I have to say i’m very impressed with myself. On July 1, 2012, I started on an 8-week program of attempting to eat not only no sugar, but also nothing sweet at all (i.e. no Diet Coke, no fruit, no stevia, etc.). The first few weeks were tough. There were points where I thought that I would chew my arm off in the hopes that my blood was sweet. I would get frustrated at the drop of a hat, and don’t get me started on the headaches and general grumpiness.
Anyone who tells you that sugar is not addictive is living in a dreamworld, or they have completely different metabolism than I do. For me, sugar (and to some extent anything sweet) seems to result in this intense need to eat more and more and more and more and more.
I think the cravings were the worst. I would be doing something else, anything else, and suddenly I would think “what I really need right now is some chocolate.” Before this experiment, I would just head into the kitchen at that first thought and look for chocolate – or if we didn’t have anything chocolate, something sweet of any kind. But this summer, at the first thought I would then stop myself, and search to answer what it was I was really wanting. In many cases, this search would result in the whiny brat inside me starting to whine and cry and say “I don’t want anything else, I want CHOCOLATE!!!” There were some nights were I would completely miss the plot of whatever movie or tv show I was watching that night because all I could think about was the sugar I wasn’t eating.
It sucks to feel that out of control.
The second week is when the headaches started. I was waking up every morning with a migraine. The only thing that kept me from throwing in the towel right then was the knowledge that too much sugar has triggered migraines for me, so I was fairly confident that it wasn’t the lack that was generating these headaches. My husband pointed out that I had been drinking 1-3 cans of diet coke a day prior to this experiment, and perhaps I was addicted to caffeine.
He is a genius!
I now drink cafe au lait all the time (iced because it’s hot), or at least my version of cafe au lait which is:
1/2 cup regular coffee
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups ice
Pour all ingredients into a 20oz iced coffee cup (I use my stainless steel cup with stainless steel straw), stir, and drink. If it’s too bitter, add more milk.
My son loves to make the coffee for me. Who needs a coffee maker on a timer when your kid will do it for you?
I knew that this wouldn’t be possible to do 100% perfectly, and unsurprisingly I did lapse. What does surprise me is that the lapses didn’t come until week 6 or 7. Right around then, I caught a really bad cold, and for two days the only way I could get to sleep was to drink a hot toddy
1 T honey
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 shot irish whiskey
boiling water to fill a mug
Pour honey, lemon juice and whiskey in a mug, fill the mug with boiling water. Stir to mix (don’t forget this step, if you do the first few gulps will be almost unbearably sour, followed by sweet so intense you think your teeth will fall out).
I drank this toddy one night and one morning while I had the cold. I’m not sure there’s any evidence that it really helps a cold, but man, the whiskey means that you don’t care!
Then, on August 18th, Mark and I went to the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire. My parents were up for the week, and they babysat for us so that we could celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary together. The faire was a lot of fun, but I decided before we got there that if there was something sweet that I really wanted, I was going to have it, and not worry about my experiment.
When we started getting hungry we looked at the food vendors, and I finally settled on a dry-rub BBQ sandwich. I don’t know if there was sugar in it, it wasn’t sweet tasting, but there might have been. There were other things that definitely were sweet like kettle corn and chocolate dipped fruit. None of this really called to me.
Side note: you should realize that that last sentence is amazing in itself. I used to eat kettle corn as a matter of course, it was like a sweet grazing food for me. I could no more pass up a fresh kettle corn booth than I could stop breathing.
There was a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream stand which looked mildly appealing, but all I really wanted was my sandwich and pickle. Later on in the afternoon, when it started to get blazing hot (which for those of you not from the Seattle area means it was probably around 80°) the ice cream started to sound good. So I went and checked out the flavors. Pre-experiment Jenn would have just gone straight for the chocolate and been done deciding, but this time I looked at all the flavors and really thought about it, and finally chose Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz, in a waffle cone. It was very good. I really enjoyed my ice cream.
It is cruel of B&J to only sell this flavor in their stores, as the closest store is 12 miles away. But I suppose this is for the best. I’m unlikely to drive 12 miles to get a scoop of ice cream (and don’t you be telling me that I could get them to pack a pint, I am happy pretending that isn’t an option!), so I’m unlikely to feel the need to have a ton of ice cream. Right now, it’s something that I could have if it were hot and I felt like it or I could leave if I didn’t feel like it.
This is a good feeling. Sugar doesn’t control me.
I’m Going to Continue
But I’m not going to be quite so rigid about no sugar. For instance, today I picked 12 cups or more of blackberries from our back yard, and a blackberry pie is cooling on my stove as we speak. I’m probably going to have a piece tonight, but then again, I might not. And I’m okay with that.
I’m going to stick with a bagel for weekend breakfast splurges, instead of donuts. Because I realized that I really do like the bagels (with cream cheese or organic peanut butter – yum!) better. But I am going to allow myself to drink a diet coke or two a week. I had one last night, and it wasn’t as good as I remember it. It wasn’t bad, but the all consuming desire for it was not warranted.
I’ll also start eating some low-sugar fruit. Yes, I know timing that decision with the start of fall when most fruit is out of season is pretty stupid. But at least I’ll have blackberries coming out the wazoo. Our goats like to eat them, but there’s only so many blackberry canes four goats can eat, so I still have plenty for pies. I might even try making my own jam. Who knows!
I do know that I like not eating sugar a lot more than I liked being a slave to jelly bellies.