Part 2 of my How to Quit Sugar saga involves me actually quitting sugar.
I started on Monday, August 1.
The day started out beautifully, actually.
But I didn’t feel bad about the pictures. Or about myself. Honestly, I didn’t. I took a lot of pictures.
I wanted to document the beginning of the rest of my life.
I know I will look different from here on out.
Day 1 of my sugar detox began with self-assuredness. I felt calm. Composed. I felt in control.
Because this is what I decided on day 1 (I’m calling it Epiphany #1):
I am someone who doesn’t eat sweets.
That is who I am now.
Who I was before does not matter.
I am clear-headed. I am not bogged down by sugar comas and cotton candy brain.
I am someone who eats well and exercises. Not by obligation, but by choice.
I am someone who nourishes her body with vegetables, proteins, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats.
I will be a healthy woman. A healthy mom (soon).
I will be trim and fit.
I will be lively and vivacious and unstoppable.
I might not have my ideal body, yet.
But I know my body will eventually reflect my refreshed lifestyle.
I am no longer someone who is “controlled” by what she eats.
I don’t “cave” or “give in.”
Because there is nothing to “give in” to.
I rule myself.
I decide what goes into my body.
I choose wholesome food.
I do this because this body is the only body I have.
And I deserve to be well-nourished!
I get one life, one chance to be who I want to be. One blip in the history of the world to look the way I want to look and feel the way I want to feel.
I want my body to be a fit body.
I want my body to be a healthy body.
I want my body to be a great place for a zygote. But I also want it to be a great place for me.
On day 1, I just knew my life would never be the same. And I was thrilled.
No more yo-yoing for me. No more losing 20 pounds in 2 weeks. No more gaining it all back. No more feeling out of control about my eating habits.
Sugar was the problem.
Remove the sugar, remove the desperation.
I feel in control. Of myself.
So, when I cooked oatmeal and added only cinnamon to it day 1 morning, that was a CHOICE. Not depravity.
Eating well is a form of autonomy.
YOU choose what you want to put in your body.
YOU have the power to determine how you look.
YOU don’t tell yourself no – you tell yourself YES.
No, I can’t have that candy bar TURNS INTO Yes, I am choosing to live a candy-bar-free life.
No, I can’t skip my workout today TURNS INTO Yes, I am choosing to work out today.
The wind…it bursts through my hair and floats my cape and I am UNSTOPPABLE day 1 morning.
Four hours later…
*Brooke lies face-down on the carpet and cries to the sugar gods for abandoning her*
Kidding. But I definitely lost some of my gun-slinging edge as the day wore on.
I survived, though.
I had oatmeal for breakfast, a salad for lunch, some cucumbers, and some adorable butter lettuce taco wraps for dinner (see what I’m eating on Instagram!). After dinner, I snacked on as many almonds and sunflower seed kernels as I wanted. I had less nuts/seeds than I expected to have, mostly because they’re not AMAZING the same way Pringles are. But I definitely filled up on them.
I’m not limiting my fats, remember?
These are the foods I am avoiding on my sugar detox:
- Processed carbs (bread, crackers, rolls, pastries, cookies, blah blah)
- Refined sugar (solid, liquid, grain, all forms)
- Artificial sweeteners
- Maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, etc., at first
- Potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, beans, etc. (starchy veggies), at first
- Grains in general (except oatmeal), at first
- Dairy (because dairy has lactose (milk sugar), which converts to sugars in the body – plus, you really don’t need dairy), at first
This restriction may look similar to the Atkins diet or the paleo diet, but I assure you I am not pursuing either of these “diets.”
I am simply eliminating sugar and carbs (refined carbs for good, but whole, minimally processed grains will be reintroduced into my diet after a few weeks or so).
I will eat whole grains and natural sweeteners (occasionally) once I’ve kicked my addiction and don’t feel so out-of-control.
Over the weekend, I received a few inquiries about quitting sugar.
Thank you so much for asking questions, those of you who did! YOU are the whole reason I blog, so I love, love, LOVE hearing from you.
One of you asked about whether maple syrup is allowed on a sugar detox.
It’s a good question, because maple syrup is touted as an excellent substitute for refined sugar.
And, indeed, when in doubt, ALWAYS opt for maple syrup over the refined white stuff.
In fact, here is a list of healthy alternatives to many things in your kitchen. I created that list a while back and I stand by it.
100% pure maple syrup (not that fake, high-fructose-corn-syrup Betty Crocker crap) is a better alternative to refined sugar.
Because there are minerals in maple syrup.
Pure maple syrup is minimally processed before it reaches you, so many of the from-nature properties and antioxidants are intact when it hits your tongue.
