For the past 3 months I’ve been eating pretty terribly, and I’ve blamed stress for all my choices. I was feeling pretty bad, not fitting into my clothes, and depending on sugar for pick-me-ups throughout the day. It got to the point where sugary treats didn’t even taste very good anymore, and like I could never have enough to satisfy me. It’s time for a change, so I decided I needed to adopt a no sugar diet, this time for the indefinite future.
I am in no way saying that I think everyone should go off sugar. I’ve tried moderating my sugar intake, and I’m pretty terrible at it. It’s easier for my brain to say no, than to try to do sugar once a week or something like that. Gretchen Ruben says that people fall into two camps when it comes to self control: Moderators and Abstainers. She even has a quiz you can take to determine which one you are.
I really wish I was a moderator. My mom went years moderating her sugar intake by having one square of Ghirardelli chocolate every day. I wish I could do that! However, every time I try moderating, I start justifying more and more, and soon I get totally out of control. So, if you are good at moderating, by all means, keep it up! I’m super jealous, but I’ve learned that I am a much better abstainer. There’s no stretching or justifying my rules when you abstain. No just means no. For my overworked mom brain, this just works the best for me,
Anyway, I told myself that once we left Nebraska and got to Utah I would make some health changes. Transitions are a great time to make a habit change, so I decided to capitalize on this time of change and try to form some new habits. Also, I’ve gone without sugar for several long periods before so I knew better what to expect this time around.
My health rules for myself:
- No intentional sugar. (This means no dessert, and to try to reduce sugar intake in everyday life.)
- No white flour. Eat whole grains moderately.
- Start walking or exercising daily.
No sugar results: How I felt One week in:
The first week without sugar was really, really hard. It’s really helpful if you know this going into it. I started on Monday, and just felt pretty crappy most of the week. My energy level was low because my body was used to all the sugar fixes as pick me ups. Saturday I finally started feeling really good. I felt less bloated, and had a whole lot more energy.
I’m still having sugar cravings, especially when I am anxious, nervous or stressed. I’m learning to recognize them for what they are, since I can’t rely on my peanut butter M&M’s to push down my emotions any more! My cravings get really bad at night, and I get so antsy for a treat. A couple nights I had graham crackers and milk (which tasted amazing, by the way) because I just had to have something!
I did okay with my exercise plan. I’m still babying my feet since I got plantar fasciitis last year from running so much, so after walking 3 miles one day, and 2 miles the next, my feet were needing a break. So, I tried mixing it up with some simple strength workouts in the basement with my 12 year old son— he’s trying to get in shape for football season—how cool is that? Then, I tried doing some laps in my mother-in-laws’ neighborhood pool. (I bought my first swim cap, and I looked so awesome in it that I laughed out loud!) Overall, I think I did pretty good. My goal was to just up my movement, and that’s what I did.
Okay, on to my tips:
6 Tips to ensure your success when you are giving up sugar
- Focus on what you can have, not what you can’t. Spend time at the grocery store looking for new produce to try. Learn about the health benefits of different foods, and think about how good and delicious all the whole foods are.
- Do it out of love for your body, not because you hate your body. I had a couple days when I spent too much time looking in the mirror, thinking about how bloated and gross I looked and felt. This just made me want to make bad choices. When I thought about my body and all the amazing things it allows me to do, it became easier to make good choices.
- Tell people you aren’t eating sugar. Find someone to do it with you if you can. Being accountable makes it so much easier to have success.
- Find healthy treats to swap for your normal sugar fixes. You will have crazy sugar cravings, and you need to be ready for them. Have ingredients for a few healthy “treat” recipes on hand. I have a few go-to recipes that feel like a treat. Chocolate peanut butter protein shake, mango banana smoothie, or my current default: graham crackers and milk. (Even though graham crackers are probably not the most perfect choice, I think about how far I’ve come. How much better for me it is have a few of those with a glass of milk, than an ice cream sundae, candy or other crap that I had been bingeing on.)
- Have healthy and easy snacks on hand for when you get hungry: I am most likely to eat unhealthy, or binge on sugar when I’m hungry. If I’m ready with some easy snacks, I’m much less likely to mess up my eating plan. (See my post, Healthy snacks for busy moms for ideas)
- Don’t quit when you slip up. Several times I catch myself just grabbing the rest of my kids’ PB and J on white bread, or the kids’ cookies. I’m realizing as I type this thatI have a problem with eating the kids’ food without thinking! Anyway, when I slip up, I just say, “oops,” recognize what I am doing, and focus on what I can eat next that would be good for my body.