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on March 8, 2014
Hello! I am a 23 year old female, and I am a very active person. I play soccer and go to Crossfit at least 4 times a week. I started Crossfit in September 2013 and learned about the paleo lifestyle. I received Diane's book, Practical Paleo, from a friend and have been experimenting with it since September 2013. In February 2014, my Crossfit gym was having a paleo challenge that I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to further my understanding of a paleo lifestyle so I attended a Balanced Bites Seminar this past January in Philadelphia. Here I purchased Diane's 21 Day Sugar Detox book. A rule in my gym's challenge was to avoid sugar. I decided to do the 21 DSD in conjunction with the challenge at my gym.

Prior to the 21 DSD, I had an unhealthy relationship with sugar. I would go a few days eating paleo and then would binge eat sweets. Binge eating sweets has been a problem for me for a really long time. My sweet tooth was so strong. I would crave very specific desserts. Just a bite, a slice, or a piece of a dessert would not satisfy me. Eating one Oreo or one chocolate chip cookie didn't cut it. I'd down like 6 cookies before I felt like I satisfied my craving. I could consume a pint of ice cream in no time. ultimate weakness. I craved chocolate every. single. day. Every evening I'd say, "Now it's time to end the day with some chocolate." I'd eat candy or snacks just because they were in front of me. I wouldn't think twice about it. My brain would strongly crave these sweets even if my body wasn't actually hungry. I knew that I wanted to build muscle and lose body fat. And I knew that I would not achieve this goal if I kept giving in to my sweet tooth. This book came to me at the perfect time!

Because I am active 6 out of 7 days of the week and have had experience with paleo, I decided to do Level 3 with energy modifications. Levels 1 & 2 are NOT paleo. I started the detox on a Monday. The weekend before I went food shopping and meal prepped for the upcoming week. Meal planning and meal prepping is absolutely key to successfully completing the detox.

The first week was awesome for me! I was super motivated, ate everything that I prepped, and didn't cheat! When week two rolled around, I STRUGGLED. I legitimately went through sugar withdrawal. Normally, I'd eat paleo for a 4-7 days and then that's when I would binge eat sweets. So when day 8 rolled around, I was ready to binge and I knew I couldn't. I got headaches. All my brain thought about was chocolate. It was hard. Before the detox, I cleared my cabinets of ALL sugary treats. I HIGHLY recommend doing so. The urge to cheat is overwhelming at first.

I drank extra water when I was craving, ate green apples with cinnamon, made some of the not sweet treats, and ate green tipped bananas. Almond butter was a saving grace for me. I would eat a tablespoon of almond butter as a treat too. A green tipped banana with cinnamon and almond butter?! YUM!

Once you get through the withdrawal, it gets better! I have strengthened my willpower and this is my greatest accomplishment. I work in a school and for those of you who work in a school, you know how difficult it is to avoid sugary treats in the faculty room, classroom parties, school wide events, faculty breakfasts, etc. I was able to say "No thank you" in all of these instances. When I was offered sugary snacks and breads, I stayed focused on my goals. Saying no is such a powerful tool.

I have been a bad sleeper since I was ten years old. It used to take me at least one hour to fall asleep. I was always a super light sleeper...the littlest things easily disturb my sleep. Now after successfully completing the detox, I fall asleep quickly. I sleep in such a deep and peaceful sleep. When I wake up, I remember my dreams. I rarely wake up during the middle of the night. Sleep is critical to hormone balance and connected with body fat loss. I know if I continue eating this way, I will be sure to reach my goals,

My skin definitely cleared up. The week before the detox, I pigged out on crappy foods (frozen yogurt with lots of chocolate candy toppings, Mexican food, alcohol, and more). My face broke out in blemishes. By the end of the 21 days, I had no pimples. My eyes looked a little brighter too. I learned that sugar directly affects my skin. When I have a pimple, I know it's because I ate a refined unhealthy, sugary treat.

My energy levels are more consistent throughout the day. I rarely get that 2:30 feeling. My mind is clearer. Because my body was fueled properly, my Crossfit performance has improved too. I feel great during my workouts.

Now that my 21 days and my 30 day paleo challenge is over, I had a cheat day. I ate a bunch of sugar treats to see how I would feel. The result? Pimples, constipated, a little bloated, and most importantly, NOT SATISFIED. It's amazing how the sugary treats just taste like crap now. Cupcakes, cakes, and donuts don't leave me satisfied at all. Therefore I will avoid them. I still love chocolate but feel as though I could easily fall back in to binge eating chocolate habits. Therefore, I will not keep it in the house. At the end of the day, a green apple with cinnamon sprinkled on it tastes awesome. And almond butter=heaven. Find foods that leave you satisfied. When you complete the detox, you start to crave healthier foods. Don't tempt yourself or keep snacks in the house that will allow you to pick up old, bad habits!

