#SwansonChallenge: The Sweet End of a Sugar Detox!

Friday, January 31, 2014 by Kaitlin W

Against all expectations, we survived the 21 Day Sugar Detox! Now read our thoughts on a sugar-free life.

 

Laura:

Laura

Last week, Hollie was sick.  This week, it was my turn.  And man, did I get a doozy!  I had the actual influenza virus, and spent the entire week in bed.  No running, no thinking, no breathing. Seriously. I felt like I was breathing through a straw.  I heard somewhere that sugar was particularly bad for colds/flus, so I had extra incentive to avoid sugar.  Plus, I had zero appetite, so the sugar-free challenge became a piece of cake.  I’m not sure it even counts, it was so easy.

However, as I’ve started to recover and get back to the treadmill, my appetite and cravings have returned like whoa!  It’s been really hard not to give in to the cravings since I feel so rotten that giving up sugar just seems like an added burden (I’m dramatic, aren’t I?), but I’ve managed to keep the cravings away with fruit and lots and lots of hot tea and some solidarity with my challenge sisters.  As the month ends, I’ve recognized how much sugar held over my life and I’m hoping that I’ll maintain a lower-sugar way of living.  However, I don’t think a low-sugar and carb lifestyle is realistic for a vegan who is training for an ultramarathon.  It might be good for the off-season (read: no running), but not when I need complex carbs for recovery and simple carbs during a run.  I am literally counting down the days until February.  But not in an ungrateful way. 

In fact, “not for vegans and ultramarathoners” is my only critique of the 21-Day Sugar-Free Detox book.  Otherwise, I felt like it was well-researched and laid out the diet plans with delicious-sounding recipes in an easy-to-follow manner.  She built her case for going sugar-free well (and I agreed with most of it, I just choose not to eat animal products) and I encourage anyone who is looking to make some drastic but totally doable changes to their lifestyle to try this!  It’s only 21 days, after all, and I think the benefits are pretty clear. 

This challenge has been great for me mentally and physically.  Swanson Health Products is amazing for sponsoring this challenge and I can’t wait to follow along with the next one in February!

 

Megan:

Megan

Time flies when you’re having fun; turns out time also flies when you’re doing a sugar detox! I really can’t believe the challenge is over and although I am excited to be able to ward off my garlic breath with a stick of gum now, I have to admit that popping that first piece after the challenge was sickeningly sweet (and probably a really bad idea!). This challenge was absolutely a “challenge” – but by no means was it complicated, restrictive or energy-sapping as some may believe. My digestion has improved, my skin is glowing and my tastebuds are happy munching on carrots and almond butter rather than something on the sinfully sweet side.

The last week of the challenge was definitely the easiest for me – especially when it came to meal prepping and cooking. I have narrowed down my favorite dishes from the detox and planning for my week ahead was a no-brainer! Lots of butternut squash, chicken, baked apples and coconut milk ice cream (my new nightly staple). There are plenty of new additions to my spice cabinet and pantry – coconut oil being the new household rockstar. I really believe that this way of eating will continue for me – at least in the near future – with a few exceptions. I still struggled a little in the last week with my pre and post workout supplements; most of these that I relied on before the detox have artificial sweeteners/”natural” sweeteners (like stevia/xylitol) in them. Being a 5 am workout kinda gal, I need that little kick in the butt that my pre workout gave me and relying on a pre workout snack itself didn’t cut it some days – I really had to kick my own butt and brains into gear.

In all honesty I’m a little scared to introduce a few things back into my diet now that the detox is over. There are amazing tips about this in the book, though, and I will definitely be following through with them. Baby steps is going to be key, especially with artificially sweetened stuff. I’m almost positive that those, along with fat free dairy, were causing my previous digestive issues and gas or bloating. The energy and vitality that this detox has provided me with, as well as the learning experience in and out of the kitchen and really getting to know my body better has given me the confidence to suggest this detox to anyone who is on the fence about it. I will be incorporating pieces of this lifestyle into my own on a daily basis and can’t wait to keep up with the recipes I have yet to try in the book!

Cheers to the 21 Day Sugar Detox, friends! And cheers to Swanson for being my support system as well as Hollie and Laura!

 

Hollie:

Hollie

When I first started January 1st, I was nervous that I would not be able to last a solid month without sugar and artificial sweetener.  I am someone who added 7 splenda to my Wawa coffee each morning.  I like things sweet.  I don’t mind using half a carton of splenda.  Though I don’t eat dessert daily, I do like it.  There were so many things I felt like I was giving up.

So the first day I was nervous and struggled.  For about two weeks I struggled and missed my added splenda coffee.  Although I don’t mind black coffee I didn’t want to drink it black every single day.  I eventually landed on having coconut milk in it which wasn’t bad.  A month later I’m not craving splenda but I will still go back to sweetened coffee.

