My Thoughts About The 21 Day Sugar Detox

I want to preface this post by saying that I am not a licensed health professional or an RD. The experiences I share on this blog are unique to myself. What works for me works for me, and it may not work for you.

Okay, so it’s Tuesday! This is the first full week of school that I’ve had for … three?… weeks, I believe. That’s okay with me, really. I appreciate my weekly schedules, and while days off are fun for a while, I don’t think I could take that any more. Enough small talk for today, though – let’s get to the meat of today’s post: my experience with the 21 Day Sugar Detox.

If I’m being honest with you, I was really nervous about admitting that I was doing the 21DSD. That’s why I was so nonchalant about saying it on here. I think people often misconstrue the reasons behind trying out new ways of eating. Note that I didn’t say “dieting,” there. Personally, I don’t believe that fad diets work. Been there, done that, and I’m very wary of them now. If I’m going to do something like the 21DSD, it must align with my values and have some valid research backing it up. However, the 21DSD intrigued me. Let me explain.


The 21DSD book is filled with information not only about how to eat during the 21 days but also the science behind why that works. The creator of the 21DSD, Diane Sanfilippo, ends her preface the book with these words: “My goal has been, and will continue to be, to show people how changing the balance of the food on their plates, as well as their habits around sweets and refined foods, will change their lives.” I went into the 21DSD with the intention of experimentation. I wanted to see how limiting my sugar intake for three weeks would make me feel, both physically and mentally.

After the holiday season, I felt pretty crummy. I was bloated almost constantly, and I had some pretty crazy cravings for all things sugar. Now, I am not one to turn down a cupcake or chocolate, but when I started to not crave vegetables as much, I knew something was wonky.



I’d seen several reviews of the 21DSD, and all of them were positive. I decided to recruit my girl Cassie on board, and we looked into the 21DSD seriously.

My goal for the the past 21 days was to cut those sugar cravings, lose the bloat that I felt, get “regular” (ahem), and ultimately just see how my body reacted to this way of eating. My goal was not to lose weight. Let me say that again for you: my goal wasn’t to lose weight. I didn’t take before or after pictures. I didn’t weigh myself before, during, or after. I simply just wanted to feel better.

The Food

What could I eat?
Gluten-free grains (1/2 cup per day), limited starchy vegetables, most other vegetables, full-fat dairy, meat, fish, eggs, most nuts and seeds, and limited condiments

What about fruit?
One green-tipped banana (actually my favorite kind, people think that’s weird), green apple, or grapefruit per day

What couldn’t I eat?
Refined carbohydrates, soy, wheat, flour made from grains, cashews, peanuts, alcohol, and sweeteners, among a few other things

What did I eat?
Check out this What I Ate Wednesday post for a typical day.

To be truthful, the 21DSD did not feel restrictive at all. A lot of it was similar to the way I already ate, just with less fruit and grains. Sure it was strange to not eat peanut butter, most fruits, and oats for a few weeks. I had to turn down alcohol with my friends (frankly, that was fine – I don’t have the money to spend on that right now). But all in all, I had maybe one or two moments through the entire program where I really missed those things.


The Experience

How did I feel?
When it was all said and done, in a word: amazing. For the first few days, I was completely fine and feeling great. My bloat started to decrease. By the end of the first week, my digestion was regular again. During week two, I had some hungry moments, so I compensated for that by adding some extra almonds into my day as a snack. I would also add in desserts on some days, like coconut oil chocolate almond butter cups (the easiest thing to make, ever) or coconut flour mug cakes. By the start of the third week, Cassie and I were texting back and forth praising the 21DSD.

Overall, my body just felt like it was working more mechanically like it was supposed to. I did have an acne flare, which I am attributing to “detoxification.” I don’t think I lost weight – but like I said, that wasn’t my goal. I did lose the bloat I mentioned, and I can happily say that my sugar cravings are gone. This weekend, when I ate a cupcake, I didn’t feel like I wanted ten cupcakes. One was good.

Something to note here, though, is that it would be beneficial to stagger adding back in foods that were eliminated. Since my family was here this weekend, I went straight back to most foods, barring alcohol. I had chips, tofu, bread, a cupcake and white rice all within the weekend. My stomach was in a bit of a tizzy Friday night (the last day of the 21DSD was Wednesday), but by Sunday morning I was feeling great again. We will see this weekend how I respond to alcohol (ha!).


