Well, I did it. I can hardly believe it, but I did it! I went mostly sugar free for most of January! Of all the diets and health crazes I’ve tried, this has been the biggest success for me. Maybe because it’s not a diet or health craze; it’s just common sense! Here are my take-aways from my not-so-sweet experience.
1. It wasn’t too difficult. This was the most surprising take-away for me. The first week I felt hungry most of the time, but I made sure I ate a lot to maintain my milk supply. I just didn’t eat sugary things. Then suddenly, the hunger pangs went away, which just goes to show, I wasn’t hungry to begin with! My body told me I was hungry when it really just wanted sugar. Sugar really messes with you!
2. Good begets good. That one little effort of not eating sugar led to me changing my eating habits. I ate more good fats to keep me full: avocados, full fat greek yogurt and eggs by the boatload.
I think I have a future in food photography, don’t you agree? I mean, I make that paper plate and laminate countertop look good.
I also upped my vegetable intake, and (don’t tell them) the veggie intake of the whole family. Being mindful about what I wasn’t putting into my body and why made me more mindful about what I should be putting into my body and why. Its not rocket science, I know, but it was a welcome development for me. See, before I would attempt to make these changes but then I would feel defeated by my daily sugar cravings. Without the sugar cravings distracting me, I could focus properly on eating healthfully.
3. I’m the boss of my diet. When I first was researching sugar detoxes, I found all sorts of gimmicky programs. It was really overwhelming and frustrating. Wasn’t the idea to simply not eat sugar? But sugar is technically in everything! Some programs called for eliminating fruit, honey, maple sugar and carbs and anything with even trace amounts of sugar in them. I’m such a goody-goody; I worried that if I didn’t do these programs to a T that it would all be a waste and my sugar cravings wouldn’t budge and inch. I worried that if I had a little honey in my tea the heavens would open up and God would bellow “Fail!!”
Eventually I resolved to give it a shot anyway, but to do things my way. And my way was to allow natural forms of sugar like fruit, honey and maple syrup. I also would eat things that contained sugar, as long as it wasn’t a predominantly sugary food. I did get into reading labels more (which is so obnoxious, I know) but now I have better knowledge of what contains sugar. Newsflash: a lot of things contain sugar!
Oh, and I drank wine and occasionally beer. I ain’t crazy! Real sacrifice is for Lent!
4. There was an end in sight. The whole month I had the mouthwatering goal of my birthday cake to work towards. Not only was it the dangling carrot that I needed to keep me motivated, but just the thought of turning 30 and entering that new chapter of adulthood was enough to keep me focused on improving my health and striving for an adult relationship with food. It’s still a work in progress, but I feel like I made great strides this month.
Furthermore, it was good to take this break from sugar, knowing that it wasn’t for forever. That’s always been my biggest hangup with diets. You starve yourself to be skinny and then… you eat again and the dreaded cycle continues? It’s so discouraging! Like I said in my initial post, I love food. I love sugar. I love to bake. I’m not going to throw that away, it’s not a bad thing! The bad thing was I was addicted to the sugar. It’s a powerful, addicting substance and it’s not good for you in big daily quantities! My goal was to kick my cravings and dependency so that I can enjoy the occasional treat without guilt.
5. I lost 5 pounds! It doesn’t sound like much, but keeping in mind a. I did not cut down on my food intake at all and was constantly eating to make sure I had enough milk for Gus and b. I was already below my pre-pregnancy weight, I’m pretty stoked that I lost weight at all!
It would be a bald-faced lie to say I wasn’t trying to lose weight. I’m your typical vain woman; I’m always looking for a way to lose a little weight and feel better about myself. But I can honestly say that I’ve slowly let go of my obsession with those pesky numbers on the scale and on the tags of my clothes. I’ve put too much stock in those numbers in the past. I’ve let those numbers ruin my mood and shatter my resolve to be healthy. It’s so discouraging to work hard and feel better physically but those numbers taunt you and tell you that you’re still a “fatty”. It’s so unhealthy! My worth is not in my pants size. As much as it breaks my heart, I know my daughter will probably have these same struggles in her adolescence and young adulthood but that’s why it’s so important to me that I work to conquer these struggles in myself.
6. My work is not done. Going forward, I hope to mostly keep to my no sugar resolve. I’m aiming for 70-80% no sugar as my norm. I think a key to staying on track is not making sugar a daily thing again. I don’t know about you, but I used to be one of those people who needed a “little treat” pretty much daily and I didn’t see anything wrong with that. I’m pretty sure that was my downfall. I mean, I don’t even let my toddler have sugar every day. She gets a “special donut treat” after Mass on Sunday and that’s her big sugar bomb of the week. I need to hold myself to the same standards.
I know there are going to be seasons when I fall off the bandwagon completely. Valentine’s Day…
Easter, Halloween, Christmas, parties, rough times… it’s just life! But experiencing this success will help me in the future in getting back on track. That’s just how I am. I resist trying new and scary things. I tried getting into running for years before I actually succeeded. It was hard and I always gave up, but when I finally stuck with it after Sara was born, it was a huge boost to my self-esteem. Getting back on that bandwagon after Gus was born was tough, but I had the memory of success in the past to motivate me. And I finally got back into shape and ran a 5K this past December.
7. If I can do it, so can you? Well, I honestly don’t know. But if I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that it’s worth a shot. Maybe you don’t have a problem with sugar. Maybe you already eat healthfully and exercise daily. But maybe there’s another area of your life that you need to work on. Maybe you’re scared to start because you’re afraid to fail. Or you’re lazy. I am both! I’m just saying, it’s worth a shot. Face your demons, take that first step, don’t get discouraged and try try again.
Well, that’s 7 things, so I’m going to call it a “Quick Takes” (SNORT!) and link up with Kelly and the other quicker takers at This Ain’t the Lyceum. Happy Friday!