Nixing Sugar

So I’ve got a problem. Generally, I’m not a big sweets eater – I like baking sweets more than I like eating them – but lately, that has changed. Ever since Halloween (damn you Reese’s cups!) I’ve been craving sugar. It went from simply having a piece or two of candy around Halloween and the occasional little bit of chocolate chips to feeling like I must shove chocolate in my face right now or else the world will end (ok not really, but you get the point). That means that my face is breaking out like a 13 year old boy, my body feels draggy, and my head feels foggy. It’s bad. 20121109-090618.jpg

She is giving me "the eyes" that say "Mom, you don't need sugar. You don't really want that apple - let me have it"

I’ve got no issues with indulging in sweets every now in then or even eating a small bite of dark chocolate every night but it seems to have gone beyond that. The other day, I made it a point NOT to have anything with additional sweetener/sugar/etc. By the end of the night, I was dying for some chocolate. I knew the craving was just mental – physically, I was full from dinner and I had eaten a decent amount of good carbs that day in the form of an apple, some squash, and veggies, but still - those chocolate chips were literally calling my name. And I hate that feeling.

I rarely feel like I mentally "need” something in form of food (or wine or whatever). Instead, if I feel like eating a mountain of chocolate and drinking a bottle of wine, it is because I chose to and I want to, knowing full well that I’m going to feel like crap the next day. The dissonance created by my brain saying "shove chocolate in your face” and my body was saying "you’re not hungry” was uncomfortable – and that dissonance is my real problem with sugar.

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Sugar cravings from the other night - half glass of wine, dark chocolate chips, & sunflower seeds.

I won’t get into how sugar acts in the body and it’s effect on the brain – there are lots of people out there who have explained it much better that I ever could (nor am I linking a bunch of articles - google is magic people). My point is that my sugar consumption is messing with my head and my body and it has got to stop.

At this point, I’m sure most people are ready to comment with how I should try Whole30 or 21-day Sugar Detox (I’ve read this and HIGHLY recommend it. I haven’t read Whole30 yet but am going to soon!) and truth is, I do want to try those things but not right now. Realistically, it would be TOUGH if not near impossible for me to completely avoid all sugar – I cook for a living and I always taste my food. Tasting food is essential, in my mind, when you’re writing recipes and producing things that other people are going to make and (hopefully) enjoy. I don’t always make things that conform to the way I chose to eat and I probably never will – I like to make a variety of things to appeal to a variety of people. As I said, I’m not saying I will never try those approaches (in fact, I plan to!) but at the moment, I’m not going there.

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No real reason for this picture other than the light at the gym was gorgeous this morning.

So what am I doing? I’m nixing the sugar until Thanksgiving (we are hosting this year and I haven’t planned a single thing. Awesome.). Here is my plan:

  • Avoid foods with additional sweeteners of all kinds (excluding supplements). I’m not going to be insanely strict on this - if I eat something that has a touch of honey, no big deal.
  • Keep fruit at one serving per day at breakfast only. This will be apples or blueberries.
  • No sugary "cheats”. Keep one or two cheat meals per week but avoid sugar.
  • Keep alcohol consumption low. I don’t drink a ton anyways so this is essentially keeping it the same.
  • Eat more savory snacks. I tend to want "sweet” snacks so I need some savory stuff to munch on – ideas?
  • Eat dense carbs at lunch or post-workout. I tend to go between eating dense carbs (sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash) post-workout or eating them with lunch. Lately, I’ve been having them at lunch and that seems to be working well.

That’s it. It’s nothing crazy or strict or terribly concrete but it works for me. Like I said, something very strict doesn’t work at the moment. I’m going to try to nix the sugar this November and feel better.