21 Day Sugar Detox…aka 3 weeks of withdrawl from what is essentially legal cocaine

So my sister and I are planning to cut sugar from our lives, temporarily at first and then hopefully on a more permanent basis in the long term. We are both firmly addicted, as is most of the Western world. We’re starting with the 21 Day Sugar Detox plan by Diane Sanfilippo and seeing how that goes. There are some big scary reasons that we’re doing this now and I thought I’d share in case anyone wants to join in on our “fun.”

  1. We have an INSANE family history of Diabetes Mellitus Type 2
    1. No joke, our father, both of his brothers, our grandmother, our great-grandmother, and our great-aunt all were or are Type 2 diabetics. Basically our father’s entire family has been completely addicted to sugar since the turn of the century and we are clearly genetically predisposed to develop diabetes.
  2. We have watched our father struggle with his sugar addiction and diabetes for the last 15 years…it really sucks
    1. He is just not able to break the addiction to manage the diabetes with diet and exercise. After years of increasing amounts and types of medication, he is now on injectable insulin. He must check his blood sugar multiple times per day, take several medications with each meal and inject 40 units of long acting insulin into his belly in the afternoon. This is the only way to keep his glucose (sugar) levels safely in the 100’s rather than the 200’s or 300’s.
  3. We don’t want our sons to grow up the way we did
    1. We both love our parents so so much, but they set us up from birth to continue the sugar addiction by setting a terrible example. Our mother is a candy squirrel, she hides candy all over the house. It’s not unusual to open her desk drawer and find bags of peanut M&M’s, Cadbury eggs, and Starbursts tucked in the back. You can usually find some kind of chocolate in her purse and she bakes cookies or brownies on a very regular basis. Our father is less sneaky about it. We know exactly where he has the bag of tootsie rolls in the kitchen cabinet with the peanut butter, the stack of Hershey bars in the cabinet next to the stove, the ice cream in the freezer. On every road trip, no matter how short, he will always have his shirt pocket filled with tootsie rolls and halls cough drops. And he always offers to share. When we were little our dad would surprise us with treats while we were doing homework or playing or watching TV. He’d come into the room with a medicine cup – you know for dispensing cough medicine when you’re sick – filled with M&M’s and those bright pink wintergreen mints, we called them “pink things.” As a child it was so great and we know it was one of the ways he expressed his love for his daughters. I still think about it with incredible fondness even though I know it helped to cement our sugar addiction. But in our father’s defense it’s how he was taught to express love by his mother and grandmother. He told me recently that he and his brothers saw their grandparents every day when they were growing up, whether they had dinner together as a family or walked to their house to hang out after school. And my father’s grandmother was a woman who believed strongly that kids should have all the food and treats that they wanted, she was a serious pusher. Her younger daughter, my father’s mother, was born in 1925 and as a family they barely survived the Great Depression. When things got better and they had money again, they started baking delicious treats and never stopped. I have wonderful memories of learning to bake with my grandmother and going to her house meant all the sweets you could want. Even now, she’s 92 years old and lives in an assisted living community but she still has a perpetually full candy dish. But my sister and I don’t want our sons to experience the same things, we want the cycle to end with us.
  4. We both have a SERIOUS addiction
    1. Yesterday, not including the added sugar in things like ketchup and bread, I had:
      1. A peanut butter chocolate Cliff bar – 21 g sugar
      2. A GIANT piece of store-bought cake someone brought in to work – 40 g sugar
      3. A handful of Kroger gummy bears – 20 g sugar
      4. A banana – 19 g sugar
      5. A cup of french vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles – 25 g sugar
      6. That is an estimated TOTAL of 125 g of sugar – the recommended daily amount for an adult woman on a 2,000 calorie diet is 25 g – yesterday I ate FIVE TIMES that and to be honest it wasn’t even an especially bad day for me.
    2. My sister is just as bad but she has the added problem of sugary energy drinks – she loves RedBull and as a SAH mom with a two year old, who is also in school full time at night, AND watches our son 4 days a week, who can blame her for needing caffeine and sugar to cope.
  5. When I was pregnant, I was borderline for gestational diabetes.
    1. During the 50g oral glucose test, my blood glucose was 128mg/dl. The cutoff for doing the second round of testing, the 100g oral glucose test, is 130mg/dl. My Dr. debated it and then decided that all of my other tests were fine and the baby was strong, healthy and not measuring too big so we didn’t do it. My son was 9 days overdue and weighed 8 lbs. 10 oz at birth…by no means a small baby. He outgrew newborn clothes in 2 weeks and was back to his birth weight plus some by day 3. Now part of that is probably genetics, I’m tall, 5’7″, with a medium frame and our mom’s family breeds big Swedish people. Our mom’s father and brothers are all well over 6′ and we have a cousin who is 6’7″. My husband comes from a very tall but skinny family on his mom’s side with 4 of 6 siblings – men and women – all 6′ and over. So chances were that our child was going to be bigger than average, but I can’t help but wonder whether my sugar intake and glucose levels played any part.
  6. I want to lose weight
    1. My son just turned 1, he has basically weaned himself from breastfeeding save for once before bed and once first thing in the morning, and my body still feels foreign to me. It is squishy and bigger than it used to be and I just don’t like it. I am all for the body positivity movement and loving my scars and stretch marks and floppy bits. However, I know I’m not at my best self right now and I just can’t love that. I need to eat better and exercise AND love my body.

So there you have it, all the reasons we know we need to cut sugar from our lives.

Per Diane Sanfilippo’s recommendation in the 21 Day Sugar Detox book, we are spending the next 7 days preparing. I’m putting together our meal plans with recipes from the book, we’re going grocery shopping and doing prep, using up/giving away/throwing away the things we won’t be able to eat, and generally just getting organized. We’ll officially start the sugar free life on Monday March 5th.

I’ll be documenting our journey here and posting all of the meal plans and if you want to join in or comment I’d love to hear from you!


2 thoughts on “21 Day Sugar Detox…aka 3 weeks of withdrawl from what is essentially legal cocaine

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