Sometimes a Little Change Can Make a BIG Difference

February 19, 2013 in Categories: by

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(created as a guest post for The 21-Day Sugar Detox Blog)

21DSD_CoverDid I just call the 21-Day Sugar Detox a “little change”?  I guess I did.  I realize that it’s not a little change for most people tackling 3 weeks of no-sugar eating.  But going into this, I was already following the paleo autoimmune protocol, eating very few starchy vegetables and almost no paleo treats.  I didn’t feel like my eating was out of control and I didn’t feel like sugar cravings were controlling me.  That being said, I was completely in the habit of grabbing a piece of fruit (or two) any time I felt like a little something sweet.  I didn’t limit fruit consumption or the types of fruit I ate.  So, maybe I was in a little denial about having a sugar problem—because 5 or 6 pieces of fruit per day adds up to quite a bit of sugar!  I had known for a while that I was going to have to test what effect this large amount of fruit per day was having on my body and, in particular, my autoimmune disease.  The 21 Day Sugar Detox was the perfect experiment.

If you had talked to me during the first week, I would have privately told you that nothing had changed.  My skin was doing some funny things, but it wasn’t better.  My energy level was about the same.  My sleep was about the same.  I wasn’t having headaches or carb flu type symptoms, so it didn’t feel like change was around the corner.  I was feeling some resentment that I couldn’t just eat those delicious berries or grapes that my kids were eating.  And it felt like I was depriving myself for nothing.

And then week two came.  I lost a couple of pounds.  Bloating that I didn’t even realize was there went away.  My skin completely cleared.  I started to notice differences in the skin lesions from my autoimmune disease.  My sleep seemed deeper.  I had more energy during the day.  My brain seemed to be working faster.  I seemed more productive.  And it just kept going into week three.  I lost a few more pounds.  My clothes started fitting way better (probably more because I wasn’t bloated anymore rather than weight changes, but I’ll still take it!).  My skin lesions looked better than they had in months.  I felt like everything was coming together.  I was seeing dramatic improvement in my health.  I felt great.

And then it hit me.  What all this amazingness actually meant.  I did have a problem with sugar.  Sure, I was choosing vitamin-rich whole food sources of sugar, but I was in a cycle of craving, feeding the craving, then craving more.  I am healthier when I eat less fruit and more vegetables.  Dang.  That first week I kept telling myself was that the upside was I wouldn’t have to change anything when I was done with this whole detox thing.  Now, I know that I need to be more moderate with my fruit intake.

So, what now?  I have relaxed some, but really most days look pretty much like how I ate on the 21-Day Sugar Detox.  I’m working on some autoimmune protocol-friendly dessert and treat recipes for my book and notice that on days when I have that extra dessert, I don’t feel very well (for the rest of that day and the next plus then I crave more sugar).  I’m looking forward to having these recipes done so there won’t be so many tempting sweet foods in my house, because I really do think these need to be much more occasional treats than how I was eating before.  I’m already planning on doing another 21-Day Sugar Detox when the recipes for the book are done.

So, what are great recipes that are both AIP-friendly and 21-Day Sugar Detox-friendly?  Actually, most AIP-friendly recipes are automatically 21-Day Sugar Detox-friendly and a quick browse through the AIP Recipe Section of my blog will provide you with lots of great options.  And of course, there will be over 100 new recipes in my book.  During my detox, I greatly enjoyed eating Egg-Free, Tomato-Free (Hidden Liver) Paleo Meatloaf (made with the suggested AIP-modifications in the recipe and made without the molasses).  I also enjoyed Lemon-Dill Poached Salmon and Greek-Inspired Slow-Roasted Leg of Lamb.


I love your blog and have enjoyed some of your recipes 🙂 I am about 8 weeks into this MASSIVE change in my diet and the diet of my family. It’s been really difficult letting things go. I’m no where near ready for a sugar detox, at least I don’t think so. I’m looking for some encouragement though…it seems as if every blog I read people have lost 20 pounds in 4 weeks and have these incredible results. I’m 8 weeks in and only 8 pounds down 🙁 I’ve slipped up some but nothing major. I walk 3-4 times a week. Is this ok? Should I be losing more? Trying not to be discouraged…

That’s great! How quickly you lose weight depends a whole lot on things like how much weight you need to lose, how well you’re sleeping, and a few things like whether you’re going crazy on fruit or nuts or paleo baked goods. But, even with paleo, it is easier to maintain your weight loss if it is slow and steady. So 1 lb a weeks is going to be way way way easier to keep off than 5. Keep doing what you’re doing because this pace is very good for your body. Work on getting more sleep. No need to adjust until it stops working.

Hi Sarah!! I love the blog and the podcasts! 🙂 What I am wondering is what your suggestions are for an autoimmune protocol for an athlete who is going on the 21 day sugar detox? I don’t need to lose weight, gaining a couple would be good. I eat eggs everyday, and eat pretty clean Paleo and low carb. My problem is nightly dessert/chocolate! I know I would need to give up eggs for at least 30 days (which will be tough) and I love almond butter which I has cut down to 1 tbs per day. I would love your suggestions, do you need to know anything more? The reason for the autoimmune profile is I have had markers for Lupus and RA, but no symptoms. Thanks!!

I definitely suggest more starchy vegetables for athletes, especially the lower starch ones like winter squash, parsnips, beets. I would also suggest upping the fat intake from grass-fed pasted animal fats, fish, avocados, olives (and their oils), coconut and palm. You could try a nightshade-free paleo first and then retest to see if the markers decrease.

Thanks Sarah! I will pull nightshades first, add more fats and try to add more low starch veggies. I am pretty low carb right now and seem ok. I plan on carefully documenting my journey – photos and blogging, so I hope it goes well!

