Sugar Finale

I set Thanksgiving as the closing date for my experiment in cutting sugar and processed food from my frenzied life. Exhausted from late nights of work fueled by cases of gummy widgets, I wanted to find another way.


So I vowed to ditch sugar, processed grains, and packaged foods. And it was rough at first. Painful, annoying, frustrating, and almost impossible.


But over the past five weeks I’ve cut my sugar intake more than 90%. I no longer crave sweets, and I’ve replaced some of my worse habits with better choices. I’ve tried several new foods and found new favorites. Because I forced myself to replace sugar in my coffee, my snacks, my meals, my late night energy crutch, I’m fueling smarter. I’m choosing to put food into my body when it needs food energy, but trying to use exercise energy and sleep energy and breathing energy, too, as part of an attempt to slow down the trainwreck of my eighteen-hour days.

When I first started this experiment, I would crave candy and stare in frustration at the forbidden candy cabinet. (Yup. Whole cabinet. Love candy. Always have. Fifth food group. Or first, really.) Now when I crave candy, I ask myself what I really want, and I think it over while drinking a glass of water. Not because it’s a trick or because I’m supposed to, but because it makes sense. I’ve always known sugar cravings stem from thirst and exhaustion. But sugar is delicious and easy, so it was hard to choose water first. But now I hydrate and ponder going to bed. And most of the time I rearrange my to-do list, whittle only the most important items, and go to bed, on average, an hour earlier than I did before the sugar-avoidance experiment.

Processed grains were a harder part of my experiment, and after a week, honestly, I gave up. I like bread. There’s nothing inherently bad about bread, especially since we eat whole grain, crunchy-granola-Berkeley bread. Eating thoughtlessly, on autopilot, and from packages was my problem. So I kept the bread and ditched other forms of processing.

The packages were forbidden for a while, and now I don’t want them. Crackers, cookies, and pasta don’t call to me. I know there’s something delicious, quick, and healthy in the fridge that takes longer but feels better.

My habits are different, my choices are better, and I’m thoughtful about what I’m eating. Minimal sugar, minimal processing, more water, more sleep, and many compromises.

Sounds like success to me. Not perfect, not 100%. But success.

6 thoughts on “Sugar Finale

  1. Gummy Bottles! Oh how I used to do backflips for those!

    Does it matter that I am making blueberry muffins at this very moment? nevermind. what muffins?

    I stopped drinking soda for 2 weeks, and lost 5 lbs. I also did Atkins and lost 30 lbs in about 3 months. Those cravings were killer. I would lay in bed listening to my stomach growl. I would ration out my snacks because I couldn’t go cold turkey. I think I ate an entire cornfield of popcorn because I didn’t want to cheat with a candy bar. I broke up a Hershey bar into 50 pieces to be spread across a week. Do the math. It’s like 1 calorie per bite. I couldn’t even taste anything!

    I settled on more water, organic food, and homemade snacks (and…. only 3 Hershey bars and 3 sodas a week, tops). I cannot survive (and be happy) without snacks. My body knows there is something good missing. I would rather walk an extra mile.

    Having migraines keeps me from eating all the processed crap I ate growing up (Cheetohs, Fritos, Chips, Poptarts, Donuts, BonBons, and on and on). I figure I am down to some homemade snacks and mostly rabbit food at this point. Sugar is a food group. And Pepsi keeps the migraines away with the caffeine.

    • I never use the words junk food or empty calories, because food isn’t junk and calories are calories. There are growing foods, I tell my kids, and treat foods. Define treat any way you want, right? I’m just glad I don’t want 20 treats a day right now. I also don’t want 20 salads a day.
      Oh, gummy coke bottles. How I missed you for the first month, and how I nurse a bit of guilt for having moved on and not caring about you any more…
      It sure is easier to be allergic to something than to avoid it for other reasons, though. Sorry the migraines killed many treat foods for you, though I’m sure there are still glorious treats without triggers in them.

  2. Impressive! Good for you. Bad habit foods are so hard to break. I just went out for lunch and got fries with my sandwich and now I have a horrible stomach ache and I knew I should’ve just gotten the damn side salad instead. I hate it when I do that. Every. time. I need to find some healthy homemade snacks that both my kids and I will eat so we can cut out some of the crappy processed ones we tend to rely on.

    • Mmmmmm. Fries. Spicy fries, seasoned fries…fries.

      We tend toward nuts and fruit as snacks. And sandwiches. I trick my kids into thinking that 1/4 sandwich several times throughout the day is a snack not a drawn-out meal.

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