adding parsley

simple things to do today for a healthier and happier tomorrow

Category: other thoughts

what I learned from quitting sugar

1. Sugar is in practically everything.
I first realized this standing in the cereal aisle of Target. I was hopelessly looking for a sugar free option. By sugar free, I mean sugar free. Not filled with another form of what is basically sugar…and usually worse. Corn syrup, stevia, aspartame, truvia, splenda….the list could go on. To my disgust, many of the ‘sugar free’ options actually contained more grams of sugar per serving than the standard sugary cereals that attract kids. I left frustrated.

2. Being adaptable will work in your favor.
I quickly realized that I wouldn’t successfully quit sugar if I didn’t adjust my plan. I am not the type to routinely pack my lunch and snacks for work, make every meal from scratch, or to eat only raw foods, so it would be difficult for me to avoid sugar completely once I realized that it was in practically everything. I also didn’t want to substitute items that weren’t naturally sugar free with superficially sweetened options. (The goal of this experiment was to become healthier, not pick up unhealthy habits.) So the focus of my experiment shifted to quitting all desserts, candy and food items that contained an unnecessary amount of sugar, and for consumption of the last category to be limited. To determine what the ‘unnecessary’ amount was, I compared labels and sought out the options that included the least amount of sugar.

3. You need to tell others what you are doing.
If it hadn’t been for my husband and coworkers’ lack of confidence in me, I might not have had confidence in myself. Their doubt motivated me more than I would have motivated myself on my own.

4. If you are able to, allow yourself to make your own rules.
I say if you are able to because some people may be tempted to make too many of their own rules, to the point that they pretty much give up on what they were trying to do to in the first place. If you really want the end result, you’ll be cautious when ‘adjusting’ the rules. In my case, I decided to allow myself one day off per week from quitting sugar. The first day off was due to it being my first child’s first birthday party. Had I thought that through when taking on this experiment? I needed to have a piece of his birthday cake.

5. Six weeks was enough and just right.
It was enough time for me to break my addiction. Enough time for me to not care as much about or depend on sugar. And it was just the right amount of time. Had I gone another two weeks without sugar, as initially planned, I may have come to resent the experiment to begin with. I may have become consumed with when I would be able to taste sugar again. I may have undone all that I had done. As I had stated, it is important to be able to adapt.

6. It’s worth it.
You might be thinking… “Well, you didn’t actually do it, with all of your ‘adapting’ and ‘adjustments'”. But I did do what I needed to do to quit my sugar addiction. And it was still hard. And very worth it.

sometimes…small things aren’t enough

This may sound contradicting, but I’m still going to say it. And write about it. Because though I am a firm believer that every small thing counts and that a bunch of small things add up to what makes a big difference, I also believe that sometimes…small things aren’t enough. And that includes the simple approaches that I write about.

I write about the small and simple things that make a significant impact on my health and happiness, to hopefully make living a healthy lifestyle attainable for those that are otherwise intimidated. And to prove that such a lifestyle is enjoyable. These approaches aren’t intended to be life saving solutions for people with major or urgent health issues though. They also aren’t intended to be catch-all solutions. There are times that we need or want the type of big changes in our lives, that may make more drastic measures appropriate.

That’s why, I’m quitting sugar. At least for an experiment. Most likely, not for life. Actually, most certainly, not for life.

My sugar habit started slowly, within reason and continues to be not that bad compared to what it could be. It also began with the best of intentions. While I was pregnant last year, I needed to increase my caloric intake and it just so happened that the majority of the foods I could stomach were filled with sugar (which I of course didn’t mind at the time). After having my son nearly a year ago, I continued needing additional calories to fuel breastfeeding, which burns calories like you’re training for a marathon. (Not that I would know what that’s like, but I can imagine.) Though I no longer had food aversions, I was quite taken with the ability to eat dessert every day, multiple times, without gaining any weight.

Until recently, I didn’t think much of this new sugar habit. After all, I was still eating healthily overall, hadn’t gained any weight and mostly chose “nutritious” forms of sugar, such as dark chocolate, dried fruit and brown sugar oatmeal. Without realizing it though, I was also experiencing major energy drops during the day (which I would mend with a sugar fix), was routinely exhausted by the time I got home from work (which is really when the best part of my day begins), and my skin was looking – to put it bluntly – bad (no sugar coating here). Over the past few weeks it has crossed my mind that these issues may be connected to my increased sugar intake, so I attempted to cut back. But I kept giving into the habit. I had become addicted.

Thankfully, I received a sign this past weekend that motivated me to do something about this, as it supported my suspicion that sugar may be at the root of these issues. It was the story of another unlikely sugar addict’s experience with the sweet substance that I stumbled across and instantly knew I had needed to hear (or read). Her name is Sarah Wilson and she is now not only my quitting sugar inspiration, but also my blog crush. As I was reading her story, I couldn’t help but think how similar her situation and points of view are to my own. Only, I haven’t quit sugar yet. So I want to be like Sarah. I want to quit sugar, and to reap the benefits that she reaped. And then, once I get to the point that sugar is no longer an “addiction” for me, I will go back to my simple approaches of living a healthy lifestyle when it comes to…enjoying sugar.

I started the “I Quit Sugar” experiment two days ago, so it is too early to say whether it will make a difference. But I have high hopes and can’t wait to see where this takes me.

As I mentioned, I am still a firm believer that doing small things today will make a big difference in your health and happiness tomorrow. But this is a situation in which I feel the need to take more drastic measures. So please, wish me luck.