What did I learn?
First and most importantly: fat is GOOD, and it will not make you fat. Second, it’s fun to vary breakfasts. For a while I was stuck in a breakfast rut, but this made me step out of my comfort zone and eat more savory breakfasts. Okay, back to the fat. “Full fat” anything might look intimidating in our world of low-fat lovers, but they just haven’t experienced the greatness that is full fat coconut milk in coffee. Coconut oil tastes fab in mug cakes. Eggs are more flavorful cooked in olive oil. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are damn tasty. And when we eat enough calories in a day, our bodies thank us. They run more efficiently with fat. Oh, and obviously, vegetables are as good and good for you as ever.


Where do I go from here?
Well, I can say that I don’t feel like I need to add sweetener or sugar to everything anymore, that’s for sure. I actually probably will cut back on my stevia usage, if I use it at all. A lot of things are very sweet to me now, even carrots, which is interesting. And the same goes for plain Greek yogurt – it’s no longer shockingly sour but rather enjoyable. I want to keep the principles of the 21 DSD, meaning decreased sugar, in my daily life. I want to continue to limit refined, processed foods. But I’m a realist – I’m not going to totally eliminate them. That’s no fun. The same goes with fruit. I like strawberries, blueberries, grapes, etc. Fruit season is coming up! And goodness knows I’m ready to face plant into some peanut butter (although I have a deep love for almond and sunflower butter now, too).

Would I recommend it?
Absolutely. *But, and this is important, only do what feels right for you.* Talk to your doctor if you feel you need help deciding if the 21DSD should be an option for you. Treat your body with love and care, always with good intention. It will respond positively to that, which will make for a more positive you. This worked for me. Like I said, it might not be your solution.

So that was a little long-winded, but hopefully you made it out alive. As I final note, I just want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the 21DSD. Cassie was a great support system, and it was actually a fun and worthwhile experience. That said… I’m going to have some wine this weekend.

Question of the Day:
>> Have you heard of the 21DSD? Tried it? Thoughts?
>> Have you tried full fat coconut milk in your coffee? Do it now.



  1. Full fat coconut milk is delicious. Never tried it in coffee, because I don’t eat coffee, but I’ve had it in smoothies before. This sounds like a great detox. It’s amazing how, when you cut back on sugar, you realize that you didn’t really need it that much in the first place. Same with salt!

  2. i think you made a ton of good points, what is good for some people is not good for all. i think in the blogger world I can see the intimidation with talking about doing this challenge, in the end you got the outcome you wanted which is good to hear!

  3. Been waiting for this post 🙂 and I love so many things about it. Firstly, I love Diane. Have you listened to her podcasts with Liz Wolfe? I’m a tad obsessed. I think changing the way we eat is amazing. And like you, it has done amazing things for my body over the past month. I love what you said about fat: don’t fear it, it won’t make you fat. I really think our society is addicted to sugar and while I still eat natural sugars in the form on fruits and honey, I do not ever crave a sugar filled donut. It’s been one of the best changes. Congrats girly!! SO glad you are feeling great.

    1. Thanks for putting a smile on my face, Amy! I haven’t listened to those podcasts, but they’re going on my “must listen” list now. Thanks for the suggestion! I agree with you, the way what we put into our bodies affects it is astounding. I’ve been loving your posts on all that recently, too. I’m a big advocate for fat now! And I’m in a good habit of always trying to make sure I include it in each meal somehow. & I’m glad you’re responding well to your own dietary changes, too!

  4. I haven’t tried it out, but I have thought about it, I have actually thought about trying the Whole 30 for awhile! Maybe starting in March!

  5. Definitely an interesting recap on the subject! I wouldn’t mine working on my sweet tooth a bit…while I never used to have a problem with plain Greek yogurt, it’s at the point where it’s super sour to me again – probably a sign that I’ve been overdoing it on the sweet things.
    Is it ever explained why cashews are a no-no on the detox? Curious about that one.

