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What happens after the 21-day sugar detox?

by (15)
Updated about 6 hours ago
Created July 29, 2012 at 9:10 PM

I get really strong sugar cravings. I've eliminated most processed foods, and I am in the midst of eliminating all sugar from my diet for 21 days. My question is this: What about after the 21 days? If I eat sugar every once in awhile, such as on someone's birthday, will the sugar cravings come back? And if so, how bad will they be?

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20411 · July 31, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Well you sound pretty awesome. I guess my point of quoting Dr. Harris (yet again) is that sugar has been demonstrated to be an addictive substance. At least in rat studies. They go through severe withdrawal (identical to rat withdrawal from nicotine) - shakes, puling out fur, biting themselves and others. Craving = addiction. Sugar is a drug that is best avoided. Some people can handle a drink now and then, but an alcoholic can't. You have to figure out where you fit with respect to sugar - maybe a little will be fine, but maybe not. For me, I cannot indulge without falling off the wagon.

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15 · July 31, 2012 at 5:13 AM

Yes. My boyfriend said the same thing--that fruits taste sweeter. He also said that some things have become too sweet. He's been restricting his sugar intake due to diabetes.

43aae4ae36bbdbdbee913954de342703
15 · July 31, 2012 at 5:12 AM

Yes. That's what my boyfriend said. He restricted his sugar intake a long time ago because he has diabetes. He also said that some things have become too sweet for him.

43aae4ae36bbdbdbee913954de342703
15 · July 31, 2012 at 5:08 AM

I guess I should have provided some background info. I don't eat/drink junk food/beverages, and my body is fit and trim. I do Yoga, and I dance. My problem is that I crave sugar, keep getting infections/inflammations, and the antibiotics and 5-ASAs are having trouble combating the infections/inflammations. Before the 21-detox, I would drink homemade Chai with sugar and milk throughout the day. If I didn't have my tea, I'd feel extremely hungry. But in reality, I wasn't hungry. I was just craving sugar. I tried drinking Chai with just milk. It didn't work.

43aae4ae36bbdbdbee913954de342703
15 · July 31, 2012 at 4:32 AM

I like your idea of setting time restrictions. I guess I'll allow myself to have a piece of cake or cup of ice cream on special occasions when I'm with others, and then I'll make sure I have absolutely no sweets for the week following it. I seem to do better when I don't say, "forever."

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4176 · July 30, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Great answer, Karen. I totally identify with lacking the psychological component but keeping the microbiota in check - I most noticed this with wine (insert anguished cry). I eliminated it for a spell to see if it was impacting my sleep. I fiended for it HARD for about a week and a half and then barely thought about it. Now when I have a few glasses with friends, the Wine Beast starts to rumble as soon as the next day. I swear it is sugar related.

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1884 · July 30, 2012 at 3:37 PM

I'll give you two!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4
20411 · July 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Busted! I wonder how many votes I can get just by cutting and pasting the same answer over and over?

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1884 · July 30, 2012 at 3:25 PM

You love this too much! haha

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3
6719 · July 30, 2012 at 1:44 AM

You sprout wings and go on to save the planet. . .. .

1c67bc28f4e44bbb8770b86df0463df3
6719 · July 30, 2012 at 1:30 AM

What will happen? You will feel much better not having wild sugar/insulin swings. Thats what.

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6 Answers

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F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587
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7660 · July 29, 2012 at 9:24 PM

The short answer is you might indulge on day 22. :) After my Whole30, I certainly did. But, alas, we are human.

In my experience, sugar begets sugar. Meaning that the more you eat, the more you'll want. For me, it's less immediate and more insidious. It creeps up on me over time. A few weeks of strict no sugar is a great way to tame the beast. It's also so enlightening to eat some seasonal fruit after such a time and enjoy it for how truly delicious and sweet it is naturally.

How you manage it will depend on the reasons for your sugar cravings. I seem to lack the psychological component, but others really struggle with this. For me, it's mostly about keeping my sugar-loving microbiota in check. After vacation, for example, when ice cream seems to make repeat appearances, I'll do a week of no sugar to get things under control.

When doing no sugar, you do have to make sure to not get accidental doses of it, which often means no deli meats, bacon (SOB!), sausages, anything remotely processed, and sometimes dried fruit and such. You have to be a strict label reader, otherwise, no dice.

Stay strong! I think you'll find that if you manage your intake responsibly, your cravings will subside. Good luck!

43aae4ae36bbdbdbee913954de342703
15 · July 31, 2012 at 4:32 AM

I like your idea of setting time restrictions. I guess I'll allow myself to have a piece of cake or cup of ice cream on special occasions when I'm with others, and then I'll make sure I have absolutely no sweets for the week following it. I seem to do better when I don't say, "forever."

A97b68379a576dfa764a4828304d2efb
4176 · July 30, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Great answer, Karen. I totally identify with lacking the psychological component but keeping the microbiota in check - I most noticed this with wine (insert anguished cry). I eliminated it for a spell to see if it was impacting my sleep. I fiended for it HARD for about a week and a half and then barely thought about it. Now when I have a few glasses with friends, the Wine Beast starts to rumble as soon as the next day. I swear it is sugar related.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4
1
20411 · July 30, 2012 at 3:23 PM

It's better not to cheat - cheating is psychological random reinforcement, the strongest kind of behavioral conditioning. My answer on faux-paleo foods is apropo:

Dr. Harris suggests that paleo- in front of neolithic foods, such as pancakes, is a bit like smoking candy cigarettes:

http://www.archevore.com/panu-weblog/2010/1/13/smoking-candy-cigarettes.html

"Do you train yourself to crave the manufactured food of the dominant paradigm? ... "I am on record as saying that sweets should be mostly avoided if you do not want to have difficulty avoiding sweets.

