Page Twenty: Sugar-Free For You and Me

For starters, I don’t want this blog to become all about eating sugar-free at all whatsoever. I just want to get that out of the way. So if this doesn’t interest you in the least, feel free to skip on by and come back some other day when I have a bunch of feels to share.  But I have had a few people ask me to write about it and so here we are.

What? I want to train myself not to crave sugar anymore. Some friends (my boyfriend and then three other friends who are all smattered across the country) and I are all going to (do our damndest to) spend September avoiding sugar entirely. I think that each of us kind of have our own different set of standards for what that means individually but the blanket truth being that we’re weaning ourselves off of refined and fake sugars. And we’re excited about it. Ryan has committed to taking this challenge with me and it makes me feel excited that we’re embarking on a challenge together. I’m not here to put his business on the street, but I just have to say God bless his heart and his soul as his sacrifice is great indeed.

Why? If we’re being really, really honest my main motivator isn’t necessarily that I want to lose weight or that I want to detox my body or anything like that (I mean, yes. Those things are great and those things will very likely happen but they aren’t the main drive). Frankly, I just kind of like a challenge. When I was reading Mindy Kaling’s book, there is a section about food and how she’s tried every fad diet known to man just because she likes trying them out. I relate to that. I understand completely if no one else does (but if you do, please tell me). Lately I’ve felt a little out of self-control and this is a way for me to reign it in, center it and prove to myself that I really am in charge of myself.

I have been reading a lot about a whole foods diet–which is something that I really, really want to embrace for myself. I feel like going sugarless is step one to get going in that direction. It’s hard to avoid sugar (both real and fake) and still consume a lot of refined foods. Sugar is in everything and a lot of people have a lot of opinions about it. I’ve watched the documentaries and I’ve read the articles and books but I don’t feel like an expert enough to have a solid opinion one way or another regarding the whole of humanity and the right way to do food. I know that for me, this is what I want to do. So that’s why I’m doing it. It’s really that simple, I want to. 

How? Well, for starters, I’d been researching going sugarless for weeks before my friend Jessica even approached me about it in the first place. And, allow me to get very real with you about my feelings really quick: initially I didn’t want to do it at all. I’d been researching and talking a good game about my thoughts on healthy eating but I was not excited about having things actually expected of me. But I thought to myself (and, let it be known, I can be pretty self-righteous), “Well, this is really important to Jessica and if it was me, I would do better if I had the support of someone else so I guess I’ll do it with her.” Ugh. How condescending. I mean, I didn’t say it like that outloud. I’m sure I feigned some excitement about health but in my mind, I wasn’t doing it for me. I was doing it out of sympathy for my friend. And I had that attitude for about twelve, maybe thirteen minutes before I went back through all the research that I’d been doing and decided, no I’m going to do this and I’m going to do this for me and I’m going to be damn proud of myself.

So as much as I prepared myself mentally (learning about where hidden sugars are in food, developing less of a need for sweet  in regards to my coffee consumption, learning about the glycemic index), I did not prepare myself physically at all. September 1st came around and I was seriously lacking in the food department in the house! So Ryan and I drank Gatorade for breakfast (for the record, not even remotely sugar free) and then I went to the grocery stores. That first trip took about two hours because I wanted to read the ingredients of everything that I put in the cart. It’s easier if you stick to the outer edges of the grocery but even there you have to be careful. For example, I know that low-fat or non-fat dairy sounds like a better idea but there’s a lot more sugar in that than there is in the full fat version. And there’s fewer ingredients in the full fat version so that’s just what I go for, now. Full fat yogurt will keep you fuller anyway and you end up eating less.

Like I said, we all probably have different standards. We all are more lenient in certain ways and less than others. I think all across the board, donuts and gummy bears are frowned upon. But then there are other things, like bread? I like bread a lot. There’s sugar in it, of course, because that’s a main component in the chemistry of bread. But for me, personally, I choose the bread with whole grains so that if I have to have this small amount of sugar, I might as well balance it out with whole grains and fiber and protein also.

Fun facts: did you know that tonic water has nearly as much sugar as a Coke?! It’s disgusting! How could it be, like, 50% HFCS?? Anyway, maybe you did know that but I didn’t and I was downright shocked.  No more G&T’s for the Monaghan-Parker Household this month.
Also, on the side of good news, red wine is basically sugar free. So, that’s awesome. I mean, alcohol is never ever going to be considered a health food but a girl can only sacrifice so much all at once.

When it’s hard and I want to eat all of the cookies, or when I am wondering whether or not I want to eat something, I try to go back to the purpose for this experiment. I want to train myself not to crave sugar anymore. Studies show that the human body is in no way benefited by sugar. Sugar does, however, feed and nourish sickness. That’s all that it does in our bodies, it just makes disease more diseased. And the fact that my body craves that is pretty disturbing to me. Sugar hasn’t done anything to earn my affections and it doesn’t deserve my attention. I’m worth more than that. My body is worth more than that. My friends and my family are worth more than that to me. And anytime I wonder, “can I eat this…” I say, sometimes out loud, “I want to train myself not to crave sugar anymore.”  For September, I’m going no sweets at all (I am pro-fruit, however). But once Sept is over, I’m going to work on finding better-sugar alternatives to certain foods. After all, I have a monumental birthday coming up next month!!

So in the mean time, I’m going to keep reading and learning about my body and the food that I put into it. I might tell you about it if you want to know.

Full disclosure: pretty much the whole reason that I included this photo is because my cat is sticking her tongue out in the background.
Full disclosure: pretty much the whole reason that I included this photo is because my cat is sticking her tongue out in the background.

If you have any questions or suggestions please, I’d love to hear them. Encouragements, too. Because despite the fact that this post might sound really upbeat and positive and certain, at about 3:00 pm all I want in the world is gooey, rich, thick, melty chocolate chip cookies.


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