The first month of my year without sugar is officially over. This month had its ups and downs but overall, I feel great. I am sleeping better, feeling better, and really happy about how this experiment is going! Here are a few things I learned this month:
1. The first week is the hardest – The first week is hands down the hardest. I’ve heard it takes ten days for cravings to go away and I think that is definitely right. The first week I was dreaming of donuts, cookies, and cakes every minute of every day. One thing saved me. I ate A LOT of fruit. I know that eating too much fruit is not good for you either, but I told myself that I would allow myself to eat fruit anytime I had a craving to get me through the first week. After the first week, my cravings went down considerably and I didn’t have a problem looking at dessert anymore.
2. “I can’t vs should I” mindset – When I was offered dessert or when something sweet was available in any way, I told myself “I can’t have this” instead of asking “should I have this?”. This helped tell my mind that the decision was already made and I shouldn’t even bother thinking about it. I know if I said “should I have this?” the struggle between the sugar devil and healthy angel on my shoulders would begin and the devil would win every time. The best tip I learned from the first month was to clean out your cabinets and give or throw away all the sugar temptation in your house before you start. This way you won’t be tempted and you’ll only have sugar-free snacks available.
3. Everything Has Sugar – Holy Mole! Almost EVERYTHING has sugar, and I mean everything. Everything might not have “sugar” labeled on the ingredients but sugar is often masked as “organic cane sugar”, “brown rice syrup” or the worst “high fructose corn syrup”. I probably spent about an hour in the cereal aisle trying to find a cereal that didn’t have sugar in it. I found two: Shredded Wheat (unfrosted) and Grape Nuts. Every other cereal had sugar. Even the cereals that advertise themselves as “healthy” had sugar. Needless to say, my mind was blown. Now that I’ve taken the time for ingredient reading, my shopping trips have become much quicker since I know which products do and do not have sugar in them.
4. My taste buds are changing – I started noticing this when fruit started tasting unusually delicious. I would enjoy a piece of fruit before bed and sometimes it even tasted too sweet. For example, I ate an extremely ripe pineapple and banana and felt a little sick by how sweet they tasted. Now that I’m not eating processed and artificial sugar, natural sweeteners are tasting much more, for lack of a better word, sugary.
5. People’s Reactions – This was very interesting to me. I told all my friends and family I was doing this and received a lot of disbelief and alarm. No one was particularly rude or mean about it, but I felt somewhat self-conscious whenever I told anyone. After telling a few people, I decided to just stop explaining and just start passing on dessert with the excuse of trying to eat cleaner. When I did tell people, the reactions were mixed and sometimes pretty funny. It just showed me how sugar is instilled in our psyches and tied to so many social customs. These were the types of responses I got.
“Are you crazy?”
“Why in the world would you decide to do something like that?”
“I could NEVER do that. It would take the fun out of my life”
“You’re going to miss out on so much during the holidays.”
Now, as many of you know, I’m a teacher so I decided to tell my students I was staying away from dessert for a year. Little kids LOVE to bring their teachers treats so I wanted to give them a heads up so they wouldn’t bring me a sweet and be disappointed when I didn’t eat it. I told them I would love a homemade card instead. I got a VERY different reaction from my 7 and 8 year olds than I expected. At first they were confused, and then very, very intrigued, and then they all accepted it very quickly and some were even excited for me or saying they wanted to do it themselves. Here are some of the reactions I got from them:
“But what about your birthday?”
“Are you allowed to eat fruit?”
“Can we still bring you presents?”
“I’m gonna make you healthy oatmeal cookies”
“Mrs. Berecz, I’m kinda like you. I only eat dessert once a month too.” (This child also loves avocado toast – obviously my spirit child)
Now that this experiment has been going on for a month, my friends and family are used to it and there haven’t been many discussions about it. This month went by without a hitch but I will be interested to see how October goes with Halloween.
P.S. My one dessert this month was something I’ll be sharing on the blog soon – I needed to taste test it to make sure it was perfect for you guys 😉
P.P.S. Thank you all for the positive comments, texts, and messages I received. It made my heart so happy to hear that the post inspired or helped some of you. I know a few of you are starting a sugar challenge of your own and I can’t wait to hear about it! For those of you who did – how is it going? Comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions.