My relationship with sugar always felt more like an addiction. I used to eat sugar not because I wanted it, but because I HAD to have it. Also, several members of my family had been diagnosed with Type II diabetes and even though Type II is not hereditary, I was still worried that I was headed down the same path. It was time to make some drastic changes.
The rules were pretty simple: NO added sugars. NO sugar substitutes. NO breaks/timeouts.
One thing that I quickly learned though is that it is impossible to avoid all sugars. Pretty much all bread, even the "healthy" breads, contain sugar. This is because sugar is required to activate the yeast in order for the bread to rise. Also most seasonings hide sugar in them somewhere. So I amended the rules slightly to allow bread and seasonings.
So, how did it go?
I am happy to say that I successfully completed my year of no sugar. I did not eat any of the following for 365 days: candy, ice cream, cookies, brownies, cake, donuts, sugared breakfast cereals, unnatural fruit juices, soda, yogurt, chocolate milk, muffins, peanut butter, and the list goes on and on and on.
Here are some common questions that I got throughout the year:
"Did you see any health improvements?"
Like my other year-long food resolutions, I still didn't see any drastic improvements in my health. I had heard promises of better sleep, better skin, better focus, etc., but I don't think I really saw any of those within myself. I lost a total of 15 pounds in 2013, but I was honestly hoping for more. I can't even say that all of that weight came from not eating sugar. It probably came from moving to New York City and having to walk everywhere.
"Would you do it again?"
Probably. Even though I didn't see the kind of improvements I was hoping for, I still feel very accomplished. I love that I had enough self-control to make it the whole year. I also love that I was 100% internally motivated to do this. Nobody told me that I should go without sugar. Nobody rewarded me for my actions. And honestly, if they had, I probably would not have been able to do it.
"What was the hardest part?"
There were several difficult events that stick out to me when I look back on this past year. Not getting to share Steven's Cold Stone birthday cake. Having to give up my precious spumoni ice cream at the Spaghetti Factory. Not being able to fully participate in the candy exchange at the Walker family reunion. Or go to Goody's in Sunriver during the reunion. But in all of those times, I think I missed the social interactions and memories more than the actual sugar.
"What did you eat instead of sugar?"
Whenever I had a major sugar craving, I tried to hold it off by eating natural sugars. My two main things were all natural applesauce, the kind that only has apples and water listed in the ingredients, and Dole 100% Orange Peach Mango juice. That juice is SOOO good!
"Did you ever mess up?"
There were three instances where I accidentally ate sugar. All of them involved me eating free food: A Costco sample of kettle corn that I thought was normal popcorn. A piece of dried mango my friend gave to me and claimed it did not have any sugar, but actually did. And a dried cranberry in a grilled veggie wrap at a work lunch. (WHAT?)
"What are you giving up next year?"
This year, 2014, I am going to cut out salty snacks. More specifically: chips, popcorn, and pretzels. Granted, this probably won't have any effect on my health either since I am allowing myself to eat sugar again, but we'll see. Maybe in a few years I will do a super-resolution where I combine all of my past resolutions into one year. That would be interesting.