The Showdown: Whole30 vs. 21-Day Sugar Detox

You might be wondering why a girl who swore she’d never do another Whole30 again, just completed a 21-Day Sugar Detox. Aren’t they practically the same?

Well, there are many similarities when it comes to what food groups you can and can’t eat, but in my opinion, the other restrictions put on the Whole30 can facilitate an unhealthy relationship with food.



The premise of the program is to eat clean, whole foods for 30 days, but of course, that’s just the first layer of a very well thought out program. Eat three meals a day, large and nutritious enough to sustain you until your next meal. Don’t skip breakfast. Stop eating a few hours before you go to bed. Veggies are “required” at every meal and fruits, which should be eaten sparingly, can be eaten with a meal. Snacking is discouraged – not forbidden – but it really depends on how active your lifestyle is.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits, healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds, condiments, and supplements like collagen
  • NO Foods: added sugar in all forms (even honey), alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, protein or meal replacement shakes, and the recreation of baked goods, junk food, or treats turned into healthier options.

21-Day Sugar Detox


The Sugar Detox is all about cutting sweet cravings naturally to eliminate short and long-term side effects of sugar addiction including mood swings, fatigue, depression, and even PCOS. There are three levels to the program, and all meal plans include three meals and a snack – which definitely comes in handy during the gap between lunch and dinner.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits (only green-tipped bananas, green apples, and grapefruit) healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds, homemade condiments without sugar or date paste, and supplements like 100% pure protein powder
  • NO Foods: gluten-containing grains, starchy veggies like cassava and plantains, legumes, cashews, all other fruits, dairy, alcohol, supplements with multiple ingredients (like Shakeology)
  • Plan 1: The least strict, allows for the addition of gluten-free grains, legumes, and full-fat dairy
  • Plan 2: The in-between plan, allows for full-fat dairy
  • Plan 3: The most strict, avoids both gluten-free grains and full-fat dairy

The similarities

Both programs…

  • focus on cutting cravings and eating healthier by eliminating foods that may cause triggers or irritation over a period of time.
  • observe and encourage a reintroduction period after completion of the main program.

The differences

Helloooooo Captain Obvious – one is 30 days, the other is 21. Wink wink.


Whole30 gives you options when it comes to using natural sugars – sweeten ketchup or bbq sauce with date paste, choose any fruit you’d like as long as it’s eaten with a meal, and grab a Larabar or RX Bar to snack on the go.


The beautiful variety.

21-Day Sugar Detox says NO to any kind of sugars, whether natural or artificial, you can only choose between green apples, grapefruit, and green-tipped bananas, but they don’t have to be eaten with a meal, and really, you’ll be hard-pressed to find compliant on-the-go snacks.

Treats & Desserts

Whole30 says absolutely NOT to recreating desserts, the creators even coined the phrase SWYPO (Sex with Your Pants On) to describe this. The basic premise is that your eating habits and behaviors will remain the same if you keep eating the way you always have. If you regularly eat doughnuts for breakfast, recreating paleo doughnuts doesn’t do a thing to change your old habit.

21-Day Sugar Detox is pretty lax when it comes to this, in fact, there are recipes for pumpkin pancakes, coconut milk smoothies, apple cinnamon doughnuts, and almond butter cups right in the back of the book! (One day I even made banana pancakes for breakfast and I didn’t feel so restricted to EGGS – see photo.)


Quick and easy banana “pancakes”


Whole30 says to limit snacking unless you have a very busy or active lifestyle, in which case it’s unavoidable.

21-Day Sugar Detox says YES ma’am to snacking and even has it built right into the meal plan. This was helpful at work and actually kept me AWAY from the vending machines because I had enough food throughout the day.


After the Whole30 I could not wait to go back to my previous (aka gluttonous) ways of eating. The perceived restriction was just too much. I felt like a little kid being told no – it just made me want to break the rules even more! I mean, what harm can one paleo doughnut do?


Whole30 perfect plate.

The program definitely wasn’t intended this way, but I replaced my sugary junk food (not allowed) with sugary fruits and Whole30 packaged snacks (allowed) and ended up feeling guilty for it. Of course, my taste profile didn’t change because I was still relying on sweet things to get me by.

