Pardon the use of the cliché in the title of this post, but it has come to mind more than once this week as I’ve been ‘detoxing’ from sugar. It’s after dinner now on the 6th day of the detox and I’m delighted to report that it has gone really well so far. Now, I am lucky that it was Reading Week, so I got to work from home for the week (except when I went to Maynooth on Tuesday). On Sunday, I’ll post up my meal plan for the week. This post is going to make some observations on doing a sugar detox.
1. I decided to go cold turkey on sugar for one day shy of three weeks in order to cut cravings and bad habits like biscuits after dinner or leaving work and grabbing an M&S ready meal on the way home. Not only is this stuff unhealthy, but it’s expensive. And cooking is how I like to unwind. I love it and ticking something in the oven to heat up just doesn’t cut it for me. I want to chop, grate, simmer & taste my food as I make it. Cold turkey on sugar not only means no sweets, chocolates, biscuits, but also means no potatoes, white rice, pasta, noodles, bread, vinegar, soy sauce, dairy, fruit (and more, but these are the main things out of my diet).
2. Organisation is one of the keys to success with this. I was plotting recipes for a while before starting – check out this board I’ve compiled on Pinterest (just be careful – not all of the recipes are suitable for detox). I made out a plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks each day. I wrote a shopping list on the back of the plan. And last Sunday after my first sugar free breakfast (spinach, bacon and egg), I went and did a massive shop to get most of the things I’d need for meals for the week.
3. A roast chicken goes a long way. I got 3 dinners, 2 lunches and when I boiled down the carcass, I got a put of soup out of one roast chicken. I made sure that I varied what I was doing with the chicken though – otherwise I would have got totally sick of it.
4. Snacks will get you through. I’m not used to snacking between meals. On the first day, I got so hungry between lunch and dinner, I didn’t know what I was going to do. My roast chicken was an hour and a half away from being done. Luckily I had some roasted, salted almonds in the cupboard. A handful with a cup of mint tea got me through. Brenda, who I live with is sugar free and she recommended some snacks – a brown rice cake with some smoked salmon, avocado or almond butter (the Meridian crunchy version is lovely); some chopped up peppers; a cup of homemade soup, a handful of nuts or some toasted seeds will all keep the hunger at bay, especially if they are washed down with a herbal tea (maybe not the soup!).
5. Variety really is the spice of life when it comes to this restrictive diet. When I saw the list of things I couldn’t have, I thought “No way!”, but it’s amazing what you can do to get around things. I had parsnip chips with some spicy chilli the other night and it was a lovely meal! Sprinkling curry powder into some spinach makes it way more appetising and squeezing a garlic clove into scrambled egg makes it incrediby tasty. A nice selection of oils (coconut or rapeseed for cooking and extra virgin olive for drizzling) as well as a selection of herbal teas brighten things up. Oh, and I can’t get enough chilli at the moment – I’m putting it in everything. I even used a scotch bonnet the other day – yeeouch!
6. Drinking lots of water and tea is important and I’m not usually great at remembering to drink water throughout the day. No sugar means lots of protein and vegetables which mean more fibre and I don’t need to go into what happens if you take too much fibre and not enough water…… You also need water to flush out all those sugary toxins!
I’m surprised that this hasn’t been more difficult to be honest. I had read about possible side effects – headaches, cravings, low energy – in the first few days, but I haven’t had any of those. Being back at work next week will be a bigger challenge, but I am sure it’ll be manageable once I prep well over the weekend.
Stay tuned for a full meal plan for week one on Sunday.