The Sugar Diaries Finale (THE RESULTS!)
I did it! I made it three weeks without intentionally eating any processed or refined sugar and only a few accidental refined sugar ingestion incidents. I was traveling on day 21, on my way to the Yucatan Peninsula for some holiday R&R. Surprisingly, I didn’t gorge myself on chocolate just yet. However, the next day (officially day 22) I ate an obscene number of almond chocolate kisses. So much for moderation, eh? I wasn’t craving sugar, I was just so excited that I had survived 3 weeks and was now “allowed” to indulge. Honestly, for about a week I overdid the sugar thing. It didn’t help that I was in vacation “anything goes” mode. I did not feel good. It was not a good decision. After those first 5 days of indulging, I decided to go back to a more normal healthy intake of only occasional sweets treats (think, every other day). I felt better but was still craving sugar, as I had totally messed up my nice cleanse and not eased back into things at all. However, this failure aside, I do want to touch on some of the benefits I noticed by the end of my 3 weeks sugar-free:
- I had consistent high energy.
- I felt emotionally even, despite high stress.
- I lost 4 lbs., without eating less or exercising more. My weight only fluctuates about 5 lbs. total, so losing four put me very near my healthiest fit weight.
- I lost abdominal fat.
- No mid-afternoon crash.
- All vegetables tasted sweeter.
- My hair loss (I’ve been losing hair for the last year off/on at high rates) slowed.
- I didn’t get sick despite being around quite a lot of very sick people at home, at school, and in clinic (and at the airport!).
- I didn’t feel bloated after every meal.
- I felt empowered to resist temptation of all kinds.
These were all a pretty big deal for me! It was totally worth it and I will do it again. Because sugar is an addictive substance for me, it tends to be an all or nothing approach. I eat more than I would like to for a few weeks (although, probably still much less than the average American diet), and then I cut it out completely. There is such a sense of accomplishment in overcoming any addiction or dependency! While I am not addicted to alcohol, it is kind of cheating to do a sugar cleanse and still drink alcohol as it is broken down into simple sugar almost instantly and goes through the same process in our bodies doing just as much damage. So for my next cleanse, I plan to cut all alcohol and refined sugar. This will be starting soon, so stay tuned for some sure-to-be entertaining reflections on life without wine*.
*A footnote on why: People often ask me why I do these somewhat dramatic all or nothing approaches with food groups. Wouldn’t it be healthier just to consume everything in moderation? Yes! It would. However, in order to get to a place where I consume my hard to resist unhealthy substances in moderation, I have to be very motivated. For me, motivation comes from experiencing the difference in my body and mind with and without certain food items that I know to be unhealthy. If I don’t feel any different, I am not very motivated to change. The best way to see how we react to foods is to cut them out completely and then reintroduce them. I find this to be so educational on a very visceral level, and it helps me create awareness about what I consume. With increased awareness, comes a natural ability to regulate the body. This means what I crave, what I choose to eat, how I cook, the choices I make in all areas of life are more conscious and more in line with nature.