    1. Yep! It has to do with the taste they put on your palette. Here’s her exact quote: “Cashews tend to trigger sweet-taste habits and become hard to limit.” I found it strange, too, but once I contemplated it, it made sense to me. Glad you asked that!

  6. I love reading about people’s experiments with their diets, but I definitely feel ya on being nervous to post about it. For what it’s worth, I think you did a great job, and I didn’t get any sort of weird vibe from it 🙂

    All that being said, I’ve never tried the this detox specifically, but I did go through a long period where I cut down on sugar and had a great effect on killing that raging sweet tooth. I still love me a good dessert, but too much sugar and I start feeling bloated and lethargic (helloooo Christmas cookie coma!). Fruit is something I don’t think I could ever cut back on though…

    1. Thank you so much. That actually made me sigh of relief and smile, if I’m being honest. Lethargy and bloat are for sure symptoms of excess sugar. Bloat is one of my pet peeves. I can never feel totally comfortable if I’m bloated, so it was nice to hit reset. I have a feeling all that was a result of said Christmas cookie coma… haha. I actually appreciated cutting the fruit for the time being because I don’t have to spend the cash on it. So that’s a plus!

  7. Ahh thanks for the review! Now I’m really intrigued. I’m glad you’re feeling better overall. I will saw that my sweet tooth is SO much better than it used to be (but I don’t know why….). Maybe enough times of feeling bloaty and bleh helped me realize that the sweets aren’t always worth it. Glad this worked and I can’t say that I won’t try it (not yet though)!

    1. Exactly! It makes it sweet and creamy. This didn’t even feel like a detox because I still worked in things like homemade chocolates and all that. Ultimately this was a great experience for me! & I am usually critical of detoxes.

  8. I am so glad you wrote this review- I think I may need to pick your brain more over it! Upping the fats is something I am currently working on and definitely going to look more into this- as it tends to promote the consumption of more fats! Glad you were able to come away wirth a positive experience! I just bought coconut oil to put in my coffee 😀

    1. And I’m so glad you read it! You’re welcome to pick my brain some more. Btw I owe you an email. You can ask ?s in your next response! It was such a positive experience for me, and even though I was hesitant to share this, I’m glad I did. Oh! And it’s coconut milk in coffee, not oil! But I think I’ve seen people add oil as well. I’m sure the flavor would be there, it just wouldn’t be as creamy.

  9. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I think it’s so interesting to hear about others experiences with diets and challenges. I loved reading stuft mamas review of her sugar detox and yours too! I think I would like to eat less sugar and be more mindful of my obnoxious sugar cravings but I just love fruit! I eat at least 3 servings a day.

  10. I’m not good with completely cutting stuff out of my diet, and I feel like when I say I can’t have something that’s when I crave it , so I might struggle with this lol

    1. Actually, that was one of my concerns going into this. I think that for me it was more so that I would end up creating a rule for myself when I had to eliminate something. I monitored that closely. Like I said, though, if I was missing something I tried to substitute it. I couldn’t have traditional dark chocolate, for example, so I made my own using coconut oil and cocoa! #sneaky

  11. I’m happy to hear you had a very effective learning experience with this! It would be hard for me to limit my oats, fruit, and peanut butter.. I must have been so amazing to detoxify after all the treats. It’s great to experience new things. Good for you girl!

  12. What a great review. I really enjoyed hearing your true feelings & all the cons that came along w/ the 21 DSD (for you). Have you ever tried adding a tbsp. of coconut OIL to your coffee? So delicious 🙂

  13. There was a bag of Giradelli chocolate on my desk ALL DAY today. I thought about eating it but I wasn’t that interested when it was all said and done. I am so glad you talked me into this and I know that my cravings are conquered (minus squash cravings!)

  14. Great post, thank you ! I did the 21DSD back in November, before the holidays. It helped keep me eating clean end of year. I LOVED it. I saw all the benefits you need, but in addition, sound sleep. I hadn’t slept that well in probably 20 years. Jan / Feb have been stressful and I am slowly loosing the benefit of the detox. We quickly slip back into old habits – like eating out of habit, not when you are hungry.

    I did keep up my protein pancake breakfast habit.

    I have decided to go back on, end Feb. Hoping the second time around will be just as great as the first, to reinforce those good habits and great feelings.

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