Before one can make a change to their life, they have to be honest with themselves.
I have an insatiable sweet tooth.
I eat dessert after breakfast, for God’s sake. And something sweet after every other meal. And something sweet as a snack during the day if it’s available. This addiction is quite pervasive. And long-held. And delicious.
From my honeymoon in Rome, there are more pictures of me with gelato than frescos.
I keep mostly vegan, but have rationalized in my head that no-dairy rule does not apply to sweets, and so no sweet is off limits.
My name is Eli, and I have a problem.
I have tried to taper off sweets in the past, and it works with very limited results, meaning, it works for a few days, or hours, then the consumption ramps back up to normal or is worse.
I have always told myself that going cold turkey will not work, that my cravings are too strong, and I would inevitably go right back to it.
But let’s try it anyway.
Day One: Obstacles
So today I am going to try to eat no processed sugar. That is the problem for me, the processed stuff; it’s not like I’m stuffing my face with pears. In fact, I find most fruit decidedly tart. That’s probably an indicator I’m definitely eating too much processed sugar.
Let’s outline the problem areas I can foresee for day one:
-I work in a grocery store, and most of my day is spent in the frozen aisle. In that aisle, we also stock ALL THE COOKIES AND CANDY above the frozen food, so the deck is stacked against me in this way.
While I don’t usually buy cookies, I do talk about them an awful lot with customers. Actually, I don’t spend too much time thinking about the treats in that aisle, as they’re always there and, for me, exist in the same way the wood panelling exists. But I’m sure, on some subliminal level, it doesn’t help my cause.
-I am a forgetful person, and so it is that, in addition to a lack of general will power, that will foil my best laid plans and highest held hopes. Sure, I am weak-kneed when it comes to sugar, but sometimes when I attempt to limit my intake of it, I just plain forget I was going to try to change my diet.
-Sugar is delicious and when I don’t eat it I get crabby. When I am at work and I am crabby, I think, “Hmm. I am having a crabby day. I am a good person and I am working hard. Why not give myself a treat, to turn this day around?” So I go to the cash register and purchase a candy bar. Because it’s true, I am a good person, and I do work hard. It is not true that I should eat a candy bar because I am a good person and work hard.
Day One: Game Plan
So how am I going to get through today without eating processed sugar? Let’s try the following:
-I wrote a blog post about wanting to
quit reduce the amount of processed sugar I’m eating, so maybe this will help me remember I’m trying to quit reduce the amount of processed sugar I’m eating. If you know me in real life, and you see me eating sugar today, can you do me a solid, and ask me if I remember I’m trying to quit eating sugar today?
-I will eat some sugar.
Wait, here me out: I have trail mix I eat daily for a snack, that has some sugar in it: 6g, to be specific, in the form of chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. I will eat that, like normal (normal being a quarter cup on my ten minute break), and maybe it will help with the inevitable cravings. If not, oh well, there are nuts and good-for-me shit in the trail mix, too, so it won’t be a total wash.
-I will drink water, and lots of it. I’ve read when a person craves sugar, they’re really just thirsty. I am pretty good at staying hydrated already, but if I get a sugar itch, I will try to alleviate it with water. I will also try to convince myself that water and chocolate are the same thing. This will not work, but I will try, if I remember.
-I will attempt to remember the reasons I am trying to quit sugar:
-it will rot my teeth
-it will give me diabetes
-it is widening my waistline
-it gives me headaches
-it is an addiction and I would like to be in control of my consumption.
I bet there are other things sugar is doing to my health that I am not even noticing because I have been giving the cravings carte blanche over my sugar intake. So I’m interested in seeing how my mind and body might change after a prolonged period of greatly reduced (meaning only the 6g in my trail mix portion) portions or no simple sugar at all. By “prolonged period” I mean a month. I don’t know if I can make it to the end of the day, but I do know it will take at least a month, probably many months, before I notice a difference in my mind and body.
I understand that sugar is added to most processed foods, but I am lucky and my wife is a great and conscientious cook: we rarely eat processed food. We don’t eat bread, and our gluten is quite restricted. I think over 90% of the sugar I eat is in the form of sweet treats I give myself.
Also, I would like to note here as it applies to the topic of this blog, I realize there is some internalized misogyny taking part in my negative feelings about my sugar consumption. It’s not just about how I don’t like what it’s doing to my body, but it’s also about feeling ashamed about liking sweets because women like sweets and I’m not a woman. When I think of chocolate I think of indulgent housewives on the couch. I think of moms. And I see those feelings of shame as obvious internalized misogyny at work. It’s pretty tangled, but I think I need to spend some time thinking about how I feel about sugar and its connotations and how those thoughts and associations are unhealthy in their own way.
Be nice to yourselves, and wish me luck!
-Your Pal Eli