It’s Time for a Sugar Cleanse…

January 14th, 2014 at 6:06 am
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Sayonara Sugar

Ready for a little dose of honesty today? I’m not sure I am, but let’s get to it before I chicken out!

For about 8 weeks now, I’ve felt like my health has taken a downhill turn. In November I started having stomach aches a few times per week, usually fairly mild and brief. I thought nothing of it. As time went on, they became more regular to the point where I was in pain at least 2 or 3 days a week. They would often come with a side of sudden fatigue,  sending me to the couch for a nap sometimes as early as 10 o’clock in the morning.

I visited my sister in Utah over Christmas and for whatever reason, I only had a stomach ache once and it wasn’t very bad. I also felt energized and alert. Then once I returned home, all the symptoms returned: stomach pain, bloating, extreme fatigue, low energy.

In the past 3 weeks, things have gotten worse, to the point where I’m down with a stomach ache and in need of a nap almost every day. Sometimes the severity isn’t bad, other days it’s horrible.

I’ve been frustrated to say the least! Up until late November, I was doing perfectly fine. I felt like my health/digestion/weight were better than they had ever been. I’ve wracked my brain trying to think of what I’m doing differently, how I’ve changed my diet or exercise, or what new supplements or foods I’ve been eating. Nothing has stood out to me.

But yesterday I had an epiphany. I started thinking back to this past summer and spring when I felt quite well and rarely had stomach aches. What was I eating? What was I not eating? What did I eat or not eat over Christmas that would have relieved my symptoms?

And then it hit me. Can you guess?

Sugar. Carbs. Not refined sugar, but natural sugar. The carbs found in fruit, dried fruit, starchy vegetables, grains, you know the drill.

I’m eating more natural carbohydrates now than I used to 5 or 6 months ago. Why? I don’t really know actually. With time and seasons, our habits slowly change until we’re on a different path completely. Lately (like in the past few months) I’ve been eating more fruit, gluten-free grains, and honey than usual. Unhealthy amounts? Nope. But for a carb-sensitive person, a little more than usual can make all the difference.

I don’t know why it has taken me so long to see this, since now I feel like it’s as plain as day! Bloating? Stomach aches? Blood sugar crashes (fatigue)? These are classic signs of sugar/carb overload.

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Putting It All Together

Thinking back to Christmas, I ate very few starchy carbs and sugars while at my sister’s. Maybe a few apple slices here or there, but I generally stuck to proteins and veggies. (I’m always a little nervous about digestive problems hitting me when I travel, so I guess I take extra care to eat clean.)

Now that I feel like I’ve discovered what’s going on here, there’s only one way that I can confirm it: doing a sugar cleanse.

Yes, I—the Sugar Shocker video person—am going to take my own advice and majorly dial back the natural sugars and starchy carbs. It’s time to purge the ol’ diet and get squeaky clean. My health depends on it.

Does that mean I’ll never go back to eating sweet stuff ever again? Certainly not! There’s a time and place for life’s sweet pleasures. But like I always say, moderation is different for every person. What one person can handle, another cannot. Finding nutritional balance in your life is all about knowing your limits and your triggers.

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The Sugar Cleanse

So for the next 30 days (yes, 30…I just typed that out) I’m committing to a sugar cleanse. I hesitate to call it a “cleanse” since that seems so much like a fad diet word, but for sake of argument let’s just go with it. And I’m telling you guys about it because I need accountability. I need someone other than me to know what’s going on.

If you have any of the symptoms that I’ve mentioned already (bloating, stomach aches, fatigue, wonky digestion) or others like trouble sleeping, lack of or increased appetite, skin conditions, difficulty focusing, low energy, the feeling of a “wired” brain, or strong cravings, there’s a good chance you could benefit from a sugar cleanse, too. So all the more reason for me to share about my 30 day journey with you!

Let’s start with what will be on the menu these next 30 days:

  • All non-starchy veggies, including lots of leafy greens.
  • Protein. Chicken, beef, turkey, eggs…pretty much any protein source other than dairy.
  • Fat. (Thank heavens!) Olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, and olives.
  • Extras: mustard, fermented veggies, herbs and spices, sea salt, salsa (no sugar added), and tea (no sugar added)

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And now a look at what’s off the table:

  • Fruit, both fresh and dried.
  • Sweeteners: cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, stevia, coconut sugar—yep, all the sweeteners.
  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, and winter squash (including pumpkin)
  • All grains (yes…even quinoa, millet, rice, etc.)
  • Dairy (ghee is generally okay if tolerated…I can’t tolerate it, so it’s off the table for me)
  • Kombucha, because even though it’s full of probiotics, it also generally has a few grams of refined sugar in every serving. (Remember, they add up.)

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A few exceptions:

  • Carrots. Even though they’re a starchier vegetable, I’m allowing carrots in moderation. Honestly I find it hard to eat more than 1-2 carrots per day, so I don’t think these will be an issue.
  • I may add small amounts of sweet potato, winter squash, parsnips, or rutabagas once in a while if I feel the need for more substance, but if so it won’t be every day and it will be 1/3 – 1/2 cup size servings.

