A Week Without Sugar

by Wendy Copley on November 22, 2010

This is not the same without that
This – that = crappy mornings!

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you may have figured out that I like setting goals for myself. And if you haven’t read this blog for very long you can see what I mean by checking out that list at the bottom of the sidebar for an idea of what I’m talking about.

Last week I decided to forgo sugar for seven days and with only  a few minor slip-ups, I made it! The rules: no desserts, nothing where the primary ingredient was a form of sugar, avoid products with added corn syrup (things like commecial salad dressings or catsup), and no artificial sweeteners. I allowed myself whole fruits and simple carbohydrates like white bread because I knew I’d never make it without them.

Why did I do this? I’ve found my sugar consumption growing at a really fast rate over the last year.  I have been pretty uncomfortable with the amount of unhealthy food I’ve been eating for a while now, but once Halloween hit, it went through the roof. Partly I just wanted to prove that I’m not completely dependent on sugar and that I can go without it if I decide to. Having done this before, I also knew that after my week was up, my cravings for sugar would be much, much less intense — it just takes a little time to break the habit.

Here are some of my observations about the week:

  • The first day wasn’t that hard, because I was feeling virtuous and determined.
  • The second and third days were awful. I had a splitting headache all day and visions of cookies, cupcakes, pies, toast with homemade jam, and waffles dripping with maple syrup danced through my head non-stop.
  • Then, on the fourth day, I almost completely forgot about sugar. No cravings, no headache, no aching desire. In fact, I forgot so completely that when I went grocery shopping at Trader Joes, I picked up a sample cup without thinking about it and accidentally ate a big bite of pumpkin cheesecake! That first bite brought me back to the task at hand pretty quickly though and I threw the rest of the sample away. From then on out it was smooth sailing.
  • The hardest thing for me to give up — by far — was my morning cup of tea with milk and sugar. I knew this would be the case from my last week with no sugar and it was true this time too. I’ve been drinking a cup of tea prepared exactly the same way — lots of milk and two shockingly large spoonfuls of sugar — for twenty years now. I depend on the caffeine, of course, but I also depend on the ritual and the familiar flavor to get my day going properly. Drinking tea with no sugar just wasn’t right and it made me crabby. On the suggestion of a friend, I tried drinking lattes instead and that worked pretty well.
  • The second day — only one day into the experiment! — I ate a piece of white bread and it tasted incredibly sweet. Of course simple carbs like this are a form of sugar, but I’ve never noticed this before.

Today, I’m allowing myself to eat sugar again, but already I’ve noticed a change in my food cravings. I wanted eggs for breakfast instead of toast with jam or cereal and I have no desire to buy cookies when I go to the grocery store later (this is huge — I love cookies). I am drinking my tea with sugar though — but only one spoonful.

Have you ever cut sugar out of your diet? How did it go? Do you have any tips to combat sugar cravings?

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