21 Day Sugar Detox

What to expect during the 21 day sugar detox diet

By Charlotte Carson

photo, Nina Teixeira food stylist, Carol Dudar

A 21 day sugar detox has been gaining popular momentum, and you may be ready to think it would be a good way to free yourself from sugar and carbohydrate cravings.

If a detox experience is new in your orbit, you may be a little wary about what to expect. There are lots of good things about sugar detoxing, which the aim is to eat wholesome, all-natural foods to supply plenty of nutrients while on the detox. There are some parts of it that are a little uncertain, like the claim that it will cleanse you of excess candida. Here are 10 important items you should consider so that you have a better understanding of what to expect.

3 Weeks Can Feel Like a Long Time

Although the ideal time frame to do a detox program is promoted as just 21 days, that’s three solid weeks of recalculating your attitude about eating. This can include a pretty big wake-up call when you realize just what it’s like to give up something as addictive as sugar, and feel the effect it has on the body and brain.

Perhaps 21 days is the recommended period because it reflects the commonly held psychological theory that this is how long it takes to form a habit. Of course, most of us have consumed sugar for a lifetime! Whatever the case, it is not an easy adjustment. It takes real discipline and determination.

Don’t plan the detox in a 21 day time period where you know you’ll be tempted to eat sugar or drink alcohol. The holidays are an uphill time to try to do this, as are times when there are weddings, birthday parties, or other events where you know there will be dinner, dancing, and cake.

Reality Check: Don’t think that this will be a cakewalk, but don’t let yourself get discouraged from trying it out just because it may be a challenge.

Candida Cleanse?

If you’re trying to cleanse candida and think that a sugar detox is all that’s required, think again. Candida is resilient. It takes more than just stopping the intake of sugar to tackle this ubiquitous condition.

A detox plan may be a good first step before performing a candida cleanse. Getting to a healthy reduction of sugar consumption before starting a candida detox program would help it go more smoothly with fewer side effects.

If you have the symptoms of having too much candida/yeast in your system, you should seek out a quality candida cleanse and consult with your doctor. Kits will include special herbs and diet plans that kill off the candida and help flush it from the body.

Reality Check: Candida levels vary from person to person. A sugar fast is not enough to kill off excessive amounts if you’re suffering from a candida outbreak.

You’ll Need to Stick to It

Doing the 21 day sugar detox for less than 21 days is a sure-fire way to relapse back to your old habits of eating.

The 21 day course is not arbitrary, so don’t alter the plan and go for less time than is prescribed. People who have experienced good results with this have stuck it out for the entire time, and sometimes have repeated it for good measure.

This is not just a one-off event either. This detox is meant to disrupt your old eating habits so you can form new ones that include a healthier limit in your intake of sugar. The greatest improvements come when you not only finish the entire detox program but eat better after it’s finished.

Reality Check:  Don’t delude yourself by cheating, and don’t cut it short. If you mess up, restart it and go the entire 3 weeks.

3 Weeks Might Not Be Enough

A lifetime of consuming too much sugar will make it harder for some to get it out of their system and return the body to a less hardwired state.

If you can’t imagine doing an additional 3 weeks because you’re still trying to wrap your head around the first three weeks, don’t worry. You’ll feel differently about the entire program once you complete it the first time. Success breeds success!

Reality Check: If you are a heavy user of sugar you may find that you don’t fully kick the habit after just 3 weeks. It may be necessary to take a short break and come back to the program another time.

It’s Not a Lifestyle Plan

Learning how to live a healthy lifestyle, means finding ways to help get rid of sugar so you can start eating better, more wholesome foods.

After the detox is completed you should have more energy, a clearer mental state, and healthier eating habits that can be a catalyst to living the life you’ve always dreamed, a lifestyle you’ve designed for yourself, not one you inherited or simply fell into.

Reality Check: Starting a new lifestyle is a lot easier when you don’t have sugar cravings and energy crashes from a blood glucose level roller coaster.

Reality Check: Be honest with yourself and choose the right start level. This will play a big part in the ease and effectiveness of the detox.

Reality Check: Knowledge is power. It’s important to know why sugar is so bad for you, and what it does to the body. In this light, you’ll be more likely to stick to the plan and finally be free of it.

Reality Check: Have an exit strategy so you know what type of foods you’ll be eating post-detox.

Reality Check: Having it all planned out takes the guesswork out of the equation. This helps reduce glitches, making it more likely that you’ll achieve success.

Sample Meal

By eliminating food and drinks that contain added amounts of sugar or refined flour, this diet really only involves food monitoring and eating reduced portions throughout the day. A sample meal plan for a day could be as follows.

  • Breakfast: A poached egg and low fat cheese on wholegrain or nut bread
  • Snack: Wholegrain slice of bread with a almond butter and crushed raspberries
  • Lunch: Salad of lettuce, radicchio, spinach, endives and chard topped with grilled low-fat turkey breast flakes, vinaigrette dressing on the side
  • Afternoon snack: Low fat yogurt with wholegrain cereal on the side
  • Dinner: Grilled salmon steak, another poached egg, steamed vegetables. (There should be no eating after 8 PM.)

 Other Tips

  • Remember to check the product label for signs of sugar or flour.  If the ingredients are on the list, do not buy that product.
  • Your daily diet should consist of whole grains, legumes, meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables. The key is to eat healthy portions from each food group.  Recommended foods include lean meats (with skin and fat removed), eggs (preferably organic), pulses and nuts, nut butters (no trans fat), olive and canola oils, low-fat mayonnaise, and also artificial sweeteners.
  • Exercise daily of about 30 to 60 minutes will help you with your energy.