Notes From My Personal Sugar Rehab

As of 1st April I officially went off refined sugar for a month. So no white, brown or silver stuff, juices nor fructose substitutes. For the sake of exercise I did not replace it with sweeteners and I tried to limit naturally occurring sugars such as honey. I made these notes to keep a record of my own, private scientific project. Looking back, I feel like saying: what a difference a month can make…

Day 1

Hate my coffee! (fyi my usual coffee would be a latte with a spoon of sugar). Suddenly realized that I was snacking more frequently than admitting to myself. As I am fully aware of the beginning of the ban, I seem to be slightly obsessed, thinking about sugar, checking if I feel like having something sweet, scanning for foods I could or shouldn’t have. Feels like proper withdrawal symptoms.

Day 2

Forced myself to finish my coffee. Missing the sugar kick. Treated myself to a date, or two. Discovery of the day: mayonnaise and pate have sugar! My husband dug into the pack of MY cashew-coconut sugar free cookies. Almost bit his head off.

Day 5

Need to be creative about snacks between the meals. Carrot suddenly seems very sweet. Thinking about Coca Cola makes me dreamy. Watched my daughter dip her fries in ketchup with jealously.

Day 7

Oh no, by mistake I licked my finger while preparing a toast with jam! It tasted goooooooood. Coffee is actually drinkable

Day 10

Crisis: sleep deprivation makes me realize how often I used sugar to give me a boost. I miss the highs but notice that there are no lows either. The effect of sugar-free coffee is very different as well – it does wake me up, but the boost is milder and as it wears off it does not push me over the edge. Especially on days like this sweet coffee used to make me fully awake but anxious. And while the effect would wear off, the alertness would be gone but anxiety would stay till… I would eat something.

Day 12

Tried to be healthy and prepare a green smoothie. Lesson number one: do not just throw stuff into the blender thinking it will be ok. It might not be ok. It might be …disgusting 🙂  And you might eat half of it out of guilt while the other half end up in the sink. Becoming obsessed with finding healthy recipes for those magical dry fruit and nut little balls. Drooling while researching.

Day 15

If you see smears of brownish substance in my kitchen, no worries, it should be (I repeat, it should be) from home made walnut, pure cocoa and date pralines. First DEFCON refined sugar crisis under control. Never underestimate the power of hormones. Today learned when they say “blender” in the recipe, they mean blender. They do not mean liquidizer.

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Photo by A. Freda

Day 17

When deciding on the sugar-free month I completely forgot that my daughter’s birthday was bang in the middle of it. I considered it was my “duty” to have a piece of cake. The first two spoons were like… heaven. I sort of expected that pleasure to build up and last till the last crumb however the 3rd spoon brought a disappointment: instead of continuous pleasure it very quickly became too much. I actually did not finish it. Not sure if I should be happy 😉

Day 21

Sticking with it, but as novelty has worn out a bit… I must admit: I REALLY MISS MY SUGAR!!! Weirdly coffee is ok, but I can tell you Lady Grey tea is not the same without a spoon of the evil thing. On the positive note, it seems that I am eating much better. With the sugary snacks most of the garbage food is out of limits. I do not see immediate changes as yet, but I somehow feel my body is grateful. I have not checked my weight, but I seem stronger. However, whatever… I STILL MISS MY SUGAR.

Day 25

When I eat out now I notice that I watch people eat their lunch and talk to them in my head. Something along the lines of: do you know what you are loading into your system? A slight obsession someone might say… Some people at work probably already find me annoying. Hopefully ‘funny annoying’ not ‘eye-roll annoying’.

Day 28

According to my husband I am officially broken: I immediately sniff out if bread, salty crackers or cheese spread have added sugar in it. As my pallet is clean now the taste is recognized immediately and I actually feel the little light in my brain starts flashing: sweeeeet.

SO WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? 🙂

On my first day off the hook I did have my toast with jam for breakfast on purpose. And I did enjoy it. However I did not enjoy the sugar low afterwards accompanied by high level of crankiness. I treated myself to my favorite two-pack of integral cookies covered with chocolate at the end of the day. I did well during my Sugar-Free Month, so I felt like celebrating. You won’t believe how upset I was when I struggled to finish the first one and actually did not eat the second one, because they were… too sweet! What can I say? I am not going to be religious about it, I will enjoy chocolate from time to time and have some apple juice when I feel like it. But certain things have changed forever. First of all I see how easily my brain triggers the award system and actually encourages me to give in and enjoy sweet stuff. At the same time I feel now how it rushes through my body as if pushing the fast forward button, which inevitably leads to a crash afterwards.

I am happy because during that month I gained my missing two kilos. Yes, I know, nowadays few people admit that they actually want to put on weight. How dare I?!? 😛 For quite some time I simply did not feel right. Sleep deprivation, work and home duties had me drained to the core. I was using quick fixes to keep me going but their nutritional value was next to nothing. I did not just remove sugar but I replaced it with healthier alternatives and somehow I feel my body and temper found their new balance, which feels really good.

In the end I don’t think there is a way back for me. I read too many scientific articles and popular science books while doing my private scientific project, to return to my previous eating habits. It is hard to believe how we got it all wrong with nutrition for the last 30 years.  I got into a habit of reading labels, checking what I actually feed my family with. I feel much more in control of what we eat and I am officially petrified by what fills the shelves of our supermarkets.

On the dark side as a consequence I have almost given up on tea: I decided it was time to stop fooling myself, I hate tea without sugar 😀

And I do have to admit that softening my character will need a bit more than giving up sweets…

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Photo by Delfi de la Rua

One comment

  1. Well, I think it was a really good experience for you to do that “sugar-off month”. I do now actually the same thing, and I haven’t eaten sugar since 2 weeks, but now I decided to do more and now I eat only one sort of fruit a day. My thoughts are much often with sugar as before now 😦 But I hope I’ll survive, because I already lost weight:-)

    Like

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