Day 3 (of what might be a long year)

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.

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25 thoughts on “Day 3 (of what might be a long year)

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  1. Good for you! And I agree with you almost 100%. I’ve told folks, ” I’m going to try to give up drinking for January.” Yes it might be self sabotaging and fear if failure but honestly more than anything I know myself and the moment I say I can’t under any circumstance have something that’s all I think about. So my plan is to just not want alcohol and find other ways to cope in order to lessen cravings. I’ve sort of done this type of exercise before and I swear it works! Oh also for me…it’s kinda hocus pocus but I love Acupunture to help eliminate cravings. Total skeptic by nature but I swear it works for me! Go Bye Bye Beer!!

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  2. Nice post. Hope you’ll be checking in often throughout the month. We’re doing the no sugar alongside thirty days of cooking meals at home. (Veggie pho day one, whole wheat penne last night, black bean burgers tonight, naan pizza tomorrow – so far so good!)

    I’m just surprised at the number of times I’ve thought about sweets over the last 48 hours. Like, what’s wrong with me? Why am I daydreaming about cookies? We watched a show on Netflix Instant called Freaky Eaters. It’s part sideshow, part appetite suppressant, and part catharsis that at least you don’t have those people’s problems.

    Almost lost the wife off the wagon when she went to make a hot chocolate last night. She didn’t think it would count because it was a drink. Although I did just look at the package and it see it’s only 9g per serving, which is less than 10g – I dunno – what are your thoughts on hot chocolate? Seems like a dessert to me.

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    1. Hm, that’s a tough one as it’s a processed food with under 10g sugar. But really it’s a drink and has chocolate in its name, so hm, I’m more confused now. If it were me, I’d probably try to eliminate it for the month because technically I could have fruit for dessert, but I’m trying to break the habit. Plus fruit makes a depressing dessert. If it really comes down to a strong craving, I think she could safely indulge as an occasional treat without fear of falling off the wagon (remember you can always climb back on those things, just ask it to slow down first).

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  3. You know, I think I got so used to going through withdrawal from alcohol, I did it pretty much on a monthly basis after my monthly binge, that I like the feeling. The achy joints, headaches, bitchiness, diarrhea (gross, I know but I always think of it as my little cells saying thank you, we can finally unload all this shit you’ve been packing in. lol), it lets me know my body is changing and it’s for the better.
    The thing I really need to kick is the diet pop and artificial sweeteners, that’s going to be tough on me, but right now I’m just concentrating on sugar and caffeine.

    Load up on celery, it has so much fiber that it’s a 0 carb count, you can fill it with peanut butter or cream cheese. Just like with alcohol, we are back on the quest to find suitable substitutes.

    Now, back to the diabolical eliptical machine to work on that “stronger” me.

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    1. I get what you mean about appreciating withdrawal symptoms as a sign of detox. I am too much of a wimp to like it though. You’re so right to concentrate on one thing at a time instead of taking it all on at once. I feel the same pressure to fix it all, but there’s no rush. Thanks for the tip on celery!

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  4. I’m trying…a couple of slips here and there (left over candy canes…ugh) but so far so good. I’m just cutting out refined sugar for now. Two sweetners and french vanilla creamer in my coffee in the morning (1-2 cups) and diet pepsi max will have to do. I’m also on a mission to drastically reduce the amount of white pasta and white rice my family consumes. I stopped eating them last year but since it’s cheap and I’m feeding a good portion of the free world on a nightly basis, it’s an easy “go-to”. Well, we’re going to have to get creative since it’s simply not the best choice.

    Good luck!

    Sherry

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    1. about white pasta and rice – it’s easy to switch to the whole wheat versions. they seem gross and chewy at first (at least if you’re me, the super picky eater) but you get used to texture and then it seems more like “the normal one” over the white stuff which then tastes too glue-y

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      1. I second this. The thicker, tubular shapes in whole wheat tend to have a texture I don’t care for, but I’ve gone back and forth on the other kinds and genuinely prefer whole wheat spaghetti.

