Sugar? What Sugar?

If you remember, a couple of weeks ago I told you all that I had had a couple days of sugar overdose lately and needed to take a little bit of a time out. Well, time out I have, and let me tell you, it has actually been glorious.

It’s now been two weeks that I’ve avoided all “added sugar”, and yes, that includes sweeteners such as honey, agave, etc. because sugar is sugar, people. I have, however, still been eating fruit, in fact at first I was craving it like there’s no tomorrow, but other than that it really has been surprisingly easy.

Confessional time:

But to be perfectly honest, the two weeks has not been 100% sugar free. I cheated twice (intentionally), but I’ll explain why. The first was for Will’s father’s 70th birthday celebration last weekend. I had done a faithful week of no sugar, and honestly wasn’t having any sugar cravings, but at the birthday party there was ice cream cake. So I had about half of a small piece, because HELLO, ice cream cake!  The following day, I was at an awards dinner with one of my colleagues. Honestly, the only reason I had any of the dessert wasn’t even because I wanted it, it was because  I kind of felt weird being the only person at our table at this fancy dinner that wasn’t touching their dessert. So I had literally about two bites of a delicious chocolate mousse cake.

ice cream cake

There’s just something about ice cream cake… 

I did feel a little bit guilty after these two “cheats”, but not because of what I had eaten.  I really just felt guilty because I was cheating on my own challenge. Oh, the shame!  I guess in the grand scheme of things though, a few bites of decadent morsels over a two week period is really nothing to write home about.  I think it’s also important to note that as long as it’s not going to throw you into the depths of a sugar binge, having a few bites of something “off plan” is not going to derail your efforts all that much.

The funny thing is, I would have expected that I would have gone absolutely crazy at the opportunity to have sugar on both of those occasions, but it was actually the exact opposite that happened. When I took a bite, I noticed how sweet they were, appreciated the flavors, but had a very easy time saying “no” to anymore than a couple of bites. Instead of gorging myself on sweets like I had heading into this little challenge, I was satisfied with just a small amount.

It’s funny, because before this, I didn’t think that I ate much sugar at all. But I think that I ate just enough sugar to have it be a fairly constant (although small) part of my diet, so my taste buds were just accustomed to it. So when it came to something truly sweet, it was almost as though I had to eat more of it to really appreciate it.

Now, without any added sugar on a daily basis, my taste buds are much more responsive to it. Just a little bit is good, and too much is, well, too much.

The best part about this whole thing though? Is that I haven’t even really had any sugar cravings at all. The first five days or so I had an inexplicable salt craving, but even that has gone away. Sure, there has been a few times where I’ve wanted some chocolate, but it’s been fleeting and nothing strong enough to call a craving. The other day, someone brought cupcakes into the office, and I didn’t even want one for a second.

Take away the consistent stream of sugar in your system, however insignificant it is, and your body easily forgets how much it wants it. It’s like I’m free from something that I didn’t even know had a hold of me.

Strange, but I’ll take it.

The only negative has been something that I think is related to the sugar, but I can’t be 100% sure. On Wednesday of each of the past two weeks (after having sugar over the weekend, and then none going into the week), I have felt tired, lethargic, and had the worst headache I can remember. This past Wednesday, I was positive that I was getting sick, and I felt like I probably had the plague or something equally as terrible. The next day though? I Woke up feeling fine both times. The only correlation I can find between the two is that they were both a few days after cutting out added sugar. The one thing that makes me question it though, is that my body was technically still getting “sugar”, although it was through apples and bananas, not honey in my morning yogurt. So was it the lack of sugar that made me feel like the plague after 3 days each week, or was it just a fluke that I felt equally crappy on the same day two weeks in a row?

It’s certainly something to ponder. Maybe I should do it again just to test the theory, although I’m not sure I can handle going through that headache again.

So now, it’s been two weeks with a few bites of dessert in the middle. What now? I’m going to keep going in general, but am going to allow added sugar back in on a very limited basis without stressing about it. A special occasion, the occasional special treat, but not every day. Not nearly every day. I’m going to keep the honey out of my yogurt bowl in the morning, and also the brown sugar out of my oatmeal. Candy around the office or dessert after the staff meeting? No thanks. Those things are really just unnecessary. If I want dessert a couple times per week, Ok, but without overdoing it. But you better believe that when I do have dessert, or a croissant from my favorite bakery, I’m going to savor and enjoy every morsel of it! I might even try to commit to doing a couple weeks of strict “no sugar added” every couple months or so, just for the heck of it.

Have you ever kept track of how much added sugar you eat per day? Do you count honey, agave, etc. in your added sugar total?

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22 thoughts on “Sugar? What Sugar?

  1. I loved your take on how sugar can somehow take a ‘hold’ on you, without even knowing it. And from someone who has a sweet tooth like I do, I know exactly what you mean. 😉 I had to force myself to cut out any processed sugar when I was trying to lose weight and drank purely freshly brewed green tea and water for months. Through hydrating myself, I slowly didn’t even want any “added” sugar in my food, cos my body felt so nourished and ‘light’ on the good stuff.