I also realized all of the HIDDEN sugar that was in my diet before the detox. Sugar is EVERYWHERE. Read the labels. Get educated. When you read the label, visualize how many teaspoons or tablespoons of sugar is actually in your food.

The 21 DSD increases awareness, strengthens willpower, improves skin and sleep, and implements good habits. All of the recipes are delicious. The book is readable. The pictures are awesome. (A cookbook with pictures is always a plus.:) The directions are easy to follow. The information is easy to comprehend. The typical diet of modern society is packed with sugar and it is definitely time for a change. Do the detox. Take notes about your feelings, progress, and mental/physical state. It's worth it!
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on November 7, 2013
This detox isn't the same as you might expect. It's not a juice cleanse or something like that. The reality is that's not going to help. As Diane states in the book, "to detox your body from sugar means not only to rid your body of cravings for it, but also to rid your daily life of the structure built around being a slave to when you eat sugar, how much you eat, and the form in which you eat it."

The way she presents the detox is in one of three programs, depending on how your current sugar lifestyle is. Level 1 is for folks who are just coming off of a "standard American diet", which not only includes junk food but also large amounts of whole grains (i.e., the "healthy" grains) and dairy. Level 3 is for folks who already eat pretty clean, maybe someone who considers herself "mostly Paleo" and wants to finally kick the habit. Level 2 is somewhere in between.

One of the things I appreciate most about this book is how it's not simply one that tells you why sugar is bad and then gives you tips on how to deal with the withdrawal of not eating it.

It definitely does those things, but it also almost holds your hand (as much as a book can), as you do it. There are even checklists for 7 days before you start, 5 days before you start, all the way to the day before. They're designed to help get you excited for it, prepare the way, and get emotionally ready.

Then as you go, you can follow her meal plan for you, which tells you exactly which foods are appropriate to eat for your level, or you can plan your own menus based on her "yes" and "no" food lists.

In addition to the already-useful help and meal plans offered in the book, there are also a bunch of recipes (90, to be more precise) for foods that foster a healthy lifestyle. These aren't "health food" recipes in the sense most people think (no tasteless rice cakes here), but delicious, satisfying foods.

If sugar is something you've struggled with giving up, this book is definitely for you!
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on April 27, 2014
Let me preface this by saying I purchased the 21 Day Sugar Detox when it was just an ebook and completed the program at that time. I've been following Balanced Bites for over 6 months and I got into this program relatively early in my paleo journey.

That being said, I can't recommend this approach. I did the detox, but it was incredibly tough. Before anyone jumps all over me for "not actually doing the detox," I'll say that I'm not an athlete so I stuck with the strict level 2 guidelines - I allowed some dairy, but the diet was very low carb over that three week period. Yes, I had my daily apple and yes, I ate plenty of greens, but ALL women, athletes or no, should probably be eating at the athlete modification level in terms of carbs. We need at least 100-150 g/day to help regulate our hormones. I found myself not craving sweets on this program, but my craving for potatoes was so strong that I was practically in tears because of it. My husband urged me countless times to just break my diet, but I insisted on sticking with the program because I wanted to be able to say I did it successfully (which I did).

I lost weight and I liked the fact that I lost weight. I did not experience the energy boost that many claim to experience. Basically, this diet did nothing for me other than give me some issues with food. I now have hormone imbalances that I am working to correct, and I have regained most of what I lost by adding back in lots of carbs that are forbidden on this diet if you're not an athlete. Can I say definitively that this diet caused my hormone imbalances? No, but it certainly did not help and probably did more harm than good in my case. I even bought the physical copy of the book at one of the book signings hosted when the book was first released. I brought up my concern about the diet being too low carb, and found Ms. Sanfilippo's dismissive and distracted (as other people had her attention) "oh, well just eat more veggies/carrots" very distasteful. In terms of volume, carrots have nowhere near the amount of carbs that a sweet or white potato (for those of us who do, in fact, eat white potatoes) would have. It would be impossible to get a good amount of carbs for a woman's needs on this diet (if you don't follow athlete modifications). That made me sorry I even bought the physical book at all.

