I caved under peer pressure. Most of the popular diets start with some kind of sugar cleanse. I don’t mean just the white granulated sweetness either – though white is a key characteristic to avoid. White bread. White flour. Rice (even brown rice – it could be white). Potatoes. Pasta. If you want to do this right, all are off the list.
The terror doesn’t stop there. Replacement sweeteners need to go for awhile too. Honey. Agave nectar. Natural sugars. And especially artificial sugars. You can use stevia, but I don’t. I’d rather eat paste.
Fruit doesn’t work either. Except, perhaps, blueberries on occasion. But definitely not juice.
I’ve heard variations of these things from so many sources that I lose count. South Beach, Atkins, Rosedale. I heard it during my training as a Mayan Abdominal Massage specialist – you need to watch your diet to keep your belly (and body) healthy. Actually, with all the conflicting voices about the best diet, it seems they all agree on this point: Processed sugar is a bad idea.
When I launched into this, the most recent version I had heard was Rosedale’s. My wife’s natural pharmacist had recommended it to her, and to be honest, if my wife hadn’t decided it was time to do something and stick with it, I wouldn’t have made it. Because I didn’t really want to do it.
You see, I was addicted. I realized that as the withdrawal symptoms set in. I felt hungry no matter how much I ate, even if I was full. I was angry. And tired. I wanted to throw temper tantrums and sometimes did. That was the first week.
By the middle of the second week, I started to feel better. I actually enjoyed my regular nut snacks (handfuls at a time – raw is best, though most of mine were roasted). I felt satisfied with a bit of avocado, a couple of eggs for breakfast, a salad with olive oil, Real Salt and balsamic vinegar. And the best part, the most convincing part, was that the pounds were starting to fade away.
Rosedale starts with a three week sugar cleanse. You fill up on healthy, preferably unsaturated, fats and lean meats and proteins. In fact, olive oil, avocados, nuts and fish oils are essential. Fish, chicken, low-fat cheeses, ham and turkey can all be part of the mix. Just no sugar of any kind. The promise is that it turns off the cravings and turns on your body’s natural fat-burning mechanisms. By the end of the second week, I was a believer. I wasn’t desperately ravenous for anything, and I was enjoying my food even more.
Why hadn’t I tried this before, after years of hearing how to do it? I simply wasn’t desperate enough. This time, I was. I even threw things away! Emptied my cupboards and refrigerator of all temptations. I didn’t go to the store at all – Susie did that for us. (And thank goodness. When I finally went in the middle of the second week, I had to move quickly and just get out as fast as possible. Go with a detailed list.)
I broke the cleanse at Root Down, one of my favorite local restaurants. Dessert was a giant homemade Oreo cookie with mascarpone filling and spiced, dark hot chocolate. Then I went back on the diet until Thanksgiving, allowing myself to indulge in the holiday feasting. In the first 4 weeks, I shed 20 pounds. Since then – unfocused, but mildly conscious about my eating, another 5.
Ready to try it? Here are a few recommendations.
- Make a list of things you like to eat that don’t have sugar. Vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds, snacks. Use lists for the various diets that are available online (or go buy the books). Remember, no breads or pasta or rice or sugar. Nothing white.
- You must get stocked up. You may not have the good fortune of someone to go to the grocery store for you. We had no meal plan and nothing ready to go. It makes it harder. If you can avoid the store for a week, you’ll have a better chance.
- Eliminate temptations. I say this after you are stocked up because it’s much easier to hide or throw away food when you have something else to replace it.
- Most likely, you’ll get moody. Be prepared. Wade through it anyway.
- Decide how long you’ll go before having sugar again. South Beach talks about two weeks. Rosedale is three. Others are 4.
- Get food you like. While the no sugar thing is most likely temporary, this is headed towards a lifestyle change. As hedonists, we tend to demand that we enjoy our meals.
- Plan your reward at the end. Mine was Root Down. And then Thanksgiving. What will yours be?
If you’re going to do it, you have to jump in. Give yourself a week to prepare if you must, but set the date. How about next Monday? I didn’t give myself any prep time – really, Susie didn’t give us any prep time. All those books, the urgings of my wife – I had to cave to the pressure. I’m glad I did.