Last month, my husband sent me a link to a CNN article “One-month Sugar Detox” with the following, single-sentence introduction: I’m game if you are.
Let it be known that I’m neither a diet guru nor anyone’s nutritional role model. I can count on one hand the number of attempts I’ve made in my life. The best attempt I had at dieting was 8-9 years ago. My supervisor and gluten-free boss recommended it, and I tried it in the hopes that I would feel better. There wasn’t nearly the same kind of specialty food market that’s out there today, nor was I up to doing much research on the subject. Since I hate cooking/meal prepping and have what I can only describe as weak to zero self-control when it comes to food, I failed hard. I tried a different approach with an app for dieting a couple summers back which ended almost as soon as it started with the words, “Fuck it, I’m eating all the chocolate cake I want,” and I never looked back.
Back in February, I read about the sugar wars in The Atlantic—how hard it is to quit the white stuff but how beneficial it can be. I’d mentioned to my husband how I wanted to read it and had stored it in the back of my mind with the billions of other books I’d like to read one day and more or less forgot about it. I’d heard a few people recommend it as a helper for the chronic illness that I have, but in the past it had seemed nearly impossible. I was not up for the task and had not entertained the possibility although when I read the aforementioned article, I was intrigued.
Upon reading my husband’s challenge link, I chuckled to myself. For the first few days, you completely cut yourself off from this substance. The side-effects are also supposed to be terrible. I’d been finding myself in the past year becoming more and more of a garbage mouth. I’d sub the worst food choices in lieu of good ones and not even enjoy them as I should (think Josh Hartnett’s character in 40 Days and Nights). I wanted to lose weight, mostly in my stomach, and I was concerned about getting diabetes.
When my husband arrived home, I agreed on the caveat that we have plenty of food in the house when we start. “I’ll do it with you. I’m not sure I can do it, and it might kill me, but I’ve got to do something. So sure. Why not?”
I’d read another article awhile back that said sugar was more addictive than cocaine or heroin. Eye roll. Yeah, okay.
The first three days, to put it mildly, were uncomfortable. I had an ongoing, throbbing headache, and when I ate all the things that weren’t sugar (meat, vegetables, nuts, and eggs), my body didn’t know what to do. I’d tended to eat more sugar in the afternoons and evenings, and I felt worse during those times. I was used to inhaling all the processed junk, so when I offered and partook of sustenance, I could feel my brain getting confused. “I, um, no. You know what I want. Don’t you have anything GOOD?”
I realized on day two, that it was silly to laugh at the article which spouted the saccharine nectar of the gods as more potent than hard drugs. After all, I’d never tried either of them. But I had tried sugar, and this was not easy. I made a mental note to not ever do those drugs even on the off chance that they were easier. Besides, I still had to get through the week. The same day, my husband turned down free work donuts, so I knew I had to resist while moving ever forward. The good news is that I’m ridiculously low motivation when it comes to hunting or rustling up grub besides what we already have in the house, and I know this about myself, so I decided that I’d continue if for no other reason than I was too weak from the lack of sugar to leave. But mostly it was my husband turning down donuts.
I’m currently in my third week of my diet. I have been cheating here and there, but overall, I’m still doing well. I took a college class and at one point the strictness and unforgiving nature of 12 step sobriety programs was questioned. I believe that by allowing leniency, one can benefit in the longrun, especially from an angle of self-care. Today, for example, I had a strawberry smoothie. However, I found myself recoiling at even its small size that old me would’ve devoured in 5 seconds flat. It’s now only half gone, resting in the fridge to be continued at a later time.
Here’s what I’ve gathered so far:
- Quitting sugar is challenging
- Sugar is in more than you think in higher volumes than you think (some websites or articles will even show the amount of processed sugar you consume when you have a beverage or food item)
- People have unusual reactions when they hear that you’re on a diet
Most were really supportive, but a couple of people felt very ill at ease. Some were inspired which made me feel good.
- I lost much of my ability to taste sugar when I was eating so much of it
- It’s easier to tell which foods/drinks my body straight up does NOT like
Apparently my body tolerates homemade margaritas better than it does wine. Which honestly, I am okay with but still found surprising.
- Usually when I cheat by eating/drinking something that’s not on the diet, it’s not always as rewarding I think it’s going to be
This was especially shocking. I had ice cream the other day and found it TOO sweet!
- The number of edible goodies I reward myself with? LOTS!
I truly didn’t believe that I was treating myself as much as I was, but when I went on the diet, I realized that I pretty much just let my stomach run the show and my stomach makes really bad decisions when it’s in charge. I also feel much more in charge when I use my self-control on food in a productive way. It can be empowering which I didn’t expect.
I’d like to add that I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without my husband (who at one point made homemade ketchup!) and the fact that I go to acupuncture frequently. I hope to continue this route. Even if I do eventually quit it it’s been a new, interesting journey, and I feel I’ve learned more both about myself and the world.
Have you ever gone on a diet? Did it work out well? How did you motivate yourself to stay on track?