I'm sure I'll get some people jumping on me for this negative review, and the author may even post on her Facebook page asking people to rebut my review as she has done in the past, but I feel it has to be said. If you are a young woman in your prime fertility years, I cannot recommend this book, especially if you are actively trying to become pregnant or want to become pregnant within a couple of years. If you're a man, this probably would be a great approach. Low carb high fat is okay in the very short term, or as a way to kickstart weight loss if you are very overweight. There are some decent recipes in here. The gist of this book is "eat real food and cut out processed crap," which is a great message, but not one that's worth $25 - and I paid full price plus sales tax... so not worth it. Overall, I think Ms. Sanfilippo has great information in her books and on her website, but my eyes have been opened and I am no longer on the 21 Day Sugar Detox bandwagon.
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on April 28, 2015
I recently got this book because more and more my household is leaning toward ancestral eating. I enjoyed the detailed information in the beginning of the book that explains how sugar effects our body and what changes might occur when you remove it from your system. There are numerous plans in this book so that it will fit any lifestyle. I am currently a nursing mother and was excited to find that I could do the 21 Day Detox with a slight accommodation for my breastfeeding. My household participated without even knowing. I just cooked and provided snacks. My weight is down 4lbs after completing just seven days and my clothing is fitting great!

There are many recipes that have become instant family favorites! The Mexi-Meatloaf has already been requested by extended family that helped eat the leftovers the day after (I posted the full page picture from the book). I found we had to cook slightly longer than the 60-70 minutes to get the middle to be no longer pink. My sugar cravings are curbed drastically and I'd be more likely to grab some homemade applesauce than ice cream right now. It resets your cravings to eliminate that which you crave.

I highly recommend this book if you have the time to undertake reading (give yourself a week or so just to read), planning for and then cooking through the 21 days. It is very time consuming and elaborate due to the numerous changes and alterations you can make to your plan. The structure is easy to follow, if you have read and understand the abbreviations. The recipes are simple, and most take 30 - 45 minutes to prepare without cook time. The meals are decently sized they served my family of 3 with leftovers each night. I do not recommend this book to you if you do not have a lot of time. I think it may be discouraging, instead check out Sanfilippo's "Practically Paleo". This has recipes and a plan but not one as strict as this.

My second picture is of one of the simple diagrams found in the informational section. Everything is very easy to understand and well illustrated.
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on October 30, 2013
In late 2010 I stumbled upon a clean eating program called The 21-Day Sugar Detox that was in e-book form at the time... I had already been eating mostly clean for about 6 months, but this looked like just the program I needed to jump-start myself into the new year. I completed my first round in January 2011 and since then have done it 3 more times.. and WOW. Now there is this FANTASTIC book!

Not being much of an e-book fan to begin with, I am so glad Diane decided to put this in hard-copy format and ADD a ton of stuff not even in the e-book! 225 pages (not counting the VISUAL index, regular index or sources!) of well-written information about sugar and carbs, how they work in our body, what they can potentially do to us, how stress plays into it all and affects our hormones (which can help us NOT reach our goals!)... plus recipes, recipes, RECIPES! Diane has a way with making the most simple recipes taste outright amazing. Asian-style meatballs, Lamb & Chorizo Chili, Shepherd's Pie, ginger-garlic chicken, smoothies, even an apple crumble and doughnuts!

I know what you're thinking.. how is this a "detox" - this sounds like such good food! Yes, Mr/Mrs Reader... it is. You will not feel deprived and once your body gets over the initial sugar cravings you'll experience what I have: better sleep, clearer skin (hello adult acne!), no afternoon energy slump, less bloating or pressure in the gut, no "hangries". Plus, you will have gained a new-found appreciation for how food can cure almost anything - the RIGHT food.

Besides good content, the layout and design of the book is very easy on the eyes. Everything is easy to find, allergy indications for nuts, eggs, nightshades, FODMAPs and seafood are on each recipe, and there are several handy charts and pages for yes/no foods, eating out, etc.

