No Sugar November

Nov 26, 2017

My Experience Doing a “No-Sugar November”

For the first 21 days of November this year (and also in 2015), I followed Diane Sanfilippo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox program to have a nutrition reset and prepare myself to make better choices over Thanksgiving while traveling to see family.

Between my work picking up throughout the summer and fall in addition to some personal/family issues that I have been dealing with, the last 4 months or so got to be so stressful to me that I started making poorer food choices and not practicing any sort of self care.

It really just kind of crept in to my life without me noticing until months down the line. This detox was a great way for me to get my healthy lifestyle back in a non-pressure-y way. It’s not actually that strict of a program and the book even has meal plans you can follow which made it way easier.


Did I Cheat?

I don’t tend to use the term “cheat” in regards to my nutrition, as it sort of implies a morality when it comes to food choices and I do not agree with this type of extreme and shame-promoting verbiage.

But anyway, I get the question. You want to know if I broke the “rules” of the program I was following.

I had planned all along to go to Tako, one of Pittsburgh’s best restaurants (in my opinion) that serves American-Mexican fusion food (so tacos!). Our friend from our Sweden trip was visiting and we knew we would go out at some point so I had a planned detour from the detox. If this was the only time I’d gone off track I would honestly not have counted it since it was planned and my mindset around this meal was so balanced (I did not have dairy or dessert, for example).


Picture taken in Tako, Pittsburgh, PA

However, things did get a bit rocky toward the end of the detox.

On Day 18 of the detox, my husband and I spent the day preparing for our flight back to Oregon for the Thanksgiving holiday. I knew the last few days of the detox would be while traveling but thought for sure I could do it anyway!

Traveling ended up not even being the most difficult part, though.

We were running around like crazy trying to get Christmas gifts for family, all of which happened to be local food gifts from Pittsburgh. Now the sugar wasn’t actually the hard part for me compared to the salty snacks – so when we walked into the Pittsburgh Popcorn Company to get popcorn for family, and my husband wanted to get a bag, it was over. I could have easily said no, I wasn’t even hungry, and it was so close to the end, but that day I did cave and had peanut-butter popcorn.


After that slip-up, I tried to maintain the detox while traveling but I had lost the mindset and ate a teryiaki salmon bowl (probably full of soy) when our flight was delayed by 8 hours in addition to some fries.

I tried to eat lunch that I brought, which was lunch meat, smoked salmon, and avocado that I needed to use up anyway, but after a few hours that did not continue to satiate me and I couldn’t think of anything else to eat besides an Rx bar, which has dates so is technically not 21DSD compliant. I still considered my choices to be pretty healthy, though, so it was not a complete loss.

Not to mention when I got to my parents’ house on Day 19 I found this situation:


How could I turn down homemade pumpkin scones at my mom’s house?!

So did I have a good excuse to not follow the detox? I kind of think so. But still, it was honestly a bit disappointing to make it 18 days and not the last few.

Next Time

The first time I did this program successfully was in 2015, when I had a lot less going on and a lot more time to prepare (wasn’t working full time at that point). I wouldn’t count this whole time as a loss and it certainly gave me a great reset and a balanced mindset going into the holidays.

Next time, I will have to remember that a very strict way of eating just does not jive with periods of stress combined with travel. It wasn’t a waste, but next time it will be better if I can stay home, manage stress better, and scale back on my commitments to make time for meal prep and better stress reduction.


One of my post-detox “healthier” treats - chips fried in coconut oil!

How about you, have you done some kind of a detox/nutrition challenge? How did it go?

Leave a comment and let me know below.