Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Tale of Two Sugar Detoxes

As some of you may recall, earlier this year I did a sugar detox. (It was the best of times. It was the worst of times, etc.) I followed Australian journalist Sarah Wilson's book I Quit Sugar. I don't think I adequately recapped my experience here on the blog, but over on Facebook I've discussed it with several people.

I found the experience to be very positive. I really felt like I had come to a good place with sweets--and this was a beautiful thing. I felt like an addict who had finally reached a sobriety goal. Like I should have gotten a medal. Yay!

But like any addict will tell you, there can be relapses. I found, little by little, that I was dipping back into the chocolate chip bag. I hit rock bottom yesterday when we finally got around to celebrating Darling Son #2's third birthday. Despite having already resolved to detox, I had cake. And not just one civilized piece sitting around convivially at the table. There was a rather unsavory amount of clandestine schnarfing (yes, this is a word) in the kitchen as I was 'cleaning up.'

So I'm declaring to the world that I'm off sugar. This time, I'll try Diane Sanfilippo's 21 Day Sugar Detox instead of going through I Quit Sugar again.

To explain, I'm going to pretend I'm being interviewed by some hard-hitting journalist (HHJ.) Here we go!

HHJ: So, Stephanie, tell us about your sugar addiction.

Me: Oh, HHJ, I'm so glad you asked. I really do struggle with a sugar addiction. It's terrible. It's like sugar is a bad boyfriend--all sweet and lovely in the beginning, but in the end leaves you sobbing on the floor after cleaning out your bank account. Sugar is bad news, but I've always loved it. I do tend to be pretty picky about my sugar. I've never been one for hard candy or gummy worms, but give me the right mix of creamy, sweet yumminess and I'm hopeless. Cake, brownies, ice cream... I just can't have it in the house.

HHJ: How is The 21 Day Sugar Detox different from I Quit Sugar?

Me: I Quit Sugar (henceforth IQS) deals pretty much exclusively with fructose, which I've discussed in an earlier post (see here.) Fructose is the sugar found in fruit, which gives it a healthy-sounding glow to many, but when isolated from it's fruity packaging, is anything but good for you. It's also a component of other types of sugars, like sucrose (table sugar), high-fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, honey, maple syrup and, well, most other sweeteners. IQS completely prohibits fructose or anything containing it, including fruit, for a couple of weeks. You can eat pretty much anything else, like bread, pasta, etc. on IQS, but you will find eliminating fructose will naturally limit your options.

The 21 Day Sugar Detox (21DSD), on the other hand, allows for limited consumption of not-very-sweet fruits like green-tipped bananas, green apples and grapefruit, but restricts overall carbohydrates, which your body basically reads just like sugar.

I think both give pretty similar nutrition advice, but they differ on ideal sweeteners. IQS recommends fructose-free brown rice syrup to sweeten your occasional treats, while Diane's sweetener of choice is raw honey. (I should mention, neither recommend sweets very often, but when you do enjoy a treat, they'll use different sweeteners. And while there are sweet recipes in IQS, there are only non-sweet treats in 21DSD.)

In short, I'd say Diane is generally less hung-up on fructose, and looks more at the overall sugar/carb consumption.

HHJ: Why are you doing 21DSD this time around?

Me: I found I was relying too much on carbs for my fix when I did IQS. I recall sort of transferring my sweet addiction to Ezekiel bread and noodles.

HHJ: So would you not recommend IQS?

Me: Well, HHJ, I'm so glad you asked. Really. You're a great interviewer. You're asking all the questions I had hoped to answer. It's like we're of one mind.

Anyway, I wouldn't not recommend it. In fact, I'd say it depends on the individual. If someone is presently sucking down Cokes and hoovering Krispy Kremes on a daily basis, I'd say start with IQS. The program is a little simpler.

The 21DSD is a little more involved. There are three levels you can do. Level 1 allows for limited grains and dairy, level 2 is no grains but allows for dairy, and level 3 is full throttle squeaky paleo. She also makes recommendations for various health conditions, pregnancy, fitness badasses, etc.

But there is also more hand-holding--Diane provides full menu plans and recipes, or you can just follow a yes/no foods list. IQS gives you some recipes, but no menu. You have to pay for the full online 8-week Program for that.

HHJ: So let's talk about the cash. I know you're painfully cheap. How do these program stack-up, value-wise?

Me: Both come in two formats: online or hard-copy books, which I love since I'm old enough to remember life before the internet. I prefer a real book that I can hold in my hands.

As for the online options, IQS is an 8-week program. I believe the online plan costs $150AUD, which is about $130USD, though I'm not exactly sure since they're not very forthcoming about the cost, which annoys me to no end. Why is it so difficult to find out the price? Seriously? I'm sure they'd tell me if I were willing to provide my name, rank and serial number, but I'm not interested in getting scads of emails, so I found the $150AUD on Sarah Wilson's site. But really--what's with the secrecy? That annoyed me.

I do have a reader in Australia who is doing the IQS 8-Week online program. Hopefully she'll chime in with her thoughts.

The 21DSD online program can be accessed at various subscription levels, the priciest being $97, which also includes copies of the 21DSD books. There is the print program book and also another cookbook. And props to the 21DSD for making it's pricing far easier to find.

So from what I can tell, 21DSD seems to be a better value. It's also a shorter program, though, so I suppose IQS fans might take umbrage with my assessment. In fairness, I've never done either of the online programs.

HHJ: So you're doing the 21DSD book?

Me: Yes, and I just have the program book, not the cookbook. I'd say the program book is very complete. And that's one of the things I really like about it. There are a number of free companion resources available on the website, too. Printable PDFs and other links to support you as you navigate your break-up with Bad Boyfriend Sugar.

HHJ: Well, I really should be going as I have to prepare for interviewing Edward Snowden or some other Very Newsworthy Person. But I will be following your sugar detox with great interest!

Me: Why, thank you, HHJ! So wonderful to have met such a fabulous interviewer. I'll be sure to keep you posted with my progress.

Well, that was thrill. Can you imagine such a hard-hitting journalist would want to interview little me? Wow!

So I'm on day 1...ish of 21DSD. I actually started Sunday but then there was the whole cake debacle yesterday. But I'm not going down the path of self-loathing... I'm going to pick myself up, dust myself off and move on. No self-loathing! That's on the 'no' list.

Follow me on Instagram (@momsatthebarre) or Twitter (@stephaniehsiang) for more tweets and non-sweet treats on the 21DSD! Yay!

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