I didn’t lose any weight or experience any miraculous changes. If anything, I just felt hungry and powerless. I rebelled against the lifestyle that was essentially trying to help. Then I ended up going on vacation soon after and pretty much ruined any of the progress I had made.

After the 21-Day Sugar Detox, I jumped right into the reintroduction period, as advised, and walked away with a healthier mindset. I didn’t have any desire to wreck the progress I made.

During the 21-Day Sugar Detox I made healthier choices – granola made with nuts instead of grains, coconut flour doughnuts “sweetened” with applesauce, chia pudding. All of these were recreated treats (SWYPO in Whole30 lingo), and yet, after the Detox, I had absolutely NO desire to run to Dunkin’ and scarf down a dozen “real” doughnuts. Why? Because I didn’t feel deprived for an ENTIRE freakin’ month.

I didn’t indulge in sugary sweets because I didn’t have the option – it just wasn’t in my meal plan. So, over the course of 21 days, my tastes started to change. I no longer craved super sweet things, but was content with spicy, or even better, umami. And banana with almond butter tasted pretty damn near dessert!


These two give me that umami fix!

Today is day 29 and I’m almost done with my reintroduction period, with no desire to stuff my face with any of my old favorite junk foods – I have untouched ice cream and salt and vinegar kettle chips in my kitchen as I type.

The bottom line: So, which method is right for you? Maybe one, maybe both, maybe even none! All I can do is provide you with my experiences and tell you to do your own research. Many people swear by the Whole30. It’s definitely more popular, but does that make it better? In my opinion, the 21-Day Sugar Detox is very realistic and achievable while the Whole30 is quite the opposite and fosters an unhealthy relationship with food.

I’d never do another Whole30 again!


Whole30 gets a lot of press – good or bad, it’s still attention. Last year I completed my first and only Whole30. After a month without dairy, grains, legumes (including my beloved peanut butter), sugar, alcohol, daily superfood shake, and baked goods, I felt accomplished and proud of myself for completing such a huge feat.

If I’m fully honest, I didn’t experience any of the earth shattering changes that others have. I didn’t lose a ton of weight, the headaches I was experiencing almost daily didn’t decrease, I still wasn’t sleeping well, and I didn’t feel like a completely new person.

In one respect, the Whole30 was a total eye-opener. Prior to starting my month-long journey, I didn’t realize how much sugar and hydrogenated oils were in EVERYTHING. I took many of the “healthy” grocery store items for their full-face value. I never thought that ketchup, bbq sauce, salad dressings, mayo, and even bacon and diced tomatoes would be laden with every form of sugar that you can imagine. I was blind to the fact that what I was putting into my body was actually doing more harm than good. I took “good” food for granted.

On the flip side, I believe that the Whole30 can facilitate an unhealthy relationship with food. Now, I might get a lot of crap for saying this, but hear me out.

Where it went wrong

When I did my first Whole30 in July 2016, I thought it was the greatest idea since sliced (paleo) bread. I followed the rules and when other people were posting Whole30 meals that weren’t quite compliant on Instagram and Facebook, it made me angry. I started buying foods in the spirit of the Whole30. I stocked up on the books and even gave the new cookbook for a Christmas gift. For a good six months, I was a self-appointed Whole30 police officer. After a while, it was giving me so much anxiety, that it got old.

In the last year, I’ve tried to complete a second Whole30 multiple times. I planned menus and grocery lists, I tossed all of the unapproved items from my kitchen, and even set up a 30-day calendar. I was ready. Then, multiple times, it just didn’t happen. I really beat myself up about it. Seriously, how hard is it to START something? Something that I was supposedly obsessed with not too long ago.


Typical meal prep Sunday.

I turned to Whole30 Facebook groups for support or guidance, but that just made it worse. There is so much cattiness, rule breaking, and unsupportiveness that I found the groups to be the opposite of encouraging. I left each one and decided to find my own way.

