Progress update

Okay. Two weeks without sugar or processed foods.

How’s it going, you ask.

Um, well, define “without” first and then we’ll talk.

It’s been two weeks since I first attempted to go without sugar or processed food. It took a day to know there’s no way I can operate in my current form without some sweetener and some processing. I’m up early to write, the kids are up soon after, the day is a chaos of children and clients, and for hours after the little monkeys finally crash I’m editing and emailing and strategizing.

Mama needs some processed food, even if just tea already bagged for me, coffee roasted for me, nuts salted for me, and kale already torn into bite-sized pieces. I’ve cooked all our grains and beans, but I’m not making tempeh. I’ve washed and sliced and cooked dozens of veggies, but I’m not making my own salad dressing. I’m just not. Avoiding sugar and factory food doesn’t mean homesteading, y’all. It means holding life together with Kind bars.

So once my standards were lowered, things got better. I replaced all sugar with local, organic honey and quickly lost my craving for sweetness. I have at least one serving of agave or honey some days, to make the raw cacao or the almonds and coconut palatable. But otherwise I’ve gone without sugar. My coffee now gets milk without sweetener. With three major exceptions, I haven’t had baked goods for two weeks. (One exception was a friend in crisis who needed all of me, and for that I listened and nodded through half a bag of cookies. The second exception was that I made pumpkin pie with my kids and bough a pre-made graham cracker crust. The third sugar infusion was a mistake wherein I took an Almond Joy from my son when he offered it. The first bite was WAY too sweet and I would have stopped. But it was fun-sized and he was proud that he’d given me something. Whatever. Two weeks with three selfless gestures of diabetic willingness. They should make me human of the year, honestly, for being willing to eat sugar in the name of friendship and parenthood.)

I have pretty well avoided boxed, canned, bagged, and shrink-wrapped foods. Unless something that seemed homemade at the potluck the other night was secretly a t.v. dinner. I doubt it. Pumpernickel pretzels at a friend’s house, because why the heck would I say no to that? Ate the crusts off my kids’ sandwiches the other day because why the heck would I throw away good whole grain bread? Again, human of the year. Kindness and refusing to waste. I’m thinking a parade, perhaps, in my honor.

I engaged on this machine-free eating experiment because I was shoveling sugar into machinery that wasn’t working well. I wasn’t sleeping or thinking or behaving well. I don’t feel much better physically after two weeks. Maybe it’s that 7,000 calories of cookies. I do feel a tad more patient and a hint stronger on runs. I feel more likely to think clearly and go to bed when I need to than I did before. But only slightly.

In short, two weeks is too brief an experiment. I’d like to get to Thanksgiving without any other major tumbles off the wagon. I’d like to keep choosing sunflower seeds and raw cacao over candy and chips. I’d like to keep having my coffee with just unsweetened coconut milk.

Because I’m gorging a bit less. And sleeping a bit more.

And that seems good. For now. I’ll let you know when freakout season arrives. But that’s not until November, so I’m safe.

Just a bit.

But it’s a start.

8 thoughts on “Progress update

  1. Please keep writing about this. I am going to try this some day soon. I love you for being honest about it and for admitting the super rigidity didn’t work.

    • Rigid usually works for me. But not with sugar. And not with the word “processed.” What does that mean? Do I have to only eat raw foods? Or do I just mean no boxes? Prewashed salad is okay? What about coffee? Local, delicious, carefully crafted wine?

      I give up on litigating the semantics of my life. I just want to eat less crap, you know? And it’s working, even with a gaffe or more per day.

  2. Fascinating. I am a huge sugar fiend and I need to do something about it – both for myself and because I am a sucky role model for my kids. How can I, in good conscience, limit their intake of sugar and then mainline Reese’s PB Cups as soon as they’re in another room? Every time I try to do something about it, I try to go whole hog and then end up right back in the bag of candy. Slow, steady, and with occasional crusts of bread and Almond Joys? That might work. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • That’s exactly where I was, Kristen. Kids got kale and whole wheat organic quesadillas and I’d have two bags of gummy bears after they went to bed.

      I’ll tell you, coffee with no sugar is just fine, after trying all the other options. But I did two shots of agave syrup the second day of this sugar-flee. Because I was dying. And you know what? Straight agave’s gross. So is coffee with agave. So I used it while I needed to wean down, and now I just feel better about my choices. Kind of nice to not crave constantly, when what I really need is sleep and a book deal. ;-)

  3. I ate candy while reading this. I feel dirty.

    Good for you. I often have Oprah moments regarding sugar and I think, “Yes. I can do this.” and then I unwrap a tootsie roll and revelation gets foggy.

    Congratulations on making it two weeks with only minor infractions. Looking forward to hearing more.

    • Mmmmmm. Tootsie rolls.

      I have to be really strict with myself in the beginning, because “just one” does not work. But “unlimited, if it’s with honey or agave” did. Because those things are boring. They’re methadone for the sugar addict. And oh, boy am I. The headaches, Bethany, going off sugar? Crazy. As bad as caffeine withdrawal.

  4. I can’t wait to do this. Someday. Thank you for being the inspiration. I don’t know how you have the patience to sacrifice while doing all that you do. I think I will have to wait until the kids are in college. In the meantime, using coconut milk in my coffee sounds like a brilliant start. Thanks! (Do I need to stop stealing candy from their pumpkins? It does mean less corn syrup for them, right?)

    • Selfless candy theft in the name of protecting children is always admirable. Beatifiable, even.

      Totally a word.

      Sweetened coconut milk is way better. In case you actually care about your happiness, not just principles.

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