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Sound a little drastic?

Yeah, it does to me too a little bit. But I’m so looking forward to seeing my results over these next 4 weeks. If I can get the stomach aches and fatigue to go away simply by changing my diet and focusing on less natural sugar and starch, I know it will be 100% worth it.

I’ll be blogging my way through this entire process. You’ll be seeing a lot more of me as I check in with you with videos and updates on how things are going. Why am I going to share so much with you? Because I believe healing with food works! And I want you to join in the journey with me as I show you how I use food to make changes in my body and ultimately in my health.

If you want to join me for the 30 day sugar cleanse, hop right in! Leave a comment and let me know if you’re on board. I’m so excited for this venture and can’t wait to see where I am 30 days from now.

Thank you for reading, as always!

 

Comments

  1. Good for you Hallie! My light bulb moment was last summer when I wondered if sugar was my foe. I am not sweet free because I substitute with palm sugar or agave. What a difference it made in so many ways. I allowed a bit back in for Thanksgiving, Christmas and a trip recently. It came with a price.

    Thankfully it’s been easy to go back to ny sugar-cane free way of eating so I won’t join you but I support you on your cleanse.

  2. I started something very similar the beginning of the year.. Good For you, for bringing this to your followers.

    I do use stevia, but only put it in tea, which is not often.

    I was eating very well, grains 1/4 cup , only at one meal a day, low on carbs, plenty of veggies , non starchy and protein.. I try to stay away from fruit, as it starts me wanting carbs. I eat chicken, turkey , fish , seafood, but eat no red meat. Have not eaten red meat for years.

    Only dairy I was taking was soy milk in a drink. Egg whites on occasion.

    I do have good fats as you mentioned

    But the sugar is a culprit, so will try to stay with you .

  3. Are you also eliminating dried beans and legumes Hallie?
    This will be hard but I’d love to feel good again so I’m going to do it with you and see what happens.

    • Moriah: I might have hummus every once in a while to give nuts a break for snacks, but yes, for the most part I’m going to stay away from beans/legumes.

      Thanks for joining in! We can do it!

  4. Thanks, Hallie, for choosing to have a serious but fun! break from sugar… I, too, am realising just how detrimental sugar is to my health and vitality. During the lead-up to Christmas I scoffed lots of chocolate (for me) at work as it ‘comforted’ me whilst I worked extra hours and got through the intensity of each busy day… which left me absolutely exhausted over my 13-day xmas break. Yes your sharing about the deep-fatigue naps is more than a familiar experience – it can be my daily experience and part of my routine!
    Anyway over xmas my sugar intake was minimal and I had more energy to go back to work with. I’ve been choosing minimal sugar intake since then and feel miles better although still have some way to go. I’m still having fruit in the mornings which works for me at the moment but, after your epiphany blog, I’ll be looking at trying something else and see how that feels.
    So thank you again and I look forward to ‘sharing’ your sugar-less journey! :))

  5. Thanks for posting this, Hallie. Same thing happened to me. Made a few extra desserts over the holidays (nut fudge, carob avocado pudding pie, and others…) and for some reason found myself eating dried fruit – dates, pineapple, figs…

    All that seemed to start a series of stomach aches, just when I had been feeling quite good about my digestive system.

    Too much sugar is too much, even when it comes from good sources. Lesson learned.

    • Sarah: Couldn’t have said it better myself! Sometimes it takes those health frustrations to get us back on the right track and teach us the hard lessons. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I will be following along with you:) Been having digestive issues for awhile and have been helped in the the last few months with a naturopath but need to cut out sugars/sweets.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Jennifer

  7. Brianna Tittel said on January 14, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    As you know I am currently on the “whatever-I-can-keep-down” diet, but I am super supportive of your efforts and hope it helps you feel better! Sugar, even in natural sources, is so sneaky. I think it can really be overdone easily by anyone, especially those who have more sensitive systems. Good luck, Hallie, and to anyone who is joining you!

  8. I just recently finished a sugar detox myself over the holidays. Your kale salads helped me through many of those days. I have never omitted sugar for the holidays, but it really helped me stay present with myself and my family. Instead of being filled with brain fog and lack of energy.

    After the new year, I’ve slowly brought some more fruits in, but I have kept off any other sugar treats. As I continue to make better choices for myself I will keep you in mind and be inspired by your commitment to better health. I look forward to your posts.

  9. How about beans? Are they all out? I will follow you the next 30 days
    Thani you

    • Gigliola: I’m probably going to include a little hummus here and there, but I’m not big into beans anyways, so they’ll probably be out for the most part.

  10. Will you post a meal plan?

  11. Stephanie said on January 14, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    It sounds like a generally yeast free … Candida killing diet. For the most part I try to follow I Candida free diet but I use Stevia freely. Is there a concern with Stevia and Candida? I use the vanilla flavored Stevia in my almond milk And I drink it every day. I try to have a raw breakfast of almond milk chia seeds ground flax and raw organic coconut And since my almond milk has vanilla flavored Stevia I am getting some Stevia every day. I would love to have your thoughts on why the Stevia is being omitted.

