so i am nearing the end of a 21 day sugar cleanse. it has been a completely transformational experience. i am at the end of day 18 now and really loving how it feels to have this much agency, and the growing trust i feel in myself that i can set and hold the boundaries i need for my health. i was inspired to do it by my sister, and along the way lots of other friends have joined in. i have also seen folks doing other cleanses, and it’s all incredibly inspiring. and it helps to have people in it with you sharing tips for success.
i wanted to share here some of the best guidance i have received and/or learned:
1. TELL EVERYONE. this came from autumn. i found it to be immensely true, particularly when traveling or when hitting walls where i felt like i couldn’t go on. landing some place and being greeted with, ‘i saw you’re doing a sugar cleanse! how inspiring – how does it feel/work?’ increases accountability ten fold. this also helps when you start to feel your feelings and don’t have sweets/bread/cheese/chocolate/whiskey/potatoes/insert-other-sugar-things-here to turn to. it helps when you can ask for patience and support for behaving like a dragon in a forest getting angry at the trees for being so green and sedentary and burning down everything in sight.
2. NOTICE ALL THE SWEETNESS IN YOUR LIFE. this came from jodie and was right on time. i started the cleanse surrounded by sick sweet babies and an eager sweet puppy dog, supported by my sweet and health oriented partner. i started noticing all the love that flows towards me, everywhere, and leaning in for more hugs, kisses, listening, contact. love multiplies, fills up, wins.
3. DON’T SUBSTITUTE. the goal is not to maintain the sweet tooth with, or shift the dependence to, artificial things. the absence of sugars and sweeteners has actually changed what i am able to taste and what i long for. that is where the freedom comes from – that i am not looking for the sugar in everything, but noticing the wide range of sweet and complex flavors in the whole and healthy foods i can consume.
4. PLAN OUT THE DAY. know where you will be eating, what options will be there for you, and if you need snacks. i have found that i need to eat something roughly every two hours on this cleanse, and the meals can be small, or super nutritious, or just snacks. (grind your own peanut butter (available now at most health oriented grocers) is indulgent decadent heaven. toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, mixed nuts (i liked pistachio/peanut/pecan/walnut), tomatoes sliced and drizzled with oil and sea salt, broccoli and cauliflower marinated in lemon – these are just a few of my favorite snacks.)
5. DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. learned this from lynnee: products lie! or they just might be so familiar that you don’t even consider the sugar content – you have to look at the ingredients list and nutritional facts. things like sriracha, kombucha, wasabi seaweed snacks and most salad dressings have some sugar listed. ‘no carbs, no sugar’ is what you are looking for. there are a lot of trends out there now. sugar free, gluten free, raw, organic, vegan, natural. and in a capitalist nation a trend is an opportunity to sell something to people who want to be healthier but may not do due diligence. don’t get mad, get informed.
6. WATCH, FEEL, DON’T WEIGH. look at your body and face in the mirror before you start. take pictures. see what you can notice about the ways you change during the cleanse. don’t spend too much time on the scale, i would say not more than once a week, because during the cleanse you might notice an accelerated speed of weight loss, faster than is sustainable long term. it can become an unhealthy tendency. instead, notice how you look different to yourself. notice how you feel in motion, how your clothes and joints feel.
7. MOVE. your body will especially need sunlight, fresh air, and motion during this time. your body is a divine machine. you want to encourage your body to use the fuel you are giving it, to change how it processes. it helps so much if you move, dance, walk, get the machine going.
8. ENCOURAGE, DON’T EVANGELIZE. learned this one by being evangelized to before i reached this point. i have mostly been able to keep in mind what i’ve learned – inspiration works better than any implication that you know more about my health that i do. everyone comes to these kinds of transformations in their own time, relative to their own struggles. i never thought i could do this, but when the moment was ripe, i fell into it without resistance. my whole being is aligned with this life change.
9. TRANSFORM. i am actively learning this. this doesn’t feel like a temporary detox, it feels like getting clean from an addiction. don’t approach it as a short-term withholding of something you want. think of it as an intentional transformation. you are shape shifting yourself – deciding to shift your body’s main source of energy from sugar to fat. don’t go into it with an intention to get back to deep dish pizza on day 22. start it when you can imagine any sugar other than fruit as a rare thing.
10. WATER IS SACRED. and precious. and drinking outlandish amounts of it helps manage hunger, headaches, how toxins move out through the skin, and just how you feel in your water-based body. i’ve been making the effort to empty my water bottle before breakfast and after every other meal, as well as sipping in between. my whole system is functioning beautifully, i’m sleeping more deeply, and i just love how my skin feels as a result.
that’s all for now, i will update again once it’s done. and if you do this cleanse, i want to hear about it!