In the past I did a 30 day sugar detox because I felt myself craving sugar more than I normally had. I recalled it being very helpful for me and surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. I realized that even my “healthy foods” had added sugar and I quickly learned that I would have to make similar foods from scratch to avoid the added sugar.
Fast-forward a few years and now I have a 8 month old and I’ve been enjoying eating a wide variety of vegan and gluten-free foods. When you are breast-feeding you need about 500 extra calories a day to nourish your body and keep up with the demand to make milk. That being said, I found myself voracious and hungrier than I was when I was pregnant. To keep up with my caloric demands and a baby who needed me around the clock I desperately shoved any food I could grab into my mouth as fast as I could. I become less discerning when it came to the quality of food because I didn’t want to lose too much weight. At one point I was a few pounds less than my pre-pregnancy weight even though I was eating plenty! I found myself feeling unhappy with my nutrition choices because sugar had snuck its way back into my life and was starting to take over my thoughts again. I would think about dessert before I even planned dinner. After indulging in desserts like Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice cream I would feel slightly upset about it the next day. I realized that not only was I craving sugar, I was relying on it to make me feel happy.
Was I not happy? Well, I didn’t feel depressed and felt lucky to not be one of the many women who suffer from post-partum depression. The lack of proper sleep was really really catching up to me and I just felt suboptimal. I didn’t have time to do things I normally loved like cook amazing meals from scratch or spend quality time with friends. This shift was enough to make me feel a little down. I quickly realized that ice cream was not helping my situation. It seemed like a good time for a sugar detox.
I decided to do the same sugar detox I did before about 2 years ago. I stopped eating all foods that had added sugar and I started walking in the neighborhood every day. Immediately I felt better. I allowed myself any amount of organic fruit I wanted which is a nice treat when it is getting hot here in Texas. About 2 weeks into the challenge I stopped walking. In all honesty, it got hot and I got lazy. I was also extremely tired from my baby’s erratic sleep schedule. I used my time take naps and just rest. Then about ¾ of the way through the month I stopped being strict on the foods that had added sugar. For example gluten free vegan bread has added sugar, but I needed to eat lunch and a sandwich was what I could throw together without having to go to the grocery store. Any new mom knows that going to the grocery store with a baby can be exhausting and isn’t a quick trip. So for the sake of not making myself crazy I allowed myself any foods that had added sugar as long as they were not desserts or sweets. I honestly felt fine with this decision because I just didn’t want to make my life harder. I often eat meals with my husband and mother so being too strict and controlling makes it hard for me to enjoy meals with others.
Day 28 of a 31 day sugar detox marked the last official day of my sugar detox because I broke it early with a slice of cake. But hear me out. I didn’t do it because I was craving it, or “needed” the cake or felt deprived. I didn’t do it because I am weak and couldn’t wait until the month was over. I definitely didn’t do it because I felt like “I deserved it”. I did it because in my field I talk with women every day about their diet and what they eat or do not eat. I meet so many women who have recovered from eating disorders or sadly are in the midst of orthorexia. I don’t want to be so strict that it inhibits me from truly being mentally and emotionally healthy. Yes, you can be so strict with your diet that it can make you sick. Whenever I see myself going down an unhealthy path whether it be mentally, emotionally or physically I try to get back on a path that leads to balance. So I ate and enjoyed the slice of organic homemade gluten-free vegan vanilla berry cake. Because in the end a slice of cake does not really matter. What matters is what I feel about myself. I honored the fact that I am a tired mom to a 8 month old baby and I just wanted to enjoy cake on Memorial Day with my family.
So next time you do a detox or cleanse or are adamant to remove foods from your diet. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and you feel comfortable and happy with your decision. At any time you can stop your detox or cleanse and start again when you are ready. If you feel like you have an unhealthy relationship with food please seek help. There are professional therapists who are trained and can help you heal your bond with your body and food. Food is a blessing and its job is to nourish us. Never should it plague our minds and make us fear it. Life can be a balance of green juices and slices of cake, I promise.