There is sugar everywhere!

kidneybeans

The sugar fast update

Of course, I planned to be able to write that I didn’t cheat at all in my sugar fast. After beginning a day earlier than I planned — I didn’t eat the chocolate I had planned to eat — I thought it would be a pretty simple experiment for me.

After all, I don’t eat that much sugar.

That’s a joke.

“I’m not feeling so great”

On Wednesday and Thursday, three and four days after beginning the fast, I felt crappy. I couldn’t place what my exact complaint was, but it was there. I found it hard to get myself started on anything and did a lot of sitting and staring at walls until deadlines made me move.

I had a headache, and a pain I used to have in my neck, shoulder, and arm came back. (I still have it. I thought doing planks had helped.) I complained a lot to my wife, who observed that she didn’t think I had eaten so much sugar that I should have withdrawal symptoms, did I quit anything else?

Yes, I quit alcohol along with sugar (because it’s basically good-feeling sugar water, right?). But, even less than I liked having withdrawal symptoms from sugar, I didn’t like the idea that I had withdrawal symptoms from alcohol.

By Friday, though, I was happily buying a Granny Smith apple to eat in a meeting where I knew that my boss would be bringing cake. I wanted to have something to put in my mouth to avoid the temptation.

“What can you eat?”

When I talk to people about this, they have ask the obvious question. And it’s both more and less than you might think. First, I’m not trying to be strictly plant-based doing this… though that’s where I’d want to end up again.

Secondly, I’m not avoiding all carbs — or even all sugars — just the refined ones that have been added to something. Snacking on blueberries? Acceptable. Eating apples? You betcha. Pasta? Yes, please.

But, I took the photo at the top of the post to send to friends in protest. After I’d made my ‘healthy’ lunch (and I’m enjoying the minimalist element of my life right now), I saw on the back of the can that kidney beans have added sugar.

What?!

That was today’s lunch, and it wasn’t my first time ‘cheating.’ Last Tuesday, my wife cooked some pre-marinated chicken that we’d bought for a barbecue and didn’t grill. There’s a good chance there was sugar in the marinade. (And I still felt like crap on Wednesday!)

On Sunday, we had a really great pan-fried pasta-and-sausage thing. Delicious. But there was dextrose in the sausage. And, yesterday, my wife thought she was doing me a favor by buying me one of those sushi-to-go things. It was great to come home to after teaching until nine thirty.

After I ate the sushi, though, I turned the package over out of curiosity and… there was sugar in the rice.

Results

I can report that my energy is getting back to usual. I don’t know if that’s a result of the sun coming out, or the end of some mythical “withdrawal.” And, I feel good and mentally sharp. What’s more, I feel mentally sharp later in the day.

The mental sharpness could be an artifact of the placebo effect, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it continues.

My weight is slowly but steadily dropping. I’m down about a half kilo since I started this, but that could just as easily be the result of quitting alcohol as of anything else.

Lastly, I’m finding it easier to stick with fitness goals, like the ones I set in January. (I should get back to writing up those plans/reflections). That could be because I’m generally more motivated to see a return on my ‘investment,’ or it could be because my overall energy/motivation level isn’t changing as much.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Sugar Fast: Day -1

It seems silly to say that I’m going to start a fast tomorrow, but that’s the plan. Yesterday I came across this report of what happened after a month without sugar and something inside me clicked. I’ve known for a while about how addictive sugar is. To read that quitting it helped someone else feel better… well, that seemed like an indication that I could feel better, too.

Originally, I was going to start the fast a week from today. My rationale was that I didn’t want to have cupboards full of sweets to snack on and to have to rely on my willpower to not eat them. I’d rather just not have them around.

However, our cupboards are not full of sweets. I had, inadvertently, gone from snacking on sweets to snacking on nuts. (There is an open bag of almonds hidden away in the workshop as I speak.)

Still, I still have half a bar of dark chocolate that I’d feel bad throwing away, so the fast begins tomorrow. Besides, I’d rather not write about what I’m not eating without eating them.

The situation now

As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been able to mostly move away from eating sweets, with dark chocolate as an exception. That’s not entirely true, as there are certain kinds of waffles that I really like and I snacked quite a bit on Easter candy leading up to Easter.

However, I think most of my sugar consumption is in the form of marmalade, cake, processed foods and alcohol. In fact, I like the idea of this fast as a chance to get away from processed foods, as much as anything else.

What I’m hoping for

Reading the article, I of course like the idea of increased energy levels. There’s enough going on in my life that I seldom finish a day feeling like I still have energy reserves left to spare. Even if I never have extra energy, I’d like to get through more of the day on the energy I have, rather than on willpower.

And, sure, I’d like for this to be another step towards my goal of getting my weight down to under 220lbs or so. But, if I just feel better, that’s progress on it’s own.

What I expect

I don’t expect it to be easy. My experience with not eating anything is that the focus has to be less on what I “cannot” eat, but instead on what I “eat now.” Walking through a grocery store and looking longingly at the chocolate chip cookies is no help. I tend to do better if I can look forward to my chickpea salad, instead.

And, in general, these experiments work for me… until I get tired. Once I get low on sleep, however, it seems as though my body thinks that food substitutes for sleep and begins to get cravings, even when I’m hungry.

Unfortunately, I seldom get eight hours of sleep, so… Let’s hope that I can start of focusing on sleep as an important tool towards making this work.