As I look back on my no added sugar, no dairy, and no gluten challenge..I realized that it wasn't that difficult. It honestly wasn't too hard because I already eat pretty well, except when I snack, go out to eat, or crave certain foods. I do realize that for others who embark on these types of challenges, it can be extremely difficult. It's hard to keep a food regime and to stay motivated, especially where we live in a society of individuality and fast food accessibility. Fortunately, I had a couple people who were also eating well alongside myself, and a community of crossfitters who would ask me how my food challenge was going. To those of you who encouraged me along the way or even popped onto my Instagram to express sentiments and gratitude- thank you! It's hard to embark on a refined road to wellness without the help and support of others.
The essential part to sticking with this challenge was to plan ahead, meal prep, and buy enough. If I didn't meal prep, I wouldn't have had any motivation throughout the weeks. I took my meal prep very seriously every Saturday or Sunday and made sure that I had plenty of food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I didn't experience any sugar detox side effects until about 3 days in. I was irritable and I had a headache for a couple of days..a sure sign of withdrawal from sugary deliciousness. I did notice that I had to increase my carbs before workouts; there were a couple of times during my three weeks where I felt particularly fatigued during a workout where I normally wouldn't have felt that way.
Why did I decide to cut out sugar, dairy, and added sugar for a few weeks?
I honestly wanted to detoxify my body for a little while. I did not restrict calories, and if anything, I felt like I ate more and was much more conscious about labels and the foods I was putting into my body. It felt great to be aware of additives in foods, and I certainly learned how many foods sneak in sugar...for no reason in particular. I also discovered a new appreciation for a few amazing brands while I was on this detox: Not Your Sugar Mama's chocolate literally fed my soul and even though the price tag is a bit steep for a chocolate bar, the quality and flavor of the chocolate proved its worth. GT's kombucha is the only kombucha that sweetens with fruit juices instead of cane sugar, and other brands like Bragg's gluten free, sugar free liquid aminos, and Simple Mills everything,. While this challenge took a lot of willpower, I survived eating in restaurants by sticking with salads with oil and vinegar dressing, meat, potatoes and vegetables. I was able to find accommodating meals at steakhouses, Fire and Ice, and even Mexican restaurants (minus the tortilla chips -_-).
And here's the moment of truth: did I accidentally eat anything with sugar, gluten or dairy?
Yes.....and it was actually a complete accident. I ordered a matcha tea latte at Starbucks and asked for 'unsweetened' matcha. When I got the drink and took a sip...I realized that it was very sweet and was also made with whole milk. I forgot to ask for almond milk lol... I guess myself and the barista flubbed on that one, but feelings aside, I still drank it. I did not want to make a fuss because the line was long and nor did I want to thrown out the $4.50 drink. It sure did taste good, but I didn't guilt myself afterwards.
So final consensus about my challenge....
Although it was hard, I realized that I should be much more conscious about the foods I eat. Since the challenge ended over a week ago, I have only had a couple of incompliant foods--ice cream, chicken pot pie, a bagel with cream cheese, and cane sugar sweetened kombucha. For the most part, I've been avoiding dairy and gluten without any troubles, but do find myself enjoying sweets in moderation. I wasn't doing this detox--if you call it--to lose any weight, but I did take a before and after picture. I did not change my workout routine, nor did I restrict any calories..this was clean eating, pure and simple.
As you can notice above, not much about my body has changed (left=before, right=after). I think my legs look a little more toned in the picture on the right, but that's about it. Like I mentioned before, I did not cut out these foods to lose weight, I did this to become a more conscious consumer. I'm comfortable in my skin and I'm grateful for my body's health and strength. Sometimes small changes are necessary to promote bigger health and wellness goals. This challenge has inspired me to change my habits but to embrace what my body wants and needs (whether it’s kale chips or a chocolate bar).
Again, thanks for reading and checking in on my blog and Instagram! More good posts to come.