After playing with my diet for a couple of months, I realized that I don’t want to cut out so many foods from my diet. I enjoy mixing a spoonful of raw local honey into Icelandic every morning, I love making pancakes for Sunday breakfast, I look forward to sushi date nights and a nice burger with a bun every so often, and I will never miss another National Ice Cream Soda Day! They key isn’t cutting out all the foods that make you happy (unless medically necessary, of course), the key is moderation.


Anyone else LOVE creamsicles??

Everything in moderation

I’ve finally comfortably settled into a “diet” that seems to work for me: portion-controlled and mostly keto/paleo. What does that mean? I consume around 1,400 calories a day (it’s PLENTY), and eat a diet high in fat and low in carbs and protein – pizza, chocolate, and dessert included! It’s satisfying, it’s yummy, and although it restricts HOW much I pile on my plate, it doesn’t restrict WHAT I can eat. I never go to bed hungry.

How does this work? Well, because I’m not limiting myself, I don’t have crazy cravings for sugar or carbs. In fact, I’ve actually all but eliminated peanut butter (one of my favorite things!), alcohol, and several other unapproved Whole30 items at will – not as a direct result of my Whole30 experience. I’m just making healthier choices and looking at food as fuel.


A typical breakfast – hella yum!

The 80-20 Rule

No one eats 100% healthy 100% of the time – it’s just not sustainable. A lot of health coaches and fitness-minded individuals practice the 80-20 Rule, which means that you eat 100% healthy for 80% of the time. That other 20%? That’s when you fit in the donuts, chocolate, wine, nachos, cake, ice cream sodas – all the stuff that makes your soul sing. It works because you don’t feel deprived, because you know that you can have your cake and eat it too, and because you won’t feel guilty for indulging a little when out with friends or on the weekends.


The right size treat.

The (New) Bottom Line

Every once in a while I’m really, really wrong. This was one such time. The Whole30 taught me an important awareness about food that continues to this day, but it also made me a little neurotic. I’m no longer recommending or endorsing the lifestyle. However, I will say that if you are interested in learning about it, check out the book “It Starts with Food” from your local library. Written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, creators of the Whole30, it breaks down the science and why behind the bad foods we put into our bodies. It is relatively easy to understand, even to non-science-y types and will give you a very granular view of the program.

If you have questions about finding a diet or way of eating that is right for you, feel free to contact me. I’d love to help you find a good fit!


Tastes like sunshine

Move over PB, there’s a new jar of goodness in town!

I love peanut butter – on toast, in cookies, straight from the jar – you name it. So the first time I encountered SunButter, I quickly dismissed it. Nothing could replace my beloved PB.

But a couple of months ago I thought I would give it another shot (well, actually try it). It’s like the Heavens opened up and angels were singing – this stuff is amazing.


Creamy SunButter makes the BEST cookies!

Flavors: natural, creamy, natural crunch, no sugar added, and organic. The organic is Whole30 approved (I’m super excited about that). The creamy also comes in on-the-go packs (great for kid – or adult – lunches).

  • It’s free from the top 8 allergens (including nuts and soy), which makes it a good alternative for those allergic to nuts.
  • It’s school safe. If you don’t have kids this might not seem like a huge deal, but it totally is. Did you know that many schools are banning PB from lunchboxes? We never had to worry about that when I was in elementary school – 75% of kids brought in either PB&J of Fluffernutters. Now there are extra precautions to limit exposure. Better to be safe than sorry! For more information on this, check out the website.
  • It has 7 grams of protein per serving (2Tbsp). This is good for picky little eaters – make them ants on a log and know that they are getting in some extra protein in with their snacks. You can even add a scoop to a chocolate shake for breakfast – yum!

Fun Fact: It takes 3 pounds of sunflower seeds to make one jar of SunButter. Wow! (credit:

How awesome is this pen?!

Use it just like PB

I swapped out the PB in my favorite peanut butter cookies and not only were they good – they were better with SunButter! I’ve tried several of the recipes online too.  It really is wonderful.

For more fun  ideas, visit


This post is sponsored by SunButter. Thank you for supporting the companies that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.


