All sorts of medical guidelines recommend a maximum of around 30 grams of added sugars per day. There is no required minimum. You won’t die if sugar is not added to your food. Although you might feel as if you might die. Which brings me to sugar addiction. When I realised I was a player in that game, I decided to embark on an experiment. Today marks day 43 of my no added sugar diet.
Ever since I remember, I have been eating sugar every single day, except for two occasions – one summer a couple of years ago where I went 30 days without artificial sugar (but still had sweets that were marketed as healthy, eg. bars based on dates & nuts) – after which I by the way within a matter of 3 weeks returned to my regular pattern of eating unhealthy sweets, and one summer when I went 20 days without chocolate (worst time of my life!) – which seemed like a good idea at the time.
However, this time I was determined to do something differently.
Nourish not punish
The reason I wanted to cut out sugar and unhealthy foods was to explore, experiment and examine:
1) if I could do it
2) how uneasy it would be
3) where the glitches would be and why
4) if there were parts that were going to be easy, to find out where the low hanging fruit is
5) my habits and how they contribute to my (un)healthy living
So this whole experiment is one of interest and curiosity. Is it possible? Is it feasible? How does it work? These are positive kinds of questions, that spark joy. It is completely the opposite of punishing or restricting myself, which is what most people try when avoiding certain foods because they know they shouldn’t be eating them. I don’t like restriction. Instead, I like curiosity and exploration. And approaching things from this nourishing and objective perspective makes everything so much easier <3.
Tell no one
When you decide to cut out added sugars, make this your little secret. It’s a pact you make with you.
I only told my boyfriend on day 5 because we share a lot of meals and I didn’t want it to get weird. The rest of my friends found out towards day 14/15, when I proudly announced how far I had come – but also confessed that I was still not trusting myself to complete the experiment. Co-workers heard about it around day 38, when the deal was real.
Why? Because this was my epic plan. And my (and your) epic plans for your health are none of anyone’s business. It is your plan, and you get to carry it out. Once you’re already (halfway) done with your plan, that’s when you share it with others – telling them ‘hey this is epic, AND I already did it!’. And that feeling is amazing. Which brings me to my next point:
Sugar and chocolate and sweets are advertised everywhere. They are marketed as something you need: from celebrating a happy moment to gulping down when in tears over your stupid ex. But newsflash: you don’t need sugar. Let me say that again. You don’t need sugar. Let the sugar (companies) be the one who need you. Be the one who is wanted. Let them make foods that are actually great for you! Take care of your own needs and break your dependency on advertisements and sweets. Be the ruler of your own wonderful universe. Empower yourself.
To achieve this mindset, empowerment is key. I looked up a lot of inspiring videos on YouTube, posts on Pinterest and just generally articles on empowerment and self-love I found through Google.
Once you start believing in your own power over yourself, nothing is impossible.
O.M.G. the cravings!
I had cravings for sweets and chocolate multiple.times.a.day. from day 1 till day 28. Every day. I warned people around me so that they could help me with an intervention if need be. Oef!
How did I not give in to cravings from day 1 to 28? What helped a lot was one line from an article I read (which was actually about addiction in general): “When your cravings are at their worse, that’s when you know your brain chemistry is changing and that’s when you know you need to hold on for dear life!”
So, I would remind myself of this in the moment of craving. Hold on, Ana! Hold on! (Ps. how cool is it that you can make your brain chemistry change?! Epic.)
On day 28, the cravings magically disappeared. There is currently caramel fudge from Scotland in the fridge (gift) and a bar of chocolate with almonds I bought 2 days before I thought of starting this experiment. They are both still untouched.
It has been a magical, experimental ride.
How will all this turn out?
To be continued…