I mentioned in my vegan 21 Day Fix RESULTS post that I am going to quit sugar.
I didn’t say when, but I said I WOULD.
Well, because I had an inkling that my love for sugar was linked to my “enhanced” backside.
And, plus, I just LOVE the stuff. Way more than I should.
What I would love more, however, is a less-enhanced backside.
So, I casually suggested to you that perhaps quitting sugar would solve all my problems.
Well, I’ve got good news and bad news.
The good news is that I was right. My sugar addiction is the culprit behind my out-of-control eating habits.
I know this because I’ve been listening to my body. And I’ve noticed a few unpleasant realities.
I crave sugar. And I get headaches when I go too long without it. And those headaches magically disappear after I eat some ice cream. And after I eat some ice cream, I eat chocolate. Ad infinitum.
Which leads me to the bad news…
The bad news is that I wholly underestimated how HARD it’s going to be to quit sugar.
Because I tried.
On my own. In secret.
You know that private space in your head where you reason with yourself, chide yourself, and cheer yourself on? That’s where I tried it.
I told myself THREE DAYS IN A ROW this week that I wouldn’t have sugar after dinner.
And each night, I had sugar after dinner.
On day four, I looked in the mirror at my bumpy blemished forehead and realized that I obviously have a problem.
I mean, I really have a problem.
Because usually I have WAY MORE willpower than this (remember when I lost 17 pounds on the 21 Day Fix?).
Sure, my nightly no-sugar “goals” weren’t necessarily set in stone or anything, but I definitely wanted to avoid sugar and definitely failed each day.
The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem.
My name is Brooke, and I am a sugar addict.
Don’t worry, I am helping myself.
And you, because I always take you along on my journeys.
How am I helping us?
With a lot of research.
Because strategies for ditching sugar abound on the internet. And strategies, we are going to need.
Which leads me to part 1 of my How to Quit Sugar saga: research phase.
Yes, I’m calling my sugar detox journey a saga.
It is a saga for three reasons:
- we have no idea how long it will last;
- there’s sure to be drama;
hopefullyultimately, the heroine will prevail.
(That’s me. I’m the heroine.)
And I am commandeering the troops (of one) and we are embarking on our noblest conquering quest yet: sugar ♥.
How did that little heart get in there?
I’ve been all over the internet lately searching for answers as to why I am so obsessed with sugar, what I need to do to QUIT sugar, and how I can possibly make this process a little easier on myself.
Because I know it’s going to be terrible. I just know it.
But, alas, things that do the body good usually are, at first.
So, in part 1 of this saga, I am going to explain everything I’m discovering about sugar.
Part 2 will involve me actually quitting sugar.
Part 3 will involve me floating high with elation for having quit sugar.
Part 4 will involve me sobbing into the wall as I crumple up into a sugarless ball in the corner of my bedroom.
Parts 5-98 will involve varying degrees of parts 1-4.
There will be a FINAL part, though. For I intend to champion this addiction.
I will quit sugar.
Mostly because I hear the whole world opens up when you do.
I’ve been hearing a lot of things about sugar during my research phase, in fact. I just love the research phase, by the way. It’s how I go about EVERYTHING in my life. First, research in depth. Then, execute.
During this research phase, I stumbled upon a great article by Adelma Lilliston on mindbodygreen.com (which is one of my favorite healthy living/eating websites, BTW, and here are the rest of my favorites). Lilliston’s article = How to Quit Sugar in 5 Days.
A few sentences in, Lilliston smacked me in the face with some truth. In the first paragraph, she says:
Sugar creates an addictive cycle of hunger, fatigue and moodiness. It initially spikes blood sugar, causing us to feel energized and happy. But since it’s devoid of real nutrition, blood sugar quickly plummets, leaving us tired, hungry and moody. So we reach for more sugar…
Hey, that sounds a lot like me…
So, problem = identified.
You think I’d be skipping through the lilies with this discovery.
But I’ve got mixed feelings.