After exactly two weeks I stopped craving sweet foods.  I found myself craving savory foods for breakfast like eggs and omelets.  While I am associated with eating a plethora of pancakes and waffles, it may surprise you to know that I ate eggs for breakfast before the challenge too.  During this challenge I did stay away from sweet pancakes and waffles for breakfast though. I found myself not missing sweetened coffee as much.  It was certainly a change and we started going through eggs rather quickly.

The hardest part for me was always breakfast.  If I could make it past 11 am without sugar and artificial sweetener (which I did daily) then I knew that I would be okay.  

Did I enjoy the challenge?

I won’t lie that it was a very difficult experience but it was eye opening.  I missed sugar but enjoyed how good I felt without it.

The 21 Day Detox Book:

I actually really enjoyed reading this book.  Although I am terrible at cooking, a lot of recipes were so easy that even I could do them.  I enjoyed this book because not only did it have plenty of recipes but it provided information on why sugar was harmful and the side effects it has.  In all honesty even if you aren’t planning to do the detox it’s a great book to read.  It has plenty of healthy recipes that I will use in my daily life even with having sugar occasionally.

My Post Sugar Feast:

After getting through 21 days without sugar I went for my first Wawa coffee with artificial sweetener.  I added 5 packets and Irish cream creamer.  It tasted like pure candy and it was delicious.  I was also lucky enough to be able to get pancakes for breakfast.  I really missed sweet carbohydrate pancakes!

The next day I actually went to my favorite diner in NJ and had a salmon and pita bread salad as well as a coffee with whip cream.  I haven’t gone all out with sugar yet!  I honestly don’t feel the need or cravings to have a gigantic cake or 20 cookies but I will be getting ice cream when the weather warms up again! 

Thank you Swanson for this opportunity!  It was truly eye opening and I had a great time. 

Kaitlin:

Kaitlin

This was all my idea. So I cannot properly describe to you the relief I feel after reading that Laura, Megan and Hollie all had positive experiences! Phew! And as for me? It was hard. I seriously thought this was going to be kind of a breeze because I make healthy decisions 90% of the time. I. Have. Been. Humbled. I did not grasp the depth of sugar's infiltration into our daily lives. Sugar means (mostly) no carbs, no gluten, (for the purposes of a detox) no fruit, no alcohol, no honey, no agave... Which leads to me giving the most sincere thanks and praise to my bloggers Hollie, Laura and Megan. I seriously don't think I could have done this without their support and the feeling of obligation I had to them. And to my friends and family! Not a single person said to me, "Oh why don't you just have one...no one will know!" I mean, they all told me I'm nuts and that they'd never do it, but they all encouraged me, counted down the days with me, asked what'd I'd eat first (berries), etc. Bless you all!

To the details: I don't know why but my digestive system did not like this challenge. I think it was the huge influx of all things coconut into my system. I really have no idea. But, I managed. Eggs, good gracious, I have never eaten so many eggs in my life and am nearly sick of them! We're currently in a state of seperation. I broke out (to be expected) but after a couple days my skin was healthier than it has been in quite a while! So that was a great perk! But, unlike Megan, I have nothing positive to say about my energy levels. It was awful. My training sessions were like dragging a bus behind me. It was awful. Have I mentioned how awful it was? I remember thinking, "I quite literally cannot push my legs any further right now. They're completely shot." And it wasn't even that tough of a workout! I have a much deeper appreciation for complex carbs and what they do for my body. But I will forever view them as fuel now that I know what life is like without them. So that was interesting getting to learn that about my body!

There is a lot to be taken from this experience. I will forever have a deep mistrust of artifical, refined sugar. It is empty in every way possible. It is excess and I do not want it in my body. Agave and honey, though? Welcome back to my life you beautiful, beautiful creatures! I certainly view carbs differently, as mentioned. But what surprised me the most is I view fat differently. I now truly understand there are good and bad types of fat. One will fuel you for hours and the other will keep you wanting more, and more! That may be the most invaluable lesson my mind needed to understand in my health journey, especially with race season around the corner. When we're bombarded with "non-fat, low fat, fat free" on everything, how are we to know we're making sacrifices in truly nourishing and filling calories and instead consuming artificial sweeteners that take the place of what is a natural occurance in our food?

And I am glad to say that my relationship with sweets has changed considerably. Which is exactly what I wanted to get from this challenge! My idea of a dessert now is a banana smothered in almond butter or a bowl of applesauce with cinnamon. Those are so sweet and delicious to me now! And I wake up the next morning ravenous which means I did everything right the day before, for my body at least.

And fruit? I love fruit so much I could weep. We will never be parted again.

Thank you for following our journey! I hope our raw honesty has inspiried your journey to health and making better decisions in some small way! There is something to be taken from every experience but ultimately you will create an equation that is unique to you and your needs and that will be the "diet" you can evolve into a lifestyle.

Get ready for our next challengers taking on the Whole30 with Jenna!

 

 

 


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