Lunch Date: the science behind the sugar blues

This week’s “lunch date” is a 15 minute rundown on sugar. The history of sugar (including an interesting tidbit about the American Revolution), what sugar is, how your body processes sugar and what happens when you eat too much of it are covered. Plus I share how to spot hidden sugar in processed food and some tips on giving it up.

Listen in during your lunch break, or anytime. You can join me live on meet.FM every other Monday at 1:00 pm ET for another topic. Find the upcoming topics on my calendar, or join my email list for an invitation in your inbox.

My sugar and grain-free Thanksgiving

I’m trying hard to maintain my clean-eating lifestyle through the holidays. It’s not easy. Besides the turkey, my family’s usual Thanksgiving menu is loaded with flour and refined sugar. This year we have the added challenge of including some vegan-friendly selections.

If you are looking for some no sugar, paleo, GAPS diet friendly additions to your Thanksgiving meal, browse the recipes I tried this year.

Most cranberry sauce recipes are made with sugar. I was happy to find this paleo version on Amazing!Paleo. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of raw honey, but that seemed too sweet for me so I cut it in half. It’s tart, but good.

Paleo Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Paleo Cranberry SauceIngredients:
1 pound fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1/4 cup honey (raw honey if you can get it)
1/8 teaspoon allspice

  1. Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, honey and allspice in a saucepan. Heat on medium, stirring, until the honey melts. The juices will be lightly simmering.
  2. Add the cranberries and continue to stir.
  3. The cranberries will begin to pop. (Keep stirring or they will pop all over your stovetop.) Continue cooking until all the cranberries have popped and the sauce has thickened. (Will take 5 to 10 minutes.)
  4. Let sauce cool in refrigerator and serve with turkey.

I love my mom’s sweet potato casserole, but the brown sugar topping will not work for me this year. I found a yummy paleo version on CupcakesOMG! And with no butter, it’s vegan.

Instead of mashed potatoes, I’m making a parsnip and turnip puree that I found on Against All Grain. To give the vegans another option, I replaced the chicken broth with vegetable broth and the butter with Earth Balance spread.

My husband makes a magazine cover-worthy turkey every year. I’m paring it with paleo gravy from Brittany Angell. Thick without gluten. Ahhh…

And dessert. What did I do about dessert? I found a lovely recipe for pumpkin bread pudding on Paleo Parents. It was hard not to eat the pumpkin bread before it got made into bread pudding. Very yummy!

I hope you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Fall Food: Onion and Apple Smothered Pork Chops

pork chop apple onionMy big take-away from the 21 Day Sugar Detox was to do everything I can to avoid feeling like I did at the start, so I’ve been pretty good about staying away from sugar. That has meant a whole new way of preparing food, since most of the old go-to dinners were full of grains and dairy. From following lots of new recipes, I’m figuring out how to adapt some of our favorites. Plus, my family is trying new foods and loving them (like Paleo Butter Chicken from My Heart Beets – yum! – and she even has a grain-free naan recipe).

I wanted to try a sugar detox safe version of a fall staple, pork chops smothered in caramelized onions and apples. After looking at a couple of recipes online which added sugar, I came up with my own version. They are super easy to make and paired nicely with fresh green beans. Best of all, they were good.

Pork Chops Smothered in Onions and Apples

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

pork chop apple onion
4 boneless pork chops
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup butter or ghee
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 (about 1 cup) tart apple, unpeeled, cored, thinly sliced
2 medium (about 2 cups) onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic


  1. Season pork chops with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet and stir in cinnamon. When it sizzles, add pork chops. Cook over medium heat, turning once, 6-8 minutes or until browned. Remove chops to serving platter; keep warm.
  3. Place apple and onion slices into same skillet with pan juices. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Remove lid and continue cooking, stirring every minute or so, another 5-10 minutes or until apples are soft and onions are dark but not burned.
  4. Stir in garlic; continue cooking 2-3 minutes or until garlic is softened.
  5. Return chops to pan and raise heat to medium; continue cooking 2-3 minutes or until internal temperature of pork reaches at least 145°F and is no longer pink.

Grouchy without my sugar: Day 14 of the 21 Day Sugar Detox #21dsd

I promised posts about my experience with the 21 Day Sugar Detox, but I haven’t felt much like writing. To be honest, I’ve been very, very cranky. I spent the first week feeling overwhelmed, although some of that was just life’s stuff piling up. This week has been better, but I’m tired and still grouchy. My family is trying hard to stay on my good side, so my temper must be a bit short.

