The Sugar Fast Day 32: What’s Next

Well, it’s over. Yesterday was the last day of the sugar fast. I haven’t written about it in so long—almost two weeks, in fact—because I haven’t had anything new to say, really. I’ve just kept at it. Boring, but true.

Can I be a little sad that it’s over?

I had a clementine this morning and was overwhelmed by its sweetness. It tasted like I was eating candy. The blueberries I ate this afternoon also tasted extremely sweet, but not quite as overpowering.

From the beginning, I’ve been concerned with developing good habits, and I think….drumroll…we have. We’ve incorporated way more vegetables into our diet, have been so astounded by the deliciousness of homemade bread that I’m not sure we’ll ever buy it from the store again, and have successfully broken our incessant cravings for sugar.

Will we still have sugar? Yes. It doesn’t need to disappear from our lives forever, and moderation in all things is certainly now the sugar rule.

But it doesn’t define our—it doesn’t define my—experience of happiness or well-being anymore.

I’ve been happy without it, and I will be happy with it again—as an occasional treat.

And if it ever becomes a dominant force in my life once more, out it goes for a little while. We’re even thinking of making January an annual no-sugar fast month. Who knows?

This month has been crazy, stressful, wonderful, bewildering, and revealing. Thanks for sticking it out with me.

And now… back to our regularly scheduled program. 😉

The Sugar Fast Day 19: Middle of the Week Mutterings

I’ve never really liked Wednesdays. Does anybody? They’re right in the middle of the week, exactly the same distance from the end as from the beginning. Boring—and also, in a mild way, depressing.

A Wednesday is a great day to make cookies and put off all other responsibilities. It’s also the kind of day that my husband and I might look at each other and say, “Meatheads?” It’s our favorite local burger-fries-and-shakes place. Everything is amazing there.

Except I can’t do any of those things.

Last night as I was flipping through some dessert cookbooks, I recognized once again that I often make not eating sweets harder on myself. I spend a lot of time hunting for the next best dessert recipe, in part because I love baking, but mostly because I, you know, love sugar.

I’ll have to be careful either about keeping my “flipping” to a minimum or about learning to be content with a beautiful picture 99% of the time. It’s a dangerous pastime on a Wednesday—a day that is, I think, summed up well in Snoopy’s ever-useful “blah—and when the barrier of this fast is gone, I don’t want to fall prey to the temptation of instant gratification.

Yes, after more than two weeks, it’s still difficult. I don’t want sugar quite as much, but that not quite as much is still an awful lot.

Strangely enough, my biggest fear coming out of this isn’t that I’ll still love sugar. I’ve been able to resist it, and I’ll continue to resist it. I have confidence about that. No, my biggest fear is that I won’t like it anymore.

Maybe that seems odd to you. What better way to rid yourself of an “evil” than not to have the desire for it at all? As much as that’s true, I’m not sure that would be helpful in terms of other areas of my life in which I need growth. I don’t think I want to banish my desire for it—or my desire for anything that is not intrinsically wicked—so much as control and reign in that desire, making sure that it doesn’t master me.

The finite is not worth enough, not worth nearly enough, to have overmastering importance over anybody.

And what’s more finite than a single sugar crystal?

The Sugar Fast Day 8: The Limit(s)

Although the time for clarification has probably passed, I realized the other day that I never actually defined clearly the ground rules for this month. So here they are.

  1. No food with added sugar (specifically, fructose).
  2. No fruits.

Pretty simple, but in some ways I don’t think they’re getting any easier. I was never in doubt that I could do this. I love rules. I love to follow rules. So following these two rules (by the letter) is fairly straightforward in that I’m not too concerned with whether or not I’ll fail in the strictest sense of failure.

But the deeper issue isn’t about following rules. As I said on Day 3, this month should be primarily about developing good habits, and whether or not I can make the most of this time by going a different way that doesn’t include instant sugar-gratification. It’s about following through on a long-term plan, something that we’ve managed here and there but needed a major kick-start to make permanent. If it’s only about not eating sugar, I’m just going to be angry and bitter this entire time about depriving myself of my absolute favorite foods.

And who wants to be angry and bitter? I admit that it’s been difficult not to be, at least, vaguely depressed about things. To use a wonderfully British turn of phrase, in some ways this challenge really has been the limit.

There have been, however, a few non-sugar highlights that are worth mentioning for their hopefulness. I would have been the last person to tell you this, my friends, but here I am confessing that healthy food can indeed taste good. Case in point: I came across this cauliflower recipe a few days ago, and we happened to have a whole cauliflower sitting in our fridge. So I did something I didn’t think I would ever do—as per the directions, I roasted it and served it with Garlic Tahini Sauce for dinner with nothing else. And it was delicious.

As I reflect upon this past week—already a week—I notice how much more conscious my eating decisions have been, and how unconscious they used to be. A piece of fudge here, a leftover cookie there, and all eaten quickly, most not even savored. We savored that cauliflower. The crispy outer edges, the undertones of sweetness, how well it paired with the sauce. It was glorious. And it didn’t have sugar.

Surely that’s a step in the right direction, even as I take two steps back by looking at recipes for currently forbidden foods. The road of progress is certainly far from smooth. Still, I don’t feel quite as desperate. Week 2, watch out.

The Sugar Fast Day 1: Beginning

I woke up this morning with a raging headache and a burning desire for an orange. I don’t know why; as far as I can remember, nothing in my dreams had anything to do with oranges. And the other morning I woke up with a burning desire for ridged potato chips, so I don’t think my subconscious is trying to tell me anything significant, other than that I generally wake up hungry.

Normally, to want an orange is to have one, in our house. At this very moment there are about a dozen Clementines waiting patiently in one of our refrigerator drawers. But I can’t have one. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not until February 2nd.

What is this sugar fast you’ve only mentioned once before? Although the holidays are prime feasting times in our family, my husband and I feel like we’ve been feasting for the last three months or so. We want to get back on track with healthy eating and also cut down our sugar intake drastically. I would be embarrassed to tell you how much sugary things we’ve eaten even in just the past two weeks. (Hint: it involves three batches of Puppy Chow, which is more or less Chex cereal, melted chocolate chips, peanut butter, butter, and vanilla generously coated with powdered sugar.)

For the month of January, we’ve decided to take out all sugar from our diet, including fruit, in an attempt to break the terrible hold that sugar has on us. It sounds dramatic, but I’m feeling dramatic.

After all, I haven’t had sugar for almost a day. Happy New Year to me.

So far I’ve thought about having a piece of cake or some chocolate or some marzipan…oh, only 137 times.

This is going to be tougher than I thought. Stay tuned for more lines written out of desperation.