May 15, 2013

A few of my Instagram friends have been doing a 3-week sugar cleanse recently and last week I decided to join them. It's a great time of year to do it! And a good break-up with sugar was just what I needed. Why did I want to do it? Because I was feeling like I needed something sweet after every meal. And I wanted to stop the cravings for bananas and chocolate chips throughout the day. I want to be free to enjoy sweet stuff when I want to, but I don't want to be a slave to it! And I could feel that coming on. I also wanted to give my body a boost to fight a bug I've had for a couple weeks. Pathogenic bacteria feeds on sugar, so it's always nice to starve it out and replenish with plenty of good bacteria (via fermented foods and a probiotic supplement) when you're fighting something.

I wasn't sure about the rules of the 21 day cleanse my friends were doing, but maybe something like this? I decided I would just make up my own plan, since I know what my normal diet is already like and my own weaknesses. We don't have any actual white sugar in our house anyway, so I knew the main things I'd be cutting out were honey, maple syrup, and fruit.

Here's what my plan/rules look like:

  1. No fruit for the first week. Then slowly add back in small amounts as snacks. (Still try to hold back on dates and raisins and other super-sweet dried fruits)
  2. No baked sweets, no honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar for the whole 3 weeks.
  3. Only eat whole grains that have been soaked or sprouted. (brown rice, quinoa, gluten-free sprouted oats)
  4. No processed stuff. (For me, this meant tortilla chips.)
  5. No peanut butter, gluten, soy, or conventional dairy. (I don't eat these things anyway, but just wanted to mention that they are avoided.)
  6. Eat plenty of sauerkraut to stock up on probiotics.
  7. Follow these rules when I'm at home. I knew I was going to be eating meals with other people during the 3-week period, so some small cheats would be inevitable. But I still skip things that are easy to avoid- like dessert and fruit salad.

Well. There you have it. It's been going really well! The first few days were tough. Last year, I did a sugar cleanse and didn't have anything sweet, even honey or fruit, for 4 months!!! So going into this, I thought it would be a breeze. Because I had all that practice last year, you know? Nope. It was so hard. Giving up fruit felt like a huge sacrifice. Every time I went to the kitchen I felt like I had nowhere to turn without fruit! But I figured out some options pretty quickly. If nothing else, doing a cleanse like this is good for me just to get out of my snack rut and remember how much variety we have in food. I don't need an apple every afternoon. I also quickly learned that I had to make heartier snacks, with whole grains and healthy fats, to keep my energy up. The things that really came to my rescue were:

  • dirty rice with an egg on top
  • quinoa with super-soft kale, garlic, and a fried egg (recipe below)
  • warm brown rice with coconut oil, salt, and a drizzle of almond butter
  • a cup of thick squash soup with grass-fed beef and rice
  • almonds and cashews
  • celery slathered with almond butter

Quinoa with tender kale, garlic, & a fried egg

1 T. coconut oil
1 egg
1 clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
serving of soaked and cooked quinoa (directions below)
1/4 to 1/2 cup stewed kale*

*Rip kale leaves from the thick stems and rinse thoroughly. Place in a pot and cover with chicken broth, bring to a boil, and then turn to low. Let simmer for 20 minutes, or until very tender. 

In a small skillet, melt a tablespoon of coconut oil. Add soaked and cooked quinoa and stewed kale to the skillet and toss until warmed through. Chop one clove of garlic and add it to the pan. Lay a fried egg on top of everything. Season with sea salt and pepper.

How to soak and cook quinoa: Rinse 2 cups of quinoa under running water for at least 1 minute (it has a bitter coating). Add to a glass bowl and cover with 2 cups warm filtered water. Stir in 2 T. of lemon juice, whey, kefir, or raw cider vinegar. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 8 hours. Drain and rinse well. Add quinoa to a pot, pour water in until quinoa is covered by about 1/2 an inch and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and let simmer 15 to 18 minutes, or until water is absorbed. 

Overall I feel really good. Even in between meals! I always feel good when I'm eating nourishing food and keeping sugar in it's rightful place; as a treat. And I've gotten to the point now where I'm fine with just a bit of fruit here and there, so that's a good sign! How are you guys feeling about sugar lately? I think I may do this more often!


Jennifer Lange said...

Your sugar cleanse is very similar to the anti yeast diet that I'm on right now. I just started eating fruit again last week in very small quantities, about a half cup of strawberries with breakfast and maybe a quarter of a green apple after supper, and am not supposed to have any dried fruit until this diet is over.

Personally, I found that I don't miss sugars or fruit while I'm eating like this but that I do miss breads and pizza dough. Something about having to avoid yeast, gluten, and sugar (among other things) makes it really hard to find either of those!

Miranda said...

Good luck to you, Miss Summer, not that you'll need it! I'm curious why you eat almond butter but not peanut butter?

Hannah said...

I've been doing something similar for two weeks now except I decided to allow sweets on Sundays to provide myself a little motivation. I'm more trying to cut out refined sugars though, so I've still been doing honey in my oatmeal and eating fruit as a snack. I did buy some dried mangos last week and felt like I was cheating by eating them!

Good for you. I think it is always good to remind ourselves and our bodies that we really don't need sugar.

Katie said...

I so so so need to do this. Why do sweets have to be so tempting?! You are inspiring & brave!

emily o. said...

My hubby and I have cut out sugar and most grains (not counting the very occasional out-to-eat date or going to a friend's house), and it is unbelievable how much better I feel! I suffered from chronic back pain and migraines, and those have pretty much disappeared since changing my diet. I have so much more energy, feel more alert, and just all around my body is feeling better. I started this in hopes of losing weight (and being healthier all around), but never dreamed of such a great result! I agree the first week or two are very difficult, but after the sugar was out of my system, it was not bad at all!

Hayley said...

Go summer! I love your cleanse. Might have to try it next year as I'm planning on making it an annual thing.

Yesterday I had a cupcake and it turned me into a complete zombie with a huge headache. No bueno.



about this blog

Hello, I'm Summer. A people-loving introvert whose hope and life is in Jesus. His promises are my passion and my ministry is homelife. This blog is a place for me to write about everyday things. Especially food. My favorite thing to do is sit around a table, lingering over a long meal with good conversation. I live with my husband and our 2 littles. We like blizzards, thrifting, grammar, guacamole, cheerful hearts, nice manners, good movies, and making simple, real, nutrient-dense food.

"If Christ be anything, He must be everything."
-C.H. Spurgeon

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