Realizing that sugar is the culprit to my body issue woes is terrifying and exciting.
I’m terrified to live without my cookies and cakes.
But I’m also excited to break free of the chains of sugar addiction.
And I’m excited to have clear skin. And sleep more soundly. And shed some pounds.
I know most of my pounds come from sweets. Because I eat them by the truckload!
You’re either a salty person or a sweet person, in my opinion. And I always reach for the cookies over the tortilla chips.
I reach for the tortilla chips after the cookies, but the point is that cookies come first. Always.
I have isolated the problem. Now, I must conquer it.
I am learning that, in order to quit sugar, you have to understand sugar.
Sugar is tricky. Sometimes it’s swirled into pretty lollipops and sprinkled on peanut butter cookies. That sugar is easily identifiable.
But sometimes, it’s hidden. And sometimes, it doesn’t even TASTE like sugar.
There are things we eat that are not sugar that turn into sugar once we digest them. Did you even realize this?!
I am ashamed to say that, prior to research phase, I had not realized this (which is why research phase is the best phase).
There are three types of carbohydrates: sugar, starch, and fiber.
FYI: Carbohydrates are a macronutrient. There are three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They are called macronutrients because they are the main sources of energy for the body.
I want to talk about carbs.
Sugar is a carbohydrate. It gets metabolized and turned into sugars in our bodies.
Starch is a carbohydrate, too. It also gets metabolized and turned into sugars.
Fiber is also a carbohydrate. I had no idea!
Fiber is different, though.
Fiber doesn’t make us fat.
That’s because our bodies don’t possess the enzyme necessary to break fiber down. It passes right through us without metabolizing into sugars.
That’s why everyone is always telling you to eat more fiber. It’s good for you. It helps flush out your intestines by nudging everything else along.
I didn’t say all of this information would be lady-like.
Sometimes, I am not a lady. Remember? You saw my profane text messages.
I am a lady when it matters.
When I realized how many foods have sugar and starch in them, I realized that I would be eating absolutely NOTHING on my sugar detox and starvation would ensue.
Then, I calmed down, backed away from the dessert cupboard, and realized that quitting sugar is about quitting refined sugar and added sugar. Not ALL sugar.
For example, you’re ALLOWED to eat regular portions of fruit when you’re quitting sugar.
REGULAR PORTIONS. One cup is smaller than you think when it comes to watermelon.
Fruit also contains lots of fiber, which is another reason why you should eat it.
Recommended fruit portions differ for men/women and age groups, but the general idea is 2 servings (1 serving = 1 cup) per day.
We can have a little bit of fruit when quitting sugar because the sugar WE are quitting is not natural sugar, like the sugar found in fruits.
The sugar we are quitting is refined sugar. The delicious stuff. The stuff of which cookies and processed breads (yeah, there’s sugar – among other things – in your bread!) are comprised.
We are eliminating processed foods because they contain added sugars, lots of starch (AKA sugar), and they are devoid of nutrition.
Cake and Fritos don’t actually provide anything helpful for our bodies. They contain empty calories. Empty calories = calories that are STILL CALORIES but are nutritionally EMPTY. You still get fat from them.
We eat Nutty Bars and Pringles because we like them, not because they sustain us.
And the only biological reason we should be eating is for sustenance. Not pleasure.
Ahh, in an ideal world.
Unfortunately, we are people, not goldfish.
So, when we quit sugar, we quit candy, white bread, pastries, chips, potatoes, and so on. All of those foods are high in refined sugars and starches and they aren’t doing our bodies any favors. They are breaking down and turning into sugars in our bodies, and excess sugar wreaks havoc on the body.
Which is why we are detoxing ourselves from sugar!
I must say that this exploratory research phase has been very enlightening. For example, I realized that Gooey Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheerios and tortilla chips hold similar levels of comfort for me. And now I know WHY. Because they both turn into
cocaine sugars in my blood stream!
When I eat them, they give me a nice bouncy endorphin high and then immediately drop me on the floor.
