Whenever I told people that I was doing a 30-day detox that cuts out dairy, sugar, gluten, soy, coffee, and alcohol for an entire month, the commons reactions I got were, “what do you even eat?!” or, “do you even eat?!” (I mean, what else is a college student supposed to eat?). But my response to both questions was always, “a lot.” 

But even so, this was not an easy detox—especially with school taking over my life. I had to be mentally prepared to eliminate easily accessible, delicious take-out and cook healthy meals for myself every other day. I knew it was definitely going to be a challenge, but it was a challenge that I succeed in.

Thanks to this 30-day detox, I learned to appreciate food and the energy it brings me. I’m not saying I ate crappy before, but I never particularly tried to eat healthier. I stuck it out and it seems like it's going to become a lifestyle. You’d be surprised to know that delicious, wholesome foods don’t necessarily need any of those ingredients at all! 

These recipes as an example: baked lemon and herb salmon, healthy zucchini chips and twice baked sweet potatoes (minus the Greek yogurt).

shrimp, seafood, fish, salmon
Jocelyn Hsu

So, aside from the obvious side effect of losing weight after cutting all these things out, what else happened? Here's a week-by-week breakdown of what happened after I tried the 30-day detox cleanse:

Week 1: Hunger Issues

I got incredibly hungry the first week. In general when making a change, your body has to get used to not getting easily accessible energy (sugar), and limiting food intake to only when you’re actually hungry, not when you think you’re hungry. I basically had to train my stomach to not be greedy. By the end of this week, my metabolism was going crazy; like going to the restroom five times a day crazy. But hey, it was a sign the detox was working.

Week 2: Withdrawals

vegetable, sweet, cream
Aakanksha Joshi

Did you know that cutting on sugar gives you the same, if not a worse withdrawal effects like giving up cocaine? Both trigger similar responses in the brain. Cutting down on sugar can potentially cause headaches, fatigue and even some mood swings. The good news that kept me going on this detox was that I was halfway to finishing.

Week 3: Sugar Kills

Although I had still had some mood swings, most people don’t. I did notice that my energy reached an all-time high mid-week. This is also when a lot of peers begin to notice changes. I started hearing, “your skin looks so clear," or, “you look so good." This only motivated me more to continue the detox.

Unfortunately, I do have a food science lab that required me to make and taste fudge at this week. Trust me when I say to avoid sugar at all costs during this point into the detox. I had about less than a gram of the sugar and my head was killing me for the rest of the day. My cravings also began to change; I saw a pizza and I got grossed out. It was bittersweet.

Week 4: Accomplished, Healthy, and Happy!

I was feeling good! I lost six pounds just by cutting down these food groups. My body felt stronger, my mind felt clearer, and I didn’t get as tired as I used to. These foods were only an accessory to my diet and definitely weren’t essential.

onion, platter, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, salad, tomato, pepper, carrot, broccoli, vegetable
Luna Zhang

The day after my detox, I tested out what would happen if I had any of these foods again, and my stomach felt heavy. But that’s totally normal.

Coffee seems to give me more energy than before, and sugar still gives me headaches. I still don’t see myself diving back into all these ingredients (except for gluten because it's actually not bad for you), but I’ll eat them in moderation, which I recommend everyone should do. I still don’t fully believe the phrase “you are what you eat," but what you eat does play a huge role in your energy, weight, mind, and skin. So be aware of what's on your plate.