Something always happens when I travel.
I become a massive sugar fiend. I can’t get enough. At home I’m never a big sugar person, preferring salt & vinegar chips and pickles to cakes, cookies and candy. But as soon as the plane hits the ground I start craving my favorite soda, Fanta (made outside of the USA with the good sugar). I can still vividly remember one of my favorite meals ever having Pad Thai and Fanta (in a glass bottle) at a local market in Bangkok.
Something about the mindset of being away makes me think I can eat and drink as much sugar as I want. It’s an easy thing to get when you’re traveling. Soda and candy are pretty universal foods to the entire world and on hot days it’s a nice (and cheap) pick me up.
When I come home I usually go back to my regular diet and everything balances out. But after spending the better part of a whole year traveling, all that sugar has started to have an effect on my waistline. I’ve been trying to diet and exercise but it hasn’t seem be having as much of an effect as I wanted. So I’ve decided to see what everyone’s been talking about and give up sugar for seven days. No sugar except from fruits (whole fruit, no juicing) and small amounts of honey.
What do I hope to gain? Besides maybe losing a few pounds? I’ve heard it can help the redness in my face go away, give me more energy so I don’t crash and just make me feel healthier in general. Let’s see how it goes.
I am already dreading this. I wake up and after reading all the labels I immediately realize that my previous weeks’ grocery shopping does not work with my new diet. I usually have tea (with 2 tsp of sugar) and Smart Start Cereal with milk for breakfast. Instead I’m having tea (with only milk), an avocado (salted and peppered but without the toast), some cheese and an apple. I miss sugar already.
Lunch is an easier meal because I don’t normally have that much sugar during this meal anyway. I head out to do some work at the local coffee shop in the afternoon and I’m a little sad about not getting my usual favorite treat, a chai tea latte. I settle for an unsweetened ice tea instead.
I have to admit. I was excited about the supposed rumor that eliminating sugar would eliminate all my face problems. I spend an inordinate amount of time staring the mirror debating if the redness in my face has gone down. Nothing yet.
I have my unsweet tea and breakfast again. One immediate benefit I’ve noticed right away? After breakfast my stomach hasn’t done it’s normal swelling. I had a hunch that my cereal was causing it but I had been in denial for awhile.
I head to the grocery store so I can stock up on some new foods.
I wake up and feel like I’m sailing through this whole no sugar thing. So far I feel great. I meet a friend for lunch and have a salad with unsweetened iced tea.
It was so nice out I spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around the city but all I can think about was how an iced chai tea latte would make the day so much better…
The first day I really miss sugar. My joints are really hurting today and I’m pretty sluggish.
I try to change up my breakfast this morning. I make a bowl of plain oatmeal, natural peanut butter, honey and strawberries. It’s the first time I’ve had natural peanut butter and I’m not getting a good first impression. I force it down.
DAY 5 – 6
For some reason things seem to be getting worse and not better. Day 5 and 6 are the hardest. I feel pretty moody and am having intense cravings. All I want is a candy bar. I have a jar of dark chocolate Hershey kisses I keep at home and I cannot stop staring at it. I eat all the sugar-free snacks I have left in my apartment.
It’s the final day! After the last two days I’m feeling a little down on this whole diet but today it seems to have passed. I have my new mix of plain oatmeal, natural peanut butter, honey and strawberries doesn’t taste as bland as usual. It kind of tastes sweet!
On the last day I break the no sugar fast and eat a half a cup of the free ice cream they’re giving away at the street fair on my block. For some reason I thought my body was going to freak out but it seemed to have no effect. I debate having some wine to celebrate the week being (kind of) over but decide against it after eating the ice cream.
I lost three pounds this week! This is the most weight I’ve been able to lose in one week in a long time. I kept up with my usual workout classes and I didn’t drastically cut calories like I had been trying to do before, just the kinds of calories. I also noticed that I didn’t feel bloated at all this week which had an amazing effect on how I felt overall.
The one thing that didn’t change? My skin. I guess sugar doesn’t have the same affect on my skin as it might have on others. It was hard to judge if it affected my mood/tiredness because I think I was still adjusting to the dealing with the cravings/withdrawal. I am going to try and continue this for another week or so and see if anything changes.
I thought this was going to be a much more dramatic lifestyle change. It actually ended up being much easier once I was able to come up with meals that I liked. And my tastebuds seem to have adjusted to not anticipating extra sugar. I don’t think I’ll be giving up sugar forever but I am going to start reading the labels at the grocery store a little more closely. Did you know that even pasta sauce and salsa have added sugar?
UPDATE: 2 weeks without sugar
I have to say I think this might a more permanent lifestyle change for me. I’ve almost gotten rid of all the food with added sugar in my kitchen and I know what kinds of foods to buy at the grocery store. The biggest change, I actually like my tea without sugar now and I can taste the actual flavor of the tea, not just the hot sugar. Although the weight loss slowed and I only lost one pound the second week I feel much lighter and I don’t miss sweets.
I have been having a little bit harder of a time falling asleep this week, but when I finally am asleep I’ve been sleeping through the night and not waking up. I haven’t slept through the night in a long time. I am also much less tired mid day and don’t crash. No improvement on the skin front.
I am going to continue to be sugar free when I’m eating at home but I don’t want to be that person always analyzing my food when I’m out to eat. Although I will try and still avoid buying desserts and sugary drinks when I’m out I am not going to worry about ordering at restaurants and whether there’s sugar in the bread or sauces.
What’s your biggest sugar vice? Have you ever given up sugar? Comment below.