i just finished a six-day sugar cleanse. it entailed giving up anything sweet and anything that acts like sugar in your body, including fruit, most condiments, alcohol, anything containing flour or other processed grains.. you get the idea.
besides the diet change, i did some heavy thinking about my relationship with sweets. there’s a lot of self-loathing involved, but a really honest heart-to-heart with two of the best girlfriends in the world gave me some great perspective.
here are some things i learned. while all may not apply to you, maybe they’ll give you something to think about (without denying yourself sugar for a week!)
most importantly (for me, at least), i learned that i could do it.
i also learned that i don’t actually eat that much sugar or that many sugar-like products. reading about all the things that you were supposed to cut out (like sweetened coffee drinks, sweetened cereal, soda, fast food, etc) made me realize that’s not exactly my problem. (my problem is not being able to stop once i start)
also, designing meals without sugar or refined grains wasn’t that hard, although i did miss sweet potatoes. breakfast was a bit of a challenge, but who wouldn’t be happy with this polenta, mushroom, soft boiled egg and brussels sprouts hash? (we actually had it for dinner, but really, i’d eat it anytime!)
i learned some foods to avoid over-eating, and some new recipes to add to the rotation, like this refried bean tostada yumminess:
having said that, i did eat more animal products than usual (cheese, yogurt, eggs). turns out you can’t easily eliminate two major food groups from your diet at the same time.
i learned that when i think i’m hungry before bed, i’m actually craving sweets or carbs. if i only considered sugar-free options (like hummus and carrot sticks), all the sudden i wasn’t hungry. this applies to other times of the day as well. good to know.
i also learned a little about what sweets i really want and enjoy the most, and i think that will help me be smarter about what i eat in the future. as in, if this isn’t going to give me total joy, it’s not worth it. for example, i love chocolate, but i came to realize i’m not one of those people who gets their kicks from “a small piece of very dark chocolate after dinner.” (there should be a name for those people… i have a complex about them)
i came to realize that texture is much more important to me. i crave a chewy cookie, a fudgy brownie, a moist piece of cake, a stroopwafel with its crispy outside and unbelievably chewy inside. so why waste the calories and sugar on a piece of chocolate that won’t really satisfy me? (does that mean i’ll never eat a hersey’s kiss or m&m again? heck no ma’am. this is a journey of discovery, not rules set in stone. but you get my drift)
i also started to get myself to think about “the after” – you know that crappy feeling or bad aftertaste in your mouth when you eat a sweet that’s not high-quality? who wants that? not me. not worth it. now i just need to remind myself of that in the moment.
finally, i learned how much i love real fregula. it was not a permitted food, and the only time during the whole week that i came close to a mental breakdown was when he added fregula to his bowl of this fish stew and i couldn’t. and it’s not even conventionally “sweet”! look at me!