Saying No to Sugar
Starting a No Sugar Diet
In early April I decided I was done playing the sugar game for now. I got to the point where my sugar addiction was so distracting that I could feel the energy suck: when to eat it, how much to eat, what form to eat it . . . There are soooo many other things I want to put my energy toward. So I cut it out – all of it. And all of its friendly cousins. For the first two months I completely eliminated all forms of processed or concentrated sugar (cane, palm, maple, agave, dried fruit etc.) as well as grains in all forms. For sweets I stuck to one or two pieces of non-starchy fruit a day (I have a new passion for bosc pears).
Benefits of a no sugar diet
Quitting sugar this long turns out to be the best thing I have done in a long time. The most notable effect has been on my self-esteem and body image. I no longer dump all my sugar-craving-stress onto my body-image. I am eating as well as I possibly could or ever want to, so my resulting body MUST be beautiful and amazing! I feel solid in my skin. Now that there is no excuse not to love it, I can. It’s not that I look different, or even weigh much less, it’s just that my body is mine. It is no longer a victim of poor eating habits or low self-esteem. It is made out of the most nutrient dense, prana-filled, intelligent food our modern world can offer. How cool is that?
There are some obvious physical benefits as well – sugar is pretty acidic and without all that in my system my joints (especially my low back) feels better. And certainly my mind and mood is much clearer and lighter – less reactive, less depressive. So that’s cool too.
Detoxing from sugar
It’s been really fun watching my own detox process. The first two months I stayed pretty much raw and as I said totally sugar/starch/grain free. With one funny and notable exception. At first I still really wanted something filling – something calorically dense. I tried chia seed pudding with ground nut toppings and carrots dipped in almond butter, but what finally really hit the spot were salted roasted cashews. I can’t imagine counseling my clients to eat quarter of a pound or more of salted roasted cashews a day, but I decided to let this intuitive process run its course. And after 6 weeks or so, I wanted nothing to do with cashews! Very cool. Turns out cashews were a great hybrid transition food to get me through to the other side.
What do I eat when I don’t eat sugar?
In my quest to fill the sweets and baked food niche I’ve discovered a number of delightfully yummy things that were not a regular part of my diet previously. I already mentioned bosc pears, but they are worth mentioning again. Something about their juicy cool, perfumed crunch really hits the spot in an otherwise sweet-free diet.
I’m also pretty into kiwis. And fresh raspberries. And for a while I was really really into kale chips (kale marinated in a savory cashew butter dressing and dehydrated) but those ran their course too. The things that have stuck around in my diet are the least processed, most fresh foods. Carrots, snap peas, sprouts by the handful, walnuts and pecans and green smoothies.
This month I’ve been easing up a bit – partly because I am in the middle of triathlon training and fueling nine workouts a week plus seven yoga classes takes a good amount of prep-time when you’re trying to do starch-free. So I’ve been buying food on the go, and eating about a cup of grains a week. Noel at John Edwards Market in Ellsworth makes the most amazing salads with greens, qunioa, nuts and seeds, Chow Maine makes these delightful spring rolls wrapped in rice-paper (though I’m sure the peanut dipping sauce has sugar in it). That grilled veggie salad with brown rice at Gringos in Bar Harbor was yummy! And most recently after a long hot run, I indulged in a basket of corn chips at El El Frijoles to soak up their homemade salsa fresca.
I’ve also been going through a raw-milk fest. At first I was drinking homemade hemp milk with raw cocoa powder (and stevia), and that was a pretty yummy dinner treat. But lately I’ve been drinking a good amount of raw local cow’s milk. Because it tastes way better in coffee.
Uh yeah. Iced coffee. It started slow, once or twice a week . . . but lately it seems to find it’s way into every day. I don’t know which part I like more – the cold milk, the cardamom, the stevia or the coffee itself, but altogether it fills my sweet-rich food desire very elegantly. I feel like a recovering alcoholic who has taken up smoking at cocktail hour. Not to mention I’ve figured out how to perfectly aggregate my pitta-kapha dominant constitution.
Actually, I’ve had a fling with iced coffee for the past several summers, and nothing terrible has come from it. I like the feeling of sharpness coffee brings to these lazy humid summer days where I spend all day with the girls in fuzzy kid-dom. My coffee-affair usually lasts three months and by the end of August I’m moving on to watermelon and lemon water . . . we’ll see.
On a roll – or maybe a rampage
We’re often told that there is a time and place for everything. But I’m not sure if and when sugar will find it’s way back in to my life. Having been off it for three plus months I am feeling increasingly righteous and indignant about the amount of sugar that is deemed acceptable in even a “healthy” american diet. Especially for children. Navigating summer treats with the girls has been like walking across hot coals. I’ve got some ideas here.
If you need more convincing on why you should at least try to reduce your sugar consumption, I’ll leave you with this brief 60 Minutes video.
Living without it is not only possible, but really quite delightful!