When it comes to sugar, I’m worse than crack addict. I am full blown addicted to chocolate. I can give up any other food without any problems. I stopped eating steak (my favorite) 3 years ago without ever looking back. I once gave up alcohol for a year. I just LOVE chocolate. I crave it every single day.
I’ve given up sugar a few times using different tactics, all with varying degrees of success. Once I tried going cold turkey. It was after a Valentine’s day binge on chocolate and cupcakes. I decided to do a full food detox. Basically I didn’t eat. Instead, I subsisted on water, veggie broth and Bentonite and Psyllium husk concoction. It was so disgusting that I ended up not drinking it at all after day 1 and only drinking the broth/water. I had the worst headache of my life for 2 days. By day 4, I stopped thinking about food altogether. It was kind of nice to not think about what to eat, cooking, grocery shopping, etc. But it also felt weird to not eat at normal meal times. It’s the same feeling I got when I got laid off from my job and I was sitting home feeling weird, like I should be working, but also excited that I didn’t have to. So anyway, my cold turkey plan worked until my “detox period” was over and I caved and ate everything in sight.
I’ve also tried replacing sugary food with healthier substitutes. I did this while I was preparing for my fitness competition. I completely cut out all forms of sugar but then tended to eat too many of the healthy substitutes without ever getting the satisfaction of eating what I really wanted. So the cravings never went away. I just tried to suppress them. I’ve also tried slowly eliminating my favorite sugary foods over a period of time. This has been a flat out failure for me.
So this time around, I’m cutting out just the obvious danger foods — cupcakes, cookies, donuts, etc. I am still drinking my beloved wine and not worrying too much about hidden sugars since my diet is pretty healthy overall. I’ll eat a protein bar even if it has a few grams of sugar in it because it’s not traditional white sugar. I’m watching my macros and trying to be as balanced as possible. I did cheat last weekend when I went to a winery and had a fancy food and wine tasting. One of the pairings included a tiny little cake. It was only 2 bites and wasn’t worth cheating at all, but I felt like I had to eat it. It was not a good decision. Oh well. Balance is a new tactic for me.
I do feel better and I feel like after my cravings intensified, they started to subside. I am not craving chocolate but I am craving other foods. I think of them as replacement foods since they’re foods that aren’t my traditional go-to addict foods but somehow still give me some satisfaction. Last week, I ate no less than 8 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches after not eating one for probably at least 5 years. The jelly has sugar in it but it wasn’t just the jelly I wanted — it was the whole meal. And a BP&J with natural PB, whole wheat bread and natural fruit jelly is actually not bad for you. It has a nice balance of protein, fats and carbs which is perfect for my “balanced” approach. In fact, it fueled one of the best workouts I’d had in a long time. This week I can’t stop thinking about Starbucks skinny cinnamon dolce lattes (another thing I haven’t had in forever).
I’m going to continue with this modified sugar detox as long as I can and just see how it goes. I really can’t see myself giving up desserts permanently but I do think I need to pick and choose which ones are worth it. I have a one cheat meal a week rule and will eventually allow that to include sweets again.
What I’ve noticed about giving up sugar is that the sugar cravings intensify at first. They get REALLY bad, I get headaches and feel anxious. Then that goes away (not completely, but enough that it’s manageable). If you are thinking about doing a food detox, remember it’s going to be tough at first (like anything that is new and different). Try to push through the first couple of days or even weeks, depending on how addicted you are, and it will get easier. (Take it from me, the girl who used to have her nightstand full of candy bars, M&Ms, Nutella and cookies!)