This article popped up in my Facebook newsfeed at just the right time. I’m on day 9 of a 21 day sugar detox diet, otherwise know as the “fuck this, I won’t eat anything but a muffin” phase, and reading a well-referenced article on the neuroscience of sugar addiction was exactly what I needed.
Nobody likes to listen to people blab on about their diets, but this is my blog and I need to vent some serious detox-related gripes.
Why did I decide to detox in the first place?
~ I was already aware of the points raised in this article through various interactions with people who avoid sugar as well as academic studies of nutrition and neuroscience. For quite a while, I’ve been aware that I am a sugar addict. With all the other efforts I put toward my health and well-being, this just seemed like the responsible thing to do.
~ I’m way overdue.
~ I don’t have any big races coming up in the next couple of months that require endurance training.
~ I’ve been more aware of my sugar addiction symptoms in the past several weeks.
~ Personally, I don’t crave baked goods and sweets as much as I crave fruit, especially dried fruit which is way higher in sugar.
~ You might not guess by looking at me, but I can eat a crapload of junk. That doesn’t sound very healthy, does it? I don’t get fat because I run it off, but there are sooooooooo many reasons to eat well that have nothing to do with body composition.
~ Booze. I was drinking more than I probably ever have in my life. This is largely due to the fact that I was never a very heavy drinker. But the west coast has really good beer and wine, what’s a girl to do?? The holidays and my social life have made moderation more difficult, so it was time to take a nice clean break.
~ My moods were out of control. Hangry doesn’t even cut it. Irritable. Impulsive. Angry. Anxious. Unable to relax. A few days before starting this detox, I went to a dinner party. Even though I had no bread or dessert, I drank way too much. The next morning, I woke up craving sugar intensely and was ultimate bitchface. My friend gave me some fig newtons, and they calmed me right down. That’s when I admitted I have a problem.
~ Apathy, depression and negativity. Related to the point above, I haven’t felt quite the same since fracturing my foot left me relatively inactive for a period of time. Running is one thing that keeps me sane, along with eating well and naturopathic medicine. I remember sitting on my ass that first day and thinking, “This is really going to fuck with my neural chemistry.” Being unable to run left me unable to cope with a lot of my feelings, knocking me far enough off center that I couldn’t think of anything but a hard reset to get me back on track.
Throughout my teens and into my twenties, I took heaps and mounds of “psychotherapeutic pills” to deal with these symptoms. Now, I won’t even take an ibuprofen. My ever-growing rage toward psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry is a rant for another day. Looking to my diet as a solution to my mood swings seems like the healthiest and most appropriate option.
~ PMS. I don’t experience symptoms of PMS or period cramps when I’m training for a race, but the past few months have been kind of brutal.
~ Difficulty focusing. Since I started working as a reporter, long meetings and an irregular schedule have led me to rely more heavily on frozen pizza. Not exactly genius fuel.
How’s it going?
~ For the first three to four days, I got headaches in the afternoon. It’s very unusual for me to get headaches unless I’m sick, so I took that as a sure sign of sugar withdrawal.
~ The headaches have subsided, but I’m still feeling generally fatigued. I’ve been running slower since I stopped eating sugar. At the gym, I tried lifting less weight than I have before, and couldn’t get it an inch off the floor.
This might be due to the fact that I didn’t do my research ahead of time and wasn’t even following a specific plan at first. I didn’t even get the “The 21Day Sugar Detox” book until I was already a week in. Now I know that I wasn’t eating enough carbs. We’ll see if that improves now that I’m eating more yams and quinoa instead of just meat and veggies.
~ My skin broke out more than usual. Normally, I get a zit or two about five days before my period starts. This time, it was like six-seven.
~ I still fantasize about pastries. I think about eating bread even when I’m not actually hungry, which makes me wonder how much bread I’ve eaten impulsively.
~ I’m going to talk about poop here, so if that’s TMI, go on to the next section! My digestive system is still adapting to the increase in fat, which I’ve never liked eating very much. First I was gassy, and then I was pooping something that looked like foam, and most recently I had horrible diarrhea.
I think I accidentally overate coconut oil yesterday, which led me to have absolutely no appetite for most of today. Even though I felt thoroughly nauseated by the thought of eating any of the food in my kitchen this morning, my brain still craved a fucking bagel. TOO BAD, BRAIN! YOU CAN’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT!
~ Aside from my brain, I feel like I’m doing the rest of my body a HUUUUUUGE favor. My liver, in particular, is grateful to have a break from processing alcohol and excess sugar.
~ My moods stabilized almost instantly. I haven’t gotten angry or snapped at anyone since I started this.
~ I can feel myself detoxing both physically and mentally. It’s uncomfortable. Aside from all I’ve already listed, I feel like I need saunas, exfoliation, and enemas. I’ve never WANTED an enema in my life. I feel like there are layers of toxic chemicals in my body that are starting to loosen up and plan their escape. I don’t know how else to describe it. It’s itchy.
~ I’m still having a hard time focusing, but think that’s mostly due to fatigue. I’m waiting for this burst of pure, clean energy to swoop in and carry me away!!!
~ I feel like I’m eating a lot more than I used to. This is probably because I’m actually preparing meals for myself instead of snacking on junk all day.
~ The inflammation in my hip seems to be improving, or at least it’s cracking/popping a lot less.
~ I wake up much more energized in the morning, except for this morning because I was shitting my brains out.
~ It’s becoming obvious that I have some other food issues/sensitivities going on. I’m almost positive that I’m allergic, or at least sensitive to, nightshades.
That’s it for now. I know I’ll be able to stick it out the remaining 12 days, but I’m totally planning on celebrating with beer, graham crackers and coconut bliss ice cream on day 22 ;)
Freelance writer. Trail runner. Relentless savage.