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  5. I keep slipping up, had some Boston Bun with pink icing on it and didn’t think about it until an hour later – wtf? For me it’s really going to be in my drink choices, which is where I was starting to realise I was getting all my sugar. This month off it doing great things for my knowledge bank, I’ve never read labels before and looked at how many grams of sugar there are per serve before. Ever. I’m not much of a label reader. So this is going to be great. Luckily I’ve found a lovely Iced Tea soft drink which is cool and refreshing and tastes a little sweet even though it has only 0.9g of sugar per serve in it. Got another wedding today – be interesting to see what drink choices they have for non boozers. And I’ll have to avoid pudding. S’ok. xxxxx

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    1. Glad you found a drink that you like! I’m a big fan of club soda with lime while out. I know, terribly exciting, but it feels mocktail-ish and refreshing and I don’t load up on sugar. I feel for your situation because I don’t have any special outings this month and that would make the goal more challenging.

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  6. Wow…
    I am doing what is called a Whole30 (you can read about it on a website called Whole 9..something like that).
    Basically, no sugar, dairy, processed foods, grains, gluten, legumes…..it is basically a Paleo diet to the max.
    I am doing this to break bad habits too, I would really love to get off the sugar I have had basically every day since i stopped drinking, and I have a lot of allergies and asthma, so I am hoping the gluten, grain free thing will help.
    I look at this a lot like quitting drinking, and am trying to surrender to it every day, just make the choice in the morning that TODAY I’m going to comply, and tomorrow I don’t have to. That has been so ingrained in me and worked so well that it was just my go to.
    It is pretty intense though, especially for a non-cook, which is where I find I am whining the most. And it is also very hard for me to eat anywhere near the amount of food I really should be eating…but that’s another whole issue I have and need to work on (not under-eating, but since I don’t cook i generally eat on the fly little bits at a time, which is not recommended for this diet)

    Anyway..this is a long way of saying i hear you…lifestyle changes are hard. I have a whole support group of women doing this with me and it makes all the difference. Looks like you do too. Can’t wait to read how it goes. For me, this is only day 3, but I feel fine.
    One hint I got about the de-tox, especially from sugar, is to drink LOTS of water..keep that junk moving through your system!

    Good luck!

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    1. The food preparation and planning is the hardest part for me. This weekend I’m going to set aside time to pre-cook some staples and hope this helps. Thanks for weighing in, there are so many of us out there!

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  7. I like “unhinge” too.

    I also like the concept of tuning into your body to see how it feels away from the influence of certain substances.

    I’m doing well on my whole foods and wheat-free, sugar-free, and mostly sweetener free 30. Having some brain fog and sleep disruption, but no crazy moods. Maybe a little more irritability… I’m back to tracking everything in MyFitnessPal; I had gotten away from that during the last quarter of 2012.

    The extra awareness and label analysis I think is good for all of us. Even if we slip, like with a soda, we are at least jolted back into awareness versus going on mindless auto-pilot.

    I’m glad you decided to do this and write about it bbb, you’ve helped us all get (re)started on healthy mindful eating–thank you!

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  8. My thing has been ice cream. But I realize too much ice cream or any out of wack sugar thing has the ability and potential to rob me of life something like beer did for 30+ years. Not again. I’ve got things to do now and I am not going to throw away more precious time. I like living. I like feeling good. I like being fit. I like having confidence. I can do without beer. I can do without ice cream. Just another step in getting things in order. We can do this. Thanks for writing and thanks to everyone who has commented. It helps.

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  9. So glad all is going well… I’m doing the Whole 30 too like another commenter…. Just finished Day 3… Feeling good, lil headache tonight. I can so relate to your sugar/alcohol relation….the reward is short lived, snowballing effects u cant afford. Both alcohol and sugar does that for me… I think my life, well I know, my life would be more awesome without both. This has been a good journey for me the last few months. Stay strong, we all can do this! FYI, if feeling sluggish, load up on good fats, olive or coconut oil, eggs, olives and avocados! Swear it helps!

    B.

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  10. I’ve done about 5 weeks completely sugar free, cold turkey. It has not been easy! I get the cravings now and then, but sticking to whole fruits (no juices) has been helpful in getting me to calm the sugar monster. I also found that even after the first couple of days, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. But here’s the great thing about no sugar, is that in those 5 weeks I lost 15 lbs. That is gravy, of course (mmmmm…gravy). But the best part of this is that I feel free of yet another “reach” – sugar. I used to eat sugar like mad after getting sober. I figured it was better than the alternative. But I slowly found myself using sugar in the same way I was with alcohol – I was bingeing on it, I was hiding it, I was mowing it down when I felt disturbed or bored…basically I was eating the wrong amounts at the wrong times for the wrong reasons. Not healthy. So now I feel way better physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Sounds odd, but it’s another layer I had to strip to reveal more of myself. It’s been a blast!

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