A sugar-free year: Why I quit sugar
diary of a Sugar addict
Not even 5 minutes have passed after eating that damned cake, that I felt sick to my stomach.
It wasn't the devious sweetness of what I had just ate, but my consciousness, yelling at me: Was one piece seriously not enough?! Why do you always have to do this!?
My guilt wasn't unexpected.
Over eating sweets was an old story. The more I had, the more I needed.
No matter how much sugar was messing with my mood, my weight or my self esteem, I still couldn't help myself at times. When the plate was empty and the sweetness was gone, the inner voice always mustered about my ignorance.
And I thought the voice was right. Something needed to change.
I had one of two choices, either to let go of the guilt and close my eyes to the side effects forever AND enjoy all sugary treats from now on without any regrets,
I'd do the exact opposite: open my eyes wide to exactly what sugar does and why it's bad for me, so I can't ignore it any longer. Then, to find other ways to make myself happy.
As you may have guessed, I chose the latter.
It started with a choice
At the end of last year, I decided: 2018 is going to be sugar-free for me.
I wanted to mend the feeling of being incapable, uncontrollable and for sabotaging myself.
But getting the motivation to actually do it sounds way easier then it is.
The mere thought of quitting sugar made me wanna go dig in a bucket of ice cream for the rest of the day, but I managed to do something even better:
I committed to learning.
I wasn't going to do anything too harsh until I knew this was the best decision, but in order to do that, I needed to really understand what was going on.
So I studied all the the reasons why sugar wasn't something I'd needed or even liked inside my body. I also studied my own habits, my own thinking. I identified my real needs, not the ones sugar was covering up for. I also understood I was hooked. It wasn't as innocent as I thought in the beginning. Sweets had taken a hold of me.
Eventually, when I had enough leverage, I set out to challenge myself. And it worked.
Hit play! This guy explains it so much better than I ever could.
Click here if the link isn't loading.
I also encourage you to see a film this week, it’s called That Sugar Movie. The plot is about an experiment, where a guy only eats foods that are marketed to be healthy for a few months, but all of them have a high amount of added sugars. The results are .. well, shocking.
One day, I made a connection that turned out to be the most powerful thing to drive me. By now, I had already learned enough to make up my mind about how toxic refined sugars are and how they changed my mood, spoiled my energy and just how they took over my mind with blinding cravings.
The fact that I wasn’t in full control of my own decisions didn’t even bother me as much as what I had just recognised about myself: I was being a hypocrite.
You probably wonder why, right?
It’s because of smoking.
In love with the enemy
Don't get me wrong, I don’t smoke, never have and never will. But I do have close friends that never miss a cigarette whenever we see each other — and it has always bothered me.
I don’t always say something, but when I do, it usually goes like this:
"You know that thing is killing you, right? Then, why on earth do you still keep doing that to yourself?"
In my mind, it just seemed so unconceivable.
There was no possible reasoning that would justify holding on to such a bad habit. I would always come up with ways in my mind, of how, if I were a smoker, I wouldn’t wait one single second without taking action to rid myself of this insanity.
Then, I understood: I was just the same.
Just that my poison wasn’t nicotine, it was sugar.
I was being a hypocrite. I knew I had an addiction to something that didn't serve my health, yet I never really took any action against it. Everyone loves sweets, everyone has them, why was I to be any different?
But smokers put things into perspective for me. When everyone smokes around you, it seems normal to do so. Right? But is it?
Nowadays, people have come to their senses and the public opinion is making a clear case of the consequences of smoking, so it isn’t as popular anymore. It isn’t as normal anymore, but a few years back, smoking wasn't such a big deal. Refined sugars are still being understood as normal, but scientific evidence is already collecting loads of data about how it damages health.
You know, there comes a point in life when you need to decide your answer to a timeless philosophical question: Is it healthy to fit in a sick society?
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti
My answer has always been no.
I’d rather be the outlier and decide on my own terms what is normal and what is not.
The fact that society is throwing a gazillion products at me every single hour of my day, with endless advertisements, doesn’t mean they have the power to control my reaction to it.
Unlearning & reframing
The hardest thing for me though, was rewiring myself to forget how sophisticated I used to find macarons, pastries or creamy cakes . Seriously.
French desserts were my standard for living a good life.
It sound childish right now, but it felt like, by doing so, I was living “my way”.
What a joke. My way?!
I didn’t even come up with that. I'm not even french! Somebody else came up with that for me! That image of so called luxury wasn't mine. The internet, TV, western culture in general, they all sold me that image. I had no such standard before somebody convinced me of how luxurious that would be and feel. Of how desserts mean happiness and how you can only feel like celebrating if there’s cake on the table.
Do you understand how twisted that is?
That most of us, perfectly capable human beings of literally generating any emotion we want, at any given time, think we need CAKE to be HAPPY?!
What about laughter? Friendships? What about achievements? What about the plain fact that our heart is beating every second without us asking it to?
Let me calm down for a second.
How much is too much?
I’m guessing you already have an idea of how bad refined sugars are for your body, but just like me, you’re not quite that sure.
A little bit doesn’t hurt, right?
My honest answer is: I don’t know.
This is how I think of it: as long as it's in a natural occurring form, like in a fresh apple, that's fine for me. I eat plenty of fruit in all colors, shapes and sizes. That is my daily delight. But refined sugars, I'd rather not.
At least not for one entire year. This was my goal and I'm half way through it.
A year is long enough so I can prove to myself, that the addiction isn't controlling me anymore, nor is the media.
I'll decide next year if it's a decision I'd like to keep, but I'm pretty sure I won't be going back from this point on.
Having just a little doesn't cut it for me.
To me, it’s always either a lot or not at all. I can’t measure how much poison my body will take before falling apart. And why would I settle for a life any bit worse than it could be?
I can’t come up with excuses for myself and keep believing what I believe. I just don’t work that way.
But you may be different.
I actually wrote a previous post about abstainers or moderators, a personality trait difference Gretchen Rubin came up with.
I’m an abstainer. You may be too.
But still, if you would rather go on moderation, then it’s your job to figure out what balance means to you. It's also your job to figure out what the other options you have feel like.
Now, it's not my job to scare you, nor is it to educate anyone about what they should eat.
I'm not a nutritionist or a dietician, but I am quite fascinated by these fields and I've found learning about them made me make better decisions and just feel like I've got a hold of my own life and health. So I think it may empower you too.
How about you give it a months try and see how you feel? How much energy you have without any refined sugars? How much you'll learn just by getting in the habit of reading the labels. It will literally change the way you see food and your entire life for that matter!
Well, now it's up to you.
But if you're willing to try, I wrote a post with a 5 step guide to help you get the right mindset to make this change.
This is what helped me be 6 months in and really proud with myself!
Now, in case you have any questions, I'll be happy to give you some more insight in the comment section below.