is a whole week of preparing and planning before the official start of the program. Each day offers tasks you can check off, recipes to prepare ahead of time, and information to quell any nerves. Once the program begins, the meals are laid out for you, with what you might expect to be feeling emotionally or physically and how to work through those feelings and emotions.
Each day offers a new lesson, recipe, and checklist, like what foods to prep for the next day. Lessons include ‘Foods that help you detox’, all about good carbs, your skin during the detox, and eating out or traveling during your detox, just to name a few. There are numerous writing prompts as well to help you work through all that you are thinking and feeling. At the beginning of the program, you are asked to crystallize in print, your desire for wanting to consciously decouple from sugar. While working through each day, you are asked to reflect on your sleep, exercise, mood and energy, and the foods you ate.
Make good choices – or at least, try to
While I am happy to greatly reduce my consumption of glutinous grains, I am not ready to fully give them up. I am at the point with my overnight oats that I don’t know what I would do without them. They are so easy I prep them for my husband and myself, two weeks at a time. Plus, they are full of nutrients and flavor without any added sugar. I am making an effort to be more aware of nutrient-dense foods and the carbs I am putting into my body though.
This will just require slightly better planning on my part. For example, we had fish tacos this week as I finally got my hands on an Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid and needed to test that bad boy out. I made corn tortillas for my family, but I used lettuce as a wrap. The day before, however, we did have tuna casserole (stove top, no-bake) for lunch, which was heavier on the noodle than the tuna, despite my addition of a second can of the stuff.
I made another meal this week that I have come to adore. Every morning at the gym, I would see an advertisement for the gym’s officially endorsed cookbook. I didn’t care much about this cookbook, but the recipe they showed in each commercial grew on me. It is ground meat and cabbage saute with yogurt mixed in right before plating. When I finally broke down and made the recipe, I was immediately hooked. It is the type of dish where you can eat a huge bowl full and it both satiating and a low-calorie, but high protein meal. I have attempted to make this dish with granulated soy protein and it was not the same. That said, I could definitely up my vegan/vegetarian flavoring game.
If you are interested in the 21-Day Sugar Detox, you can look for free resources on the book’s website, but the Daily Guide is also nice to physically have to help through the break-up with sugar.
One of the first steps, or tasks, that Sanfilippo outlines in her book are to find your reason behind wanting to make this shift, to complete this ‘detox’ or ‘challenge’. For me, plain and simple, my blood sugar was out of control.
This is even after spending much of 2020 examining my diet. Now, when I say diet, I don’t mean “a special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons”, I mean “the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats” (Thanks Oxford dictionaries).
When I joined a gym in January of 2020, I began re-examining my diet to get the most out of my workouts. I was paying for it after all. I wanted more bang for my buck. It helped me begin to curb my hangriness (hungry + angry + ness). Outside of my protein shake in the morning post-workout, it became really important for me to eat better in general. For me, this meant more protein, healthy fats, even more vegetables, and smarter carbs.
I have always been keen to make my meals from scratch rather than buying prepackaged meals or eat out. My husband is exactly the opposite. Opposites attract, right?! So, I have always been the main cook. I am also the main planner in our house, which makes it relatively easy for me to plan a month’s worth of meals based on what we have in the pantry and then figure out the best way to then make them happen.
As I said last week, I usually make lunch immediately following breakfast. Part of this is so that I don’t get hangry by the time I have time to eat. I don’t even have to think about it. This helps my blood sugar to not crash. This allows me to know what to expect and move onto other necessary work afterward, and it helps me focus better on what I am doing or need to be doing.
I do not want to be shackled to sugar, controlled by its availability and affect on my brain or body.
A step in the right direction
I also keep healthy snacks more easily accessible than our high sugar, high (empty) calorie nibbles, which also helps curb cravings and crashes. This way, it is out of sight and out of mind for just about everyone in our family. Plus, if one of us is getting into the pantry where these naughty treats reside, we can hassle each other.
We live above a lovely family-run restaurant and across from a wonderful traditionally French confectioner. When the latter opened I thought, “Excellent, when any of us have a sweet tooth, we can just go across the street for a fix. The less we will have in the house.”
That does happen, but a pantry shelf full of various sweets is also a reality. The jar is full of my son’s sweets, from the last Rosemontag (Carnival parade), Easter, Halloween, friend’s birthdays, and Christmas. We do re-gift him the sweets sometimes and I have even thrown out sweets, but we still have a jar full of them.
So, what is helping?
Yoga is still a big part of my day. I think I might be lost without it at this point because this week especially, I am not doing much else (it was -11 C upon waking up Wednesday). However, historically these situations for me would be all-day munch-a-thons, but as this week progressed, my lack of movement was not matched by a need to snack. I credit that to the lack of sugar in my diet. I think this combination of no sugar, plus yoga is also improving my sleep. My average score for the week is 85. My average for 2020 was roughly 81 (via Fitbit).
I have been drinking about four six liters of water a day and feel dehydrated if I don’t.
Part of that water is in the form of tea, which has helped me this week. So much so that I am almost out. Funny, I went from rarely ever drinking tea (decaffeinated) to guzzling the stuff (British black tea is different). Friday night I had a Zoom meeting with girlfriends, a situation where I would normally have wine and chocolate, instead drank at least four cups of tea.
Protein has been an important snack. Each weekend I boil ten eggs to keep in the fridge for the week, which has been a lifesaver. The 21-Day Sugar Detox, Daily Guide has also been nice to read and use as well, even if I did start it a little late.
Also, dried fruits like strawberries and raspberries have become a really special treat. Dehydrated, they are a bit tart and not as sweet as they are in season, leading to a nice unexpected flavor twist. For decades, I ate an apple every day. A few years ago I fell out of this habit, but have been working to bring it back in the last two weeks – man, a nice crisp, juicy apple is heavenly.
One day at a time
By the week’s end, I keep coming back to one idea, “one day at a time”. When my sister started going to meetings, I heard this a lot. It matters.
This phrase, to me, means that I have twenty-four hours to feed my spiritual self, for right now, that means not ingesting sugar. Straightaway, this is my responsibility to myself. Keeping this in mind, I don’t have to worry about maintaining this goal into the future, I just need to focus on maintaining it today. This idea also helps me to discover useful ways to manage my cravings, stress, and anxiety other than looking for sugar.
Now I am trying to reflect on the two most important points from the start of this journey for me: The ‘two-minute rule’ and ‘one day at a time’. Six weeks on and they both have helped keep me on track. That track isn’t necessarily one-hundred percent straight, but at least I am still on it. I also think that beginning the year with thirty days of yoga was incredibly helpful, like starting with the low hanging fruit. The way this week turned around for me gives me hope for the rest of the month’s journey. However, considering how tough the beginning of this week was, I will refrain from claiming broad victories yet.
What is helping you get through the week? What keto-friendly recipes are your favorite? Have you broken an addiction to sugar? If so, what worked for you? What did you struggle with and how did you overcome your obstacles? If you are vegan or vegetarian, what are some of your favorite recipes for seasoning soy granules? Let me know in the comments as I would love to learn from you.