Monday, May 27, 2013

I detoxed from sugar...and survived

Here in Seattle, it seems that at least half my friends are on a cleanse or detox at any given time. It’s completely common to hear “Sorry, I can’t make it to happy hour, I’m detoxing” or “can’t do dinner- cleansing!” One of my good friends did a remarkable 21 Day Adventure Cleanse through New Age health guru Kris Carr, while another one is currently doing a six week program.

While there are plenty of crap products and stupid gimmicks on the market, I firmly believe that a good detox once in awhile is incredibly healthy if it’s done right. As long as your body is getting the nutrients it needs, cutting the crap out for awhile is a great thing. It’s not a good long-term diet plan, but it’s a nice way to say, “Hey body. Thanks for dealing with all the cupcakes and Fireball shots. Here’s some green juice.”

Personally, I suck at detoxing. I have tried many times over the last few years. But not only do I live amongst the best bars and sinful but delicious food spots in the city, but it seems there’s always an event I don’t want to miss where temptation will be too great to resist. And the few times I have managed to cut crap out entirely for a week, I always let myself have coffee with So Delicious creamer…which, while far better than the chemical shit storm that is Coffeemate, is still not the best.

So, after a round of antibiotics for last month’s sinus infection wreaked total havoc on my body, I found myself tired, sluggish, foggy and, well, gross. I knew what had to be done. I knew I had to detox, and I had to stick with it. So I went to work to find out the two most important things: 1. What kind of detox/cleanse would be best for me and 2. The very least amount of time I could cleanse my body and get results. Hey, I’m no fool.

The answers I found were the ones I’d been dreading. What I needed was a strict sugar detox, or mini Candida cleanse (my issue hadn’t progressed badly enough to go full-on Candida diet for a long length of time, THANK GOD). Basically, I had to starve the overgrowth of bad bacteria out of my body. This meant depriving my body of sugar… all sugar, even fruit.

I’d heard nightmare stories from people who had detoxed from sugar… stories of terrible mood swings, physical withdrawals and fits of rage. I figured I was in for the worst of the worst. The thing is, I know how terrible sugar is, but I LOVE it. I don’t have a sweet tooth. I have a mouth full of sweet teeth. I love fruit, I love cupcakes and I love ice cream. While I don’t eat the stuff daily, I feared what cutting myself off cold turkey for the first time in my life would do.

The good news is that I learned the “die off” phase of the evil Candida is fairly fast if you go hardcore like I planned to do, and I could pull off a successful detox in a week. Coffee isn’t banned, but since I can’t stomach black coffee, I decided to do something I’ve never done in my adult life: detox from caffeine for a week also. I stocked up on probiotics, read a ton of information about Candida killing foods and what I could eat (not much), and prepared myself for the Ultimate Sugar Withdrawal.

Truthfully, after an unhealthy trip to Vegas followed by a month of bad food decisions, I was ready to detox. And to my great, great surprise, I really didn’t crave sugar the entire week. I figured I’d be crying over pictures of donuts and dreaming of strawberries and sundaes. None of that happened. There was definitely a test of willpower when I had to write about some delicious local bakeries and gelato shops for a freelance job, describing their best treats and looking at pictures, but aside from a little stomach growling and drooling, I was just fine.

What almost killed me was the lack of coffee. Given the fact that I’m just a one or two cup a day kind of girl, and I’ve skipped a day now and then with no ill effects, my tortuous withdrawal from my morning brew shocked me. All the herbal tea in the world didn’t make up for my daily delicious cup of Caffe Vita with two tablespoons of So Delicious Coconut Creamer. It was all I longed for.

I was so hung up on missing coffee I pretty much forgot about sugar. Despite allowing myself adequate sleep every night, I was so exhausted I could only bring myself to complete two 30 minute workouts all week. I felt like I should have been thriving, but I was dragging ass.

I’ve always prided myself on not having an addictive personality, something I’ve certainly put to the test. I brag about it to others. And yet, here I am, a total coffee addict for God knows how long.

So these are the lessons that a week of living mainly off kale, garlic, quinoa, broccoli and spinach taught me:

1. I am not nearly as addicted to sugar as I thought I was.
2. I am completely addicted to coffee.
3. I don’t eat as badly as I thought I did. It took my week of “perfection” to see that my regular diet isn’t all that bad. Yes, I eat fattening restaurant food, I love cheese, I eat too much sugar and I probably drink too much alcohol for my optimal health. But I also eat a shitload of kale and other nutrient-dense organic food, and I’m going to start giving myself more credit for that.

As far as my coffee addiction, at this point, I have no plans to try and quit the stuff. I will always try to keep it to one cup a day, and I will do periodic detoxes. But there’s nothing like waking up in the morning knowing that in between getting up and going to work there’s a giant cup of delicious organic brew awaiting me. And with every study that comes out claiming coffee is terrible, another study comes out touting its benefits. So I’ll keep my coffee and the world can keep its Happy Jessica.

I highly encourage everyone, even you amazing uber healthy types, to do a periodic detox now and then. Listen to your body, do your research, and you’ll know what it needs. The results just might surprise you. 


Brenda said...

Yea, I'm addicted to both coffee and sugar. While I applaud your success, I think I'm gonna spare the world a raving lunatic sugar and coffee-less Brenda.

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