The Sugar Diaries, Day 19
Published on December 22, 2013
by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

The Sugar Diaries, Day 19

Published on December 22, 2013 by Dr. Caitlin Gordon

nutella frosted cupcakeFor some reason, today and yesterday have been especially difficult. I am only two days away from reaching my 3-week goal, and I think this is partly to blame. I feel so close to the finish line that my thinking becomes: “well, you basically did it, what’s a little chocolate now? You made it 19 days already!”. Of course, if I actually give in, I won’t be able to enjoy the full satisfaction of reaching the finish line without a single intentional “cheat”. I have been bombarded with temptations the last few days. Everyone around me is buying and eating sugary and delicious things. There were truffles sitting out at the clinic today! I have had dreams of eating chocolate cupcakes with thick chocolate frosting. Last night I had a dream that I was looking out my window onto a pumpkin patch… except instead of pumpkins, there were jars of Nutella. I kid you not. If you didn’t think I was weird before…

However, despite feeling the urge to eat sugar more the last couple days, I still feel my will power and resolve to say no is strong. Did you know that willpower behaves similarly to a muscle? The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. Also, there is a finite amount. Self-control is a limited resource.

I am still making healthy choices for my meals and snacks and not replacing sugar with something equally unhealthy. But let me tell you, I am fantasizing a little about what treat I will consume on Tuesday. The goal, of course, is to be more mindful about my sugar consumption for long after this cleanse ends. I hope that my taste buds now need less sweet taste to be happy and that I can pick up on my sugar triggers and have a healthy habit in place to satisfy the urge. An apple with nut butter and cinnamon has yet to fail me and is my new go-to.

A big part of my success in staying at a healthy weight the last several years (while still eating as much as I want, and not exercising fanatically) is a shift in the relationship I have with food. Seeing food for what it is–literally the nutrients that sustain me and keep me healthy–instead of seeing food emotionally has been crucial. I was a very emotional eater in the past, in many unconscious and subconscious ways. I had created emotional attachments and meaning to food without even realizing it!

Now, I see food as a tool to improve my life. Food is medicine. Food is empowering! I have a choice about what I put in my body and I can build a strong and resilient body just by what I eat. Sugar is not going to make my body and mind strong, happy (for more than a few minutes) or healthy. Sugar is not a reward. I repeat sugar is not a reward. We shouldn’t really call them “treats” or “goodies” because this implies that we deserve them when we need comfort or praise. However, there has to be a balance. It is okay to treat yourself to delicious, unhealthy things once in a while. But, when we see sugar as our first choice for comfort or reward, then we create a dangerous habit. The reward system in the brain with sugar works just like the reward circuit for cocaine and other addictive drugs.

See a summary of the study here, and the link to the full study is at the end of the article:

This last week, I have had a ton of energy, which is fantastic because I have had a ton to do. I feel my sugar cleanse has allowed me to ride this holiday season wave with a bit more grace than is typical. I will write a final post on Tuesday or Wednesday to reflect on what changes I observed! Hint: all good.

Read The Sugar Diaries Day 14, and The Sugar Diaries Final Results!