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Kicking the sugar habit with a 21-day detox diet

The 21-day sugar detox diet ain’t for the weak of heart.

Day 13, I was almost brought to tears when I realized the full-fat sour cream I’d been eating had xanthan gum in it. It’s the small things — like the one gram of sugar per tablespoon of sour cream — that really get you when you’re on the 21-day sugar detox.

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By Sasha Moedt (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: October 1, 2014

Detoxing from sugar can cause withdrawal symptoms like headaches and fatigue, but the results are worth it. (Image:  Wikipedia)

Detoxing from sugar can cause withdrawal symptoms like headaches and fatigue, but the results are worth it. (Image: Wikipedia)

The 21-day sugar detox diet ain’t for the weak of heart.

Day 13, I was almost brought to tears when I realized the full-fat sour cream I’d been eating had xanthan gum in it. It’s the small things — like the one gram of sugar per tablespoon of sour cream — that really get you when you’re on the 21-day sugar detox.

I purchased Diane Sanfilippo’s The 21 Day Sugar Detox because of the emerging research on the impact of sugar on the human body — diabetes, cancer, insomnia, and depression. I was sick of the headaches, the cravings, and the hunger.

I was especially sick of feeling like I no longer controlled what I ate.

Soon after reading The 21 Day Sugar Detox, I realized the villainous role sugar has in my everyday life. It’s hidden in any food labelled “low-fat,” in nutrient-poor carbs, and in processed food. It’s also hidden in my sour cream.

Sanfilippo writes that “the answer to your cravings isn’t a magic pill, potion, shake or simply a handful of supplements.” It’s changing the way you think about and prepare food.

The sugar detox is just that: no sugar. That includes refined carbohydrates, starches, sweet fruits, and anything with the label “diet” or “sugar free,” including gum and artificial sweeteners.

Here are three essential things to know about completing the sugar detox.

You have to be prepared.

I pre-made soups, sausages, and muffins galore. If you’re caught hungry, it’s very difficult to find a restaurant that serves food you can eat, and the chances of you falling off the health bandwagon skyrocket.

This might be a rocky road, but it is worth it.

The addictiveness of sugar has been compared to cocaine, so you have to expect withdrawal symptoms. I went from brutal headaches, flu-like muscle fatigue, bloating and itchy hands. (Weird, right?) Don’t expect to immediately feel healthy. I felt awful. But by day 12, things changed: my mind felt sharp as a knife. It’s not easy, but keep reminding yourself why you’re doing it — it’s worth it.

But if you’re going to try it, have a bro.

You need a support system. For one, you probably can’t do the detox without the book — it includes all of the resources you need to be successful. But you need a bro. This is the person you text updates on how you’re feeling, the person you cook with, the person you go veggie-shopping with — the person who’s facing the same struggles. I’m doing it with my Mum, and it’s a bonding experience.

I’m on day 15. And yes, I feel a little bit smug. It’s amazing how full I feel long after meals; I rarely snack anymore. My head feels clear, and I rarely feel guilty about what I’m eating, barring the sour cream incident. I’m being nice to my body.

This isn’t a ride to embark on during finals. You have to be able to take the time to make this a priority. But making it a priority is definitely well worth it. Your body and mind will thank you.

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