2012 was very good to me. Scratch that…it was great. I’ve had a harder time in recent odd numbered years, so I’m trying not to be superstitious, even though this year ends in 13.
Happy to report I’m doing well on Day 3 of the Sugar-Free 30 so far. I can’t really call it sugar-free, though, since I’m still eating about 4 servings of fresh fruit a day. This is a lot for some, but I’m keeping it for now because it’s keeping me going. This is markedly different from south beach phase 1, which is the only other strict diet I tried and which does not allow any fruit. I felt sugar withdrawal acutely and frankly it sucked and didn’t cure my sugar cravings in the long term anyway.
Speaking of, a commenter on my last post said she had been through several of these 30 day quits and was quick to point out that it doesn’t mean they don’t work. She said they’ve taught her how to unhinge (great word) from addictive foods like sugar more easily…that the cravings will always be there to some degree, but it sounds like she is in a better place to resist and make better choices because her experience was pleasant. The only reason we’d probably be moved to make permanent change is if the rewards from the new behavior outweighed the old. It stands to reason this will be a slow, gradual process, but staying on track is the only way to really get there.
I find it a huge relief to think of January as a step towards permanent change. It’s not about kicking the sugar demon to the curb because he’s just gonna saunter back when he gets bored. Instead it’s about eliminating the worst offenders for a month and paying attention to how my body feels on natural sugars, and perhaps adjusting that where needed. Hopefully this will reinforce what I already know: too much sugar is not only bad for me but also unnecessary.
Another commenter shared this helpful quote by Jason Vale:
“I’ve been on so many diets,” says Vale, “and I would immediately start to feel deprived. Think about that. If I weren’t on a diet I could have gone sometimes to two o’clock in the afternoon without thinking about food or even consuming any food. I never thought about it. But the very second I told my brain that I was on a diet, I went into the mode of can’t. What I mean by can’t is this: CANT, constant and never-ending tantrum. That’s all it is, a tantrum. And it’s constant and never-ending.
“Now if you go from ‘I want that but I can’t have it’ to ‘I can have it but I don’t want it,’ there’s a major paradigm shift.”
At Day 3 of low-sugar, I find CAN’T more helpful than frustrating. When I reach into the pantry before dinner, a bit beaten down and hungry, my eyes snag on forbidden treats and my brain says CAN’T. The same happens an hour later when I clear dishes with a little dessert remaining. CAN’T. DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.
The tough decisions have been taken off the table for the month and this feels an incredible relief.
At some point, CAN’T turns into deprivation and an inevitable tantrum-based revolt, so I very much hope to get to this place of knowing I can have it, but not wanting it. In the last year, I’ve experienced this over the odd processed food, so I know I have it in me to develop more. It’s a lot like alcohol. I know I can have it, but I seriously don’t want it. The reward is cheap and short-lived and comes with snowballing side effects I can’t afford. Sugar is like alcohol’s Cousin Oliver if he had been evil and not just clumsy. Or something. Remember that I’m sugar deprived.
Seriously, though, I feel pretty okay. No headaches, some crabbiness and irritability, but so hard to say what is from lack of sugar and what is from having to go back to the grind in the middle of the week after a holiday. So far the major change in my diet is no cookies/candy/sweets of any kind. No sweetener in my coffee and I even tried it black this morning and think I like that best. No processed foods with more than 10g sugar per serving. Next week I will incorporate more lean protein and healthy fats. I’m still drooling over one commenter’s suggestions for treats she finds particularly satisfying:
A slice of chicken breast with mayo. A sliced half of an avocado on salad with a nice low-carb dressing. Almonds. I made sure to have high-protein, low-carb and good fat snacks and I made sure to never let myself get hungry. Even a hard-boiled egg works, too. A deviled egg is even better, lol.
Could a chicken breast with mayo possibly sound better than standing in my kitchen, surreptitiously shoveling seven cookies in my mouth? Actually, it does. So far, so good.
Thank you to everyone who commented so far and please sound in with how you’re doing if you’re embarking on any 30-day quits (sugar, booze, annoying relatives) this month.