Before I go onto the lessons, here a few words on the kind of challenge I set out on and the motivation behind it :
But WHY? Just out of simple curiosity really and not for any health or weight issues… I knew sugar is apparently more addictive than cocaine. A friend of mine had done the challenge before and I admired the strength it took and wondered if I’d be able to do it.
Why 28 days and not 30? It was indeed supposed to be a 30 day challenge but ironically the first and last days were total flops. On the first day, I had decided not to eat any sugars, some of my visiting cousins offered me cookies from Saudi Arabia which I could not refuse (hostess duties oblige…) plus it was my mom’s birthday, a family friend had cooked an exquisite gourmet and it would have been impolite to refuse (guest duties oblige…). The final day, I was feeling very weak with hunger during a music festival I was helping out in and was in desperate need of food (there was no non-sweet snacks to munch on unfortunately). When one of the organisers offered me home made waffles, I just couldn’t refuse 🙂
What kind of challenge was it and what do you mean by “no sugar”? One of the hard lessons I learned was that EVERYTHING has sugar… Pre-made meals, almost all spreads, most juices, fries sauces, alcohol (duh…) and even some CHIPS!!! So I had to decide how to set up the challenge in a way that worked for me while being aware of the fact I would not be able to go completely without “sugar”. Basically I took out all sweet snacks : No candies, chocolate, patisseries, cakes, cookies, croissants and what nots, ice cream, sauces, spreads, honey. What I didn’t leave out : all starches (wheat, rice, pastas…), alcohol ( a girl’s gotta drink her misery away if she can’t eat it away…), fruits (those are HEALTHY sugars right?) and pre-made meals when I didn’t have time or if I wasn’t able to check the label…
Lessons I’ve learned
- I’m a complete and total sugar addict although that wasn’t really news to me. What surprised me though was how deep the “addiction” went. For example, I noticed everyday around 4-5pm I would unconsciously stumble into the kitchen in search of some sweetness. I also think I sometimes had a tendency to snack on sweets out of boredom at certain times of the day.
- I had the power to say no. It was powerful to learn that when these urges to eat sugar arised, I could reason myself out of indulging in the next sweet thing I saw. My main reasoning I would repeat to myself when I felt like doing this was that I would have plenty of other opportunities to eat these foods in the future (except for homemade waffles… which of course, you understand my transgression…)
- EVERYTHING has sugar. But I’ve talked about this already…
- There is such a thing as healthy snacking. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten as many cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, plums, apples and freshly pressed orange juices before in my life! A word of advice for anyone tempted by this challenge : Do it during berry season!
- I realized other addictions I had. For example I realised how addicted I was binge watching YouTube videos and got present to the fact that I also had a choice to give into this or not…
- When I feel miserable, I feel like sugar. When I don’t get sugar I feel even more miserable! and the vicious cycle goes one… I realised it’s much easier to distract myself by eating comfort foods than to actually deal with the emotions I was feeling.
- If a girl is in that time of the month and she doesn’t get any chocolate… RUUUUUN!!! Okay this is just building on lesson 6 but it was true. I must recognize that I was a b*tch at that time and even if I “could” just blame it on the PMS (which is no excuse I know), I knew the absence of sugar made it much worse for me and my close family.
- You can’t help but talk about your addiction. It takes up so much of your energy and thoughts… Seriously I can’t tell you how boring and annoying I must have sounded to all my friends during this time. I felt I had to talk at least 4-5 times about my challenge to whoever was listening!
- Trying to prove someone wrong is a very very powerful motivator… When I started the challenge, my boyfriend who knows me terribly well, said in a provocative way, I wouldn’t be able to last a month. Although I know he wasn’t discouraging me to do the challenge, I still felt this need to prove to him and mostly to myself I could do it. Although I didn’t last a whole month, I was happy with the results and did surpass myself (I figured I probably would have cheated at some point after two weeks…)
- I miss the idea of sweets more than the actual taste. I won’t deny it was excrutiatingly difficult for me a certain times of the challenge. Once the challenge was over, I thought I would just go nuts on all the food I’ve missed but honestly I didn’t actually miss the foods as much as I thought I would. I started with a bit of dark chocolate, salted buttered caramel and of course the waffles. Although the first taste of the chocolate melting in my mouth was divine, after the first bite, I sort of felt like I’d had “enough” 😮 which is something I never really experienced before with chocolate (enough is just NEVER enough when it comes to chocolate I always thought to myself…)
A few positive results
- I wish I could say I lost some weight but honestly my weight has been stable all through the challenge. I did cut out a lot of snacks but I did also compensate with eating a lot more fatty foods and general a little more.
- More energy from all the vitamins in the fruit I was eating.
- It felt easier me to resist other types of addiction mostly over connected-ness to the net and social media and to procrastinate less on what matters to me.
- I don’t really know if it is linked to the eating less sugar but this month has been one of the most creative periods ever… Feeling sugar “starved” at times made me often quite uneasy. Cravings make for a feeling of dissatisfaction (although I knew exactly why I was dissatisfied in fact) and maybe this sense of dissatisfaction somehow tended to nourish my creativity… I felt I needed to fill my mind with other thoughts and activities such as working on my new blog and focusing on my recital programs. I’ve probably wrote about 5-6 draft posts since the start of my challenge and that is not counting the time that went into designing the new blog and learning about the new CMS I’m using.
What now? I’m still a sugar addict but a conscious one at that now… I’ll still allow myself to indulge in sweet delights but I feel it will probably be a lot less and more mindfully from now on.
If you’ve done some similar challenge or are interested in doing something like this, don’t hesitate to leave a little comment 🙂