Here we are, NINE days into our detox and I can proudly say I have been sticking to the plan! I haven’t had dessert (including Luna or Kind bars which I get for free at work), alcohol, or coffee for nine days! It has been hard at times, but overall actually easier than I was expecting. Here’s how we’re dealing with no caffeine, dessert and alcohol on a plant-based diet!
The first week Mike and I definitely had withdrawal symptoms, mostly from the caffeine I’m sure. We had headaches, moody and exhausted at times. It is pretty insane how much caffeine affects our bodies, even if we only have 1-2 cups a day. I can’t imagine going through this if I was drinking more than 2 caffeinated beverages a day. I think cold turkey at that point would be tough. In fact, I found a Caffeine Addiction Calculator last week that rates your addiction and provides feedback on how to cut it out based on how addicted you are. I was glad to see I was only a 3 out of 10 on the scale. If I were any higher, they recommended not going cold turkey because the side effects would be so intense! The calculator is here if you are curious about your score!
Clean, Plant-Based Diet
As far as following a clean, vegan diet, I have also been on track with that, although I’ve had a few “treats” including sweet potato fries after my long run Sunday and corn chips with guacamole last night (only 4 ingredients in the chips at least…). I have eaten 100% vegan since the cleanse (besides a black bean burger I got at a restaurant which likely had egg) began, although I will likely eat eggs a few times throughout and won’t beat myself up about it.
Not having dessert or coffee have been huge factors in my ability to stick to the plant-based diet. The three main things that I eat that aren’t vegan are coffee creamer, dessert (not every dessert but I definitely didn’t not eat Christmas or Girl Scout cookies just because they aren’t vegan!), and eggs/cheese. About once a week we go out to breakfast and I end up ordering an omelette and usually at parties I can’t resist the cheese platter! Now that I am not drinking coffee or eating Girl Scout cookies, the only real non-vegan thing I will eat is eggs and maybe a little cheese.
I’ve found the easiest way for me to cure the dessert craving is to eat more at each meal so I’m not left wanting more after I’m finished. Like I said, this change isn’t about weight loss and I still want to fuel my body properly for my workouts. Last week I made lentil soup and this week black bean yam chili which we have been eating a large serving of with our salads or sandwiches each day for lunch. I’ve been eating even more fruits and vegetables than before and my mid-afternoon snack is often a banana with peanut butter which really hits the spot. I still think about dessert after every meal, but the cravings are getting easier to manage.
I also haven’t had gum which is something I was going to try to completely cut out but told myself I could have a piece if the dessert cravings were really bad. The reason I’m not wanting to chew gum is that when I buy a pack I tend to chew way too much of it and it’s full of artificial sweeteners. I also want to get my brain to stop craving a sweet flavor right after a meal, so it’s better not to trick it with gum.
Since we aren’t big drinkers, this was seemingly the easiest to avoid. Not to mention, you don’t drink alcohol at work which is where you spend most of your time so the temptation is isn’t there as often. However, Mike and I found ourselves in a bad mood come Friday night when we realized that we wanted to relax and unwind from the week with a beer at our favorite place and we couldn’t. Not only that, we couldn’t have any yummy dessert either. We were both in kind of a bad mood on our walk after work Friday night but ended up feeling better after making a trip to Native Foods for some delicious vegan goodness (we tried the Greek Gyro Bowl which has kale, quinoa, and seitan as well as the Saigon Roll appetizer). I think part of the problem was that we were really hungry.
Saturday night we went to a San Diego Socker’s indoor soccer game. A good friend of ours is on the team and we went to support him. Having an activity definitely took our minds off the cleanse, although we did bemoan the fact that we wanted to drink some hot chocolate and couldn’t!
It’s hard to say how the detox is positively affecting me since I’m only 9 days in. So far, there have probably been more negative effects than good feeling wise, although I’m sure it’s due to my body making changes. In additions to the headaches and moodiness last week, we also slept A TON this weekend. We slept 10 hours Friday night, then took a 2 hour nap in the afternoon, slept 8 hours Saturday night and took another 2 hour nap on Sunday! My workout on Sunday was really hard (a long run with some hard tempo intervals at the beginning), but Saturday my workout wasn’t hard enough to warrant a 2 hour nap post 10 hour night of sleep! Clearly our bodies were processing all the changes and detoxing in a way that exhausted us!
My body does look and feel better though. My stomach is definitely flatter and doesn’t have any bloat to it and I have lost 1-2 pounds in the process. My workout on Sunday went really well, which all of my tempo intervals averaging a 7:33 pace (coach says goal tempo pace for BQ is 7:31 so I’m almost there!). I think now that we are over the initial detox, my mood, energy and performance will all get a nice boost!
At the end of the day, I do recognize that all of the things I’ve been going without are things that I don’t want go without for my entire life. This detox is merely a way to cleanse my body and attempt to cure me of my sugar addiction. I plan to drink coffee and alcohol and have dessert again after the detox, but hopefully not ever day or with the frequency that i was before. I want these things to be treats, not routine.
Did you take the caffeine test? How’d you score? Have you ever given up coffee or sugar and had similar withdrawals?