I Tried a 30-Day Sugar Detox, and (Somehow) Survived to Tell the Tale



In my nearly six years since adopting a plant-based diet, one of my most oft-repeated phrases is that "vegans aren't automatically healthy." It's the point I make to dispel the misguided idea that veganism automatically spells weight loss, as well as the blind dismissal of my daily eats as "rabbit food." Oreos and Doritos: both technically vegan. And I make a mean batch of dairy-free mac and cheese.

But I've only recently just started to detect the holier-than-thou undercurrent of my own argument. "Vegans aren't automatically healthy," I'm really saying, "But I am."

Truth be told, I have prided myself on my healthy diet for some time. I actually find great joy in stocking my fridge with fresh produce and cooking wholesome recipes on a near-nightly basis. I'm both a nutrition nerd and a hippie at heart, and half a decade later, I still get a thrill out of the fact that I can nourish my body exclusively with plants grown from the earth. But a couple of months ago, I began to not only detect my own condescension, but also realize that it was less warranted than ever. I had started to fall into the very trap I had always criticized: Using the fact that I was vegan as my fall-back for "wellness," I actually hadn't been eating so healthfully for some time.

That hypocrisy became too obvious to ignore around the start of 2017, when holiday indulgences, a lack of consistent exercise, and too many late-night orders of french fries (my kryptonite) had started to show up in more ways than one: The obvious, of course, was that my clothes were feeling a little too tight, but my skin was also more breakout-prone than usual, I felt sluggish and bloated, and was constantly fatigued. After a few weeks of regular sessions at the yoga studio didn't breed any significant changes, I knew it was time to double-down on my diet.

I chose to scrutinize my sugar intake almost out of sheer curiosity—part of me wondered if that was really the issue. Did a few holiday sweets and the occasional night out drinking really add up to a detox-able "problem?" To find out, I deferred to UK-based nutritionist Emily Maguire. Her take: Even those of us who consider ourselves "healthy" could probably stand to try a sugar detox.

"I think people are most surprised by just how much of an effect sugar has on their bodies—something that they would never have been able to notice had they not cut it out," she said, adding that in addition to having the ability to make our bodies go haywire in minimal amounts, sugar is virtually everywhere in the modern diet. "Because there are over 50 different names give to sugars, it can make it even harder when reading food labels to determine what foods actually contain added sugar." That goes even for mostly-virtuous vegans like myself.

And as luck would have it, Maguire happened to be in the process of finishing up a new 30-day detox plan with fellow nutritionist Karen Thomson called the Sugar Free Reset, and was kind enough to let me trial it in the interest of finding balance again. I read through the e-book and accompanying materials, marked February 1 on my calendar as my official start date, and attempted to mentally prepare myself for a lifestyle overhaul that was in many ways subtle, but nonetheless pervasive.

Keep reading to see what the plan entailed, and how my experience went down.