  12. Wow Hallie, this is impressive! I’m sure it will be incredibly transformative for you. Is that a word? I like it :) I think I would miss my fruit too much, maybe for a couple of days, but not thirty :) Kudos to you. I’m sure you will rock it and you will feel amazing. xo

  13. Tracy Burns said on January 14, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I had really bad anaemia a couple years ago. They found a stomach ulcer I’d probably had for a long time. Before I knew I was anaemic I found myself tired all the time and grabbing for anything sugary even though I’d never really had much of a ‘sweet tooth’. Now I feel as though I am addicted to the stuff. Last summer I found myself reducing sugar, gluten and dairy just a bit, slowly, and I really did feel better. But I slip back into the sugar trap now and then and really feel yucky. So, your cleanse has come around at a good time to encourage me to dedicate myself to being more conscious about these cravings and finding ways to fight them. For example,I decided that every time I have a sugar craving I am going to eat some protein. It will feel satisfyinga nd help even out my blood sugar. I look forward to following you in this endeavour.

    • Tracy: Thank you so much for sharing. I’m so glad you’re making strides to reduce sugar and follow along with me on this new journey! Stay tuned for more updates.

  14. Elizabeth said on January 14, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    Wow! That’s all I can really say! You are such an inspiration to me and my family! I would love to join you in this sugar cleansing, since it is what I need most for my health and well being!

    I just wanting to say how grateful I am that there is someone else out there who has the same health issues and is trying their hardest to make these problems better by doing whatever they can! For, me this is wonderful because I know that there is someone else out that is doing the same things I am trying to do. This makes me get up in the morning and say to myself,” How can I improve my health and well being today, and how can I continue to do this for the rest of my life!

    So I just wanted to say thank you for all that you do for yourself, because it really does influence those around you!

    • Elizabeth: What a wonderful encouragement! Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m glad you’ll be following along with me on the sugar cleanse. I find that having other people in my “circle” for support is super helpful and motivating. Here’s to a great 30 days! :)

  15. In the beginning of December I decided to go dairy free. I noticed a few weeks later that I was sleeping well and woke up with a clear head. I am now attempting to go sugar free, starting with with sweets. The thought of giving up whole fruit is really hard for me right now. But I’m committed to making changes that give me better health.

    • Lisa: Way to go! Yes, make small changes one day at a time. I always say it’s better for me to take a small step day after day than to freak myself out and not take any steps at all. :)

  16. You really hit the nail on the head on how I’ve been feeling.
    I’ve been thinking of doing a similar diet overhaul.
    My main culprit is dairy and sugar.
    I don’t eat meat or gluten or rice so I’m leaving healthy grains and sweet potatoes in. But my new favorite Greek yogurts and cheese will have to go. For a little while til regain self control. Good luck to you. I’m looking forward to your posts.

  17. I”M IN! Your story sounds just like mine. I did the whole 30 plan back in oct. but I was so tired the whole time. I’m not sure why. But my stomach behaved itself the whole time. Something I haven’t experienced much even in the last 3 years of being gluten and almost dairy free.

    • Kelli: Yay! Thanks for joining me. I’ve found that dehydration and not eating enough in general make me tired. The water thing is huge. I’m really trying to get in 9-10 cups per day, because that’s when I feel the best. Sometimes it’s less than that, sometimes (rarely!) it’s more. But at least I’m trying. :)

      Stay tuned for more updates!

  18. Christina said on January 15, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    I just had an A1C of 8.3 so I am going to try the cleanse also. I need to get away from the sugar! I am going to start exercizing also as I have been away from it. My doc is giving me 3 months to get to an A1C of 7.5 and lose 10 pounds. I love your cookbook The Pure Kitchen and am getting your Kale book next. Thank you for your inspiration.
    Christina

  19. I snapped back into this the first of the year and OHhhhh. I feel so much better. Loser, move easier, sleep better, wake better, lymph not as tight…just better. Gotta keep it clean!

  20. Sally Jeppson said on January 16, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Your challenge is just what I needed to get me back on the right path. Loved the Sugar Shocker videos. I’ve lately been heading to the dried fruit snacks and overdoing it with all the wonderful citrus. I’ve noticed the bloating and pudginess coming back…SUGAR is the culprit. I’m going to join in! Thanks.

  21. Hallie, thanks a bunch(no pun intended) for helping me connect the dots. I am already vegan, GF, soy, oat and corn free….might as well go FRUIT FREE! In the last few months I have started having smoothies for breakfast and am beginning to revert to the same list of symptoms you described. I have not had refined sugars for a couple of years, but noticed I am eating fruit like there is no tomorrow. I will join you for the cleanse, but will have to keep beans in the loop as they are one of my few protein options left. Any other advice you could offer would be much appreciated. Thanks and good luck to us all!

  22. I was having daily stomach aches for a few weeks before I figured it out. Unfortunately, the culprit appears to be kale =(.

    Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve been making not-so-good choices when it comes to what I eat, so I’ll join you in focusing on less carbs and less treats (albeit healthy ones). Here’s hoping I’m not feeling so tired and bloated for the next couple of weeks!

    I will be following your further progress, and glad to hear you listening to your body =)

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