“Oh, come on, you can’t eat THAT much sugar.”
I heard that more than once when I shared my desire to give up sugar for a month.
But what you see isn’t always a full world view.
I was eating sugar.
A LOT of sugar.
Peanut Butter Monster Trail Mix.
Hot Chocolate (95% Marshmallows and 5% Warm Chocolate Milk).
Cookie Dough Ice Cream (Extra, Extra Cookie Dough).
You could say that my sweet tooth was really more of a sweet mouth, and it was becoming problematic.
After a long morning or night of training, all I could think about was sugar.
I couldn’t go to the store without buying something loaded with chocolate or sugar.
One small reward turned into a day, weekend, or week of treating myself.
I had lost all control when it came to my sugar intake and I needed to make a change.
So, I did the exact thing I tell every client NOT to do – give it up cold turkey.
The last month was a HUGE challenge but let me take you through a little deeper dive through my last 35 days.
First, I’m here to share a bit more as to WHY I opted for a full sugar break up in the first place.
#1 Prove I Don’t Need Sugar
In my opinion, I believed I became reliant on sugar.
I looked forward to my next sugary binge.
Which is exactly why I needed to cut out the sugar. I needed to prove to myself that sugar is NOT necessary in my life.
My largest goal was to remind myself that my sugary indulgences were treats to be periodically enjoyed and NOT relied upon.
#2 Reestablish My Sensitivity to Sugar
Believe it not, alcohol isn’t the ONLY thing we for which we build up tolerances.
The more sugar we consume, the greater our tolerance becomes.
As we build our tolerance, we weaken our sensitivity.
If I’m being honest, my tolerance and sensitivity were sky high.
If I’m fully transparent, I probably could have eaten a heavily frosted birthday cake with no sugar highs or crashes.
That NEEDED to change.
I wanted to regain my sensitivity to sugar and to start LOVING every bite again.
And the only way to do that is to give it up for some time…
#3 A Story to Share
Who doesn’t love a good story??
Well, one of the reasons I dropped sugar for 35 days is to share in the experience of SO MANY dieting individuals.
No matter how loudly I stand against dropping things cold turkey or changing who you are to fit a diet, PLENTY of individuals believe this to be the solution.
So, in order to better coach YOU, I need to better relate to YOU.
It’s my job to share in your experiences and help guide you down the road.
When I say the last 35 days were hard, I mean HARD.
But here’s the best part – I gave up sugar for an entire YEAR, yet for some reason these 35 days seemed 10x harder.
#1 Changing the Routine
We are creatures of habit, and I take the desire for habit and routine to a new level.
THAT might be the hardest part of this journey.
I grew so accustomed to having sugary binges as part of my routine.
After a morning shift.
After a workout.
At the end of a REALLY stressful week.
Those things were virtually cemented into my calendar.
In order to remove them from my schedule, I had to fill those gaps with new activities and tasks to establish a new routine.
I used things like walks, phone calls, cleaning, and puppy play time to keep my hand and minds busy.
#2 Being Open
Just as I like routine in my day, I like routine in my diet.
However, in order to fill myself up, beat the cravings, and reestablish a baseline for sugar I needed to an openness to new foods.
As I started this journey, I thoroughly researched foods to help reduce cravings, and after looking at my research, it’s no wonder I had major sugar cravings…
I needed to add in some new foods (okay, a lot of new foods), and as a VERY picky eater, I needed to show some openness to these new foods.
This is where I had my first boo-boo…
My 35 days without sugar was like an early Lent (the spiritual practice of giving something up prior to the Easter holiday).
This Lent started in the midst of my sugar-less month, and on the first day of Lent you are asked to give refrain from eating meat. Unfortunately, as someone still learning to like fish, this doesn’t leave me with too many protein options.
Which is where we had the boo-boo.
I planned to eat protein pancakes for lunch, and when I was 2 or 3 bites in, I realized these were chocolate, chocolate chip flavored pancakes.
And if I’m being honest, I ate the chocolate chip flavored protein pancakes each Friday (another meat-less day for us Lenten observers) in the weeks to follow.
