Nine Hacks for a Successful 21DSD

Hey Folks! We're excited to welcome Certified 21DSD Coach Katie Leadbetter. Katie's article is part of a series contributed by our Certified 21DSD Coaches. Enjoy! – Diane and Team

A nutrition client of mine mentioned that she really wanted to do The 21-Day Sugar Detox, but she doesn’t really cook and she thought it would be way too much work for her. That’s “the thing” that holds many people back from committing to the 21DSD. Just imagining the time, the work, and the effort of cooking for three weeks can be very stressful for people.

To help ease the anxiety of embarking on the 21DSD, I’ve compiled a list of hacks for completing a successful 21DSD.

1. Diane has said it many times and so have other coaches, but I’ll say it again: participate in the 21DSD with a buddy.

Spouse, parent, child, friend, or neighbor, it'll be much more motivating than going it alone.

2. Don’t skip the meal planning.

When you have planned your weekly meals ahead of time, success is much easier. We intentionally start the 21 DSD on a Monday so that you can go grocery shopping and do some meal prepping on the weekend beforehand.

3. Also, don’t skip the meal prepping.

All of my most successful “healthy eating weeks” were successful because I spent time on the weekend cooking 1-2 meals, cutting veggies, reviewing recipes, etc. This is true for everyone that I encounter.

4. Try some recipes from the guidebook and cookbook before starting the detox.

Find a few favorites and work out the kinks. This will help to ensure a smoother 21DSD.

5. It's no secret that grocery shopping on Sunday is NUTS! But there are great ways to save time buying groceries.

These grocery-shopping hacks will free up time for you to spend prepping and cooking meals. If you aren't used to cooking most of your own meals, this step will be HUGE!

  • Use online grocery stores. Depending on the app or site, these services are essentially the same as shopping at regular grocery stores. You choose your groceries online and they are shipped right to your door. Some offer only pantry items and it can take about 3-5 days to arrive. Others deliver fresh groceries (produce, dairy, eggs, meat, etc.) in coolers on a date and time that you specify. Certain online stores are only available in certain areas, but it’s fairly likely that you have at least one of these available to you. Most offer free shipping for the first order and/or free shipping at a certain price point. It’s also worth mentioning that some carry more 21-Day Sugar Detox friendly foods than others. Do a Google search for “grocery delivery” to find a service near you. (My personal favorites are Good Eggs, Thrive Market, and One Stop Paleo Shop).
    • 21DSD-Coach-Guest-Post-Square-Leadbetter-NineHacksThrive Market
    • Grub Market
    • One Stop Paleo Shop
    • Barefoot Provisions
    • Good Eggs
    • Instacart
    • Peapod
    • AmazonFresh
    • Envoy (
    • Shipt
    • HomeShop
    • Alberton’s
    • Safeway
    • Walmart
  • Join a weekly CSA. Have fresh, local fruits and veggies delivered to your door. This is another great option to help save time. Local Harvest is a helpful website for finding the right CSA for you.
6. Use a meal delivery service.

There are several great options that could be used for those nights when you just don’t have time to cook.