Refined sugar, however, goes through a whole slew of processing stages before it reaches you, and those stages wipe out all minerals your cane/beet/whatever sugar might have had to begin with.
However, the minerals in maple syrup don’t detract from that fact that maple syrup is high in sugar, so don’t start drowning your pancakes for the sake of “health.”
Maple syrup is high in sucrose – just like refined sugar. It’s not quite as high as refined sugar, but it’s still substantial.
So, if you’re trying to grab the reins on your sugar addiction, you should nix maple syrup, too (and honey for that matter), at least at first.
Maple syrup is still sugar. It’s just a more straight-from-the-woods sugar than refined sugar.
Maple syrup and honey and coconut sugar aren’t allowed on a sugar detox because they are simple carbs (as compared to complex carbs).
Here is an excellent article that explains the difference between simple and complex carbs. I’ll summarize it for you:
- Simple carbs are broken down quickly by the body and provide few vitamins and minerals. Simple carbs = refined sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.
- Complex carbs are broken down slowly by the body. This is because complex carbs DO contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. Complex carbs = whole grain breads, fruit, oatmeal, etc.
Fruit is allowed on MY sugar detox because it’s a complex carb, which means I won’t get that giddy little jolt of energy from eating it. An apple isn’t going to make me bounce off the wall. I’ll digest it slowly, which means I won’t crash. No sugar crash = no immediate urge to eat more sugar for energy. See how it works?
If you want to be REALLY strict with sugar and carbs, omit fruit. Here’s a blog that explains EVERYTHING you should avoid if you’re going on a legitimate, full-fledged sugar detox.
That detox plan requires you to eliminate OATMEAL, though, which I think is just ridiculous. I’m going to eat oatmeal, okay? And fruit.
Here is some excellent sugar detox advice: plan on eating dinner and then immediately getting ready for bed.
The reason you should go to bed right after dinner is because ALL cravings are harder to combat at night. Energy dwindles to an all-day low in the evening, which means motivation is running low, too.
I’ve mentioned before that willpower is like a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it gets.
You can over work willpower.
That’s why it’s important to remove those Peeps from the back of your closet before doing a sugar detox. You won’t have to tell yourself NO again and again and again if the choice is removed from the picture.
The less you have to tell yourself no, the easier your detox life will be. Remove the temptations.
Removing obstacles is just good business for habit reformation. You need all the help you can get when you’re trying to restructure your behaviors.
So, do yourself a favor and draw the blinds at 6PM on sugar detox days.
Why sit up all night and torture yourself with ice cream commercials?
Plus, you WILL be exhausted.
Detoxing from anything is exhausting. It’s emotionally draining to change your habits/life.
It’s a constant effort to stay positive and not punch your coworkers in the face.
And it’s even MORE of an effort at night when you’ve spent all day forcing yourself to smile at your boss and now all you want to do is dive into a bag of Twix bars.
Head for bed.
Head for bed.
Head for bed.
Trust me. It’ll get easier. I know this from general dieting experience.
You’ll feel less like a crack head after a few weeks, and then, once you trust yourself, you can stay up a little later.
More advice for quitting sugar: when you’re REALLY craving sugar, research “how to quit sugar” and “benefits of quitting sugar.”
I did this when I quit smoking. It is hands-down one of my best pieces of advice for trying to quit a bad habit.
When cookies are calling, open up your browser and ask google how to get past a cookie craving.
Just don’t cave.
Because you’ll have less cookie calls as the days pass. That’s how beating addiction works.
The cravings (at least for me) never lessen in intensity – they just lessen in frequency. More time = less cravings. And time strengthens resolve.
The longer you go without giving in, the less you’ll want to give in!
Guess what I had on day 2?
Epiphany #2: I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl (when it comes to sugar).
When I quit smoking (for the first time), I did so cold turkey. When I picked the habit back up, I cannonballed in. That first day, I smoked 12 cigarettes. I recall my sister, who was disappointed with my nicotine relapse (who wasn’t?), chiding me with exasperation.
“You don’t have to go right back to smoking half a pack a day!” she shouted.
I retorted, “If I’m going to smoke, I’m not going to smoke LESS than I want to smoke.”
It took 24 hours of zero sugar for me to realize that the same goes for sugar.
I can’t dabble with the occasional no-bake or cheesecake slice.
I never stop at one chocolate bar.
(And even if I do, it’s to move on to something else that’s loaded with sugar.)
If I DO somehow manage to have one chocolate Reisen and stop there, it’s because I tell myself that I can have more chocolate the next day (or soon).
I’m not programmed for dabbling. I don’t have that kind of self-control. My self-control is different.
I can easily have zero of something. But I can’t have just a “little bit” of it and stop.