Hey Sarah, I am writing my questions here since your “contact” email did not seem to work (god, you must be tiresome to answer all these peoples questions ! respect ^^).

I have been following the Paleo approach for some months now and while I have seen some improvements they have not been as drastic/like I hoped for.

I am a 23 year old Male btw, had candida for years without knowing so I really screwed my body up. Since switching to the Paleo Diet I have been improving steadily with the most positive improvement being that I am more “mentally stable” (and boy, was I unstable. Fear/Depression etc.).

My daily routine is pretty generic, especially in the winter. I do sports maybe 1 or 2 times a week and my diet contains allot of meat (im afraid It might be too much). Sadly, I lost quite some weight when hopping on Paleo: from 76 to 71 Kilos. My diet as of now sort of looks like this:

250 Gram Sauerkraut, boiled
250 Gram, Sausage boiled + baked
1 Glas of Water 200+- ML
Brussel Sprout 300 Gram
2 Bacon Pieces 250 Gram
2 Glases of Water
2,5 Sausage Pure Beef 300 Gram
200 Gram Carrots

Snack: Bone Broth 200ML
300 Gram Minced Beef
1 Thin bacon strip
120 Gram Spinach
1 Cup of Green Tea 300ML
2 Chicken Flanks
120 Grams Spinach
200+- Gram Caulflower
3 sausages Beef 220 Gram

Snack: Bone Broth 300+- MG (several tiny cups spread out trough the day)
300Gram Minced Beef
200 Gram Haricots (green beans)
40 Gram Bacon Strips
Mixed Vegetables Stir fried in Extre Vierge Olive Oil + 200 Gram Chicken Breast
3 Sausages 230 Gram+-
200+- Gram Broccoli
Snack: 4 minced Meat Balls, Cup of Bone Broth.

NOTES: To not make this post even longer I wont add more days. They are pretty similar though with the exception that I now added more fresh fish to my menu to counter the meat. I also drink allot of Green Tea instead of water (1-8 big Cups of Green Tea Daily).

My Questions:
1. Am I on the right track or im I doing it wrong (my diet so far)
2. Is Extra Vierge Olive Oil allowed ? I always use olive oil to bake my products in. Recently I discovered the brand I had was falsely advertised in that it was mixed with other type of oils. Can this cause inflammation ?
3. I tried eating allot of Coconot Milk but In all the milk cans/cups I found there was “guargom”. Is this substance/additive allowed ?

Sorry for the long post! but I could “really” use some help right now. Been sick allot and need to know if its because of my diet..

So, first, as long as you are seeing improvement, I think you are doing well. Not everyone sees dramatic rapid improvement, and for many of us the process is more gradual. That’s okay. The big thing I notice is lack of fish, which it sounds like you’re working on. The omega-3 fats in fish will help correct the yeast overgrowth, resolve inflammation, AND help with depression/anxiety. Olive oil is great, but better to use as a dressing than for cooking. Better cooking fats would be lard, tallow, or coconut oil. You could probably eat more vegetables and maybe more leafy greens (the fiber can help with inflammation and the yeast overgrowth). You could also start playing with some of the lower starch starchy vegetables like squash, beets, turnips and pumpkin. A little more carbs may help with the weight loss and help with cortisol management. Have you tried adding digestive support supplements like digestive enzymes? That may help get more out of your diet. You might also add a probiotic supplement of more fermented foods (saukraut doesnt count if you boil it). Also,remember that getting enough sleep is very important. I hope this helps.

I should also mention that it’s not entirely clear whether green tea is beneficial or not in autoimmune disease (not sure if you have an autoimmune disease or not). You might want to try cutting back and see if that helps.

It comes back with stress or lack of sleep or if I eat something stupid (had some new lesions after being exposed to red pepper at AHS for example). When I stay on plan, it stays away.

That makes sense. May there be no more food surprises in your immediate future! (I got nightshaded on a recent trip, too – soooo disappointing.) On a completely different topic, I’m listening to a recording of the autoimmune panel you did with Paul Jaminet & Terry Wahls. It is so educational, and I gotta ask: Do you have notes that you refer to, or are you speaking off the top of your head? Tell me you have notes! Woman, your brain is impressive.

Thank you for sharing your wealth of information. If I recall correctly, The Paleo Approach (got it when it was first released),mentions that people who have issues with coconut on AIP, typically do not have an issue with coconut milk and coconut oil. Would that also include coconut aminos? Also, I am still nursing my four year old who tested positive for lots of food sensitivities such as: gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, nuts, grains, chicken and tuna. I also deal with many food sensitivities and have a history of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. We have been paleo for two months and I’ve beenon the AIP for almost a month. Would you recommend I give up nursing at this point as it could be negatively affecting my daughter’s gut and health. She’s rarely sick and has never had an antibiotic or any other drugs to date. I suspected food sensitivities because of gas and loose stools.

Hello Sarah, I’m Tinu (a female) from United Kingdom.
I bought both your approach and cook book just under 2 months ago, haven’t read it all yet but it’s been brilliant.
Thank you ! ! ! Just what I needed.
It was difficult at first but sailed through it, and gladly still learning.
I’ve been on AIP for 6 weeks now and love it, changes are brilliant, absolutely incredible! but of course. Lol !
I’ve got sjgoren syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and lots more and yet I feel great, following your advice in your books.
As carbs : I find I love plantain (ripe) and I eat two a day, roasted with nothing on it when roasting???
: also have sweet potatoe occasionally??? and : rarely butternut squash???
As you said above, (I use extra virgin olive oil for cooking) should I change it to another oil. I do occasionally use evo coconut.
Love what you do and you were a sent Angel !
Thank you Sarah !

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