I am planning on going SUGAR-FREE for the month of May, and I’m looking for some accountabilabuddies that want to as well!! A Sugar-Free Sisterhood, if you will. Read on to find out why I need to do this, and why you might want to consider it too!
So, sugar and I have a rather intense relationship. I’ve definitely been totally in the throes of sugar addiction. I turn to it when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m tired, when I’m bored (or any other emotion really…you get the drift). I’ve made great progress in taming my sugar monster, and there have been times I have been completely (and happily) sugar-free. I really do see it as an addiction, and no matter how healthy my relationship is with sugar at any given moment, there will always be a little part of me that is working so hard to resist all the sweet temptations. Moderation is such a hard game for me to play. It’s one I’m constantly working on, but it does not come naturally to me.
With that said, there are usually 2 or 3 times a year when I can really use a sugar reboot. One is, predictably, after the holidays, when everyone resolves to commit or recommit to healthy choices. And for me, late spring tends to be another time I need to kick my butt back into gear. Maybe it’s because I start getting cocky about the progress I’ve made at the beginning of the year, or maybe it’s the string of Easter and April birthdays that add extra temptation (and pounds), but with summer and bathing suits just around the corner, it’s a great time refocus on health.
I’ve really benefitted from “cleanses” and eating plans with hard rules. I think it’s easier than moderation in some ways. I’ve done Whole30 and the Quantum Wellness Cleanse on several occasions, both of which completely cut out sugar. There’s something so satisfying about going to bed at the end of the day knowing I had another successful day. Yes, sometimes it’s hard, but you JUST GOTTA DO IT. I think the various eating plans force you to really focus on eating real, whole foods (because there are very few processed foods that make the cut), it challenges you to cook new dishes, and it forces you to examine the eating habits you’ve developed. When it comes to sugar, I definitely get my most intense cravings right after lunch and dinner. I need something sweet to “seal the deal,” as I call it. I’m also an emotional eater when it comes to sugar. So, in making hard rules for a set period of time, you have to learn to deal with the emotions and cravings in other ways.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you know that sugar is one of the most negative things in our diet. It really made it’s way into processed foods back when the “low fat” craze started – to make the food palatable, companies started adding more sugar. The sugar lobby successfully kept the percentage daily value of sugar off of nutritional labels, and most people don’t know that they are consuming WAY too much sugar every day. It’s not just in classic “sweets,” but also sauces, dressing, alcohol, bread, yogurt, deli meats, etc etc ETC! Artificial sweeteners, in my opinion, are even worse. If you see “artificial sweetener,” you should think “chemical shitstorm.” Just don’t eat them. Don’t use them. Period. Excess sugar overloads the liver and can contribute to liver disease. It can cause diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It can cause inflammation, which is linked to many diseases including cancer. It’s bad for your teeth and bad for your hormone regulation and skin. It can raise cholesterol and contribute to heart disease. It’s highly addictive and it can make you fat! Not “love my imperfect body” Fat, but UNHEALTHY Fat. Bottom line? Excess sugar is basically bad for your whole body and is linked to many diseases.
So, even though I have an almost constant internal battle about the sugar I consume, it is SO worth it because it has such an impact on my health. That is why I’m taming my sugar monster once again by completely depriving it of it’s sweet satisfaction for the month of May. What does “sugar free” mean to me? No added sugars. No artificial sweeteners. Very limited natural sweeteners (like honey and maple syrup) – I won’t be making any paleo desserts, because this still feeds my habitual sugar tooth; however a bit of honey in a dressing or a tsp of maple syrup in my overnight oats is not going to be a deal breaker. Read your labels carefully. Make your food from scratch.
I have found a few things to be very helpful when I do sugar cleanses. First of all, eat enough food–REAL food! Make sure you are eating plenty of healthy fats, proteins, and carbs to keep your body satisfied. As for the sugar, a small bowl of berries, especially raspberries, can tame a big craving. I suggest sitting down while you eat, and being very mindful as you enjoy them. Sparkling water with lemon is especially helpful for my afternoon craving. And at night, when I’m feeling a bit restless because all I want is CHOCOLATE, I make a cup of hot tea, take a few deep breaths, and enjoy a new ritual that doesn’t involve sugar.
Comment below or check in with me on Instagram if you want to join, and I can offer you my moral support (or snarky comments from a sugar-deprived brain).