My wedding is less than two weeks away (deep breaths). As is the case for most planning their nuptials, the past few months have been stressful. Thanks to the universe, this has also been the busiest year of my career. But as much as it's been tough to execute both things simultaneously, it's inspired some new energy too. In preparing for my wedding day, I've been really trying to put forth a more 'well' version of myself.
Over the past six months, my fiancé and I got monthly facials at Heyday for glowing skin. I finally began taking my vitamins consistently. And, I resolved to focus more on the food I was putting into my body. But, with such a busy schedule, I didn’t know how I was going to make this a priority. To my excitement, Sakara exists and they offer a 20-day wedding prep program. The plant-based meal delivery service sources its ingredients from organic and local farms and drops it off at your doorstep twice a week while you sleep. All of the meals are vegan (free of dairy, eggs, meat, and seafood), gluten-free, caffeine-free, and refined-sugar-free. The meals also never contain things like hydrogenated fats, GMOs, antibiotics, artificial flavors, hormones, or preservatives.
To jump ahead, my experience was more than eating gluten-free or vegan. On off-days, I ate salads or gluten-free and vegan meals and the results weren’t the same. Each and every Sakara meal felt purposeful for my body. I had never experienced more energy, mood stability, brain clarity, and zero inflammation, none. Nor had I ever eaten three meals a day as consistently in my life.
“Sakara goes beyond labels such as vegan, gluten-free, or plant-based,” says co-founder Danielle DuBoise who along with her sister and partner, Whitney Tingle spent years researching the most healthful protocol for eating. "You can eat nothing but Oreo's and potato chips and be considered plant-based. Instead, we focus on what your body requires to feel its best and to support the microbiome. This includes getting enough greens, plant fiber, sulfur-rich foods, a variety of naturally occurring colors, healthy fats, and plant-based protein. We also stress choosing high quality, organic ingredients as a number one priority, and include an abundance of superfoods, adaptogens, vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other plant medicine in every meal. ‘Eating clean’ can often mean what you’re excluding, while Sakara’s philosophy is about using food as medicine to provide you with nutrition that will transform your life.”
The 20-day program taught me to look at food differently. Ahead, a breakdown of my experience on the program.
Though this wasn’t intentional, I started Sakara after an indulgent weekend in Vegas. If there was ever a time my body needed a detox, it was then. On the first day, we had planned a dinner at my parents' house. I wasn’t going to give up on my first day so I grabbed my perfectly packed dinner and took it with me.
You can eat each meal cold, or some include heating instructions (they specify on the back of the lid whether to put the contents of the meal in a saucepan or warm it in the oven). I had a cold breakfast scone with cherry yogurt for breakfast, and, one of my favorite meals in the program, Pad Thai with kelp noodles and sesame dressing, for lunch. The next day I learned not heating it all up was a mistake.
I warmed a BBQ burger with roasted sweet potatoes for lunch, and it was so freakin’ good. From that point, I heated every single breakfast including a zucchini muffin and cinnamon rolls. I also learned a valuable lesson in not rushing my meals. As someone who doesn’t cook, I enjoyed stirring my meal in a saucepan. It felt more intentional than putting something in the microwave, which I didn’t use much in the first place, but now don’t use at all.
Had I eaten the meal my mom cooked, that would’ve been okay too. “There’s no cheating, rules, or restrictions,” says Danielle. Sakara’s philosophy is no sacrifices. “If you are with your loved ones out to eat, and want to have a slice of pizza (even if there's gluten) go for it. For us, it’s about having the foundation of eating healthfully the majority of the time so that you build a body you feel your best in. Plus, by consistently eating Sakara, your microbiome—and the trillions of bacteria living within—will shift and begin to crave different things. Instead of sugar-laden, processed foods, your body will naturally lean into leafy greens, healthy fats, and other life-giving foods.”
This was true for me. The first couple of days, I found myself asking where the desserts were. Typically after a meal, I would need something sweet to feel satiated. I quickly learned from Sakara that sugar cravings are actually dehydration in disguise. So when I wanted sugar I reached for water instead, and you know what? It worked. Within days my palette changed and reset. I passed by my favorite bakery and shockingly wasn’t drawn to it.
