Week one: edging away from sugar
I woke up on day one with a feeling of dread. My regular diet is, by no means, sugar-laden but I am partial to the odd Magnum and struggle to say no to chocolate if it comes my way. The prospect of giving up the sweet stuff completely for eight weeks was, quite frankly, terrifying. After three bites of the first meal of the program (scrambled eggs with avocado, on homemade gluten-free toast) though my fears started to subside. As I sipped on my bulletproof coffee, I thought, “This is pretty much what we have for breakfast on weekends normally! Maybe this won’t be so hard.”
Come the end of the week and I was pleasantly surprised at how painless the transition to a sugar-free diet had been. Sure, I had moments where I contemplated sneaking in some sugar but it wasn’t hard to convince myself that it wouldn’t be worth the short-term pleasure. The biggest struggle has been keeping on top of the cooking schedule! As someone who is usually pretty haphazard about dinner plans, I found it challenging to have to be so organised and spend so much time in the kitchen. I’m incredibly blessed to have a boyfriend who a) loves cooking and b) knows how to calm me down when I have a meltdown while trying to prepare dinner.
Week two: turning my back on getting sweet relief
This is the week we gave up the sweet stuff entirely. Not even the odd raspberry or tomato would find its way onto our plates. (Gulp.) I hit the ground running on Monday, feeling good about having stuck to the program for one week. The spiced coco-nutty breakfast muffins were delicious and so satiating that I made it through to 1pm without any pangs of hunger. I was starting to feel like maybe this sugar-quitting caper wasn’t going to be so tough after all.
Come Tuesday though, it was a different story. The first thought that popped into my head when I woke up was, ‘Doughnuts. I want doughnuts! Now!’ This was weird for a couple of reasons, with the biggest one being that I can’t actually remember the last time I had a doughnut, so they aren’t exactly something that featured heavily in my diet before I quit sugar. The doughnut cravings lasted all week but I managed to distract myself by going for a quick walk, having a(nother) herbal tea, or a high-fat, high-protein snack like a piece of cheese.
Week three: I can do this! And then I fell off the rails.
‘I can do this!’ was my mantra this week. I repeated it over and over as I went about my day, feeling like I was dodging temptation at every corner. I was guzzling water or herbal tea any time I felt a niggling to eat sugar, and it was working. Sugar-free? Too easy! And then I fell off the rails a bit. I went out to my favourite pizza haunt with my bestie and my god son, and had a (delish!) bowl of pesto gnocchi. I knew the pesto was sugar-free but I couldn’t say the same thing about those fluffy balls of potato goodness. About halfway through my meal I started to feel really fidgety and felt a headache coming on. My mouth was dry and I just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t believe how badly the sugar was affecting me! After only a couple of weeks without it, my body couldn’t handle it. This came as a shock to me. I mean, I knew sugar was bad but that bad? Yikes.
Week four: clean week
Give up sugar? Sure. And gluten? Done. Alcohol? Ah, I’m not so sure about this but I suppose I can hit the pause button on my love for a glass of red with dinner. Coffee? No. Freakin’. Way! Are you kidding with this? It’s my first week back at uni this week and you’re asking me to get through that without caffeine? As old mate Darryl Kerrigan said, ‘Tell him he’s dreaming!’ This was far and away the hardest week of the program. After missing my morning coffee by just a few hours I started to feel a headache coming on. I made a dandelion, chai and almond milk latte in the futile hope that I could trick my body into thinking I’d just had some coffee. No dice. Turns out my body is smarter is than me. Wait, what? The next 24 hours were a foggy haze of aggravation, nausea and pain. It would have been easy to forgive me for ditching the no-coffee rule just to find some relief at this point; however, it would appear that I have more will power than I thought because I somehow managed not to succumb to my cravings. And boy am I glad I didn’t, because come the next day I felt immeasurably better. The day after, I felt better again.
Give up coffee for a week? Absolutely 😉
Week five: last week sans sweet
Week five! Who would have thought I’d make it this far? Certainly not me. After one month with no sugar, I was starting to wonder why I ever wanted to eat the stuff to begin with. It suddenly occurred to me that I couldn’t remember what ice cream tasted like and when I thought about it some more, I realised I didn’t actually want to eat it again to remember. This was definitely a break through for me because up until then, I still didn’t believe I would ever get to the point where I didn’t want to eat sugar. That, my friends, is what we call progress.
Week six: sugar’s back. Gulp!
To say I was nervous about this week is a massive understatement. I was petrified of reintroducing the substance I had invested so much time, energy and willpower into quitting just a few short weeks ago. I had visions of taking a bite of a piece of fruit and turning into a raving sugar beast as I turned the house upside down, looking for all things sweet. Turns out my premonition was a little melodramatic though (who would have thought!).
While I really savored the sweet taste of the peach we included in our salad, with the exception of a stressful walk down the ice-cream aisle at the supermarket where I had to muster all of my determination not to reach into the freezer and grab out a Golden Gaytime, I managed to not fall straight back into the sugar-binge cycle.
Week seven: almost there
With just two weeks to go, I could see the light shining down the end of the tunnel and, quite frankly, it scared me. It seemed I had come full circle: before starting the program, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stick to the program, and now I was worried that I won’t know how to eat properly without it!
This week, I also realised just how much I am looking forward to loosening the reigns a bit when it comes to fruit. This program has made me realise that I was eating way too much fruit so I certainly won’t be going back to my pre-program volume but I do find it hard to resist a ripe peach in Summer!
Week eight: we did it!
By the time the final week rolled around, I had well and truly got the hang of navigating through life without sugar. There were two massive bowls of lollies at work this week and I walked past them without a second glance. It was such an empowering feeling to no longer compulsively reach for sugary treats!
I’m so happy that I finally took the plunge and quit sugar. For the first time in my adult life, I feel like I am in control of what I eat and it isn’t a daily struggle to stay on track. I simply don’t want sugary food anymore. Many people have asked me if I will stay off sugar for the rest of my life but I have learnt not to set restrictive boundaries. We are always changing and evolving, and what works for me now may not work for me during a different stage of my life. I’m going to stick with sugar-free living for as long as it serves me to do so.
P.S. Don’t forget to enter the competition to win yourself a copy of That Sugar Book. The competition closes this Friday (27 March). Find out how to enter.