May 6, 2014

Gluten Free Betsy Book Club - The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox by Mark Hyman, MD

Whelp! I did it. I actually followed through with a detox. For the past ten days I've been detoxing to help with some health issues I've been experiencing. For months my body has been a mess. Constant exhaustion and achiness were the norm. It took some serious motivation just to get myself up and going each day. You could say I had a huge case of FLC.  It could have been the horrible winter we finally just came out of or my fibromyalgia could be flaring up again (nonstop), but whatever was causing me to feel like crap, I wanted out.

Why the 10-Day Detox?

One morning I was watching PBS and caught Dr. Hyman’s presentation of the 10-Day Detox program. I was instantly drawn in to discussion about battling cravings, inflammation, and weight gain. I ordered the book right away.

Since we all know how healing food is for us gluten free folks, I knew this was probably the best way to get well again. If anything, it could help get me back on track with planning my meals so I’m eating healthier, since that had fallen to the wayside.

To be honest, I bought the book back in March and I took my sweet time preparing myself to give it a go. There were a lot of events in April that I knew I couldn't be detoxing from (I’m looking at you Gluten Free Expo). By the time the expo, Easter, and a gluten free meetup dinner were over, I was ready to give it my all.

The Detox Details

Prior to starting the detox, you are to prepare yourself by doing some detox prep work such as ridding your pantry of junk, taking your measurements, and completing a few quizzes about the intensity of your symptoms. Dr. Hyman recommends slowly weening yourself off caffeine, alcohol, and starches. 

The next step is to gather all your food and supplies needed for the next ten days. While not everything is essential, I did break down and buy a blood glucose monitor and blood pressure monitor. I told you I was in it to win it, right?

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the detox, but I will highlight the key points and routines that the detox entails:

  • Diet – The diet eliminates all grains (even gluten free grains), dairy, sugar or sweeteners (including stevia, agave, and honey), and alcohol
  • Vitamins – A daily vitamin, fish oil, and a few other supplements are suggested daily
  • Exercise – 30 minutes of “brisk” walking is encouraged daily
  • Meditation – 15 minutes of a peaceful meditation or Take Five break are encouraged daily
  • Detox Baths – A hot bath with Epsom salts, baking soda, and lavender oil are suggested daily
  • Measuring – Recording weight, waist, hips, thigh, (blood pressure and blood sugar optional) daily
  •  Journaling – Each day has a theme and questions are posed for you to reflect on your daily struggles and accomplishments during the detox
  • Media Fast – Unplug from the TV, internet, etc.

It seems like quite a lot of rules, but it was structured enough to keep me motivated and on track. I fully admit that I did not do a media fast. I cannot disconnect from the world while I’m still working and not on a tropical island soaking in the rays.

How Did I do?

Great!  There were some days where I did not get a set 30-minute exercise routine in (Sorry, Leslie!) or the detox baths, but overall I completed all steps of the detox. The diet was probably the easiest part, which is good, because it’s what the rest of the program centers around. All of the recipes I chose (minus a few smoothie recipes) were delicious! They were very flavorful and filling. I plan to incorporate them into my regular ol' way of eating since they were so tasty.

Asian Flavored Chicken with Wilted Leafy Greens
Kale and Red Cabbage Slaw with Turkey Meatballs
Chicken Breast with Ratatouille and Steamed Broccoli
Stir-Fry Vegetables with Almonds (and chicken breast)
Herb Crusted Chicken Breast with Roasted Garlic
Spiced Turkey Wrap with Watercress and Avocado
Chicken Breast Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Sauteed Kale, Onions, Mushrooms, and Cherry Tomatoes
Almond-Flax Crusted Chicken with Sauteed Asparagus, Garlic, and Cherry Tomatoes and Salad Greens
Beef with Bok Choy and Carrots

I did experience withdrawals from sugar and dairy. For the first few days I was having dull headaches and was a bit achy.  I would also daydream about certain off limit foods a lot. You know, tacos, pizza, nachos, cupcakes….

As the days drew on, I had a lot more energy and pep in my step, if you will. I was able to get out of bed in the morning, which is huge, since normally wild horses couldn't drag me out of bed. Eventually my aches and pains diminished and I no longer had cravings for a dessert after my meals. I was able to resist temptations easily when I was out socializing and junk food was right in front of me. 

Finally, in addition to gaining energy, sleeping better, and feeling less achy, in the ten short days I also:
  • lowered my fasting blood sugar by 8 points (it was already in the normal range to begin with)
  • went from hypertension stage 1 to prehypertension (high blood pressure also runs in my family)
  • shrunk 8 inches (waist, hips, and thighs combined)
  • shed 8.8 pounds 

What’s Next?

All of the positives of the detox definitely outweighed the minor detox symptoms. Towards the end of the detox, I didn't know how I wanted to continue. Obviously I’m not going to dive right into a gluten free pizza or raid Swirlz (although I couldn't stop thinking about them in the beginning of the detox), but I questioned if I even wanted to stop it. I feel A LOT better, so why end it here? I also worried about what would happen if I did start eating dairy and sugar again. Would I completely unravel? Would I become completely exhausted again? Would I gain ten pounds instantly?

As much as I enjoyed the detox (never thought I’d say that), I know that there are a lot of upcoming events where I’m going to want to have a piece of pizza, one of everything at Spring Flours, and partake in the social events that involve food. I know some people have to avoid grains, dairy, and sugar all the of time, and I’m very grateful I can handle them and not go into anaphylactic shock or have other serious reactions other than being tired and achy.   

Ironically I read an article the other day about the mistakes people make when trying to lose weight. The final point, detox regularly, struck a chord with me. The doctor recommends doing a ten day detox four times a year. While I will try my best to continue to eat healthy with little splurges here and there, I think doing this 10 Day Detox four times a year would work for me. In between I will enjoy all of the seasonal produce and limit my dairy, sugar, and alcohol to special occasions.

Have you ever done a detox? How’d it go?

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