I know I have an addictive personality. I knew this before I quit sugar.
What I did NOT realize is that I was GUARDING my sugar addiction from myself. Hiding it.
It never occurred to me to quit sugar because that’s how deeply entrenched the sugary goodness is in my life! Sugar had its clutches around my brain. I considered it a necessity.
Now that I’ve stepped back and examined my relationship with sugar (and researched the heck out of it), I know that I have to cut ties with it.
It controls me.
Can’t live life like that.
So, for the rest of my life, I will be actively avoiding sugar.
I might have a cookie here or there, but not for a LONG time. And who knows, maybe by then I won’t want the cookie (who’s placing bets?).
Just like with cigarettes, living without sugar will suck for the first six months, and when my one-year mark rolls around, I’ll probably want sugar so badly I’ll cry. Something about the one-year mark makes abstinence SO DIFFICULT.
But I’ll fight the urge to indulge!
Because my love for sugar is an addiction. And addictions rule you. I’ll suffer for now so I can be free later.
I will receive backlash for my no-sugar lifestyle.
People will try to convince me to cave. It’s happened with cigarettes and it’ll happen with sugar.
But I won’t cave.
Because despite how socially acceptable sugar is in our country, it’s not acceptable for me.
I know it seems extreme. But I just keep asking myself the following questions.
Is refined sugar essential to life?
Are processed carbs doing my body any favors?
While I might miss out on the PLEASURE these foods bring, my body certainly won’t be missing out on anything.
So I am going to avoid them.
Because I am an all-or-nothing girl.
I wasn’t born with limit sensors. So: control the sugar, control the self.
By the way, quitting still sucks. I might sound like a beacon of self-improvement, but I’m struggling.
Tonight will be rough. Every day will be rough until the days aren’t as rough.
But this struggle WORTH IT.
Want to hear an interesting fact that I’ve uncovered about sugar detoxing?
Quitting sugar makes you dehydrated (at first).
I woke up on day 2 and immediately guzzled nearly a liter of water. I was so thirsty.
There’s a reason!
No wonder people tell you to avoid bread before the beach.
If you stop eating carbs, your body won’t be retaining as much water.
A low-carb diet makes you thirsty because you’re having trouble hanging onto your water!
I LOVE research.
One of the tips to help combat the diuretic effect of not eating carbs is to eat lots of salt.
We ALL know that excess salt bloats us up like little puffer fish. That’s because it helps our bodies retain water.
I’ll try to get more of it in now that I know my body’s struggling to stay saturated.
Day 2 was significantly more difficult than day 1, craving-wise.
I got through it, but not without an apple. And MAN, was that apple delicious!
Day 2 was shadowed by a general sense of less-than-satisfied.
Exhaustion was setting in, too.
When I quit smoking, I had numerous vivid dreams about CHEATING and smoking cigarettes. I’d wake up in a panic about having ruined all my progress, only to come to my senses that’d I’d been dreaming. Wave of relief every time.
I had my first sugar cheating dream day 2 night!
I dreamed that I’d “accidentally” eaten a bunch of foods that were filled with hidden sugar. Sweetened snacks and whatnot. It was terrible!
Thank goodness I woke up.
Today is 3, and deep-seated exhaustion has sucked the life out of me. I am a noodle.
I had to DRAG myself out of bed. Coffee didn’t even touch my tiredness.
It’s the kind of body-tired you get when you’re getting a cold. I just want to sit around and do nothing.
This will pass soon.
Also, my sister shared some disconcerting news with me on day 3.
Or, rather, a disconcerting picture.
She accompanied this picture with a text that said, “FYI my EXTREME dieting sister 🙂.”
I am not sure what to do with this information.
Actually, I am sure.
I think I’ll incorporate carbs back into my diet sooner than expected.
GRADUALLY, of course. But I will.
I do need to lose some weight to be ideal for baby. And it’s important for me to be sugar-free when I am with zygote, because I want to have a healthy pregnancy (and have greater control over my pregnancy cravings, which will be easier if I’m not addicted to sugar).
And, like every mother on the face of the planet, I want to be able to bounce back to my pre-zygote body with relative ease.
Quitting sugar is proving to be as difficult as expected.
However, it is absolutely possible to quit sugar.
You just have to have a damn good reason to do so.
Because even in my weakest moments, I don’t even bat an eye at the thought of caving. I don’t WANT to cave.
My body might miss the carb conveyor belt, but my heart does not. I’m not invested in the sweet-fueled lifestyle anymore.
So, I’ll keep trucking along. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, too. And my research findings, of course.
In the meantime, please feel free to leave me tips in the comments.
And definitely weigh in on the picture my sister sent me. What do you think? What would YOU do if you were me?