It is officially the final couple of days of my month of no-sugar. I have to admit, I’ve gotten pretty used to eating this way. Despite the fact that I’ve had to make some adjustments to my groceries and really be careful about eating out, it’s gone really smoothly. I am actually kind of sad that this “challenge” is almost over… it’s bittersweet if you will. And yeah, I laugh at my own puns.
I think that sentiment speaks to how much I loved this challenge and how it felt very real and doable for me. That fact that I’m wanting to continue it past the end of the month for me signals how much better I feel while attempting to avoid processed sugar in my diet. Don’t get me wrong, my birthday is on Thursday and my brother and mom and preparing a “dessert bar” for my birthday celebration, so I will most definitely be indulging, but I don’t feel a rush to eat things I’ve been avoiding for a month.
In a way, the challenge also helped me curb some spending. I love trying new restaurants and I really enjoy the foodie side of me that likes trying cool dishes and hipster cafes, but spending a few extra bucks here and there for a scone or snack at work was totally curbed by avoiding sugar. I thought about each purchase and whether I needed to go out to eat or could really just eat the wonderful groceries I bought at the start of the week. It was a good way to remind myself that fruit and veggies are some of the best snacks that can easily be prepared at home.
One of the reasons I enjoyed removing added sugar from my diet (as well as alcohol) was that I felt better. I know I know, common sense, but as much as I could say eating “cleaner” would make me feel better, it’s another thing to force myself to do it. One treat a week soon becomes one treat a day and daily dessert, so it forced me to be conscious about my food choices and I felt incredible and more in tune with my hunger and satiety signals. I also felt less bloated this month, which is probably due to the lack of beer.
I’ve mentioned it before, but our environmental food selection has sugar. Yes, you could probably avoid sugar the rest of your life if you planned well, tried hard, have amazing will power, and can easily navigate the plentiful social situations that you are bound to encounter. BUT, I think the stress that can be caused by “perfect” diets or maintaining that strictness forever is worse for your health that a couple teaspoons of sugar. Most people understand trying to eat healthier and the tendency for people who are passionate about living healthy and being active to eat better diets, but it’s a little tricky explaining to people that you’re avoiding added sugar in prepared and processed foods. It’s like you’re speaking Mandarin when you tell someone this and as someone who is already fairly healthy, it was hard to justify “why” because it was really just a fun experimental challenge. There are only so many ways to say no.
With that said, it seemed like the past 4 weeks have FLOWN by. I intend to really incorporate some of the changes I’ve made with this challenge over the longer term. I will also be enjoying a giant slice of birthday cake on my birthday and not feeling one bit of guilt about it. It’s about balance. It’s about eating lots of plants and filling yourself with nutrients and colours and fiber and things that make your body happy, but also filling your soul with your mom’s fresh cookies and birthday cake and the occasional celebratory beer. It’s not about restricting yourself or rewarding yourself, it’s about doing what works for you in the healthiest way possible. I definitely recommend this challenge or at least a conscious awareness of your sugar intake and I promise the sugar withdrawal is not as bad as it sounds.
I plan on recapping my March goals on Friday, but this is just a bit of an overview of how I felt the challenge went, why I’m sad it’s ending, and how I plan to continue to abide by some of the changes I’ve made. One thing I DID forget about that I totally had during this challenge was sugar-free gum. Oops. Though my post-hummus-for-dinner spin class appreciated the slip up. 😉
Have you ever tried a month-long diet or fitness challenge?
Has there been a challenge or temporary goal that turned longer term?
What did you have for dessert on your last birthday?