I had mentioned at the beginning of last month that I was going to try Sarah Wilson’s “I Quit Sugar” 8-week program but she advocates against even fresh fruit because of how our body handles it. She may be right and I really want to try and reset my diet and remember what it feels like to eat more fresh food than processed food but I know that I will make myself feel worse and I won’t achieve my end goal if I’m constantly craving and feeling miserable.
I can’t go on a diet. I can’t blatantly cut out sugar. My goal is to learn to control the cravings, make better choices with food, and eat better portions. I don’t want to cut sugar out for a month or more and then at the end of it be craving all the sugary goodness I can lay my hands on.
So now what? A little back history first.
My dad gets hives when he eats almost any sugar. Other than sugar that’s in fruit. He can tolerate minimal amounts before it starts to make him feel sick and break out. He’s also lactose intolerant. Oh and we’re all vegetarian so growing up, my family ate really healthy food. I loved it, it tasted amazing because my mom was an amazing cook but it was also embarrassing sometimes when I was at school because I wasn’t eating the way all my friends were. I don’t know why I felt this way because, for the most part, other people didn’t care yet I was still self-conscious about it.
I wasn’t prohibited from eating sugar and dairy but since we didn’t eat it at home, it was a treat I got when we were eating out or I was at a friend’s place. I really took advantage of the sugar thing when I was at a sleepover or something and I would eat all the cake and frosting I could handle. This was probably the beginning of my sugar addiction.
I don’t blame my parents for my current sugar addiction because I lived a really healthy life up until I went off to college. I had rarely ever gotten sick, I was within a perfectly healthy weight, and most of the time I felt good about myself. When I left for college and I no longer had my mom preparing healthy food for me every days, I lost sight of portion control and how much sugar I was consuming. I gained weight pretty quickly and I’ve floated around in the 170-190 lb range ever since. I dipped into the low 160s at the end of one summer I’d been really active but otherwise I’ve been unhealthily overweight the last 6.5 years.
So my unhealthy eating habits are three-part:
- I love sugar. I get actual sugar cravings and it’s hard to control when I really, really want something sweet.
- I love good food. I don’t know where this came from, but when I taste something good, I tend to pack it away like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the winter. Weird analogy but it fits. It’s almost as if I feel like I’m never going to get to taste it again.
- This is usually only really an issue when we’re having a meal with other people/eating out but I eat absent-mindedly when there’s food just sitting in front of me.
The sugar industry rules our diet more than I think anyone, including myself, realizes. I’m trying to educate myself and take a stand for myself and my health
Here are some resources, including research articles, that shed light on the subject of sugar, addiction, and how it relates to our health. You don’t have to be a sugar addict for it to be negatively impacting your health because studies show we’re all eating too much of it anyways.
Resources on sugar and its effects
- The Case Against Sugar, Gary Taubes
- I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-week Detox Program and Cookbook, Sarah Wilson
- Sugar Crush: How to Reduce Inflammation, Reverse Nerve Damage, and Reclaim Good Health, Dr. Richard Jacoby and Raquel Baldelomar
- Sugar Nation, Jeff O’Connell
Sugar-Cancer link Research
- “We found that sucrose intake in mice comparable with levels of Western diets led to increased tumor growth and metastasis, when compared with a nonsugar starch diet. Overall, our data suggested that dietary sugar induces 12-LOX signaling to increase risks of breast cancer development and metastasis.” –A Sucrose-Enriched Diet Promotes Tumorigenesis in Mammary Gland in Part through the 12-Lipoxygenase Pathway, The Journal of Cancer Research
- 4 Cancer Myths Busted, Environmental Nutrition, Dec 2016
Personal Experiences on giving up sugar
- I Gave Up Sugar For an Entire Month, and Here’s What Happened, Popsugar
- 10 things you should know before giving up sugar, BBC goodfood
- I Gave Up Sugar for 2 Months and Here’s What Happened, Buzzfeed
- I Quit Sugar for a Month, Here’s What Happened, Huffington Post
So instead of completely cutting it out, I will be trying to cut down on the amount of processed sugars I consume including honey, agave, stevia, and other artificial sweeteners.
The 8-week plan is a diet and from my experience and understanding, diets never really work. I think it’s better to form a habit of eating healthier foods and mentally being aware than it is to deprive myself and feel miserable.
For example, when I was training for my first Iron Girl one of the “side effects” around the month that I did the race was that I wasn’t even craving sweet. My body was feeling good and I literally had no cravings or even any desire to seek out the sweet stuff. Even if it was right in front of me!
- Keep a food/health diary. Not a calories diary, just a food log. Be mindful of sugar intake, really focus on getting in servings of fruits and veggies. Enjoy grains but don’t overdo it.
- Do yoga every day. Time passes quickly when I do yoga with my app and I know it’s really good for my back.
- Run 3 days a week. Last month I never got above 2 runs in one week and I really want to be more consistent with it.
- Be in bed with everything put away before 11. I’ve settled into a really bad habit with sleep and I need to make this a priority because I’ve been feeling exhausted all the time no matter how much sleep I get.
I only have health specific goals this month simply because all the other areas of my life are going to run more smoothly and be happier if I can really accomplish these things.
What are you working towards this February?
Have you ever tried to give up sugar?
What’s the most important thing you do every day that keeps you feeling healthy?
linking up with Running With Spoons for this post.