Last week, after posting that one of my goals this month is to cut sugar out of my diet, I got a handful of comments about how I was going to go about it.
I'll be honest - when I wrote it, I had no plans about the "how." I just knew it had to happen because one, I am very aware that I consume too many sweets on a daily basis and two, all the research I’ve been doing about my health problems suggest that eliminating sugar is a smart choice. (It's also a smart choice in general, as explained in this post. And? According to this book [which I'm planning on reading], the typical American consumes a 5-pound bag of sugar per month. Um, gross.)
In the long run, I’m going to strive toward eating more wholesome, unprocessed foods, but sugar sounded like a good starting point. Since going cold turkey is not a strategy that works for me, I've developed the following basic plan:
Stage 1 – Stop eating all obvious sources of sugar. Since my junk food consumption is excessive, the first step is to drop the habit of reaching for cookies, cupcakes, candy and soda all the time. For my sanity, I’ll still allow certain foods that I know have sugar, like cereal. Trust me when I tell you that this will be the hardest part.
Stage 2 – Start avoiding all sneaky sources of sugar. This is when I’ll start reading labels and being aware of hidden sugars, like in pastas and breads.
(I should also note that, though the goal is to stick to these very strictly, I expect that I will slip along the way in these two stages. Meaning, I may allow for a couple of cookies or a snack-sized chocolate bar at the end of my day if I absolutely cannot curb the craving. I’ve learned that if I don’t do this, I’ll just keep eating other things and feel continuously miserable, then finally indulge and end up over-indulging.)
Stage 3 – Completely eliminate sugar. By this point, I won’t really allow for any sugar intake unless it’s absolutely necessary or impossible to avoid (a PMS-induced craving or going out to eat with friends and not wanting to dissect each option to find out the sugar content).
I’m expecting the first two stages to last anywhere from one to two weeks each depending on how I feel, which means that I’ll hopefully be on track to start stage three by the end of the month. My goal at that point is to go the entire month of April avoiding sugar as much as possible, preferably completely. Of course, I expect Easter to be my breaking point – I love me some Peeps and Cadbury eggs – but I will hopefully have broken my addiction to it by then and won’t go crazy.
This is the first time I’ve actually sat down and made a plan for my diet changes (thanks blog friends for being interested, because that's what really pushed me to do it!), so we’ll see how it goes. I have confidence in myself, but have accordingly built in room for error because I know that if I don’t, I’ll throw in the towel super early. I plan to put up a couple posts throughout the process to explain how it's going and also offer tips that I've found to work for me.
Here goes nothing!
[If anyone reading has given up or cut back on sugar in any capacity, feel free to shoot me an e-mail if you have any advice/resources!]