Fat Fridays: Week 9 Diary of a Sugar Detox

Last week I wrote that I was going to fast sugar for a week. But not until I had finished eating my Valentine’s chocolate. Well, Sunday night I had one more chocolate left. I toyed around with the idea of hanging on to that last chocolate for an indefinite amount of time so I wouldn’t have to start my fast, but finally decided to stop dragging my feet. Besides, I had developed a tooth ache and sugar wasn’t sounding very good anyway. I gave my last chocolate to my husband and decided to start Monday morning. My end goal is to break the sugar addiction so that sugar becomes an occasional treat instead of a daily necessity. I ended up keeping an informal diary…

Day 1: First day without sugar. I don’t think this is going to be a problem. My teeth are hurting so badly that I don’t want to eat anything except lukewarm soup. Maybe some soft bread. I reached for a grape in the fridge and then thought about biting into the cold fruit and how my teeth wouldn’t like that and I immediately returned the grape to the fridge.

Day 2: I’m proud of my breakfast. A bowl of chicken vegetable soup, some toast and an orange. Breakfast is always the hardest time of day for me to avoid sugar. How do I live without cereal, or oatmeal with brown sugar, or pastries, or sweetened yogurts, or muffins? I’m starting to feel a headache coming on which always happens to me when I cut sugar out of my diet. I’m going to exercise and drink tea and lots of water and hope it doesn’t get too bad. I keep finding myself thinking, maybe I’ll have a granola bar..wait no sugar.. Maybe I’ll make some caramel popcorn for the kids…wait no sugar…Maybe I’ll put some strawberry jam on my toast..wait no sugar.. I think it’s going to get harder before it gets easier.

Day 3: Today has been my grumpy day. I woke up with a mild headache and felt a bit queasy. Either I was coming down with something or my body was struggling to adjust to the lack of sugar in my system. All day I gravitated towards sugary food only to have to remind myself, NO SUGAR! This evening I had to go to Walmart. It was 9:30 at night and I was tired. I pulled into the parking lot and I thought, hmm, I should get a nice donut. Wait. No sugar. Then I wondered why I wanted a donut..and that would be because I’m tired. I needed a boost to get me through this last push of grocery shopping and getting home and putting groceries away before I could finally collapse into bed. I’ve never been big on caffeine, but instead I think I use sugar to give me that jolt of energy I need. I tried to think of what I could buy that would do the same thing, but didn’t have sugar. I saw a bag of fresh, crisp, green grapes and that looked good so I put them in the cart. Then I was walking past the cookie aisle and I saw the sugar-free cookie section. Yes! Cookies! Without sugar! Perfect! Of course, I had an inner voice lecturing me about chemicals and additives and fake stuff that wasn’t going to be any better for my body, but who cares, cookies sounded good. I finally got out to the car, put the groceries in the back of the van and pulled out both the sugar-free cookies and the grapes and brought them to the front of the van with me. I decided to experiment. I ate a grape, savored it for a minute. Then I pulled out a cookie, tried to savor it. It was a bit gross. Just a bit. It was definitely sweet, but did not deliver that oomph that real sugar does. It was actually pretty unexciting. I put the cookies away and continued to munch on the grapes. Maybe this counts as a small victory.

Day 4: For some reason, this has been the hardest day so far. Isn’t this supposed to be getting easier? I woke up with a headache (about the only time I get headaches is when I make major changes to my diet). I’ve felt tired and listless and just want to stay in bed. I’m feeling disappointed because it seems like I should be getting more energy. I’ve been exercising from 30 minutes to an hour every day for several weeks now and I still feel sore and achy at night. I was hoping that getting off sugar would give me more energy, but apparently I’m not at that stage yet. Right now my body seems to be in shock and can barely drag through the day. Three nights in a row now I have laid in bed exhausted and wide awake, my dear friend Insomnia paying a visit. It kind of makes you pause and think, what on earth have I been doing to myself? What is this drug that I’ve been drowning myself in? And yes, you might think, well maybe this has nothing to do with sugar, maybe you’re just fighting a virus. I might be tempted to think that, except that this has happened every single time I have taken sugar out of my diet ( I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve done that, and yet I still always go back to eating sugar). I’m thinking I’m going to have to extend this fast for another week just so I can get it fully out of my system and start reaping some of the benefits.

 

Well, three more days to go before I’m officially done with the fast. It’s funny, I always flippantly think, Oh, I’ll just stop eating sugar, or white bread, or junk food. I forget how hard it is to change your course, your path, the normal way you do things. I’m glad I’m doing this whole healthy thing slowly. I don’t think I can handle more than one change at a time. Hopefully by next week I’ll be sugar free and boasting about how much energy I have. We’ll see. See y’all next week.

Fat Fridays: Week 8 There’s a Place for Law

I read a book recently, “A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Rooftop, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master” by Rachel Held Evans. It’s a good book. She explores the whole idea of what does it mean to be a biblical woman, and in the process points out how we tend to pick and choose which “biblical womanhood” principles that we like. In the book she set out different tasks to achieve each month. One of those tasks was to observe an orthodox Sabbath day. At the end of a very peaceful day where she found herself truly at rest, she observes,

“I knew in a way that I hadn’t known before that we had created a false dichotomy, that sometimes the law is grace.”

That statement has stayed with me. We talk about law versus grace, always coming down on the side of grace, but, as Ms Evans observed, following the law can be a form of grace. I have noticed this in the realm of exercise. I set myself a law: no reading unless you are on the elliptical. I love reading so I got on the elliptical a lot. I am now doing thirty minutes to an hour every day on the elliptical. It’s become a habit. But it’s also become a source of dealing with bad moods, irritation, lethargy. I notice I’m feeling bad and so I go get on the elliptical. I have fallen in love with exercise and all the benefits it gives me. I’ve relaxed the “read only on the elliptical” law because I no longer need it. I now want to exercise.

I have also been thinking about this in terms of food. I have already come to the conclusion that I’m not going to do well living in a rigid, highly structured “diet” plan. It goes against my personality, it sets me up for a big crash. But, there is a place for discipline, “law”. I have a very real sugar addiction. It is my go-to, feel-good, substance of choice. Feeling irritated? Eat chocolate. Feeling angry? Go buy a donut. Wanting to celebrate? Eat ice cream. I was kind of hoping that as I adopted a healthier lifestyle that I would just naturally reduce my sugar intake. So far that hasn’t happened. I am realizing that in order to eat less sugar I’m going to have to put down some heavy Law in my life and fast from sugar for a while. I do not want to make a statement that from this day forward I will no longer eat sugar. I can’t do it. I don’t want to do it. But, I think I’m going to have to take a break from it so that I can get rid of the addiction and form a bit healthier relationship with the substance. It’s really hard to gradually reduce your intake when you are dealing with addiction. I have found in the past that if I could completely go off sugar for a week, sugar lost it’s hold on me. I no longer had this daily craving to go eat something sweet. Fruit started tasting sweet and satisfying again.

So, this is my goal. Fast sugar for a week. Break the addiction. Start treating sugar as an occasional treat instead of a daily need. I’ll let you all know how it goes. Of course, I’m not starting today. My husband gave me box of chocolates for Valentines Day. When those are all gone, then I’ll start. 🙂