Sugar-free me – the final week!

I did it! I went three weeks without any refined sugar in my diet. And the end result…?

FANTASTIC!

I feel better, I’m sleeping better and I’ve lost 7 pounds and two inches off my waist. All of these bonuses aside, the best part of this cleanse has been the fact that my memory is restoring. Without the refined sugar to addle my brain I have less issue recalling numbers, remembering where I put things like car keys, important papers, boyfriends… 😛

Many people have written to me to ask me how I did it so I’ve compiled a list below of pointers that worked for me and helped to keep me on track.

Give it up, honey. All of it.

When you say you’re going to go sugar-free that means ALL refined sugar has to go. I read the label on everything I ate which brought me to the appalling understanding that sugar is hidden in virtually every place you can think of and where you may least suspect to find it. This meant no more ‘lazy’ cooking nights. If I wanted to eat something, I had to make it from scratch myself which takes more time but the end result is exponentially  more satisfying, greater and packed with health benefits. Don’t get me wrong, if I can sell enough books to warrant a personal chef, I’d do it. Especially if her name was Candi.

Buddy, can you spare a square…of sugar.

What made my daily battles with the granulated gremlin easier was the fact that I have a loving partner who completely supports me. He patiently waded through the rough patches when I lost my temper at every box of food in our cupboard, railed against big name brands that hid sugar in the form of dextrose, fructose and glucose and thrashed most unsexily (it’s my word) the first ten days when the need to feed the addiction was at its worst. If your partner isn’t on the same page as you (and I’ve said this often in my presentations), it’s so much harder to go the distance. So if you’re coupled with someone who isn’t willing to cleanse with you, find a buddy who will. Having someone you’re accountable to who can also pick you up when you’re ready to give in, is key!

Who let the hormones out?

Ladies, some of you will really understand this. I found the wisest thing I did when starting this cleanse was to do it when I knew my hormones were the least likely to get the better of me. That is, if I had decided to rid myself of sugar the week before my period started, there would have been a few people hospitalized and some very unnecessary road rage exhibited. Because I started the cleanse at the low-end of my hormonal cycle, I was able to fight only the addiction and not the pre-menstral monster within as well. Check the calendar…then cleanse when it’s wise.

Accept no substitutes, rubber cheques or rubber chickens

The inclination when removing one thing from your life is to find a substitute for it elsewhere. Like that time I called the cable company to cancel my service because I was watching too much television and told the girl on the phone, “I need to give up TV so I can write the greatest book of all time.” After she tried to sell me on other cable packages, three days without TV later, I merely found other ways to watch my favourite shows.

If you replace the sugar with “sugar-free substitutes” that are made with chemicals you are only swapping out one drug for another. Now, I did allow myself to eat fresh fruit when cravings hit, which I can admit was ZERO comfort the first week I was sugar-free but after the ten day mark, richer in bliss than I expected. I also discovered that an apple doused with lemon juice is as sweet as any candle apple I’ve ever eaten. Your taste buds will adapt but they need time to recover from the tongue to brain instant gratification they know as their only truth. Once you get past this, all food takes on a more sumptuous flavour. Except turnips. No one can save turnips.

Mindful Mindlessness

One of the most important things I tried to practice with this cleanse is to stop and ask myself WHY do you want to eat that cupcake/chocolate/candy/cakeslice/popsicle/icecream bar? I can safely say that only 10% of the time, hunger was the culprit but the majority of the time, wanting to eat something sweet was a reaction to either a) a habit my tongue had formed, b) a means to fill an emotional void or c) a means to fill an emotional void. Yes, I know I repeated b) and c) but it was alarmingly clear to me that most of the time, I craved something as a means of ‘eating my feelings’, mindlessly stuffing down emotions with sugary snacks. When I stopped to analyze the real reason I wanted to satisfy the craving and got to the psychological core of what motivated it, the craving itself would pass. And by then, the ice cream truck was more than five blocks away so the point was moot. Kidding!

Taste it, chew it, lick it. Sounds like my dating life…

The other bonus feature of this cleanse was that with the removal of sugar from my diet, and the value level of everything else I eat going up as a result, I savoured my food more than ever before. This brought a heightened awareness to what I was eating. When you really stop to enjoy your food without distraction, a wealth of new flavours explodes in your mouth. And as a sex writer, mouth explosions can be quite a sexy experience 😉 All that to say, that really involving your brain and your senses in the act of eating adds two new guests to the table that will superbly enhance the experience for you. I’ve read that increased saliva helps in the breakdown of foods as they pass through your body. You can accomplish this by staring at a picture of Jeffrey Dean Morgan while you eat or by really allowing your body to function as it was intended when you’re chowing down on your food.

