My Coca-Cola sugar shaker aka Public Enemies #1 and #2
I gave up sugar over the weekend.
I had been thinking about doing it for awhile now. Several of my friends, including Sus, have done it for one reason or another. For me, my sugar cravings were out of control and I found myself needing more and more sweet to feel satisfied. I had also started to wonder if maybe some little nagging health concerns I’ve had lately were related to my excessive sugar consumption. I’ve always had a sweet tooth. At restaurants, I read the dessert menu first and plan my order accordingly. I’ll eat less of the main course to save room for the good stuff at the end. I love to bake. It’s one of my favorite hobbies. I like to eat what I bake. If you don’t believe me, you’ve obviously never seen my “Looks Good Enough to Eat” Pinterest board.
I also love Coke and Dr. Pepper. In fact, my Coke habit (that sounds a lot worse than it actually is) was probably the big red stop light that set me on this course to detox from sugar. The other day I was out shopping with the kids and I was stressing out loud over a deadline I needed to make and other things that I needed to accomplish. My oldest said nothing, went over to the coolers beside the check register, bought me a Coke, handed it to me, and said, “Here, Mom. Maybe this will help.” When your kid buys your “drug of choice” with his own money to settle you down, you might have a problem.
You’d think someone so dependent on sugar would give it up with a well defined plan and the pantry staples necessary to make such a drastic change. You would be wrong. Basically I just woke up Friday morning and declared myself sugar-free. Which may explain the many Tweets, texts, and frantic phone calls to Susan and other friends that followed. Like these:
Me: When you say “give up sugar,” what exactly are we talking here?
Gretchen: She means everything white. The end. :) (By the way, if I, Whimzie, may interject here, that smiley face did nothing to lessen the blow.)
Me: What about whole wheat bread? And honey? Do you not eat anything that has sugar on the label?
Sus: Yep. No dairy, taters, bread, sugar. Or fun.
Me: People lose weight when they give up sugar? NO DUH! THEY’RE STARVING BECAUSE THERE’S NOTHING THEY CAN EAT!!!! Perhaps that came across a little harsh. IT’S BECAUSE I CAN’T FIND ANYTHING TO EAT AND IT ISN’T EVEN 8 AM!!
: Try a banana with peanut butter. Or eggs and bacon. Breakfast is always the hardest for me.
Me: I don’t guess we’re talking Peter Pan honey blend here, are we?
I was being silly, of course, although I do think snacks and breakfast have been the hardest challenge so far. However, with help via texts from Susan, I was even able to eat a sugar-free lunch at a restaurant with friends on Friday.
The weekend was trickier. We took a little family trip to a town about an hour from here and ate fast food a couple of times. Did you know that the chili at Wendy’s contains sugar AND corn syrup? Fast food choices are limited unless you want to order a salad every single time, which I don’t. I never realized until I decided to try this sugar-free experiment how much sugar is in our normal everyday diet that we don’t even consider. I started imagining what life is like for people who because of medical conditions can not have sugar. Or what about people who can not have dairy or gluten? Even though we have many more sugar-, dairy-, and gluten-free choices than we did twenty years ago, maintaining those diets still takes a lot of careful thought, planning, and diligence.
This weekend I researched several sugar-free diets on the Internet. Wow, that was confusing! So many plans with so many differing opinions! So many more questions! Agave nectar, honey, stevia: are they okay? What about Splenda? Is oatmeal okay for people who are trying to avoid gluten? What about fruit? All fruit or just low-glycemic ones like berries? Is dairy okay or is cow milk only for baby cows? I emailed my friend Meredith
and asked her some questions about the diet she’s been on the last few months and she graciously gave me some good insights into what has worked for her.
For me, I knew I needed to do something pretty drastic to stop the sugar cravings and to try to get my nutritional health back on track from a summer of eating more junk than my body is accustomed to ingesting. But one interesting side effect has been that since I started this plan, I have not had a headache. For the past few months, I have had at least a dull headache at some point of every day. At least one or two a month become full-fledged migraines. I was actually prepared to have withdrawal headaches, but the reverse has been true. I’m not even sure whether this is just a coincidental byproduct or if something I was eating was causing my headaches. I guess time will tell.
I’m not giving up all desserts and bread and dairy forever. Life’s too short. I just need to find a way to have them in moderation, which seems to be the key to healthy living all around, don’t you think?
I’m curious. Have any of you given up sugar? What food are on your “absolutely not” list? What benefits have you noticed from you changes? What in the world do you eat for breakfast and snacks? (Besides eggs and bacon. I don’t like really heavy stuff first thing in the morning!) Any tips or helpful hints you want to share?
P.S. I’m not sure why the formatting on this post is so wonky. Maybe my blog is operating without sugar today, too!