No bones about it

At first mention, the name “bone broth” sounds a little chilling and gruesome – it’s everything but. Remember when your grandma used to simmer an entire ham bone to make a pot of split pea soup? It’s all about the flavor and, in this case, the healing properties.

Did you know that bone broth can soothe joints, strengthen bones and nails, and calm intestinal inflammation? This isn’t a new-age trend, either. While it might just be catching on with the Western World, bone broth dates back to the 1700s. Western Europeans called it “beef tea” and it was used in hospitals for the infirm and elderly.

When I think of bone broth, one company stands above the rest. Bare Bones was founded in 2013 by Ryan and Katherine Harvey. His culinary expertise married with her journalistic and marketing experience results in a top notch company with a great-tasting product and creative display. Their motto is “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

What sets Bare Bones apart?

It’s good stuff. Bare Bones Bone Broth is slow simmered in small batches for one to two whole days to retain the nutritional benefits. Kate and Ryan refer to their broth as “the ultimate kitchen staple” and I have to agree.

Real, simple ingredients. What makes Bare Bones different from the stock you can buy at any supermarket? The company only uses bones from humanely raised, grass-fed animals. You will never find any soy, gluten, added antibiotics, hormones, artificial flavorings, or preservatives in this all-natural broth. Bare Bones Broth is made from filtered water, bones, organic vegetables, and spices. It’s also Whole30 Approved and Certified Paleo.

Nothing to hide. Bare Bones lists their suppliers on their website, so you can see just where those ingredients are coming from.

You have options. There are 4 exciting flavors: Classic Beef, Classic Chicken, Tomato & Spice Beef, and Rosemary & Lemon Chicken. Each flavor comes in a pack of six. If you want to try them all (and I encourage it), go for the sampler six-pack!

It’s convenient. The broth is shipped frozen solid via UPS. Store unopened pouches of Classic Chicken and Rosemary Lemon broths in the fridge for up to 45 days. (You will soon be able to do the same with Classic Beef and Tomato Spice broths!) To prolong life up to a year, store broth in your freezer. The pouches have a twist top – just in case you only need a bit. Opened pouches can be refrigerated for 7-10 days.

Add it to any recipe. Use Bare Bones Broth in place of conventional broth or stock. I add it to my favorite Sweet Potato + Chocolate Chili recipe that I’ve adapted from The Whole Smiths. It gives it a boost of flavor and protein to keep you full and satisfied with just a small bowl.

It’s also good for sipping! A few days ago I was feeling little chilled and under the weather. I heated up a mug of Bare Bones Beef Broth and sipped it as I would a cup of tea. Not only did it taste wonderfully wholesome, but it warmed me to my core like a satisfying cup of cocoa on a wintery day.

Still unsure of how to use bone broth? Kate and Ryan have created a cookbook to dispel any worries about getting it wrong. They’ve provided over 100 easy-to-follow recipes for using the broth and integrating it into your daily meals. Recipes include Beet, Ginger, and Coconut Smoothie; Butternut Squash Biscuits and Sausage Gravy; Maple-Bourbon – Glazed Shrimp with Peaches; and Lobster Dumplings and Coconut Broth. Is your mouth watering yet?

For more information or to make a purchase, visit



DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Bare Bones Broth. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Snacker successful. All opinions are my own.


Lesson learned

Three years ago I thought I was dying. It was late September 2013 and I was lying in bed feeling so cold, but somehow sweating bullets. Nothing could stop me from shaking. My fever was pushing 104° and I had terrible pains in my lower back – like someone had repeatedly kicked me. I was pale, had terrible under eye circles, and had lost about 10 lbs in two weeks. I looked and felt like the walking dead.

When I finally couldn’t take it anymore, my (then) boyfriend (now fiancé – I love saying that!) drove me to the hospital. What I thought had been a terrible case of the flu had been much, much worse. The doctors put me in a gown (thank God my legs were shaved!) and before I knew it, I was hooked up to three IVs – one morphine drip, one fast-moving antibiotic, and one to give me fluids. My diagnosis: dehydration and pyelonephritis, a severe kidney infection that was spreading to my blood. I had never felt worse in my life, but a few hours later I was walking around relatively pain free. I even came home and made Caldo de Gallina.

