I’m three weeks in to my annual sugar-free period. As the proud owner of a whole mouth of sweet teeth, I dedicate January to resetting my taste buds and giving my gut a cleansing break.
While I thoroughly understand the health benefits of being sugar-free all the time, I am a realist. I know that I enjoy things like baking with my kids, a quality Italian latte with real sugar once a week, and anything chocolate. To give these things up permanently would cause me far more sadness than whatever health benefits I would enjoy. And I’m totally okay with that.
But for a month or so at the beginning of each year, I cut out refined sugar. In years past, I’ve gone for six weeks, during which time I did not lose the sweet craving at all. This year, I’m pleased to say that my sugar beast was tamed quite easily. The first week absolutely flew by. The second was fine, too, with the notable exception of all the cute girls at my boys’ school who were hawking Girl Scout Cookies left and right. The third week had me surfing Pinterest for birthday cake ideas for The Stowaway, and I don’t recommend that in the middle of a sugar-free period. But I’m committed to my goal of at least a month, and if I’m still going strong, I’ll stay sugar-free until after my half-marathon at the beginning of March.
The first thing people ask me when they hear I’ve given up sugar is, “How much weight have you lost?” I hate to say it, but I don’t think I’ve lost a pound. (Longtime OnBalance readers know I’m not so much a fan of the scale, as weight is a lousy measure of fitness.) I do follow up my sad reply with the more positive news that my jeans are looser around the waist. Again, I don’t think I’ve lost any weight, but I definitely think sugar is related to bloat, and without the sugar, the low belly bloat disappears. That’s always good news!
As with any kind of healthy eating plan, the best way to ensure success is to be well-prepared. My fridge is stocked with fruits and sweet vegetables; my pantry is full of a variety of hot teas. I don’t consume any artificial sweeteners during this time, either. (I try to avoid them in general, but it’s easy for people to think they can just swap out sugar for sugar-free artificially sweetened foods and receive a health benefit.) The objective is to truly eliminate the sucrose-y taste from my cravings.
I know from my Facebook feed that I’m not alone in my sugar-free start to 2014. Are you in on it, too? How’s it going for you?
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/swamibu/1881207586/”>Swamibu</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>cc</a>