We gave ourselves the challenge of taking a month off sugar. No doctor driven health concerns or vegan/yoga/crossfit/doctrine, just a test to see what it means to challenge habits, plus I wanted an excuse to pause booze for a while. Drinking is so intertwined with socializing that I needed a loftier reason to tout as my excuse.
For this challenge I took some ideas from Psychology studies. It’s important to make “bright lines” to follow for any changes or experiments. What that means is that when you want to change a habit you need to know what your edges or limits are, for example if you want to stop smoking, you can say “I need to cut down” or “I can smoke 1 a day” the former as you can see isn’t very clear and will most likely melt right back into the existing habit whereas the second one you know right away if you have adhered to your new choice. Similarly, “I should cut down on eating sweets” vs “No deserts except Sunday” the latter is very clear and the person who chooses to adopt that will know what the boundaries are and if they have stepped over the “bright line”. For us, when we chose the challenge of “No sugar” we clarified with “ No added sugar or alcohol”
Important to note that when we say Sugar we didn’t go too far down the rabbit hole of what ones body metabolizes into sugars or we wouldn’t be able to eat carbs. Since we clarified with “no added sugars” and not many people add flour or barley to food to sweeten them we were good.
We chose November as the month for no sugar [giving ourselves the obvious exception of Thanksgiving] since we had just come back from an around the world trip and having a little conscious eating would be good.
I thought it may be difficult, but OH MAN! It was so hard!
I really wanted sugar!
We had stevia as an alternative, which was awesome, but that didn’t take the place of a drink with dinner or cake or the occasional gummy bear.
I thought of myself as not eating a lot of sugar and being very moderate with drinking but when faced with the breadth of items with added sugar-when I knew I wasn’t supposed to eat them-I really learned about myself AND how many things have sweeteners in them! We had to concoct a lot of alternative condiments and start meals from scratch often.
Day 6 I had some heart flutters and Nicole made me go to urgent care. I thought it was something to do with heartburn or anxiety from moving/traveling the world/5 shows/new city/budgets/renovations but a few google searches and some inquiry suggested that in fact heart palpitations are a common sign of withdrawal.
That is crazy! As someone who has a drink with dinner maybe twice a week and the occasional weekend out and rarely had dessert I figured I would have no symptoms and an easy time with the challenge.
I wanted a drink every time I saw the occasion socially and when triggered by usual pairings like a red sauce with wine.
I REALLY wanted chocolate and the all the cinnamon rolls!
We tried not to have fruit since it is ostensibly sugar just colored and has fiber, which was also difficult.
I was hoping for some HUGE catharsis and a weight loss of 20 pounds and more energy, but really what I found is that I was cranky from having to avoid my favorite things both as a social device and as a sweet dénouement to a good meal.
What will likely come of this experiment is that we will use a lot more stevia [which is a leaf-based sweetener that has a 0 on the glycemic index] and be aware of all the sugar I ingest without actively choosing, like most tomato products and quick foods.
When I started back those pancakes WERE SO GOOD!! And I think I enjoy not having as strong of a liquor trigger.
Next we have chosen to Meditate 10 minutes a day for the Month of December.
[Note: I am in full support of anyone who has an alternative eating style for health or religion or personal reasons. I myself am allergic to milk and it’s various forms so I understand the trials and tribulations of a life with eating caveats, so if you take offence to my verbiage or my process feel free to reach out.]