Well… I am ecstatic to say that yesterday was the last day of my sugar fast!
Yup. It ended on Thanksgiving. And yes, that means that I did not partake in any dessert. But, amazingly, I did not feel like I was missing out on anything! And really, this is what this whole fast thing was about. I wanted to have more self control; I wanted to be in charge, not my cravings. And it feels great to know that I have mastered that!
However, I wasn’t perfect. So here’s how it all went down:
The first week, I did great. It wasn’t hard to not eat sugar. (Remember, before my fast I was binging on organic sweets approximately 3 times a month, so I was accustomed to going a week or two without eating refined sugar.)
But… there were a few times during the first week, where, out of habit, I ate some sugar and did not realize it until after. For example, sometimes I give my daughter these organic cheerio knockoffs when we are out and about to keep her quiet. But I have a “one for you, one for me” habit as I eat them too just because they are there. So a few times after I popped one or two into my mouth I was like, “Whoops! I’m not supposed to eat any sugar!” This happened a few times when I was on my fast. Also, at Thanksgiving dinner, I stuck my finger in the sweet potato pie and gave my daughter a lick and then out of habit I licked my finger to get the rest off! Whoops!
So aside from moments like these- where I accidentally ingested minuscule amounts of white sugar- I did not eat any white sugar. But the second week was when it got hard. I wanted cookies! I would be eating out and would see someone mouwing down on a piece of cake or something, and I would fantasize about chewing on its sweet, fluffy goodness. Nevertheless, I stayed strong! Even though I really really wanted (just a bite) of cake, I was determined to get through this.
By the third week, I was planning all the treats I would eat on the day right after my fast ended. I would walk by the gluten free dessert isle and longingly stare at Pamela’s Gluten Free Cookies and resolve to eat them as soon as I was “allowed” to.
By the fourth week I was over it. I didn’t want sweets. My husband and friends even ate my favorite organic vanilla ice cream right in front of me (Alden’s. You MUST try it!) and I was like, “Meh.” It just didn’t appeal.
You guys… this is HUGE! For me anyway.
Ok. So here are some interesting observations I made note of during my 30 day sugar fast:
1. Real food started tasting better and better! I felt like the natural flavors inherent in a slice of raw organic cheese, for example, really started to explode onto my tastebuds. I liked cheese before, but man oh man! Also, fruit started to taste really sweet. I remember thinking, “Geeez, this apple tastes like candy!”
2. I started eating more fruit.
3. I started eating more healthy food in general. There were a few days where I overindulged in potato chips. I’m not fasting from these! I thought. But I felt a little sick to my stomach if I had more than a handful. So I actually started consciously avoiding chips and other unhealthy items as well. After awhile, they too just did not appeal to me. So I guess what happened is my decision to avoid one particular unhealthy substance bled over into other food choices. It makes sense, given that cravings are usually signs of nutrient deficiency. When I no longer allowed myself to eat junk food, I looked forward to, and even craved healthy foods. I totally wanted to eat salad!
4. My concentration improved. I was super productive these past few weeks! I’m not making this stuff up. It is true that sugar consumption has been associated with depression, brain fog, and chronic fatigue. All of which, contribute to lack of productivity. I also noticed that I did not think about eating as often as I normally do. Time not spent eating, or planning to eat, opens up my schedule for other stuff I guess!
5. For the first time, because it was off limits, I was able to truly understand the connection between stress and eating. During this fast, I noticed that when I felt stressed, almost every single time, I would want to eat something sugary. It was weird- sometimes I would get a craving all of a sudden, and only after the craving, I would realize that I was stressed about something. I also noticed how often I would want to eat out of boredom.
6. Even though, technically, I was allowed to have natural sweeteners such honey and maple syrup in moderation, I found myself avoiding those too. Especially fruit juice. I guess I felt like it was cheating.
7. I cheated and ate gluten a couple times. Normally, I do cheat on my GF diet since I do not have celiac disease. But this is usually at the most, once a month. I ate gluten about 5 or 6 times during my 30 day sugar fast! So next time, that’s something to look out for- the last thing I want to do it replace once addiction with another!
Something else that’s worth considering is that “sugar” isn’t the only sugar. Lots of foods we eat turn into sugar quickly once consumed, such as white bread, white pasta, white rice, and white flours. I rarely eat bread due to my gluten sensitivity, but I do eat a lot of rice, and rice pasta. There has also been an extraordinary rise in digestive problems, such as gluten intolerance, celiac disease, and IBS, and modern industrial baking methods seem to have a lot to do with this. So it’s good, in general, to avoid bread and white rice and white flour. As I’ve said before, the focus of our diet should be vegetables, fruit, organic meat and dairy, wild fish, nuts, and healthy oils such as coconut oil and olive oil.
Overall, I am happy with the results of my sugar fast. Yes, I made some mistakes, but I do feel as if I mastered my cravings for sugar. I like being in control and not feeling like I am missing out on something. The way I see food- as a source of fuel, designed to strengthen and nourish us and fill us with energy- has been reinforced.
It’s a good idea to fast from anything that you think might be starting to control you. It’s a way of hitting “reset” and getting our priorities straight again.
Going forward, I think I am going to minimize my sugar intake- as a lifestyle. Also, I am going to recommit to not buying junk food at the store, so that I do not have access to it at home. However, I will not beat myself up if I have some cookies from time to time, but it will be a rare occasion. Also, I plan on baking more. This way I will have control over the ingredients, especially the amount of sugar I use. (Oh- if you are confused as to why I am so adament about avoiding sugar, check out this article.)
I also think at some point I will need to avoid sugar and grains for a time or do some sort of cleanse.
I’ll keep ya updated.