I eat when I’m happy. I eat when I’m sad. Hell, I’ll even break bread when I’m pensive, overwhelmed, giddy or on the cusp of a nervous breakdown. If that makes me an emotional eater—well, so be it. I fit in nicely with 84.2% of the American public.
Before I started this yearlong diet of no sugar, no sweeteners, no gluten and no starches, there was nary one problem in my life a cupcake or slice of pizza couldn’t help. (Deep dish for the win!) When I gave up every single bit of processed foods, well, it forced me to process everything else. It wasn’t pretty.
When my dad unexpectedly passed away in late May, my friends were just as worried about me faceplanting in to a jar of frosting as they were about my ever-present grief and angst. I had been sans sugar for nearly six months at this point, but would old habits rear their ugly head? Could I handle Dad’s passing and still stay true to my mission?
The answer is yes—and no.
Dad was singlehandedly the world’s biggest fan of pineapple upside down cake. As an ode to him, I served the delectable dessert at his visitation. It was a huge hit. I’ve never seen cake illicit so many smiles and tears in one particular setting. When I got home, I was a withered husk of a human being and I made a conscious decision to eat a piece of his cake in Dad’s honor. Yes, I cheated on my diet after vowing it would never happen. Yes, I think it was warranted. Uh, and yes, that one piece of cake made me physically ill. My stomach hurt for nearly 12 hours after eating it—including cramping, nausea and general gastrointestinal malaise.
Did I have any regrets? Nope. But my gut revolted—from being revolted. Lesson learned. Other than that one piece of cake, I haven’t fudged on my diet once in six months. (Mmmm … fudge.)
I wrote my last article at the 90-day mark, so here’s what’s been happening—or not happening. My weight loss—which was fairly consistent for the first few months—has now slowed to a crawl (as expected). I’m closing in on the 40lb mark—which makes me happy. I’m sure if I worked out more, I could get back to my birth weight—but that wasn’t the goal in this mad-crazy experiment. For me, I wanted to see what changes would happen to my body without inflammatory processed sugars or starches.
I’ll say this much—my skin has never looked better. And I’ll be damned if my hair isn’t thicker and more lustrous. Typical aches and pains have been nipped in the bud. The constant creaks and groans my body made previously have subsided—especially in the morning. I used to go to see my chiropractor nearly every week. I’ve only been four times this year. My sleep patterns now mandate I pop out of bed at 5:30 a.m. every morning. I’m instantly ready to tackle my day. Sugar-laded me would have required, you guessed it, a sweet-bomb Caramel Macchiato to get my day started.
In the last couple months, I’ve discovered a few tried-and-true menu items in restaurants—and they’ve become my saving grace. For instance, a good ol’ fashioned charcuterie tray is now both an appetizer and my meal. I ask for an extra side of veggies instead of the crostini or crackers usually served with the dish. I’ve also discovered cauliflower-crust pizza which has saved me on countless pizza nights. (Do a little recon before purchasing frozen ones, however—several have added sugar. Those bastards.)
People keep asking at what point did I stop “craving” sugar. I’d say it was around the four-month mark. Let it be known that I still would still kill someone for a glass of Chardonnay, however. Surprised that I managed to stay sugar-free during the shock of losing my father? I’m not. I was so worried about not drinking that forgoing sweeteners was a piece of cake. (Mmmm … cake.) Even though I’m three years sober, I still white-knuckled my way through the last month sans alcohol. The struggle is real, people. I never gave sugar a second thought, however. Imbibing on sweets never even popped in my head.
Now that I’m six months in to this experiment, I can finally say I think I got this. Giving up sugar and starches has been quite the learning curve. Needless to say, I’m excited to see where it goes from here. Now bring on the plate of antipasto!