My 21 Days without Grains and Sugar & 21 Reasons to Try it


The man and I recently undertook a challenge to go 21 days without eating grains or sugar (except in fruit form).

The initial couple of weeks were much easier than expected, perhaps because we’ve been trying to eat this way in general for a while. It did get tougher towards the end, particularly in the form of sugar cravings.

On the 20th day, due to poor preparation, we gave in. We had gone to an Olympics football match (2 games, 5 hours) and after a heavy breakfast, we thought we’d go the distance. Alas, the mid-match munchies got the best of us and, as you can imagine, suitable snacks were extremely elusive! Stodgy sausage roll it was (which, to my satisfaction, was unusually difficult to eat – could it be that I had succeeded in changing my taste for such?).

As you do, we decided to write off the entire day. Later on we had cake which was again, very hard to finish – it was sickly sweet to our taste buds.

As a forfeit for falling short of our 21 day goal, we added an additional 4.

Since the period ended, I’ve attended a baby shower, a wedding and been away on a pseudo-holiday (i.e. still working but in a very different environment: the Welsh countryside). These occasions have not been very conducive to a no-grains no-sugar diet. It’s also the week of my 30th birthday – another excuse to indulge! I do worry that I’m undoing any fat adaptation that I may have acheived and one of my gifts to myself will be to get back on track starting Monday.

I need to consider what is sustainable in the long-term. In The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris, he advocates having a “cheat day” – an entire day to go crazy with the indulgences. The man and I have tried this and felt terrible (physically so!). Instead, my goal will be to allow myself ONE “offensive” item each week.

21 reasons to try going without grains and sugar


Please note that I’m not a nutritionist or medical expert – this list is based on my experiences. To explore more of the science behind this challenge, I highly recommend reading Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint or spending some time on his comprehensive blog, Mark’s Daily Apple.

  1. No more bloating
  2. No more post-lunch slump
  3. Tighter self-control when faced with temptation (it’s funny how limitations can make life easier)
  4. It inspires you to think more about what you put in your body and …
  5. … to read ingredient lists (a lot of foods have so much unnecessary crap in them)
  6. It encourages you to be more discriminating
  7. It helps to reduce feminine imbalances
  8. It encourages you to engage in other positive lifestyle changes (e.g. taking up more exercise, getting more sun and sleep etc.)
  9. It encourages you to interrogate more of what conventional wisdom dictates is healthy
  10. You’ll likely eat better food
  11. You’ll be forced to seek out great restaurants (e.g. ones serving quality meat)
  12. You’ll eat out less …
  13. … and save money that way
  14. It inspires you to get more creative in the kitchen (I’ll be sharing some of my new recipes soon) …
  15. … and bring some freshness and excitement to your culinary repertoire
  16. You’ll drink less alcohol (choices are severely limited!)
  17. You’ll quit being a sugar burner
  18. You’ll lose weight (I wasn’t tracking this strictly but I did lose over 1 kg, given my weight 2 weeks before starting vs my weight 2 weeks after starting. There are some success stories that are more powerful testaments to this. Check out Malika‘s and Dave‘s)
  19. The discipline is transferable to other goals and ambitions
  20. It’s great to challenge yourself
  21. Self-love breeds more self-love

Have you ever tried to go without grains and sugar? How did it go for you?

8 thoughts on “My 21 Days without Grains and Sugar & 21 Reasons to Try it”

  1. Reason #22 via Marianne Williamson: “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” <- I haven't tried no grains, no sugar, but you make it seem possible and worthwhile.

  2. Great post! I’ve also been trying to avoid wheat and sugar from m diet for the last few months, but haven’t been able to successfully wean off it. Think I must just take the plunge and try your challenge, difficult as it may seem. Quick question: what alcohol do you drink? Doesn’t all alcohol have some sort of sugar content?

  3. Great post, Lulu! I am in the midst of transitioning to a primal lifestyle (day 15!) and you are dead-on! I feel SO much better.
    About sugar cravings. I have been keeping a food journal–nothing detailed, just what I eat and if I notice anything out of the ordinary in terms of how I feel–and it has been an invaluable way to evaluate “mistakes”.
    There were a couple of incidents where I succumbed to a craving for sweets. Looking at my food journal I realized those cravings ALWAYS happened when I had either skipped a meal at some point during the day OR I ate meals that were too small.
    Our bodies need a certain amount of energy (calories) every day for basic metabolic functions and if we’re not getting enough our bodies will make demands in the form of cravings. And since sweet starchy foods supply tons of calories very quickly, that’s what we’ll look to grab.
    If you find yourself craving sweets, that’s probably the reason. Eat a hearty primal meal instead and the sugar cravings will disappear.
    And as a preemptive measure, don’t skip meals. Both of those have worked for me like a charm.
    Hope that helps!

  4. @MzansiGirl During the 21 days, I allowed myself an occasional glass of red wine. Here’s a useful article from Mark Sisson – a definitive guide to “healthy drinking”.
    @Crystal So glad to hear that it’s going so well so far! That’s a really good idea to keep a food journal – something I’ve been meaning to start myself. It’s interesting to read just how effective it’s been in terms of helping you to identify counterproductive habits. Thanks for sharing your tips. I’m looking forward to sharing your tips regarding staying strong at events…
    … @All, look forward to those on Thursday!

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