The moral of the story: DRINK WATER.

Seriously, this one little lesson that everyone pounds into you when you’re working out or staying outside in the sun, can save your life. Dehydration sucks. So does a kidney infection. I can’t attest to this, but I hear the pain is worse than childbirth.

How did it happen? Well, I didn’t always take great care of myself. When I was younger I hated the “taste” of plain water and would grab a Monster or Gatorade  (which actually make you thirsty). I would sit at my desk and pound out the work, often forgetting to drink. Sometimes I just didn’t feel thirsty. Flash forward a few years and all I want to do is drink water.

One great takeaway from the Whole30 is the importance of eliminating the empty calories found in sugary drinks and alcohol. Before you know it, you could be eating away at your allotted daily calories with just drinks. Water is cheap (except at the movie theater), plentiful, and calorie-free.

Take it from someone who has lived and learned the hard way: just drink the damn water.

Let’s get wild!

I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to trying new foods that claim to be both healthy and great tasting. My taste buds get fooled a lot. I once tried a meatless jerky, which literally looked like a coffee-stained paper towel. How did it taste? Just wrong.

You won’t find any of that weirdness with Wild Zora. The meat and veggie bar is made with 100% real food, including about a serving of certified-organic vegetables. Beef is grass fed, turkey is free-range, and lamb is 100% all-natural. The product is allergen-friendly and doesn’t include any chemical additives or sugar. It also has the Whole30 stamp of approval (on products not containing cheese).

Wild Zora promises a “great taste” and I have to say – I completely agree! I was pleasantly surprised when I took my first bite. This is NOT your typical store-bought jerky – it is soft and easy to chew and has a rich texture. The flavor of the Chili Beef with kale, cayenne, and apricot is savory, spicy, and slightly (naturally) sweet. A moment of pleasure for the senses.

This high-protein snack is perfect to bring hiking, traveling, or when you’re in a hurry.
My order came with a pretty awesome product information card that shares some of the highlights of the meat and veggie bar AND a sticker that I can add to my collection. I LOVE stickers!

For more product information and to order, visit

Happy Snacking!

Whole30: Whole Review

It was hard, but not impossible.

The Basics

The premise of the program is to eat clean, whole foods for 30 days. But, of course, that’s just the first layer of a very well thought out program. Eat three meals a day, large and nutritious enough to keep you full until your next meal. Don’t skip breakfast. Stop eating a few hours before you go to bed. Veggies are “required” at every meal and fruits, which should be eaten sparingly, can be eaten with a meal. Snacking is discouraged – not forbidden – but really depends on your lifestyle.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits, healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds
  • NO Foods: added sugar in all forms (even honey), alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, protein or meal replacement shakes, andd the recreation of baked goods, junk food or treats into “healthier” options

This program puts emphasis on enjoying your food and distinguishing hunger from cravings. Are you hungry enough to eat a plate of steamed veggies? If no, it’s probably just a craving. Stay away from sweet treats like fruit and nut bars when you’re craving – grab some protein instead.

Building Your Plate

  • Start with high quality protein (1-2 palm-sized servings per meal).
  • Fill the rest of your plate with veggies.
  • Add 1-2 servings of fruit per day (1-2 fistfuls).
  • Use 1 or more healthy fat sources per meal.
  • TIP: Spices make everything (even veggies and eggs) taste wonderful.

It Starts with Food

This book is your golden ticket to success with the program. It was written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and breaks down the science and why behind the bad foods we put into our bodies. It is relatively easy to understand, even to non-science-y types (like me!).

Part 1: It Starts with Food – talks about what food should do for us and touches on our biochemistry and how our brains work on food.

Part 2: Good Food Standards – dives deeper into our biochemistry and how our entire body reacts to food.

Part 3: Less Healthy – discusses all of the “bad” foods that are listed on the unapproved list in the Whole30 program and how our bodies negatively react to them.

Part 4: More Healthy – puts a focus on the approved foods and how our bodies positively react to them.

Part 5: Let’s Eat – shows you how to meal plan.

Part 6: The Whole30 – gives you an outline of the program.

