I started doing 30 day challenges in 2014. For me, it was just a game. I wanted to see how much discipline I can enforce upon myself either by detoxifying from something I have become addicted to (ex. social media) or adding a habit to my daily routine (ex. journal writing). When it comes to food, I’ve explored 30 days with no rice, no alcohol, no junk, no sweets – but all at different times. In an ideal world, we should just stop eating all of those at the same time, forever and ever. But different people have different methods of shaping their lifestyles. I have found, accidentally, that, this one works for me.
When I cut up a big challenge into smaller challenges, it becomes easier to swallow. So easy that it is inexcusable for me not to do it. I set myself up to gain a streak of small successes every day, which encourages me to tread on towards the end.
There is more to these challenges than the inevitable feeling of success at the finish line. Two months ago, I came across an article on CNN explaining how a one-month sugar detox can dramatically improve your health. It’s not a secret that sugar has always been the enemy. From the article: “Sugar is keeping us overweight. It’s also a leading cause of heart disease; it negatively affects skin, and it leads to premature aging.”
What really struck me though is this: “What was so successful in getting my clients to kick their sugar habit was to go cold turkey. When they would go cold turkey, I wasn’t their favorite person – but the number one positive effect was that it recalibrated their palate. They could now taste natural sugars in fruits, vegetables and dairy that they used to be so dulled to.”
I realized that this may be what the 30 day challenges were doing all along. Every time I go cold turkey with one type of food, it recalibrates my palate. And because of this, after completing one such challenge, I lose all intense cravings from the type of food I just detoxified from. Now, I’m sure this will not always be the case for all types of food, or for all people. That would be for you to experiment on and find out, if you want.
In case you do, the article above details their own guidance. As for me, I set my own rules:
No sweets for 30 days
- Cold turkey on all kinds of sweets and desserts (i.e. chocolates, candies, cakes, ice cream, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich I usually prepare for breakfast, the taho that’s been my favorite since I was a kid, and the champorado that our house makes every weekend).
- No colored drinks and drinks with sugar (i.e. juices, chocolate milk, definitely not soft drinks). Black coffee for coffee drinkers, or unsweetened tea.
- To compensate, I allowed myself all types of fruits and vegetables. I eat sweet viands (ex. chicken teriyaki), bland biscuits (i.e. skyflakes, fita), bread (even if it’s white), and rice. But I’m not really fond of rice so it’s minimal.
- If you’re wondering whether it is a “sweet” or “dessert”, don’t eat it. If you’re wondering whether you might be cheating, you probably are!
- My ultimate cheat: a glass of wine or bottle of beer allowed a day. I wouldn’t recommend, but as I said, my own rules. 😉
Note: I’m not a nutritionist or expert, just a human guinea pig. You may or may not want to consult your doctor.