One thing about living more consciously is to be more aware in getting the right balance when it comes to my eating habits and how it makes me feel (physically and emotionally). In a nutshell, that means having a healthy diet, a positive body image and realistic goals.
The thing about the statement above is that none of it aligns with the voices in my head. ie: More snacks, less workouts...etc.
It takes discipline and planning, both of which spells E-F-F-O-R-T.
I did want to treat my body with more respect starting with my eating/workout habits but I wasn't quite sure where to start. My friend, Sarah, who had gone sugar-free for a year mentioned some of the benefits and that it wasn't as hard as it seems.
And so, I decided to try and give up sugary treats (for 6 months) as part of my 23 goals for this year.
Why I Am Giving Up Sugary Goods?
For a person who lives on Tesco's pack of 8 mini chocolate chip brioche loaves and snacks on a full pie in one sitting, I felt that my snacking habits have gone slightly out of control. While it is nice to want to make a change in my dietary habits, I am fully aware that it is going to be a challenge - actually, correction - it will be a bloody miracle.
I want to give up sugary treats for a few reasons, while weight gain is one concern, it certainly isn't the sole reason.
Lack of Focus
Although I knew I was having trouble focusing, I wasn't aware that this was a direct cause of sugar. Upon some research, I realised that my constant snacking has created a dependency on the temporary boost I get from sugary treats. The 'sugar-boost' lasts an average of 20 minutes for most people, once our glucose levels drop, we are left feeling unfocused and easily distracted.
So besides my lack of focus, I was having a lot of trouble with my short term memory. It is something I depend on on a daily basis, especially when working. This was not only inconvenient, it was also extremely frustrating for me. Once I read that sugar can in fact block our memory receptors, it gave me the extra push to cut sugary treats.
Weight Gain and Stress
I am pretty certain I am not the only person who turns to sugary treats when stressed, well mine was ice cream. The strawberry cheesecake ice cream from Haagen Dazs to be specific. The vicious cycle of being stressed over the unhealthy foods I was consuming and then dealing with it via stress eating was totally ironic but also comedic.
Immune System Suppression
Apparently, consuming too much sugar can suppress the immune system, reducing the ability of white blood cells to attack bacteria. I put this down as to why I had a 5 week long cough, which then resulted in a bruised rib. I hardly ever get ill, let alone staying ill for that long period of time.
So in a nutshell, I felt like I was ready to give the sugar cut a go.
What Kinds of Sugar Am I Cutting Out?
There isn't a severe medical reason for my decision to cut sugary goods out, which is why I am only eliminating processed sugary treats and not all forms of sugars (fructose, sucrose, glucose). The fact that I am choosing to eliminate types of foods not only makes it easier to manage and is certainly more realistic for someone who has never been on a diet.
I would be lying if I am not secretly hoping for killer abs after six months of cutting sugary treats from my diet. However, I don't think that is how it works.
My hypothesis for the six month 'no sugary treats' period is that I'll struggle but will probably manage. I want to believe that I will have the determination to refuse any offers of sugary treats. Hopefully by the end of it, I will also have developed a better habit in consuming healthier snacks during work.
My Notes and Findings (and Downfalls) During My 6 Months of No-sugary Treats
I think this is one way to keep me motivated to cut sugar for 6 month period as I have promised myself. By writing my process down, I'll be able to see how my body and mind changes in response to being healthier.
1st Month (6th March - 6th April)
I didn't really have a start date in mind, I knew I wanted to begin cutting sugary treats but never had the determination to do it all on my own. So when everyone else was planning to give something up for lent, I thought it would be the perfect time to give up sugary treats as well.
I was able to refuse sugary treat offers for a whole month, which was easier than I thought to be honest! I did have to make a few substitutes for my usual 11:30 AM chocolate snack and 14:00 PM custard creams (8 of them), but to ease the transition I opted for sweet treats to start off.
For the first 2 weeks, I was recommended to try spreading a bit of honey on a few rice cakes. The substitute worked like a charm and managed to curb my appetite for cakes, chocolates and sweets... on most days (please see below for my downfalls).
In the latter half of March, I substituted my snacks for a variation of healthier alternatives. My choice of snacks included pecan nuts, walnuts, seed mix, carrots, celery and my choice of dip for the relevant snacks
In combination to my diet change, I tried taking vitamins regularly to see if might help with my energy levels. Within 2 weeks, my fogged brain of confusion and sluggishness seemed to have gone away. My puffy eyes in the morning, that I didn't realise was related, is now a rare occurrence rather than a daily one.
So all-in-all pretty successful first month I'd say!
I'd be lying if I said I did it with no hiccups at all. I did have 2 days when I had a waffle and a blueberry muffin respectively. While both occasions happened while I was with my work lot, I did feel a bit bad for breaking my habit. That being said, I didn't fall off the wagon and was able to pick up where I left off. The week when I had my period was H-A-R-D, since chocolate has always been my comfort food.
That's all for now! Come back again on the 6th of May for more updates on my 6 month anti-sugar challenge!