  • Balanced Bites offers 21DSD-approved meals delivered right to your door. There are many additional Paleo meal delivery services including Premade Paleo, Paleo Diet Delivered, Paleo Delivers, Paleo on the Go, Meal Made, and Trifecta.
  • Restaurant delivery services like DoorDash will deliver a meal from nearby restaurants. Ordering a bunless burger or a Thai curry dish would make for a stress-free meal. Again, there are many options for restaurant delivery; a quick Google search will help you find one that delivers near you.
  • Meal-in-a-box delivery options like Sun Basket deliver the recipe and all the ingredients for you to cook yourself. They offer Paleo options and showcase sustainably-raised and non-GMO products. There are many other companies like this and most offer some items that would be 21DSD compliant–check ingredient lists to make sure!
7. Dine out…but prepare!
  • Avoid being starving. I always have some snacks at my desk, in my car, or in my purse. This will keep you from being tempted to eat the free bread. Better yet – tell your server not to bring any bread to the table. [BTW – If you're always starving, you may want to up your fat and starchy vegetable intake.]
  • Look at the menu ahead of time. Have a game plan for a couple of options of what you can eat at that restaurant (and know what you'll have to ask them to remove). I always ask for double veggies instead of rice. Don't be afraid to ask for what you need. Servers are more than willing to be accommodating as long as you ask nicely!
  • Avoid choosing the restaurant that serves your favorite [insert non-21DSD food here]. If you love and cannot resist pasta, don't go to Maggiano's or The Old Spaghetti Factory. If you love and cannot resist fries and a milkshake, avoid going to The Counter.
8. If cooking and meal prepping are new to you or you're just feeling BUSY and overwhelmed, here are a few hacks:
  • Buy the pre-cut veggies at the store.
  • Buy pre-spiralized squash at Whole Foods! (Zoodles + Diane’s Bolognese recipe anyone?!?).
  • Buy a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods.
  • Buy Balanced Bites Spice Blends and transform simple meat & veggies into robust and flavorful gourmet meals without having to use recipes or measure out multiple spices!
  • Smoked Salmon makes a quick and easy meal! (ready to eat from Trader Joe's or Whole foods).
  • Buy the pre-washed lettuce and salad fixings for quick and easy salads.
  • Crockpot meals!! Throw your food into the crockpot before work and go!
  • Pressure Cooker Meals!!! Salsa chicken anyone? The chicken is ready in less than 20 minutes!
  • Use a food processor for quick chopping of a bunch of veggies. It may not look as pretty, but it’s QUICK and the size of the chop is consistent to ensure even cooking.
  • Cook in bulk. I ALWAYS cook enough for leftovers. My bare minimum goal is four meals from every recipe (i.e. dinner and lunch the next day for both my husband and I). But usually I try for even more meals than four.
  • Soups. They are easy to make, they're healthy, and they provide 6+ meals. Trader Joe’s has a pre-cut mirepoix (celery, carrots, and onions) which provides the perfect base for almost any soup. You can also make soup BEFORE the detox and freeze it!
  • Chicken can be quickly and easily shredded in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. I have a quick video on my YouTube page.
  • Chop your veggies, add some grass-fed butter, and roast them at 375 degrees until tender. This is quick, easy, and my FAVORITE way to cook veggies.
  • When I'm feeling overwhelmed with too much to cook and do in the evening, I choose the quickest dinner possible out of the available options and I get that chopped, prepared, and cooking. While tonight's dinner is cooking, I ALWAYS do some additional food prep/cooking for future meals in the week. [Just continue working in the kitchen until dinner is done cooking.] Whether it is just cutting up veggies for salads the next day or prepping my salmon to roast in the oven.
[Side note: I'm ALWAYS listening to a Balanced Bites Podcast or an Audible audiobook while I’m cooking, food prepping, or on kitchen clean up duty. I feel much more productive if I'm chopping and “reading” or washing dishes and “reading”.]
9. When you're feeling like quitting, remember these two things:
  • It's only three weeks. You can literally do anything for three weeks. 🙂
  • Don't focus on the things that you are giving up. Instead, focus on what you gain: freedom from body pains and problems, control over food, and health.
Don't hesitate to reach out for help. You can do this and we’re all here to help you!

Katie Ledbetter headshotKatie is enthusiastic about helping people maintain health and vitality through whole-foods based nutrition, customized supplementation, and wellness coaching. Katie is a graduate of Bauman College Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts. She is a certified Nutrition Consultant. She is skilled in gluten-free and paleo-centered cuisines. She leads regular monthly 21-Day Sugar Detox groups. She is a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP) and the Weston A. Price Foundation. As a private Nutrition Consultant, she is focused on working one-on-one with clients to improve their digestion and balance their blood sugar through diet analysis, cooking and shopping instruction, and individualized dietary and nutrient recommendations. Katie has been following a paleo diet and has been gluten-free since 2012. She practices yoga, hikes, swims, runs, and cycles. She is also a Breast Cancer survivor. She and her husband, Jim, live in Santa Clara, CA, with their boxers Jax and Zoe. Katie can be reached at or [email protected].

Comments 12

  1. Is it too late to join the Sept detox group? I do not have the books but can order them. —most importantly, I had gastric bypass 12/2012 and have kept all but 10 pounds off (which I am trying to lose). Do you have experience with gastric bypass clients? My needs are a little different than your average client.
    Thanks Katie!

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  2. Hi!
    I’m wondering about homemade versus bought&prepared almond milk. The book says to make your own but what about an unsweetened almond milk from the grocery store like the brand Silk. Thanks !

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      Hi Jackie! Homemade is usually best since it will be only almonds and water. However, there are some brands that have few (if any) additives or sweeteners. If you are considering a store-bought brand of unsweetened almond milk, just check the ingredients to make sure that none of them are on the “no” lists.

  3. Awesome idea for shredding chicken, I never would have thought of that. I associate my stand mixer with all the sugary treats I’ve made over the years. How do you suggest cooking the chicken before shredding?

    1. Hi Jen! I got the tip from a friend and it literally changed my life! Sometimes I just bake the chicken, allow it to cool a bit, and then shred it. When I am making a paleo chicken tortilla soup, the chicken breasts get cooked along with the veggies in the bone broth. I just pull them out of the soup and shred them with the mixer. 🙂

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      Hi Jennifer!

      Do you have The 21-Day Sugar Detox guidebook? That has some great tips for preparing ahead of time. You can also preorder the new 21-Day Sugar Detox Daily Guide.

      Here are some more blog posts about planning and preparation, both of which are key to a successful 21DSD.

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