"It???s easy to make fun of commercial junk in a box like ???low carb??? pasta, zone and atkins bars, etc. All stuff that may be gluten free or have sawdust in place of high glycemic-index starch, but whose real reason for existence is just to appropriate what should properly be freestanding, honest, real food back into the maw of corporate big-agra commercial interests."

"I cannot prove it, but it also seems plausible that eating and drinking artificial sweeteners is a physiologic version of ???smoking candy cigarettes???. There is likely to be some neuro-hormonal conditioning along with three diet sodas a day. Is there any way a diet soda habit makes it easier to avoid the hyper-ubiquitous sweets we are surrounded by?

"And planning for ???cheat days??? makes just as much sense as a weekly Marlboro red for ex-smokers or the odd line of coke once in a while after you have left Hazelden." .

F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0
1884 · July 30, 2012 at 3:25 PM

You love this too much! haha

F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0
1884 · July 30, 2012 at 3:37 PM

I'll give you two!

43aae4ae36bbdbdbee913954de342703
15 · July 31, 2012 at 5:08 AM

I guess I should have provided some background info. I don't eat/drink junk food/beverages, and my body is fit and trim. I do Yoga, and I dance. My problem is that I crave sugar, keep getting infections/inflammations, and the antibiotics and 5-ASAs are having trouble combating the infections/inflammations. Before the 21-detox, I would drink homemade Chai with sugar and milk throughout the day. If I didn't have my tea, I'd feel extremely hungry. But in reality, I wasn't hungry. I was just craving sugar. I tried drinking Chai with just milk. It didn't work.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4
20411 · July 31, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Well you sound pretty awesome. I guess my point of quoting Dr. Harris (yet again) is that sugar has been demonstrated to be an addictive substance. At least in rat studies. They go through severe withdrawal (identical to rat withdrawal from nicotine) - shakes, puling out fur, biting themselves and others. Craving = addiction. Sugar is a drug that is best avoided. Some people can handle a drink now and then, but an alcoholic can't. You have to figure out where you fit with respect to sugar - maybe a little will be fine, but maybe not. For me, I cannot indulge without falling off the wagon.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4
20411 · July 30, 2012 at 3:28 PM

Busted! I wonder how many votes I can get just by cutting and pasting the same answer over and over?

9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1
1
15491 · July 30, 2012 at 2:39 AM

I quit all grains and sugars for 30 days and felt amazing. However i did still have cravings. They came and went in batches, i did succumb sometimes, but generally sticking with my grain-free and mostly sugar-free diet, they slowly got less and less frequent.

Then finally after about 5-6 months, somethig changed - the way that grains and sugars made me feel (awful), and the fact that i otherwise felt so much better than i had in the past, made it a lot easier to avoid them. In other words, the cheats just weren't worth it any more, a few mouthfuls of some crap food just weren't worth the 1-3 days of discomfort and uneven energy that i would have. And there are plenty of other, delicious options. So i have pretty much quit grains and sugars for good, not because i am on a "diet", but this is just how i eat now, it tastes better and i feel better without them.

43aae4ae36bbdbdbee913954de342703
15 · July 31, 2012 at 5:12 AM

Yes. That's what my boyfriend said. He restricted his sugar intake a long time ago because he has diabetes. He also said that some things have become too sweet for him.

A97b68379a576dfa764a4828304d2efb
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4176 · July 30, 2012 at 3:57 PM

This is just a personal experience, but last night my boyfriend and I got some coconut milk ice cream (something we do once every three or four months). Before eating the ice cream, I had a couple really delicious strawberries and commented on how sweet they tasted. We ate some of the ice cream and a few minutes after that, I had another strawberry. I was shocked at the taste difference. It tasted significantly less sweet. This morning I had another strawberry and it tasted sweeter, though not as sweet as they did to me yesterday.

I have no idea what the scientific reason is for this, but it sure as hell proved a point to me. I think spacing out sweet things until fruit tastes very sweet to you is a good (though very imprecise and subjective) barometer.

43aae4ae36bbdbdbee913954de342703
15 · July 31, 2012 at 5:13 AM

Yes. My boyfriend said the same thing--that fruits taste sweeter. He also said that some things have become too sweet. He's been restricting his sugar intake due to diabetes.

F5be4be097edc85690c12d67ee1a27c0
0
1884 · July 30, 2012 at 3:37 PM

I'll give you two!

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825 · July 30, 2012 at 12:35 AM

It's really up to your individual body and how you've adapted to lower sugar and being more of a fat-burning than carb-burning creature during the detox.

I find that I have to be really careful not to let myself slip too far--I am totally happy having a special home-cooked treat or friend's birthday cake but I have to not allow that to become an excuse for continuing to eat sugar normally. If you fence it off as a rare indulgence, it's a lot easier. I don't find I have physical cravings for sugar any more, but definitely emotional ones.

The 21 day detox or Whole30 are great tools to have up your sleeve if you do find yourself sneaking sugar -- Whole30 certainly taught me which foods to avoid that look completely innocent! Good luck!

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