So, I’ve done “challenges” and posted about them before (i.e. 24 Day Fitness Challenge, and Yoga Teacher Training), but this one is the most “challenging” by far. For this No Sugar Challenge, I have decided to give up added, artificial, and refined sugar completely, and cut back on my overall sugar intake (fruit, brown rice, etc.) for 4 weeks. This may sound simple to some, but for someone like me who is a self-proclaimed sugar addict, I know that it is going to be a major struggle.
Why Am I Cutting Out Sugar?
I have heard about the negative effects of sugar a little bit before, and I have always been aware that sugar is bad for your teeth, but I didn’t realize how bad it really is until my cousin mentioned that I should look into eliminating it completely. She noticed that I was having headaches, feeling tired, and feeling a bit lethargic during the very brief time that I saw her recently. These are qualities that I’ve been noticing in myself for quite a while, and up until now, I had no clue how I might go about fixing these problems. I’ve even been to the doctor for it a little over a year ago, and his solution was to give me a blood test, which came back normal, and to ask me if I was pregnant. A bit of a ridiculous assumption being that: A) I told him I’ve been feeling this way for years, and B) I had just finished telling him that I was on my period (aren’t doctor’s supposed to listen to what you’re saying?).
So, what is the overall problem here? How do I fix this ongoing issue in my life? I knew that there was something wrong that I was doing on a regular basis that I should get to the bottom of as soon as possible. After another year or so of just dealing with this fatigue and the chronic headaches, I finally decided that I’ve had enough. It never really occurred to me that I should start looking into my diet as the culprit because I’ve never had a problem with my weight or had any allergies to food. I’ve always either been really thin or of average weight for my height, and there’s such a misconception that if you’re not overweight, you can eat whatever you want. So, that’s what I’ve been doing. At one point I did go through a period of being vegetarian, and I also went through a period of being very carful of how much acidity I was consuming due to my diagnosis of acid reflux. Other than that, I pretty much have been eating whatever I want.
Also, there have been studies done that link sugar to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. Sugar is just a chemical created from a plant. Its a chemical with empty calories and no nutritional value whatsoever. Therefore, it has serious links to obesity as well, and has become a major epidemic within our society (I know we’ve all heard this before). These are all serious health issues that some of my family members have experienced in the past and are even experiencing now. Therefore, I feel that I should be particularly careful.
Another trigger to this decision to change my diet, and probably the one that really gave me that final push was the Yoga Teacher Training Intensive that I just completed about a month ago. Over the course of those four weeks, I not only learned how to be a good Yoga teacher, but I also took a good hard look at all aspects of my life including my diet. Yoga is not just about the body, it is also about the mind, our place in the world, and finding balance between everything in our lives. This ultimately led me to realize that my diet is not in keeping with my goal of leading a healthy and balanced life. As a new Yoga teacher, I need to practice what I preach. I need to get healthy from the inside out because that is what I am promoting to my students on a regular basis.
What Are My Sugary Favorites?
I never thought of myself as someone who eats unhealthily really, which was definitely delusional on my part. This delusion is partially due to the fact that I was never overweight, so I thought that I was alright. The truth is, that I’m not alright, I feel unhealthy and ill all the time, and something needs to change.
Here is a description of some of my harmful dietary habits: I would wake up every morning and have a cup of tea or coffee with 3 teaspoons of sugar and soy milk with added sugar as well. That’s over 15 grams of sugar right off the bat as soon as I wake up in the morning. With that, I would either have a bowl of cereal, which is full of added sugar with soy milk (with added sugar), or I would have eggs with toast and about 3 tablespoons of ketchup (or more). There is SO much sugar in ketchup, and I love it so much! I have always loved ketchup for the majority of my life. My parents had to start buying the economy sized bottles because we would go through them so quickly. Just to put this into perspective for you a little bit, one serving of a popular ketchup brand I’m going to nickname “Beinz,” is 1 tablespoon containing 4 grams of sugar. So, there are about 60 tablespoons in a large bottle of ketchup, and even more in the economy sized bottle. That means that, since I could eat an entire bottle of ketchup over the course of a few weeks, I was consuming 237 grams of sugar with just the condiment alone (that’s half a pound of sugar from the condiment alone). That was added to what I was putting the ketchup on top of. If it was a burger, the white bread added a considerable amount of processed sugar to my diet as well since flour and carbs turn into sugar in your body as well. If it was on top of fries, that also is a carb AND its fried! Fries also turn into sugar our my bodies even though potatoes are considerably healthier for us than white bread. Fried foods are probably not the best option for anyone… just saying.
I am also pretty crazy about sweets and baked goods. I am obsessed with things like that! I crave it to the point of where I will leave my house at 10PM just to go buy a packet of chocolate cookies or a pint of ice cream if I don’t have any in the house. Some of my favorites are double chocolate cookies, chocolate croissants, rice cereal with marshmallow bars, all Italian pastries, red velvet cake, coconut macaroons, French macarons and so, SO much more. Honestly, its too long of a list, and it would either bore you to read or make you want to go buy some of these things for yourself (I don’t want to create bad habits for you either).
Then there are the lattes from a particular coffee chain that I’m going to call “Starducks.” My favorite is the caramel macchiato, which I would often ask for with extra caramel and whipped cream. At one point during my college days, I would go to “Starducks” about 2 to 3 times a day for a chai tea latte (sugar, spices, and milk) and then a caramel macchiato or even a “frapp,” which of course is just a coffee with milk and flavored syrup blended with ice. I actually developed acid reflux disease from this “coffee addiction,” which I’m now thinking was really a sugar addiction. I associated these “Starducks” visits with comfort, relaxation, escape, and happiness, which kept me coming back for more on a daily basis.
I’m guessing that a lot of you can relate to some of my sugary dietary habits as well, which is another reason why I want to get healthy. By this documentation of my massive reduction of sugar consumption, I am hoping that I can find a way for myself, and all of you out there who can relate, to be healthy once and for all.
How Long Will This No Sugar Challenge Last?
This will be different for everyone, but I am testing this diet out for 4 weeks to see if I feel any noticeable difference in my energy levels and overall health. If this No Sugar Challenge improves those areas of my life, I will probably have to make it a lifelong change. Of course, during important events such as weddings and other parties, I will probably have to “cheat” a little bit. However, on an every day basis, I will no longer be able to eat the way that I use to eat.
I’ve read that after week two, your body starts to process and digest food differently. Since my body is so use to processing large amounts of sugar, when it is not asked to do that anymore, it will change the way it “thinks” for lack of a better term. This means that (if what everyone else said is true), after four weeks of eating ONLY natural sugars in minimal amounts, when I do actually eat sugar again, I will feel physically ill and probably throw it all up (sorry for the grossness). Again, this is just from what others have said through their own experiences, so I will just have to wait and see if this happens for me as well.
Final Thoughts: I hope this post inspired you all to follow me through this journey of trying to get healthy. As I said earlier, I want to do this for myself, but I also want to help others get healthy as well. Although I am not personally doing this for weight loss purposes, I know that if someone with weight issues were to follow this diet as well they would absolutely lose weight. Its mainly about cutting out the things that we all know we shouldn’t be eating anyway, and also just eating naturally. It is definitely not going to be easy, but I will try my hardest to stick it out until the end. Follow along with my next posts, which will be discussing how I’m doing with Week 1 of my new healthy lifestyle.
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