Quitting Sugar–Continuing the Experiment
Last week I wrote about my experience with “I Quit Sugar” and I reviewed the 8-week plan. It’s been about three weeks since I finished the plan and I’m at the point now where I can choose whether I want to continue to be sugar-free or not.
I enjoyed being totally free of sugar and it made me feel great, but life is too short not to have a sweet treat every now and then, so I’m not committing to never eating any ever again. However, this weekend I overdid it a bit too much, which reminded me of all the reasons why I wanted to break up with sugar in the first place.
In Sarah Wilson’s e-book she actually says that it’s good to try something sweet to see what it tastes like and how your body reacts. I’ve been having a small bit of chocolate fairly regularly, and it tastes fabulous and makes my body feel like I’ve given it a wonderful treat. This weekend was the first time that I tested it with more than a little bit of sugar.
It started with half a small fruit scone, which was really quite tiny and no big deal. I love scones and that one was a particular good example. So far, so good. On Sunday morning I did a tough tempo run on an empty stomach, so I was quite hungry afterwards. I had a sensible breakfast of porridge, banana and peanut butter, but I was still very peckish afterwards. There was cake on offer, and after an inner battle in my head I decided to have a slice. Only I didn’t put in on plate and sit down to savour it with a cup of tea, instead I scoffed it down in the kitchen like I felt guilty about the act. It was a lovely cake that deserved more respect.
A bit later in the day I picked at some more cake when we went to visit family. Again, it was a little bit here and there instead of actually settling down to enjoy it. At dinner I totally stuffed myself and ate nearly a whole punnet of cherries for pudding. Fruit is totally fine, but it was like I was forcing it in my mouth just because it was sweet.
When I got home I was still full, but the box of sugary cereal that was on the shelf was calling to me and I gave in. A small chocolate made it to my mouth just before going to bed. It wasn’t easy to go to sleep with a cloying sweet taste in my mouth and a heavy stomach.
I refused to berate myself for falling off the bandwagon, so in the spirit of treating the whole thing as an experiment I took close notice of what the effects were. First of all, as I mentioned I didn’t sleep well and I had some weird dreams, which could be totally unrelated, but interesting to note. When I woke up in the morning I had a horrible empty feeling in my stomach, which I get every time I over-indulge in sugar. I had a hearty breakfast to fill up the gaps, but I still needed an extra snack later in the morning to keep me going.
I was really, really tired in the morning and didn’t perk up until I had a latte. The combination of caffeine and full-fat milk took the edges nicely of my sugar-hangover. I actually did feel hungover, even though I hadn’t touched any alcohol all weekend.
My skin has broken out too, especially around my jawline. I hardly get spots anymore thanks to a regular skincare routine, but a few always appear after I’ve had too much sugar or alcohol. I have a burst blood vessel on my nose as well, which means that I’m channelling Rudolph a few months early. I’ve noticed that I get more redness when I’ve over-indulged.
One of the most disturbing things is the lack of control I felt around sweet foods that I wasn’t even enjoying eating. Part of this might be my body’s physical response to sugar and the sugar crashes that I was experiencing, but it was partly a mental response and the fact that sugar felt like a forbidden food – the “all or nothing” effect.
I’ve now had a few days where I’m back to being sugar-free and I’m starting to feel normal again. I feel better when I’m not stuffing my face with sweet things, but the deal I’ve made with myself is that when I really want something sweet I will take the time to really enjoy it. Hopefully that way I will feel satisfied and be less likely to chase the next sugar hit.