“On average, we eat over 2 1/2 pounds of sugar weekly, adding up to over 150 pounds of sugar annually in the form of sugary soft drinks, sweetened juices, cookies, cakes, and pastries, and hidden in processed and prepared foods . Compare that to our ancestors just over 100 years ago: They ate only 5 pounds of sugar annually.” – From Care2.com
We all know refined sugar is bad. Too much leads to health problems – obesity, diabetes, to name just two. The body wasn’t designed to process and cope with the sheer volume of sugar we put into our bodies every year. For me, I get a momentary boost from sugar, and then find the energy low that kicks in a short time later only makes me want it more.
I am not overweight. For this reason, whenever I mention to someone that I need to lose a few pounds or need to eat better, there is usually a chorus of “oh please!” or “but you’re so thin!” And while it’s true that I’ve not really been someone who struggles with their weight, I eat very poorly. This ramped up with the birth of my children. I ate sporadically. I ate over the sink. I ate their leftovers. I skipped breakfast, realized I was starving at lunch, and, pressed for time, shoved something completely unhealthy in my mouth. In the last couple years I have become an emotional eater. I eat when I am stressed. I don’t tend to over eat, though at times I do that too, I just eat bad stuff. Halloween almost always kicks off a season of bad eating for me. I rummage through my children’s candy stash for relief from whatever stressful event I’m dealing with. It may just be the day to day grind of raising children. The car breaks down, the kids gets sick, whatever, and there I am dragging a counter stool over to the cupboard so I can reach the candy I have stashed on the top shelf.
I’ve decided to make a change and try quitting refined sugars for 21 days. It takes roughly three weeks to form a habit and I’m hoping that I can retrain myself not to make sugar my go-to fix for when I am feeling stressed out. It’s not that I plan never to have sugar again. It’s that I no longer want to have it as my crutch.
There are lots of versions of this detox out there – many remove carbs and fruit. But that’s not what I’ll be doing. I simply want to get rid of refined sugars like candy, cakes, donuts, desserts, cookies – all the things I tend to lunge for when the kids are fighting. I’m also going to be watching high fructose corn syrup, which is in a lot of foods that have nothing what so ever to do with candy. It is sometimes in the things you’d least expect – chips, spaghetti sauce etc.
So here are the rules I’m following. You up for the challenge? I could use some buddies. We’ll start this week. One small note: I realize Thanksgiving is upon us, and I think a day off for a piece of pie is more than fair.
Here are the 5 rules I’ll be following:
- No refined sugars: This means no high fructose corn syrup also. Check labels.
- Artificial sweeteners are okay in moderation; eventually I want to get rid of these too and if you are strong enough you can go for it. I have a packet of Stevia in my coffee. Remember at DYF, we’re about baby steps back to feeling and looking better. I’m not going to take away your coffee enjoyment AND sugar.
- Fruit and carbs are allowed. Though other diets take away carbs and fruit, I think that’s cruel and unusual punishment. Perhaps I’ll get to that eventually. But really, one thing at a time. And right now, I need to curb my refined sugar intake.
- Increased water intake. I hardly ever drink water. Often we think we are hungry when we are actually dehydrated. And when I think I’m hungry I reach for the sugar. So drinking water will help me figure out if I’m actually hungry in the first place. Drink water, green tea or similar (I like coconut water, it’s a little sweet with no added sugars.)
- If sugar is a significant part of your diet, make sure you don’t sabotage yourself by not having substitutes in the house for your cravings. I like frozen blueberries. I also have honey with plain yogurt because it’s sweet. If you’ve got some suggestions for what you like to satisfy a sugar craving, post in the comments and I’ll add it.