It’s been a month since I quit sugar. Or rather, it’s been a month since I drastically cut down on sugar. I found I couldn’t do it fully when I was on a night out – you need to be prepared, and I just wasn’t.
Before I started, I didn’t properly read up on what I could or couldn’t eat or drink to avoid falling down the sugar hole – I just assumed I knew. But, as I’ve mentioned before, giving up sugar is about more than saying no to cake.
It’s about reading the ingredients of all your favourite snacks and go-to meals (normal peanut butter on rye bread; fruit; dried fruit; honey on anything; sea salt and balsamic vinegar crisps; balsamic vinegar; Chicago Town Four Cheese Pizza with stuffed tomato crust; prosecco; any kind of dressing or condiment; certain cured meats; cocktails) and being disciplined enough to stay away from them. For me, the will to avoid my faves was easier to maintain because of what I was learning about the dangers of a ‘sugar addiction’ (type 2 diabetes and heart disease aren’t the only potential complications, fyi) but I still had more than the odd slip.
I honestly had no idea how dependent I was on the stuff and having considered myself relatively healthy, this came as a big shock and has really made me doubt myself as a ‘foodie’. How I dare I call myself that when I know so little. I felt like a fraud and when something like giving up sugar makes you question a huge part of your identity, you will struggle, as I did. As I still am. Because that’s another thing: I’m not giving up on giving up.
I was so (sugar)-bowled over by the feeling of hopelessness that washed over me when I wasn’t relying on a sweet hit and was suddenly fully aware of how much I eat when I’m bored that I want to try and establish myself without it. What could I be like? What is my full potential and how can I possibly reach it with sugar so prevalent in my life?
My appetite has shrunk. Not hugely, but it doesn’t take as much for me to feel full anymore. And I can now wait longer to eat. Scientifically speaking, this is down to the release of insulin being more regulated and the higher quantities of proteins and fats I’ve been eating, which maintain a stronger sense of fullness because they’re harder for the body to break down. What’s more, I can taste food better. In fact, some foods that didn’t used to taste sweet now have a sweeter flavour meaning I can eat or drink less and feel satisfied.
There’s also an array of foods that no longer generate food envy. I’m more than happy to eat a burger without a brioche bun…but the homemade Guiness cake my housemate made was another level of willpower. Thankfully, my homies helped me out with it by polishing off the lot: #blessed.
A friend sent me an article that said it takes at least 66-days to break a habit…so if I do carry on this road for much longer, I think it’ll need to be a minimum of a couple of months more.
I’m envisaging the odd bump – I am currently on holiday after all – but with the desire for sweet stuff getting weaker by the day (I more just fancy ice cream* that crave it), I 100% know I’m doing the right thing for me.
*Since writing this post, I’ve eaten a hazelnut ice cream cone. It tasted sweeter than I remember and wasn’t nearly as good as I’d been imagining…but I still ate it.