The month of April I was operating on zero sugar. Or...Zero in the sense that nothing that I ate had added sugar (or any of these other sugar type tyings). I completed this challenge with my boyfriend, Matt, and with two of my co-workers, Jorge and Marina.
I'm wouldn't necessarily consider myself a sweets person, but the quality (and sometimes quantity) of the sweets that I did eat were in need of some serious adjusting. If you put a cookie in front of me, it would be eaten, but I wasn't necessarily going to the store to start clearing the shelves. I mostly ate sugar when I was bored/sad/stressed and it was in front of me. I wasn't trying to forever remove sugar from my life, but I knew the quality of sugar I was consuming needed a serious adjustment.
But really, friends should never let friends eat packaged cookies.
Health-wise, I didn't weigh myself before (not why I was doing this), but I did have a bunch of gunk that hung out on my tongue that I thought might be linked to my sugar intake. (sexy.) I was also feeling pretty sluggish, and overall bloated/bogged down with my health.
Because I didn't really feel like I was the type of person that ate a lot of sugar (as I didn't seek it out), I really didn't think the challenge would be that difficult for me other than making the kitchen at work a little harder to navigate.
Our general rule for this challenge was 'no added sugar'. We had a few debates about exactly what that meant, but in the end it meant that all forms of sugar type things (yes, even honey) would count. We did still allow ourselves to eat fruit (even dates, natures candy), drink alcohol, and eat most all breads during this challenge. (Turns out it's super hard to find bread without any added sugar!)
The first week I found it surprisingly hard to eat lunch of dinner without wanting something after I was finished. I would find myself dreaming up the perfect cookie or cake that I would want to eat. Thoughts of sugar really did make it hard to focus. That feeling went away during the middle of the month, but resurged the last few days we had left.
It was extremely hard to work in an office and not eat sugar. I mean, it is everywhere. There are at least three candy jars that are always filled, donuts float around freely, and cookies often turn up after lunch. This was by far the most challenging aspect of this past month.
In order to console me after walking into a cookie platter, or during my times of boredom I would turn to things like chips (not really helping the whole health bit).
I think we each had a few during the challenge. Mine happened the first day with ordering a gin and tonic, totally forgetting that 'tonic' = 'sugar'. Oops. Then I was at this movie event, and they gave out little grab bags. Not even thinking about it I reached in and ate the Kashi bar ('granola bar' (usually) = 'sugar'),
Jorge got a smoothie somewhere without considering if they added sugar (they did). Matt was trying to cover a $5 minimum at a cafe open mic and ordered an Apple Pie without thinking (you can't waste it!).
People lie when they tell you that you will feel satisfied by not eating sugar. Around day 20 I was over the sugar dreams, but hadn't really seen significant health improvements from no sugar. (No extra energy, better sleep.) The white gunk on my tongue has started to decrease though, that's a definite win. I don't know that I have any improvements in happiness. It seems that my issue with eating sugar isn't based on a sugar addiction, but more on a 'eat food when your bored' problem, which wasn't addressed with this challenge.
All that being said, I'm still beyond impressed that I did it. My goal for moving forward is to try and be super selective about the type of sugar that I eat, and to still avoid eating sugar at work.
But, with that said, this morning I had two donuts with my name on them waiting for me!
- Oatmeal is gross without added sugar; however, not as gross if you blend up an apple and add it in.
- Drinking tea or coffee after lunch/dinner helps with the craving for something to 'finish' the meal.
- Smoothies with bananas are great for sugar cravings. I'm not much of a fruit eater, but if you blend it up beyond the point of recognition I'm there.
- As are date/dried fruit/nut bars, (similar to Lara Bars) Conversations were had about the legitimacy of these, but we all loved them so much no one wanted to have strong feelings.
- Doing this challenge with co-workers seriously helped as most of my free-range sugars out there are at work.
- Drinking cocktails is impossible, but I did settle on tequila, club soda, and a few limes. (The saddest margarita ever.)