Could I have found an alternative? Yes.
Could I have gone to the store and bought a different brand? Yes.
But, I didn’t feel as if it was THAT significant or detrimental to my journey.
My goal is to ALWAYS learn something from every situation, so here’s what I’m taking away from the last 35 days.
#1 Solving the Root Problem Is the Only Solution
For me, sweets are a crutch.
They’re something I believe that I need and giving up sweets can only do so much.
My biggest takeaway from these last 35 days is that giving up sugar doesn’t solve my problem because it’s not the ROOT problem.
If I really want to break up with sugar, I need to solve that root problem.
My root problem?
My stress levels and how I manage them.
There’s still some work to be done in that department, but we are moving in the right direction.
#2 Too Many Non-Negotiables
I’ve coached hundreds of individuals on establishing their non-negotiables (the foods, drinks, or activities you CANNOT live without).
With my clients, I recommend their non-negotiable list sit between 3 to 5 items.
Unless it was my list…
I’m still not sure on my total of non-negotiables, but I can say with confidence that it was over 5 items.
What I’ve realized is that I need to really narrow in on the things that I REALLY cannot live without.
I need to eliminate the things that just scratch the itch or temporarily make me feel good.
I’ve created an initial brainstorm list to test out now that I’ve given myself the okay to eat sugar again and will narrow that list down to 3 to 5 items over the next month.
#3 What You Eat Is What You Crave
Again, something I’ve preached to all clients, but something I seem to have forgotten.
Your body craves what you put in.
It’s no wonder I craved sugary goodness! I kept putting it in!
But the true takeaway from this process is FEELING that take place.
I quite literally stopped craving sugar. Mentally, I wanted it because my brain was used to the routine, but physically, virtually no desire.
“What are you going to do when you can have sugar again?”
Well, I have no intention of going back to as much sugar as I was consuming.
I want to enjoy sugar more responsibly and enjoyably, so here’s how I plan to do that.
#1 Eat More Fruits
Fruit lost its importance in my diet.
I’d eat it, but if it didn’t fit my calories or macros for the week, I’d skip it.
But fruit was probably the BEST thing in helping curb my sugar cravings.
The micronutrients and sweet taste helped fill the void from sugar.
Moving forward, I’m committed to 1 serving of fruit (1/2 to 1 Cup) every day whether it’s eaten plain, blended in a smoothie, or mixed into some yogurt.
#2 Enjoy Sugar Friday & Saturday
My intention was never to give up sugar for good, but to rebuild my relationship.
In order to keep that relationship in good condition, I’ve decided to indulge in some sugar on Fridays and Saturdays.
“Why those days?”
Because Saturdays and Sundays are my shortest and least work-filled days, those are the perfect days to allow my body to associated responses to sugar.
In addition, my heaviest training day falls on Monday; therefore, it allows my body the opportunity to flush things out of its system and come in fresh for Monday’s training.
#3 Re-Establish Non-Negotiables
I touched on this process earlier, but I REALLY need to re-establish my non-negotiables.
Like I said before, I’m giving myself the month to taste test and assess which sweet treats I want to label as non-negotiables. Then, at the end of the month, I’ll settle on my list of 3 to 5 non-negotiables.
Look, I gave up sugar for a number of reasons, but primarily because I needed it for my own health.
I don’t often recommend cold turkey, but I’m so happy I did it.
If you want to beat ANY craving or re-establish your relationship with a food item, I want to help.
I have a tool designed to help you beat ANY craving, and to go with it, I’ll help you set it up in a FREE Nutrition Call.
To claim your Cravings Cheat Sheet, click HERE.
About The Author
Jordan Davies is the Co-Owner of Complete Performance. Jordan has her B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology, and her M.A. in Holistic Health Studies. She is a CSCS certified strength and conditioning coach, and a PN-1 and NCI-1 certified nutrition coach. She loves to study how the human body needs to be moved and nourished and making that fit to your unique lifestyle. Click Here Now to Apply for Coaching with Jordan.