During the 20-day program, the only refined-sugar I had was in my first week. On day four, we had scheduled our cake tasting. I had a bite of different flavors and didn’t feel guilty. I actually didn’t feel bad once during the program. In fact, I felt confident in myself and good about my choices.
I had a lot of important questions during that first week. Could I drink wine? How about coffee? I learned that while it's not encouraged if you're looking for major results, it's definitely okay to have a cocktail or glass of wine while on the program. As far as coffee, for maximum results, it's recommended to minimize caffeine and especially coffee because of the dehydrating effects. That said, Sakara Life includes the Detox Water and Beauty Water drops, along with Detox teas, in every shipment to help flush out toxins and keep you hydrated. And, if you're going to drink coffee add coconut oil to it to help boost your metabolism.
Since all of the meals are anti-inflammatory my stomach was the flattest it’s ever been. And while the goal wasn’t to lose weight, I did shed a few pounds (six in total). But all of that aside, I got my period during this week, and it was unlike any other time in the past. I didn’t have any inflammation or bloating whatsoever. I was shocked.
During this week, I had a trip to Washington D.C. While Sakara can adjust your address when you’re traveling, I decided to carry it on with me. Of course, I got stopped at TSA, but I learned that you’re allowed to carry on an icepack as long as it’s frozen, and the foods made the cut too. Relieved, I had the best inflight meal. I ate the prettiest dish by far, the rainbow wrap, and the quesadilla with vegan nacho cheese dipped in guacamole. Other favorites this week included a chocolate love muffin, rose petal pancakes, Sakara-style pasta Bolognese, and Margherita flatbread. My mouth watered writing that.
Over the weekend in D.C. I had a difficult time finding gluten-free and vegan dining options. I felt like I had to choose one or the other. I was looking forward to coming home, and getting back into my routine. Who had I become?
This week confirmed that my favorite Sakara meals are breakfast. On Monday I had avo-cacao probiotic pudding with a lavender tea biscuit and couldn’t believe how delicious it was. I savored every single spoonful, and still think about this. My other favorite was the superseed muesli with blue majik mylk. It tasted as good as it looked.
If I had to pick my absolute favorite dinner, it would be the Sakara burger with cashew creme. Meals didn’t repeat during my program, but there were a few burgers on the menu: Sakara burger, BBQ burger, and the Thai burger. I was genuinely excited every time there was a burger. What I also loved about the program is that the meals are all from whole foods. There aren't any imitation meat, just wholesome ingredients.
During this week, my favorite meals included the chaga chai detox bowl with buckwheat crunch, Sakara glow granola with pink silk mylk and chia, coconut protein waffles with cardamom syrup, and of course, the Thai Burger with rainbow slaw and root fries. Throughout the program, there are a lot of salads, which are basically a vessel for consuming the most delicious dressings, ever.
Midweek, I had a craving for pizza and listened to that voice. I got a gluten-free and vegan pizza and it was exactly what I needed. "There’s no wagon to fall off or a 'never eat' list—instead, it’s about getting enough nutrient-dense, organic, fiber-rich, rainbow-drenched plants into your diet. Beyond that, you can say yes to anything and everything else your heart desires. We’re the first to reach for the martinis and the French fries, and still get our four to six cups of leafy greens every single day,” says Danielle. She continues, "We believe true nourishment comes from a place of abundance, joy, and honoring food as medicine. It’s about creating a body you can listen to—and giving yourself the freedom to be flexible, knowing you have a foundation of nutrition the majority of the time. It’s a beautiful balance, but it’s a balance that is sustainable and joyful for life."
Before Sakara, I had never been vegan, gluten-free, or refined sugar-free. I don’t have any known allergies, and despite being lactose intolerant, it never stopped me from eating cheese. On the other side of that, I didn’t know the brain clarity, increased energy, and stable mood I could experience from adjusting my diet. Not to mention, no bloating or inflammation. The transformation my body made after only a week changed my understanding of food—It’s truly medicine. I would personally encourage every person to try this at least once. Bonus: when you do the bridal program you get a promo code to share with your bridal party, too.
I’m eager to subscribe for another week before the wedding, or make the recipes from their cookbook, Eat Clean, Play Dirty, which also features cocktails and desserts. But regardless, I have already learned so much about my body in the past few weeks. I will continue to implement a refined-sugar-free diet, increase my daily greens, not consume dairy, and minimize my animal product intake well beyond my wedding day.