So if you're on the fence, have tried every "diet" in the book (I have to!) and really just want to set yourself up for a healthy lifestyle and get off the dang diet roller coaster, this book is it. You owe it to yourself to try!
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on October 2, 2014
This book will change your life! I was a vegan and marathon runner and still could not give rid of the excess fat on my body around my stomach area. After going through the program I lost about 12 pounds easily (and now have lost a total 16 pounds), without really even working out or running which was so amazing! Since this time I have continued on, what I like to call, the lifestyle change versus a diet, because it really will change your life if you let it. It is easy to start, especially with Diane's Yes/No food list. And the recipes are very easy to make and are delicious. She even has a great recipe index that you can flip to in the back of the book that includes all the recipes in picture form so you can easily get to your favorites (mine is the Apple Crumble, it is so easy to make!). Also, because of the quality of the actual pages in the book, it makes it easy to use the book right along with making the recipes; I know I have had to wipe off some of the same pages a few times. :)

Until I read the introduction she wrote about sugar and all the bad things it can cause (cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, etc.), I had no idea what I was doing to my body, even though most things I was putting in it were considered "organic" and "all natural". And I thought I had a low sugar diet, but the insight the book provided on my habit of "carbo-loading",which included all the vegan bread and chips I was consuming, was eye opening! All of that bread and all of the those chips were the big drivers to why I could not lose excess fat, even with 20-mile training runs!

Once you finished the program (after three weeks), you really don't feel like you are missing out on anything because you still get to have great food. And once you start to see the results and you understand that you don't have to run a marathon or even work out that much to get these results, chances are you will never look back on your decision!
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on December 8, 2014
The concept of a sugar detox is a good one, but you really don’t need this book or such a complicated method. I enjoyed reading the book, and many of the recipes are good, but I decided NOT to follow to meal plan that the author laid out. I have 3 small children, so it’s just not possible for me to cook 3 meals a day. I usually cook dinner and keep breakfast and lunch very simple. So, I decided to cook some of her meals for dinner and just try my best to follow her guidelines in coming up with simple breakfasts and lunches (things like salad with avocado and nuts for lunch, or eggs and green banana for breakfast).

It got a little confusing, though. For example, on the first day I made her Shepherd’s Pie. Next to the recipe, it says that if you need more carbs, you can top it with sweet potatoes. Well, I decided to serve it with sweet potatoes on the side (my kids loves them), and I ate ½ cup of them to serve as my carb for that day. Then, later I saw that sweet potatoes were listed in the “No” column of foods, and it says avoid these for 21 days. Then I was feeling guilty, like I had “cheated”!

Another complaint is that the author holds that the ingredients are easy to find, but this is not true for me, living in a medium sized Midwest city. We have 2 Wal-Marts, but no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods or food co-ops! When I made the buffalo chicken egg muffins, I couldn’t find the approved wing sauce. I just used Frank’s Red Hot instead, which is probably not “allowed.” But, it’s 0 calorie, has no sugar, and has a short list of all natural ingredients (I think it’s cayenne peppers, vinegar, and salt). Also, the recipe calls for a special brand of cupcake liners for the muffin pan. I just baked in a casserole dish (so they aren’t “muffins”) to avoid having to order something special. So, I think you can make good, healthy, non-sweet choices without completely following this book. Tonight I plan to just make Garlic Lime Chicken from one of my favorite books, Saving Dinner, by Leanne Ely. That is totally compatible, except for a splash of store-bought chicken broth, which I will just leave out. However, I really believe if I added that chicken broth, it is NOT going to derail my detox or give me crazy sugar cravings!

My husband has seen me struggle with sugar addiction, and his advice is this: I don’t need to feel bogged down trying to follow this book to a T, but it would be a very healthy thing for me to focus on cutting out sweets, not eating breads/pasta/cereal for 21 days, and avoiding processed food like sauce with high fructose corn syrup for 21 days. Try to limit the grains/legumes, but don’t get so caught up in “Should I have a half cup or a full cup because I’m going to do some intense exercise today?”

My final issue with the book is that I don’t see myself following the long-term recommendations. The author instructs us to cut out gluten from now on. I love baking (artisan bread in 5 min a day style!) and I would like to be able to eat whole grain bread again in 21 days, but I’m hoping I can eat in a moderated way. I do plan to avoid sweets except for a special occasion, like my children’s birthdays. Also, the author says that this plan will not work for high endurance athletic events. I regularly run half marathons (although I’m not training for one right now), so I will have to figure out at that point how many carbs is a good, healthy amount to keep me running for those long training runs of 2.5 hours.

