At the beginning of 2019—as a sort of Hail Mary pass to my overall well-being—I gave up sugar. And sweeteners. And starches. And gluten. For an entire year.
I decided to do it 1) because I was 150% addicted to sugar and 2) it was starting to wreak havoc with my health. Looking back over the past month, it probably would have been easier to give up oxygen. See, processed sugar is in everything. Every last damn thing. But I’ve become hyper-mindful of eating clean, furiously checking labels and reading up on which regular, everyday foods contain obscene amounts of natural sugar. (I’m looking at you, bananas.)
Friends (who are now former friends) lambasted me for another gimmicky attempt at weight loss which—truth be told—wasn’t exactly the goal but is occurring incrementally. A smaller waistline is a nifty by-product of not eating sugary by-products. Who knew?
Here’s the breakdown of my past month—the good, the bad and the ugly:
Withdrawals weren’t as hellacious as I anticipated. I think I actually consumed so many frosted Xmas cookies in December that my body was begging me for a break. Other than a few days of a dull headache, the detox process went about as smoothly as possible. That is, until …
… until I experienced something called the Keto Flu—which is where your body stops running on sugar and carbs and switches over to simply burning fat. On Day 6 of no sugar, I hit the wall. I felt awful. Nausea, extreme fatigue—you name it, I had it. It took a couple days before it passed. Regular fuel doesn’t run in a diesel machine. It took a few days for my body to switch over to clean eating. But, believe me, it wasn’t pretty.
My sleeping patterns have changed over the last month. Sugar would cause elevated highs and crashing lows. I no longer have a “3pm slump” where the only thing I want to do is take a nap. At night, my sleep is restful and uninterrupted. Dare I say I wake up feeling refreshed. Nah, that’s too cliché.
I used to attribute my aches and pains (uh, and creaks and snaps) to middle age. While that likely plays a role, I haven’t experienced any joint pain, back pain or stiffness in the past three weeks. Zilch. Nada. No visits to the chiropractor either. It appears sugar was the culprit behind much of my bloat and inflammation.
Without being dramatic, let’s just say that eating nary a carb and upping my protein intake hasn’t been particularly conducive to regularity. Rather, I’m way, way more regular than usual. Several times my gut has gone from DEFCON 5 to DEFCON 1 in a matter of thirty seconds. Enzymes and probiotics are helping, but it’s still dicey downstairs.
Sometimes when writers can’t come up with a sentence to save their life, they call it writer’s block. I call it “going beige.” That’s where I’m trying my best to formulate words and my brain can think of nothing else but the color beige. In the past month, I’ve been beige-free. My medulla oblongata is now a virtual kaleidoscope. I have regained a shocking amount of mental clarity.
An unexpected bonus? My libido has resurfaced—sort of. I’m not saying I’m 18 years old again or anything, but sugar always seemed to squelch my sex drive. I’d gladly choose a donut over nookie any day. Yes, it had gotten that bad.
I’ve had a least a half dozen people tell me my skin looks really good. (Full disclosure, I did have a chemical peel the first week of January.) But I will admit in the last couple weeks, I haven’t had a single breakout, zit or itchy patches of skin. I’ll attribute that to drinking gallons of water each day, but also phasing out sugar completely.
Since I would always eat my feelings, I’ve had to learn to process life as it comes along. Do I still pop the occasional Xanax? Yup. Do I still pop the occasional Xanax while wolfing down a coconut crème pie? Nope.
Speaking of, my cravings are still at 92%. Not a week has gone by where I haven’t had a literal dream about eating cake and ice cream. (I’m not even a fan of ice cream, mind you.) Maybe I’m mentally preparing for my birthday in March. Or maybe I’m celebrating giving up sugar. Who knows? See that Peanut Butter Oreo Brownie Bite in the picture above? Someone sent me that recipe. I’m going to have them killed.
Shameless plug alert. My diet has been foolproof because I’m eating food from Evolve Juicery and Kitchen. They have been creating tasty paleo and keto-friendly meals for nearly seven years. To say I’m a fan would be an understatement. They’ve got my back. Everything I’ve eaten has been jaw-droppingly good and filled with flavor. Evolve’s unofficial motto? No gluten, no sugar, no dairy—no kidding.
Have I cheated? Yes and no. At the beginning of this year-long journey I made a pact to myself that the only thing I would indulge was a dollop of honey in my tea in the morning. That’s it. Is that cheating? Technically, yes. But is it keeping me sane? Yes. A dollop of honey for me is a better alternative than swilling down a caramel latté which would be both my ultimate fantasy and ultimate downfall at this point. Other than that, I haven’t knowingly eaten any fructose, sucrose or any other ose-laden thing.
And finally, because I know you all want the skinny (pun intended), I’ve lost 14 pounds thus far with regular amounts of exercise. Again, weight-loss was not the goal here, but I’m pleased with the results. All of the results.
30 days down. 335 to go.