I have a bad habit of consuming large quantities of sugar, typically in the form of desserts, sweets, treats, candy, soda, and other sugar-based foods. I’ve been doing really well at cutting back, but whenever I happen to have access to dessert or candy I tend to over-indulge. I usually regret this the next morning when I feel like I’ve just come out of a sugar coma.
Rich and sugary foods often leave me with headaches, stomach aches, tiredness, sluggishness, grumpy moods, and a slew of other side effects. This month I’ve noticed most of these symptoms go away as I’ve been avoiding as many sugary foods and drinks as I can. I definitely wasn’t entirely sugar-free this month. I’ve had some cinnamon and sugar on my toast, orange juice for breakfast and occasionally some honey on my bread. But this month I’ve cut out the vast majority of treats and sugary sweets.
I’ve had cravings and probably a few sugar withdrawals and at times it’s been all I could do to avoid eating a cookie or some candy that sounded oh so good! But I’ve learned a valuable lesson of self-control as I’ve given up desserts this month. That self-control has given me a renewed sense of freedom from sugar. Before, if there were cookies nearby I would likely devour an inordinate amount of them without giving it a second thought. If I sensed candy in our apartment it would likely all be gone in one or two sittings and any serving of ice cream, pie or cheesecake didn’t stand a fighting chance.
Now, after 31 days of no treats I feel free from the grips of sugary goodness. I had a hunch that after so long I had overcome most of my cravings, so I tested that theory over Christmas break. Although there were many delectable delights to please the taste buds, I was able to ignore any remaining cravings. I finally feel like I have real freedom from sugar at this point.
If you struggle with sugar cravings, junk food cravings, fast food cravings or any other kind of food cravings, know that with time you can overcome those cravings. It takes a lot of willpower, planning and self-control, but it is so worth it! Try this experiment sometime during the next year. Set a goal to go without the food you crave for a week. Then see if you can go for two weeks, then three, then a month. See how long you can go. Know that you will fail along the way and give in to a craving every now and then. It’s OK to fail as long as you keep going. Believe me when I say that after time the cravings lessen and eventually disappear.
I learned two important things from this month. First is that constant reminders are very important for the first week or two. It was so easy to forget that I was going without dessert while at a Christmas party or family gathering. Remind yourself daily, even hourly if you need to, about your commitment. Second, if you crave something then you have to avoid it as much as possible. My wife put away all the sweets in our house for the month and I avoided the kitchen whenever dessert was brought out at parties. If you have a taste for potato chips, toss them out for the month and avoid the chip aisle at the grocery store.
This was a tough challenge but I came out of this month with a renewed sense of the self-control that I am capable of. I also felt a lot better with less sugar headaches and stomach aches. I hope you’ll join me for next year’s Year of Change experiments and challenges. Tomorrow (or today for some of the world) begins a brand new year, filled with so much potential. I’m starting things off next year by building a good morning routine. Will you join me?