Yesterday marked the end of week four of the No Sugar Challenge. It wasn’t nearly as difficult to get through as I had initially thought it would be. Really. There were occasions when it would have been nice to indulge (a retirement party luncheon, a birthday party, coffee with friends), but it didn’t kill me not to and the urge for something sweet passed quickly each time.
Now that the Challenge is over, will I continue my (almost) sugar-free ways? Perhaps and maybe and most of the time.
I will continue to be vigilant in the grocery store, reading labels and looking for no-sugar alternatives, particularly in the cereal and pre-packaged food aisles. One of the most important things the Challenge has taught me is how frequently some form of sugar or other (see Fit. Fabulous. Forever. for a list of the most common ones; scroll down, it’s there) appears on the ingredient list of prepared foods. Mom was right; home cooked is best!
I plan to keep experimenting with cleaner, less sweet snack options for myself and my family. I have been amazed at the number of websites devoted to clean eating and have downloaded dozens of delicious sounding (and looking!; the photography on many of these sites is mouth watering) recipes.
Dessert will still be served on Friday and Sunday nights (we eat dinner at 5 sharp if you’re planning on stopping by!). As the children’s palates are slower to evolve than mine, I won’t abandon their favourites completely (I make a killer, full sugar brownie!), but will pay closer attention to portion control and make less in general so as not to have leftovers tempting us the day after. Don’t even think of asking for seconds.
The chocolate syrup in my coffee? Totally unnecessary. My taste buds are completely used to a skinny latte; my ‘non-fat, no-whip, half-sweet mocha’ days are gone for good (although I’ve been ordering my coffee that way for so long I now have to stop and think for a moment before telling the barista what I’d like!).
An apple and some nuts do a way better job of getting me through the after-school-before-dinner low energy doldrums than a cookie or a muffin. An added bonus has been the realization that I don’t need another cup of coffee to get through the afternoon when I’m eating healthier snacks.
Several times during the Challenge I gave in to temptation (we had three family birthdays in just 10 days and birthday cake was eaten on each occasion; I have been told that even Tosca eats cake on her birthday!). After having been sugar-free for three or four days at a time, I had the chance to observe it’s full effects. Not pretty.
Sugar changes my mood. At first, it makes me feel good. Happy and full of energy. Encouraging me to have a little more (“just one more cookie”, “how about a scoop of ice cream with those berries?”, “but dark chocolate is good for you”). Sugar wants company. More. And more. And more again.
Within an hour of consuming it, my hands get shaky, my brain moves at warp speed and I have a hard time focusing on mental tasks. The coming down feels almost like a hang over. Draggy, lethargic, sad. I’m short tempered and irritable. Sugar is a feel-good drug, but unlike other white, crystalline, mood-altering substances, it’s legal.
Making the mental connection between the tempting treat and it’s after-effects before indulging is a powerful way to change old habits. Just another example of how being mindful can help us make good choices when it comes to fuelling our bodies.
Good night and sweet dreams!