Final thoughts: You don’t need to buy a book to cut out sweets and bread/cereal/pasta for 21 days. I enjoyed reading the book and trying a few recipes, but I’m glad I just checked it out of the library and didn’t purchase it. A sugar detox is a wonderful thing, but don’t let the complexity keep you from doing it.
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on December 23, 2015
I recently completed the 21dsd (level 2). Since I appreciated reading others reviews when I began this detox, I wanted to leave my thoughts now that I've completed the challenge. There were a few things that didn't meet my expectation after reading others' reviews. My energy level stayed about the same, my skin also seemed unchanged. During the entire detox I felt extremely bloated and my stomach was definitely tied up. So if you decide to do it, pay attention early on to those things. Having said that, I am really glad that I did it. I had slowly gotten myself into a carbs for every meal type situation. Lots of cereal, pizza, bagels... Dreaming about pizza dinner at 3pm kind of thing, being able to eat lots of carbs and not feel full. And I knew that a detox was the way to go to break the sugar addiction. Once previously I went low carb (like 100 grams a day - nothing too low) but I decreased it slowly which was really difficult, the cravings had been bad. This time, I was really surprised that I almost immediately (after maybe the 5th day), completely lost the carb craving. I terribly missed alcohol (even though i'm not a huge drinker) - not being able to have even half a beer seemed like a huge sacrifice. After about two weeks I started to feel that my body was re-taking control and helping me to regulate when I was and wasn't hungry. That came as a great relief. I naturally started to eat less and wasn't dreaming of cheerios and pizza any longer. It's a really restrictive diet though. I don't like chicken and get sick of eggs after awhile, plus I don't do a lot of cooking, so I spent most of the diet eating salad, beef, eggs, which of course got boring. I wish that I had looked into more recipes and really planned out my meals. Especially that first week, I felt hungry and snacking low carb isn't as easy. I never restricted the amount of food I ate. I probably overate nuts. I also didn't exercise during this time - i wanted to judge this detox without other factors. The one dish from the cookbook that I really liked was the apple crumble. super tasty. In the end, I lost 7 lbs, which really surprised and pleased me - because I felt so bloated I didn't think I lost anything (I weighed at the beginning and end only). I'm no longer scared of full fat (i ate a ton of butter). I of course broke the diet with some deep dish pizza. I ate two good sized pieces and noted that I wasn't full after I was done and then on the way home, I was thinking about dessert. That helped me to really understand how tricky and addictive carbs can be. I skipped the dessert and was careful the next day to get my brain back on track. good luck.
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on April 6, 2014
UPDATED REVIEW: After overcoming my annoyance with the lack of interface between the Kindle version and other apps on my iPad (and after discovering -- duh! -- that I already owned a hard copy of this book), I dove into the eating plan. I was never a person who needed a lot of sweets -- I keep a jar of Hershey's kisses in my house and have always been able to eat just one or two -- but I have been a huge carb addict my whole life. A bag of potato chips was never safe in my home. I was really scared about the prospect of eliminating them, even for a very short time.

Unbelievably, it was not difficult at all, thanks to the help of this program. Yes, I had a couple of days where I was ultra-crabby and had a few headaches, but VERY shortly after that, I woke up feeling more energetic and less "logey" than I have in years. I never felt hungry and rarely felt deprived. As a side bonus, I lost about 8 lbs.

I think the biggest benefit is that I feel that I gained some freedom. I am no longer a slave to my cravings. Many of you will know exactly what I mean. My sugar/carb cravings are essentially gone.

As for the actual meals: The recipes in this book are very easy to follow and don't rely on exotic ingredients.It took me a while to wrap my head around the notion that I could actually include some fat in my diet, and at first I was overwhelmed by the amount of meat in this plan (typically I only eat meat a couple times a month), but I am now starting to believe that meat actually makes me feel good, and my chronic anemia is probably much improved, though I haven't been tested yet.

I also got a bit overwhelmed with the amount of cooking this eating style requires (and I enjoy cooking -- but on my terms, when I have time), and I'm still adapting to that.

The bottom line is that my 21 days ended about a month ago, but I feel so good that I've just continued to eat this way.

FIRST REVIEW:I purchased the Kindle version of this book so that I could import the recipes in it directly to my iPad's cooking/shopping list app, but there is no enabling of the copy/paste feature here. Then I thought perhaps I could at least print the recipes and make notes on the paper but there's no functionality for that either. Yes, I know it's a First World problem (I have to WRITE DOWN the ingredients manually for my shopping list? The horror!) but I would've just bought the physical book instead if I'd known the e-book couldn't interface with other elements of the iPad. All that said, the rest of the book is intelligent and easy to understand/implement.
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on December 28, 2014
I love this book. And I used quite a few recipes. They are pretty simple which I like. But most of all I like how motivated Diane gets you! She gives me so much info on sugar and how our bodies work that my mind was ready to get started shortly into the book! Thank you for writing this. Sugar is not an easy habit to kick.
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