Intentional Living – What I’ve learned in 30 Days without Sugar
Thirty days went by so fast, I feel like it was all too easy.
But it actually wasn’t that easy. It just feels that way now I’m over the worst of it.
If you’re considering giving up the sugar yourself, here’ some things I have learned over the last thirty days:
The first week sucks:
Headaches, cravings, feelings of missing out while your family eats delicious school holiday treats, there’s nothing good I can say about the first week except that one day, it’s over and you start feeling better. Getting some good resources about sugar withdrawal really helps get you through this week.
Sugar makes you hungry:
I had no idea! I just thought I was hungry all the time and that was how it was supposed to be. After a week without sugar….no more hunger. I also get full when I’m eating, which wasn’t happening before.
Sugar makes you want more, more more!:
After meals, I always felt like I needed more, and often I would have more but never really get satisfied. After I gave up sugar I still had those feelings for about two weeks. It was quite difficult to ignore. I soothed this habit with a slice or two of cheese after dinner for a week or two and then the feeling just went away. I’m still surprised after every meal when I think to myself, ‘time for more’ and then I think ‘actually, I don’t want any more.’
I have daily ‘stress times’:
In the past, around about the kids bedtimes, I would start to feel like I really ‘needed something’ and by something I mean ‘cookies’. After the kids were in bed I would collapse on the couch, snuggle into a comfy throw and eat a cookie or five. ‘Whew, now I feel better!’ I would say with relief. Mid afternoon is also a not so great time when I often feel like I ‘need’ something.
Once I gave up the sugary snacks, I had to face up to the stress and see the cravings for what they were. I was tired and worn out, not hungry. All my adult life, I have dealt with stress by comforting myself with food, the sweeter the better. Now, without sugar I started to notice how I was actually feeling and when. Once I realised that my evening cookie binges were being brought on by stress I saw them for what they were, especially since they showed up every day at the same time. Since I don’t like being controlled by anything I have been too stubborn so far to give into them but it’s been really hard at times.
The more you don’t give in, the less you want to:
In the past, I have waited out my diets and changes in habits until I could go back to ‘normal’. This time, before I started I made a commitment to stick with this in the long term. Because I actually started addressing the things that were driving me to eat sugar and because I didn’t eat sugar for long enough, around the 20 day mark, the cravings began to decrease to the point where I barely have them anymore. Additionally, the further away I got from Day 1 of not eating sugar, the higher the stakes were if I had to go back to the start again. I didn’t want to have to start again, go through the sugar withdrawal again or experience any of the things I didn’t like about eating sugar.
I’m pretty sure I’m sleeping better:
It’s early days but I’m pretty sure that the hours I’m asleep are doing more for me than they used to. I’m not as tired at bedtime and I wake up before my alarm feeling less zombiesque. I’m really hoping this one carries on.
Food tastes good without sugar:
A month ago, if you had suggested I eat my sausages without sauce I would have looked at you as if you were crazy. No sauce….OMG. Now, however, I have experienced many foods without sauce and I have to say, it’s not bad, pretty good even. I also have been reading the back of the sauce bottles and oh boy, I had no idea how much sugar is in tomato ketchup. I mean, over a teaspoon of sugar per serve. Ouch!
I don’t want to go back:
Before I gave up sugar I spent about two weeks being horrified by the idea of completely giving up sugar for a really long time. I couldn’t imagine life without sugar and I didn’t want to, even though I knew I really needed to. In the next few months I will celebrate my birthday and then the Christmas and New Year season without sugar. That means, no birthday cake, no chocolates, no Christmas cake and no pavlova. I no longer care about missing out, because I no longer feel that I’m missing out.
Mike Collins of SugarAddiction.com says that it takes six months for your body to really start recovering from a long period of overindulging in sugar. I’m willing to give it a real go and find out what it’s like, because frankly, I can’t remember ever going that long without a cookie.