The 21 Day Sugar Detox: Not Just About Sugar

Don’t you hate it when your smartphone freezes up, the only fix being to turn the phone off and restart it? Turns out, the human body works much the same way.

In the case of The 21 Day Sugar Detox, the brainchild of author Diane Sanfilippo, it’s the mind, body and soul that get re-booted. It’s not a diet in the traditional sense, no counting calories, it’s about letting go of processed foods and added sugar. The key to 21DSD is simple: eat more healthy, nutrient-dense foods. There are no pills, powders or shakes--just real food.

“People have become disconnected with how their body responds to food. It’s different for everyone, based on their dietary needs,” says nutritional therapy practitioner Natalie Washabaugh, who’s also a certified 21DSD coach and has her own website, A Nourished Appetite. “It’s called a sugar detox, but it boils down to eating whole, unprocessed foods. There’s so much more that goes along with it: reading and understanding labels, understanding different terms used for sugar, how to deal with cravings and emotional eating.”

Those headaches? Related to diet. Dealing with lack of sleep, low energy levels, and even skin issues like eczema? Diet. “In a way, the sugar detox angle attracts people to the program, but they end up learning about so much more,” says Washabaugh.

An important aspect of 21DSD are that participants can choose to participate at any of three levels: the first includes some grain and dairy; second, no grain and some dairy; and third level, dairy no grain. There are also a range of modifications for certain cases, like athletes, pregnant/nursing mothers, pescatarians, and those dealing with autoimmune disorders.

“If you’ve spent life eating in a certain way, it’s a struggle to change. Once you realize it’s about eating however much you want, not counting calories, says Washabaugh. “As coaches, we’re trying to find you the freedom to eat what works for you and eventually what works for you is what you’ll want to eat.”

21DSD helps get participants to that point with real-life solutions, tasty and healthy recipes, and food swaps, leaving them with the knowledge and determination to make the best choices for their health long after the detox has ended.


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