If you’re going to give it a go, I want you to know that I am behind you 100% and I wish you loads of luck! The benefits of going sugar-free for me have included better sleep, weight loss, less tummy bloating, better memory recall, an overall feeling of ‘lightness’ and well-being, increased enjoyment of food flavours and an even greater gratitude for the abundance of food I am blessed to have in my life.

By virtue of the fact that sugar is in hidden in so many places, I realize that sticking to this cleanse can be very difficult. I think the important thing is to get past the three week mark so you will fully know that you are somewhere beyond the point of addiction. You will then be able to assess how you feel. For me, going back to feeling sluggish, tired and emotionally unstable isn’t an option. I plan to keep sugar at bay, save it only for a very special treat (like wedding cake!) and do my best to live life in balance, enjoying the things in life that are truly sweet like family, friends and a partner that would give up Skittles and M&M cookies for you.

Here are my observations from the last week of my cleanse…Much love to you all ❤

Sugarfreeme week three

 

 

Sugar-free me…week two!

With week one firmly under my buckled belt, I figured week two would be a bit easier. Not the case. 

For some reason, this week, I found myself inexplicably filled with rage.

Now, I’m not (usually) one to go about citing conspiracy theories, but I can’t help but feel the refined sugar industry has some kind of hand in keeping the masses addicted and dependent on their product because I found sugar listed among the ingredients of foods I least suspected would need it. The fact that some of the things I have enjoyed for years contained high amounts of sugar, fructose-glucose or corn syrup was alarming and truthfully, a bit unsettling.

I find it utterly frustrating that if I want to eat healthier foods, I’m going to need to prepare everything at home myself. While I have nothing against living a natural lifestyle, I can’t see myself preparing everything from scratch. What’s next? Churning my own butter on the front porch? I don’t have a porch or a pilgrim costume so that’s out. I’ve tried cooking with just an apron on to bring ‘sexy’ to my kitchen escapades but the splatter from oil leaves the task far less erotic than you can imagine.

This week I’m struggling with finding the balance of knowing that home prepared foods are better for me and that if I want to feel better, live better and be better, I need to stop whining and just carve out the time to make things myself. Because I do know that the benefits will propel me to keep at it.

In these last two weeks, my body has undergone a strange, albeit subtle at this point, change. I feel lighter.I’m sleeping even better and without the sugar boost before bedtime (which was my dirty and delicious habit for years), I fall asleep so much faster.

I’ve also noticed that the joint pain I was feeling has started to leave my knuckles. I had been waking up with such terrible stiffness in my fingers that for almost an hour, it was impossible to grip anything. This was starting to panic me as there are so many hand jobs I do on a daily basis for which I need nimble fingers. Wait. That came out wrong. 😀

But you know what I mean!

And I am happy to report that my belt buckle is now on the very last hole. Something I haven’t enjoyed for a few years. I did give in and weigh myself for those who were asking, and I can report that I’m down five pounds these last two weeks. Might account for the feeling of ‘lightness’. That, or the air-cupcakes I mime myself eating are actually filling me with real air 🙂

My observations for week two are below. With sincere apologies to the Doughboy I popped my fist into, I move onward to week three, a little more peacefully I hope… 🙂

Sugarfreeme week two

 

Sugar-free me…week one!

After having the most insanely perfect piece of chocolate mousse cake on Mother’s Day, I realized I’ve become addicted to the high that sugar brings. I’ve done sugar-free cleanses before and considering how much of the ‘other’ white drug (crack is white, right?), I decided it was time to give my body a break and rid it of the addiction. So on Monday May 10th, I posted on my Facebook page that I was going to go sugar-free for three weeks. (Three weeks is how long it takes to break a habit and know you’re past the hard part).

The only reason I posted it on Facebook was to force myself to commit to it. I had no idea so many people would be inspired by my attempt to rid myself of the sweet devil and how many more would share their stories of success with me.

So off I went to start the cleanse and not twenty minutes later, the cravings started up. Here’s a snapshot of that first week:

Sugarfreeme week one

This entire week I realized I haven’t been this obsessed with what goes in my mouth since the days when I was single 🙂

And though it really is too early to notice the benefits, I will say that stopping to think about why I am craving sugar has helped me a great deal in staying the course. Often my motivations aren’t hunger, they are emotional (surprise, surprise) so when I take a step back, it’s not as difficult to resist the urge and move past the craving.

After week one, as far as health benefits go, I can say that I am already starting to sleep a bit better. While I am not one to weigh myself, I was happy to notice a hoodie that I haven’t been able to zip up for months closed with only minimal grunting and sucking in of gut. So that’s something!

I’d raise a glass to completing week one but the only thing I want to drink right now is Kool-Aid followed by the chocolate malt balls I refrained from assaulting in Bulk Barn.

Onwards…to week two…. 🙂