Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sugar Letdown

When I anticipate a new experience that I'm pretty sure will be unpleasant, I build it up as horrible in my mind.  I imagine worst case scenarios to protect myself from whatever is coming.  I don't do this deliberately, although it seems to serve me well- a defense mechanism of sorts.  Child birth, public speaking, giving up processed sugar for 48 days are only a few of the occasions I seem to use this tactic for.

I thought giving up sugar would be excruciating.  I imagined constant cravings, drop-down drag-out fights between the little (c'mon, we all have them) voices in my head and the real possibility that I would cave and fail.  It wasn't that bad.  At all.  I had cravings, but they didn't become intense until the end because I was building things up in my mind in the opposite direction for a change.  I was expecting this cathartic experience the first time I popped a piece of chocolate in my mouth and I couldn't wait.

The one thing that was as hard as I imagined was not participating in the social aspect of eating desserts and sweets.  It wasn't the sweet that I wanted as much as I wanted to join in.  To hum and fuss over the sugary desserts and treats with everyone else.  But no, I sat there awkwardly, trying to smile and tell everyone it was okay as they apologized eating in front of me.  I got used to that as time went on, but it hasn't become easy yet.

That is why I was happy to participate in dessert again on Easter Sunday.  The actual sweets?  They were delicious- no doubt about it.  But the experience of eating sweets again did not live up to my expectations and confirmed what I learned during Lent.  I don't need sweets.  I can live without them.  I was just as surprised as you are.

I tried a little experiment.  I wondered if I allowed myself the freedom to eat the leftover sweets in the house if I would have an increase in control over myself, considering I had just spent 48 days in control.  How did it go?  I'm just going to come out and say it.  I suck (pardon my language, please) at displaying control when it comes to sweets if I leave things open-ended for myself.  I don't know why that is, but I have embarrassed myself with my behavior (once again) and it just solidified what I expected. 

I can't do sugar on a regular basis.

So, I'm going back on the sugar-free wagon (as of yesterday). I will be allowing myself natural sugars (mainlt honey) and a day here and a day there of processed treats- on birthdays (not just anyone's birthday, mind you), Thanksgiving, a few days right over Christmas, if I ever get back to one of those fondue restaurants and the few times we make homemade ice cream over the summer.

I don't want to be fanatical.  I want to follow a plan I can sustain.  I want to be good to my body.  I want the intelligent parts of my brain to make the decisions from now on instead of the areas that seem to have one thing in mind always- sweets.

I'm still collecting natural sugar recipes (Thank you, Aunt Anna- I did get yours!) and will be sharing the winners over the next few months as I try them out.  I'm almost through Sugar Blues by William Duffy and will share my thoughts on that doozy-of-a-book as well.

So that's where I am.  Where are you?  Pin It


  1. I too am trying to be sugar-free (struggling) but found exactly what you did, that it didn't taste that good to me after going without it...maybe my body knows better??

    I LOVE this recipe for Coconut Almond Balls (I don't use exact measurements):

    1 C Shredded unsweetened Coconut
    5 or 6 Dates, chopped
    1/2 C Raw Almonds, chopped
    1/4 C Dried Cranberries **
    1 T Agave or Honey
    1/8 C Peanut Butter
    1-2 T Tahini**
    Pinch of Salt
    1 C Bran Flakes, crushed

    Mix all of these ingredients together except the Bran Flakes (put those in a separate bowl) and form into small balls about the size of a quarter in diameter. Then roll each one in the Bran Flakes (you can top each one with a whole almond if you want)and set in a plastic container. When all are done just simply put them in the refrigerator to set up (about 1 hour).

    ** You can certainly modify the ingredients to your taste. I use whatever dried fruits I have on hand. Also, if you don't use Tahini just use more Peanut Butter. Just make sure they hold together to form into balls.

    Even my little grandchildren love these. Enjoy!

  2. Good for you. I gave sugar up for Lent... On Easter I treated myself to one piece of coconut cake. I found that instead of inhaling it..I savored each bite. I was almost scared to eat it after going so long without it! The Monday after Easter I went right back off it..I feel better with out it. Off to check out that book you are reading...

  3. Following your lead, as well as that of another fellow blogger, I went off sugar. It wasn't for Lent for me, it was just because I've needed to do so for a very long time. I stayed sugar free for three weeks. I did not lose a single pound (and I have a lot of them to lose) over the first two weeks. On the third week I GAINED half a pound. I was furious! In rebellion I took up the sugar again. I had always thought that sugar was my problem, and as soon as I gave it up the pounds would simply melt away. It wasn't so. I do feel that I had greater mental clarity and my moods were more stable when I was off sugar, and I want to go back to being off sugar again. Like you, I want to have a plan and make it livable, though. Not just never, ever eat refined sugar again.

  4. I gave up fast food for Lent, and as someone who had it 2 or 3 times a week it was a big deal. I am trying to keep up with this all year, not just through Lent. Its hard, and I do actually crave it, a lot. But I know it never tastes as good as it does in my head or as good as it looks in commercials. So, good for you, keep it up! Maybe next year I'll try and give up soda and/or sugar... I'm not sure which is my next biggest vice after McDonalds.

    I've also got pictures of my garden I've been meaning to send you. Keep an eye out in your inbox, thanks for all the tips!

  5. Mary- Thanks for the recipe. They look really good. I am wondering if I could just leave out the coconut since I'm not a huge fan. Do you think I would need to add something else in it's place?

    Good for you, Pam, keep it up!!

    Michelle, Great job sticking it out for three weeks! I've read about a couple bloggers who lost significant weight by going off sugar. I lost just under five pounds, but I'm also nursing quite a bit still, so some of that weight may have come off anyway. I hear your frustration, but I'm glad it had a positive effect on your mood. The days I ate (too much) sugar, I felt edgy and distracted. When I write about this book I'm reading, I'll mention some ways sugar effects our bodies without us noticing it much. Best of luck working out a live-able plan for you- balance can be tricky but I think it will be rewarding, too:-).

    Katie- Good for you giving up and cutting back on the fast food!! I find those commercials hilarious- the food never looks as good as it does when you actually see it. We the public must fall for it over and over, though, because those fast food chains are still in business:-). I'd love to see garden pictures- send them my way!!

  6. I gave up sweets for lent too and had the same experience as you. It wasn't too bad but once I decided that I could eat them again - zero control. We still have lots of leftover candy in our house but I think once its gone I'm not going to buy anymore sweets to keep in our house. It felt so good over lent to have a reason to say no to sweets and then to not feel terrible after I ate way too many.

  7. 48 days, is great. really. I went 40 without xyz, but I 'needed' it 2 days in there, and then went back on the wagon. Really. Easter came and it was time.
    but it was a profound realization that I too 'cave completely' under exposure to what I denied myself. apparently it was a good pick for lent. It was a first Lent of sorts for me, but timely.
    Thanks for coming out and 'saying it like it is.'. The 'fessing up', is encouraging for me, I'm sure others too.

  8. Good for you! I tried...and failed...and am here starting AGAIN! I need to stop telling myself I need sugar! I just ordered Sugar Blues on paperback swap thanks to you. So...here we go again!!

  9. Thanks for sharing! I too gave up sugar for Lent...wasn't AS BAD as I thought....but I did overdo it on Easter. It's amazing how for 40 days I showed restraint...but now, that there is still candy (Reese's) around...I CANNOT resist :( I'm so weak :( So, I have decided just to live like it was Lent all the time! I'm trying anyway...I want to be good to my body too :) Thanks so much for this post ;)


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