May 27, 2008 · Comments (33)
When you announce that you are quitting sugar it’s like you are declaring war on food. People who know you will immediately take sides or try to stay neutral. Of those who take sides, some will side against you. These people will act as devil’s advocate by tempting you with your favorite sweets. They’ll make fun of you. They’ll tell you you’re crazy or that you cannot sustain your unsweet ways. Forget about them! You aren’t here to make them happy.
When I quit sugar for the first time in 2001 I ended up eating nothing but complex carbohydrates—orange juice, bagels, and pasta. I was getting my sugar from sources other than my usual chocolate, ice cream, and baked snacks. After being off sugar for a long time, I’ve discovered all kinds of amazing vegetable dishes, sugar-free snacks, and great fruit juices. What’s more is that I very much enjoy and appreciate these naturally sweet snacks because my sense of taste isn’t spoiled by corn-syrup.
Prior to quitting sugar I just couldn’t wake up in the morning. I wouldn’t feel awake until about 10 pm every night. In fact, I’d be so awake that I’d stay up late (sometimes really late) and then it would be harder to wake up in the morning. The cycle would continue but I’d start to eat sweet things to get my system going. For some it’s coffee that wakes them up. For me it was sugary breakfast cereal or cookies.
Now that I’m “off sugar” I can wake up easily in the morning. I eat good food and am able to sustain a great deal of physical activity all day long without the need for a crashing 2-hour nap at 3pm in the afternoon.
You’ll be amazed at how many foods have added sugars—soups, pasta sauce, bread, drinks, steak sauce, meats, apple sauce, chips, peanut butter, and more. Just about every product with a logo or a character on to it contains sugar. Not only will you learn to spot those products and avoid them, you’ll also learn how to measure portions and know how much sugar you’re taking in should you decide to eat something with any level of sugar in it.
What do you cook when you aren’t eating sweets? All kinds of stuff! Try walking down a different aisle at your store. Pick out something that you’ve never seen from the produce section. Mix together some of your favorite unsweetened dishes and make up something new. It’s hard to see and taste good food when everything around you is a candy-style product. Not only will you find new things to eat, you’ll also CREATE new things!
It’s a rare breed, but some people can eat sugar only once a week. For those who can manage such a feat, they appreciate those moments for what they are. For those of us who avoid sugar altogether, we learn to create a sweet moment in some other way. For instance, instead of running out to buy a pint of chocolate chip mint ice cream to celebrate a moment, you’ll find yourself eating something else (if you must eat something) or doing something else altogether. Imagine celebrating your raise at work by spending $15 on a book rather than buying a cheeseburger, fries, coke and dessert.
People are going to wonder what-the-heck is wrong with you. You’re at a birthday party and you’re not having cake? You won’t have a mint at the cocktail party? You’re not going to at least have one of your friend’s mother’s homemade cookies? After all, she made them by scratch just for you (and everyone who came to visit). Who has more power over our decisions than friends, family, and coworkers? Peer pressure stinks. Forget about it! Do what makes you happy.
I used to buy lunch. Some days I’d spend $12 on lunch. It adds up. $12 three times a month equals $36. Add a tip and you’re easily at $45 or $50. What did I get for my $50 per month?
Had I spent $50 a month on books, a training course, a savings account—anything but whatever it was I ate—I’d still have that thing (or possibly that 50 dollars) today.
When you quit sugar your teeth don’t feel coated with scum like they used to (Milk Chocolate with Nugat does that, you know). Your smile is brighter and you don’t need an artificial chemical in your body to lift your mood. You are spending less time eating and more time doing. No wonder you are smiling more! No wonder people are asking themselves, “How can I do that? Can I do that?”
It’s been eight months, maybe a year, and you haven’t eaten sweets. Your friends stopped offering you dessert when you go to their house and your real friends make sugar free desserts when you come over—just for you. You wake up early in the mornings and make it through the day without a nap. Your behavior patterns have shifted, you no longer binge, and you’ve given up emotional eating. Instead you’ve taken up knitting and find it relaxing to sit on the front porch after dinner. You’ve taken up fencing and are on your way to the championships. You saved up $400 dollars from lunch money and are going to take the kids to the zoo. Why go back to sugar? There are so many other things to do.