Part 7: Whole30, Whole Life – provides resources for successful continuation of the program well after 30 days.

Appendices  – include some recipes and a list of resources to help you get started.

Helpful Kitchen Tips

  • Rid your house of the “bad” stuff, or at least put it away. I stored all of my baking items in the cabinet above the fridge so it was out of reach – I need a chair to get to it.
  • Make your own condiments. It’s cheaper than buying Whole30 approved items AND they are very easy and quick to make.
  • Light a candle when chopping onions. (I used onions in almost all of my meals.) Gum used to be my go-to, stop the tears trick, but gum falls into the NO category.
  • Prepare your food ahead of time and make sure you have enough to last the week so you won’t be tempted to grab something that isn’t approved. For tips, check out my updated post #mealprep.
  • Keep some pre-packaged items on hand for when you’re traveling on the weekends. Trust me, you will be hard-pressed to find anything approved while on the go.

Must Have Resources

Whole30 Website – provides a wealth of information including a meal template, list of approved on-the-go foods, shopping lists, produce guides, and so much more.

The Whole30: The 30 Day Guide to Health and Food Freedom (Hardcover, B&N $30.00) – a quick guide and recipe book.

Whole30 Support Groups – I joined a group on Facebook and it was nice to have accountability and a forum to share recipes and ask questions.

It Starts with Food (Hardcover, B&N $26,95) – see above.

Eating Out

This is not horrible, but takes a little skill, knowledge of the rules, and a brave soul. “I’ll have the bbq grilled chicken, a baked sweet potato, and steamed veggies. Hold the bbq sauce and butter.Do you have olive oil? Not just oil, but the real deal olive oil?” Your tone makes all the difference between sounding like a health-minded individual and sounding like a snobby little twat.

The Reintroduction

Don’t skip this part. Now that you’ve eliminated all of the “bad” or less healthy foods, it’s time to add them back into your diet one at a time to see if any have an adverse effect. Days 31-40 keep Whole30 compliant and add in a less healthy food every few days and evaluate the outcome. Will there be any foods that you want to completely eliminate from your diet? Self-awareness is key.

Spreading the Word

I learned my lesson about sharing my newfound diets a LONG time ago. Some won’t be happy for you or encourage you. Others will tell you that it’s stupid. A few might even get you to cheat or quit early. Don’t. And don’t listen to them. Do what’s right for you. Celebrate yourself. But, if you must share, do so with class. Melissa Hartwig has a great blog post on sharing your Whole30 experiences and how to do it the right (AKA less annoying) way.

Doctor’s Note

My neurologist was pleased to hear that I was doing the Whole30 – I think she’s actually the only person to encourage me to do it. She suggested that I keep going well after day 30. Her initial recommendations to abstain from alcohol, caffeine, and excess grains and sugar fit in nicely with the program. I’ve never had a doctor advocate for one diet or lifestyle over another, so this was HUGE. Paleo seems like the path towards optimal health.

Bottom Line

To be completely honest, I didn’t experience any of the earth shattering changes that others have. I didn’t lose a ton of weight, my headaches didn’t get better, I still don’t sleep well, and I don’t feel like a completely new person. That being said, I would recommend that, at the very least, everyone try a Whole30 once in their lifetime. For maximum health benefits I would recommend doing a Whole30 once a year.

Why? For me, the Whole30 was a total eye-opener. Prior to starting my journey, I didn’t realize how much sugar or hydrogenated oils were in EVERYTHING. I took many of the “healthy” grocery store items for their full-face value. I never thought that ketchup, bbq sauce, salad dressings, mayo, and even bacon and diced tomatoes would be laden with every form of sugar that you can imagine. I was blind to the fact that what I was putting into my body was actually doing more harm than good. I took “good” food for granted.

So, maybe I don’t have a miraculous or glowing success story to share with the world, but I have something just as good, or even better: awareness. I’m mindful of everything I put into my body, scrupulous about how food is prepared, and conscious about every bite and sip I take.

Thinking about starting your own Whole30 journey? Start with It Starts with Food. And, as always, I’m here to answer questions about my own experience.