Thursday, March 20, 2014

My So-Called Sugar-Free Life

When you last heard from me a little over two weeks ago, I was preparing to embark on a 40-day sugar fast.
“Oh, yeah, how’s that thing going?” you might ask, maybe even with a chuckle at the complete insanity of it all. I mean, really, what kind of insane person would choose to go 40 days without sugar?
Well, I’m pleased to report that I haven’t killed anyone yet and that my mood hasn’t suffered too dramatically thus far. (You may want to verify that with my family, though. Sometimes they have some pretty creative interpretations of how “moody” mom is. They can be so sensitive.)
I think it’s safe to say that no one is more surprised about this than me. I fully expected this to be a bear of a task, but in reality, it hasn’t been that bad. Yes, I have my cravings. And yes, the cake in our office kitchen that just happened to come from the bakery voted Best in Pittsburgh actively calls my name every minute I’m in the office. But this is a higher calling, and so far, I’ve been good.
So, what have I eliminated on this sugar fast?
·        Desserts and sweet treats of all kinds (cakes, cookies, ice cream, muffins, pastries, chocolate, candy, etc.)
·        Cereal (including granola)
·        Yogurt (because I refuse to eat the unsweetened stuff)
·        Granola bars (my favorite mid-morning hunger-buster)
·        Jellies and jams
·        Syrup and honey
·        Fruit juice
·        Added sweeteners of any kind—even the 0-calorie ones (they still feed the addiction!)
·        Sodas (actually, I gave this one up a while back)
·        Barista-style coffees (cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, Frappuccinos, etc.)
·        All sweetened beverages
Basically, if an item has obvious sugar added, I don’t eat or drink it. I say “obvious” sugar because I am well aware that things like breads and pastas include sugar as essential ingredients, but I haven’t given up all carbs because if I did somebody just might get hurt.
I also say “added” sugar because I am allowing myself the naturally-occurring sugars in fruit. I’m not a big fan of eating plans that eliminate entire food groups, and I think fruit is too critical to avoid altogether due to its high antioxidant and fiber content, so I refuse to eliminate it.
Admittedly, fruit has been my saving grace. When I need a little something sweet, I open the fruit drawer. When I crave a dessert after dinner, I have a banana. When I really need a piece of chocolate, I pop a date ball in my mouth.

(OMG, these are so amazing. You must try them. I promise, you’ll love them.) I’ve also discovered the joy of figs, which I had never eaten outside of a Newton in all my life. They’re actually quite delicious. (One obvious upside to this new pattern of eating—though not a glamorous one—is my newfound regularity.)
At two weeks into this experiment, I’ve found that my cravings have already shifted from chocolate and baked goods to figs and dates—the “candy” of the ancient world, as my brother says. Even on Sundays, when we Catholics are technically allowed to forego our Lenten sacrifices, I find myself avoiding sugar—not out of any sense of pious obligation, but simply because I don’t want it. This in itself I count as a huge win.
So that’s my nickel update. I’ll check in on this topic again at the end of this journey. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy munching my clementine and sipping my pomegranate tea while my coworkers dig into the cake.
Have a sweet day!

No comments: