"I will NEVER eat chocolate again! OMG! What? Why? And who made that decision?! Seriously? Are you mad?!" -This is what was floating through my mind when I determined that a sugar-free lifestyle was more suitable for me.
The thought of never eating another piece of chocolate completely overwhelmed me, stressed me out and well, as you can imagine, I ended the day indulging in at least a bag of chocolate. Take that, sugarless lifestyle!
It has definitely been a challenge working sugar out of my system and a bigger challenge convincing myself to sustain it. The forever aspect of it still overwhelms me...so you mean I will not eat cake at my wedding? (Oooh the brain travels far and fast, eh?) And how does it work with my family? Will others understand this lifestyle that I clearly do not understand myself? Will they support me? Will they sabotage and give me sugar whenever they can? Can I really stick to this? Do I want to do this? Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Ok, let's pause and get a hold of ourselves a bit. A sugar-free lifestyle is not much of a stretch for me, I mean I'm already vegetarian and have a highly restricted palate. In fact, my mom’s desire for me as a child was to live life without added sugar. She specifically fed me all the fruits and veggies she could so that I would develop a taste for them. When we moved in with my grandmother, she was instructed not to give me any candy as grandparents usually do, and as grandparents usually do, she went firmly against it and voila! the sweet tooth monster was unleashed! My mother herself at some point gave up sugar. For all my childhood, I never saw her eat candy or any of the delicious cake with lots of icing that she made. She didn't even add sugar to the foods that usually called for sugar. So why can't I imagine doing the same in my life?
Well, sugar has become such an integral part of our palate. Think of what you have eaten so far today or recently? How many of the foods contained sugar? Eating sugar really has become such a no-brainer for all of us. From breakfast to dinner, we have several opportunities to load up on it and we usually don't let the opportunity pass by. Even those who do not have much "taste for sugar" (what does that even mean?!) and prefer savory/salty foods still consume sugar in large quantities.
Since I've been working on this new lifestyle, there have been many opportunites to try again. I
usually set time periods for my goal that allowed me to focus and stay disciplined. After the time period, I would "briefly" pause to savor some of the foods that I had been avoiding. This would usually stretch out into a few days (or weeks!) after which I would recommit myself to my cause. At some point, I decided I had been off sugar enough not to crave it and could just have "a little here and there"...alas, no. Soon as I worked in back in my diet it was like we had never been separated! Come to mama!
So now what? I am currently working on a body sculpting goal that requires the utmost discipline, which means, no added sugar until the goal is met (however long I decide to stretch out getting there!) There will be some birthday celebrations in between, and I plan on celebrating however it comes - I won't go out of my way to pursue sugar. For other times, I will politely decline and if necessary explain.
And for the rest of my life?! Well it's still an overwhelming thought. Some of my favorite foods require, yes, require sugar. I bake quite often and though I can sweeten my pastries with fruit, sometimes a girl needs cookies that taste like cookies! And my chocolate -well, dark chocolate is very good for your heart. In fact, 1.6 oz/daily has been shown to improve heart health (but who can eat only 1.6 oz!) Everything in moderation, right? The bottom line, good health!
I am more aware of my triggers to binge (stress, boredom, emotions, just because, self-sabotage/ reward for doing well) and I will continue to avoid having chocolate at home. I know sugar is not THE enemy and avoiding it is only one part of the solution to good health, so I will not villainize or obsess about it.
I challenge you to work sugar completely out of your diet or at least reduce it. Can you imagine your world without sugar? Can you go a week, 3 weeks, forever without it? Do you already lead a sugarfree lifestyle -how do you do it?
P.S. In case you missed it, I discussed my love of sugar and our break-up in this post, and why we had to break up here.