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