One of my 52 in 52 items this year was to give up chocolates and sweets containing processed sugar for the entire year, exceptions being “events” like birthdays, weddings etc.
Amazingly, it's been easier than I thought.
The point of this exercise was to quit my sugar addiction in a way that's sustainable. I mean, let's be real here, when it comes to cooking and nutrition I'm lazy. Really lazy. I needed to give up sugar in a way that I could still be lazy and yet still change my habit in a way for the better. If I tried to jump in the deep end of the pool like I did when I quit sugar a few years back, I know that I would eventually cave in and the addiction would rear it's ugly head once more.
At the start of this year, the extent of my addiction was back to the point that I could easily smash an entire container of m & m's (the big bags) and a pack of tim tams in a matter of minutes, and yet still want something else. It was not uncommon for me to visit the local grocer in the afternoon and buy a bag of glucose lollies and a bar/block of chocolate. I would finish it all by myself in my office, not tell anyone what I was eating, and hope that no one would ask questions. No wonder that despite all the exercise I did I still found myself with a Kim Kardashian butt, and clearly not because of genetics.
So basically the deal is that now I can have sweet stuff if I want, within reason. Anything over 70% cacao I'm allowed, because I know it will be rich enough that I'll have one square of a block and the craving will pass. To date I haven't had a craving to the point of giving in and having a snack yet. I'm also allowed to have baked goods that Mario and I make, provided it doesn't have any processed sugar in it. Honey is OK for example. I'm also allowed to be unrestricted at birthdays and events like wedding, because at the end of the day I'm aiming for a sustainable change, and at events you should partake in some activities. It's OK to turn it down if I don't want it, but I would prefer to have the option than be hardwired to say no.
Last night Mario made this most amazing chocolate paleo tart, based on a recipe from livinghealthywithchocolate.com (he modified the base a little bit because he needed a quick version and we didn't have the raspberries, but the chocolate part is the same).
Those things are divine!
Since starting I've found my afternoon cravings have gone in a huge way. I'm having dried fruits and nuts in the afternoon instead which helps with the afternoon lull. I did find that for the first week I felt like I still wanted something “naughty”, so I gave in and let myself have a packet of chips, or something else savoury. But that too has been fading to the point that I find I'm not having many food cravings at all in the afternoon. In addition, I always have a healthy(ish) snack on hand ready to go.
I have also managed to survive one round of the feminine monthlies, although my hormones this month were unreal. I was the grumpiest person ever, and I did warn my team at work. I walked out of one meeting because they were trying to rile me up (only for the reason they knew I was hormonal). I didn't cry thankfully, but I was angry! I had warned Mario too, and as typical he was the best boyfriend ever and just cuddled me a lot more over those few days. I can never get enough of his cuddles as it is, so that was awesome. I've started taking Magnesium for the amount of exercise I'm doing, but this should also have the added benefit of keeping the hormones in check too.
So far I've had to deal with one birthday and one wedding, and both times meant cake. One time meant copious amounts of alcohol. Both resulted in the worst headaches I've had in a long time, and both of them meant afternoon naps. It's like my body has detected I've given up sugar, so now when it gets sweet treats from processed sugars it goes into overdrive and makes me feel like absolute crap. It's enough to remind me why I'm doing this – because this stuff is toxic for my body! The tarts above though? Absolutely no sugar crash, and no headache.
It's scary to think that I'm only halfway through January, and that I've committed to doing this for the entire year. But after two weeks the changes are evident, and come the end of this year I may have dropped a lot of kilos and kicked this for good! One can only hope!