    Now that I’ve managed to get a hold of my sugar cravings, I do allow myself a dark choc here and there, with more indulgent desserts every few weeks. Rationing my sugar intake has allowed me not stop craving it, and actually made me appreciate desserts even more. So, everything in moderation and no more binges! 🙂

  2. I was a bit taken aback by this- sugar is my Achilles heel. I love LoVe LOVE sugar. I also love to bake and am very- too good at it. I’d be afraid to count how much I intake haha. Today I’ve been pretty bad already about it and I’ve only been up 3 hours…
    Kudos for doing as well as you have!
    My friend has been reading a book about healthy eating and said that cravings are your body’s way of telling you about a chemical insufficiency/imbalance. So when you crave sugar- eat fruit. She did not tell me what to eat when you crave salt…. Maybe nuts? I’m not sure. I actually have no problem with salt… I hate it.
    Spinach seems pretty salty naturally when it’s cooked? So maybe that too would be good- I actually love spinach 😀

    • I have a major sweet tooth too, and also really love to bake!! Baking is actually my specialty, not regular cooking, but I only really bake things when I have somewhere to being them, because if I have them in the house I’ll eat all of whatever it is! And yes, fruit has been my savior, although I don’t want to go overboard on that either!

  3. I’m so glad you have felt such positive changes by going “sugar free”. It was seriously the best thing I have done for my body! While my tummy troubles aren’t perfect (getting there) since eliminating nearly all added-sugar (honey is still good for me) I have had more energy, way less digestion issues and a better complexion. It’s funny how our palettes and taste buds change… now I crave dates with peanut butter rather than molten lava cakes… but let’s be real if there’s a molten lava cake infront of me a few bites is more than necessary and super satisfying! Happy Monday Steph, hoping all else is well.

    • I really do feel so much better without it on a regular basis! I have spent years trying to figure out my tummy troubles (blog post coming soon), and have made the recent realization that PB may be a culprit for me, which is a HUGE bummer. After reading about all of the foods that you’re giving up though, I know I can easily find a way around that one, even though it is truly one of my favorite foods!

  4. It’s so true that the less sugar you eat, the less you crave it. Unfortunately for me, the opposite is also true, so I’ve been in a cycle of sugar cravings lately! Chocolate after my meals, baked goods from Kelly’s Bake Shop, fro yo, lattes, leftover wedding cake from another intern… my sweet tooth is on full force! I might try to deliberately cut back a bit soon… but I’m going to wait until after Thanksgiving. 😛

  5. I’ve found that if I start my day off with protein/and or fat it’s a million times easier to stay off sugar and avoid cravings all day. If I have fresh or dried fruit then I just need more and more as the day wears on. I do my best, but between 230-300pm I am very vulnerable!

    • Absolutely! If I start my day off with eggs or another good protein/fat source, I don’t feel the need to snack all afternoon. When I start off with a sweeter breakfast (which unfortunately is what I prefer), I feel like I get hungry every two hours!

  6. What great insight into the infamous sugar debacle. I don’t have added sugars and since cutting it out, I have learnt to appreciate the natural sweetness of fruit so much more- It mystifies me when people add bananas AND stevia/sweetener to oatmeal. Even with baked goods I try and rely on the fruit for the sweetness. Something I’ve noticed though is with artificial sweeteners- cut them out and you’re fine, but have one taste and its like BOOM- full throttle need to have more!

    • I know, for a while I was adding banana and brown sugar to my oatmeal, but now since I’ve cut the brown sugar out of it, it’s like the banana flavor is even better! I think if I put the sugar back in now it would taste too sweet. I try to stay as far away as possible from artificial sweeteners too… I always taste an aftertaste, even with stevia, and none of them seem to agree with my stomach!

  7. For me, it’s easier to eat less sugar when I’m thinking about what my body needs–ESPECIALLY now that I’m pregnant. I still eat a small handful of hot tamales or something like that every day because I enjoy it and don’t believe in depriving myself of things I love (especially after having recovered from an eating disorder). However, I find myself now craving what’s best for our baby girl–that’s usually a whole lot of fruit and protein.

    It’s amazing to me how much your mindset affects your feelings and behaviors (hence, as a counselor, my love of cognitive behavioral therapy)!

    • Great point! Mindset definitely plays a huge part in this, and when people really learn to listen to their bodies, what they eat is generally much different and much more nourishing. Congratulations on your pregnancy, and keep eating those hot tamales, a little bit here and there is good for the soul!

  8. Thanks for the inspiration and sharing! I gave up sugar for 2 weeks last year and it changed my life! I became more energized and calmer and I no longer am hooked on sugar. I think I am going to do the cleanse again- see where it takes me this time.

  9. Great point. I think we all get more sugar than we realize. One of the biggest surprises is the amount of sugar in supposedly healthy energy bars. Yikes! 18 to 22 g on many of them. Thanks for the great post 🙂

  10. Aaaahhhh! Sugar! It’s certainly my drug of choice. Your words resonated with me as I’ve had similar experiences within the evolution of my palate. We’re quite capable of deconstructing cravings and altering our taste buds. I’ve generally had the most dramatic results when I practice 30 month elimination challenges. Such challenges have led to a gradual appreciation of simplistic, unadulterated flavors. Quality post!

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