Detoxing my body has inspired a thorough cleaning of my home (helped along by the arrival of my new Norwex mop) and I took a few days away from the internet to clean windows, vacuum under sofa cushions and mop all the floors. Perhaps taking control of my house made up for the lack of control I have over my body’s reaction to the sugar detox.

If I ever questioned if I was truly addicted to sugar, I’m positive now that I am. I did some reading online just to ensure that I was not the only one to still be irritable and suffering from fatigue fourteen days in. Some folks shared the sugar withdrawal symptoms lasted nearly the entire twenty-one days. What I didn’t find was anyone who said the symptoms never stopped, so I’m sticking with it.

Wanting to experience the detox as “purely” as possible, I hadn’t taken any of the recommended supplements. I decided that for the last week I would add in a Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C, L-Glutamine and Magnesium. I’ll also start taking my probiotics again, to help crowd out previously well-fed candida in my gut. I’m hoping the supplements may help me get past the irritability sooner.

It’s not all bad, though. My face is much clearer and my usually pale cheeks have a bit of color. Although I do still have some cravings, I’m recognizing that I’m not actually hungry. It is difficult to be hungry if you follow the menu plan. There is plenty to eat and, unlike sugar, it stays with me for hours. I’ve been enjoying trying new recipes from the book and corresponding cookbook.

If I wasn’t so grouchy, I’d probably think this was fun. Maybe by this time next week, it will be.

Day 1 without sugar was not easy #21DSD

I haven’t been sleeping well, so when I got up to start the first day of the 21 Day Sugar Detox I was already tired. This has been my mornings for a couple of months, but at least I’d been getting up. Much better than mornings in 2013, when I sometimes did not get out of bed at all.

I dragged myself into the kitchen to prepare breakfast and make almond milk from almonds I had soaked the night before. I was full after breakfast, but I couldn’t help wishing breakfast came with dessert. I had the same thoughts after lunch. And after dinner.

Sugar has control of my mind, for sure!

Homemade almond milk has no additives.

Homemade almond milk has no additives.

I snacked on an apple and a handful of almonds mid-morning, which relieved the cravings temporarily. When I was thinking about another snack at 2:00 p.m., I drank a glass of water instead. The water seemed to help hold me to dinner.

When I woke up this morning, I was still tired, but I realized when I looked at the clock that I had slept through the night. Although it was only six hours, it was the longest block of uninterrupted sleep I have gotten in awhile.

Here’s to day 2, and onward!

Why I’m preparing for the 21 Day Sugar Detox #21DSD

Even before I started my journey to becoming a holistic health coach, I was trying to find my best way of eating. After lots of research and just as much trial and error, I found that a slightly-modified, GAPS-leaning Paleo diet was helping me beat the fatigue and joint pain that had been plaguing me. While I have felt much better this year than I did in 2013, I am still struggling with and, more often than I care to admit, giving in to intense cravings for sweet treats.

Although my energy is generally higher, it still fluctuates quite a bit during the day. I find myself looking for something flour-y and sugar-y when my energy dips, especially after lunch.

My 47th birthday just passed, and my body’s gift to me was another breakout along my jawline and down the sides of my neck, along with an eczema flare-up on my hands. 35 years of acne and itching is enough.

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”  ― Tony Robbins

I’ve decided it is time to reach for a new level of wellness and beat my sugar cravings once and for all. After hearing and reading good things about The 21-Day Sugar Detox: Bust Sugar & Carb Cravings Naturally by Diane Sanfilippo, I ordered the book, signed on for the online support, and picked a date to start – October 1st. It seems like the right time, to change with the leaves and let go of old ways. It is my gift to myself, celebrating my birthday and Mabon (the celebration of the fall equinox), which coincided this year.

I’ll be preparing this weekend by cleaning out the pantry and the refrigerator, making some food ahead, and putting myself in the right frame of mind. I’ve found some helpful advice online, like this post from bembu, and will be doing more reading to make sure I’m ready.

I’ll be posting my daily progress on my Facebook page, so be sure to follow me there. I’ll check in here with updates once a week as well.

Have you tried the 21 Day Sugar Detox? Were you able to complete the full plan? I’d love to hear about your experience!