The crash comes when my body burns right through the sugar/starch and then abruptly runs out of stuff to burn through.
Carbs and starches burn up quickly.
Burn through them and it’s like smacking into a wall. Luckily, there’s a cure: more Reese’s Pieces!
We avoid crashes by eating protein and fat. We burn through protein and fat more slowly. No crash.
This is why we’re supposed to eat a balanced diet of a lot of foods, in fact. Including fruit. Because each of those foods does different things for our bodies. We metabolize all of those foods at different rates, too.
So if we eat a nice variety of fruits/veggies/proteins/carbs/fats, we’ll be well-oiled machines that never crash.
Disclaimer: There is a whole lot of science I’m leaving out of this post (e.g. the different types of sugars starches break down into).
Because I am ONLY quitting refined and added sugar, and because I don’t want to bore you
more than I already am, I’m leaving the hairy details out. On purpose. NOT out of negligence.
Do you know what else you have to quit when you quit sugar?
Looking at you, diet soda and “sugar-free” candy.
Lucky for me, I don’t drink pop.
I do eat lots of fake processed sugary crap, though, and I know (from reading the labels) that this stuff contains artificial sweeteners.
Some people actually recommend eating artificial sweeteners while quitting sugar. You know, to help with the transition and for sugar-craving emergencies.
I think that’s a bad idea, though.
Artificial sweeteners aren’t great for your body. They cause inflammation in the gut and mess with your hunger receptors, which can impair your ability to tell when you’re full.
Plus, continuing to eat artificial sweeteners while detoxing from sugar is kind of defeating the purpose.
Or, at least, my purpose.
I want to re-train my taste buds. I want to enliven them. They are dulled by excess sugar right now.
And if I were to consume artificial sweeteners, my taste buds would still be acclimated to eating sweet stuff.
Which means the cravings might stick around.
The best way to quit sugar is cold turkey.
It will be just as ugly as quitting anything else cold turkey, but it really is for the best.
Because, well…you feel like you’ve got the flu. Headaches, fatigue, and even nausea can result. Only in the beginning, though, and those symptoms are short-lived.
Petrucci explains that withdrawal symptoms are good – they indicate a body that is transitioning from burning carbs for energy to burning STORED FAT for energy.
Sign me up!
It will be unpleasant, though.
Luckily, there are a few things we can do to help ourselves during this sh*tty detox period.
Like eating lots of healthy fats, for example.
Avocado, oils, nuts, all of them are A-OK on a sugar detox.
They help ease symptoms by presenting a large dose of slow-burn calories to the body. Which means they’re an excellent source of consistent energy. And they taste good. And they help keep you full. Which is good, because you and I both know that, when we get hungry, we get ravenous. For Oreos.
Hunger on a sugar detox = danger zone. Staying full is important.
Also important? Drinking lots of water.
The more you drink, the faster you’ll flush that sugar out of your system, which means the withdrawal symptoms will be over like that. *finger snap*
Or so they say.
Plus, water makes it easier for your blood to flow to your organs which means your brain can work a little faster.
Drinking water makes you smart!
Smart people drink lots of water because they know this.
This completes part 1 of my How to Quit Sugar saga.
Is part 1 ever really over, though?
Not for me, it’s not.
My mom calls me The Research Queen.
Because I LOVE RESEARCH.
It think it’s fun. Mother gags at the notion.
So stay tuned for more sugar detoxing insight.
And, of course, insight from my OWN sugar detoxing experience.
Now, I am going to take ALL of the information gleaned from research phase and formulate a sugar detox eating plan.
I will explain that plan in next week’s How to Quit Sugar post.
I’m a little nervous to initiate this process. There’s no going back, you know. Once you quit sugar, you quit it for good.
My sugar addiction isn’t going down without a fight.
Well, neither am I.
I got over my cigarette addiction, and if I can do that, I can do ANYTHING.
Make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss the next phase of my How to Quit Sugar experience!
And please share this post with other sugar-frenzied people in your life.
We shall kick the habit together.
See you next week!