Sugarless: The Journey I Never Thought I'd Take (Again), but Am Glad I Did
Part I: Sweet and Very Low- Giving up Sugar to Stabilize My Health
I, Sarah Sturch, am a certified crazy person.
Okay, that’s super dramatic. I’m not “certified” in anything. Not in PT, not in pilates, not in crazy, but I am a self-proclaimed explorer and love to challenge my mental and physical limits. I am also someone who can be very (and I mean VERY) stubborn when I want to be. For example, I had never done hot yoga in my life until about six months ago, but I decided my first bikram session should be an hour and a half long and that I wasn’t going to leave the room unless I thought I was going to absolutely pass out. During my undergraduate degree I went to school full time and worked 60 hours per week to pay for school on my own. I thrive in an environment that cultivates a healthy sense of pushing my own boundaries and extremes. I have always said that I am my biggest competition.
Almost a year ago, I embarked on a Whole 30 challenge with one of my best friends, and although I caved around day 25, I felt ah-maz-ing while my system was devoid of sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. I’ve experienced on and off digestive issues over the last three years, which is a perfect recipe for feeling chronically crappy when coupled with high levels of fatigue and stress. I want to start feeling good, no, fantastic, again.
So, here I am ProActive family, telling you that I am a (self) certified crazy person because I am going to be giving up all forms of sugar (except for limited amounts of fruit with a low to moderate glycemic index) for 30 days. No honey, no agave nectar, no brown sugar, no dextrose, no xanthan gum, no sucrose, no high-fructose corn syrup, no sugar (“real” or “fake”) for a full month. This includes simple carbs like white breads and pastas. To some, this may seem simple, but let me remind you that: 1. I have an almost untameable sweet tooth and 2. Sugar is in EVERYTHING. It’s in pasta sauce, salad dressings, hot sauces, cheese, bread, sports drinks, low-fat products, granola, flavored coffees, sushi rice blends, protein bars, and alcohol.
Yes, I will also be giving up my favorite whiskies, wines, and brews for a month as well.
Before embarking on this sugarless path, I talked to my acupuncturist about my extreme sugar cravings. Her idea was that I was experiencing large dips in my blood sugar, sparking me to consume mass amounts of sugar and simple carbs without thinking twice. Because of this, I started supplementing daily with Inositol, a vitamin-like substance that was formerly classified as Vitamin-B8, but was later reclassified because of its chemical properties. Inositol is commonly found in plants and animals, is vital to the storage and metabolism of amino acids, is an important part of the citric acid cycle, and benefits the immune system and the production of hair and nails ("Inositol: Benefits and Uses").
Day 1-3 Journal: The Withdrawals
By the time you’re reading this portion, I have successfully kept sugar of all kinds- yes even the dextrose in my co-worker’s Creole-style food seasoning- out of my system. Oddly, the first two days were as easy as cake. Shoot, I mean a walk in the park. I had some withdrawal cravings later in the evening on the second day, but honestly, I was able to put mind over matter, made myself a hot cup of tea, and went into a total distraction mode that involved me reading a book somewhere in my house where I couldn’t even think about the kitchen.
Now, day three, which happens to be the day I am writing this, is another story entirely. I have headaches, I am tired (more mentally than physically), and all I want is a d*** piece of dark chocolate cake with a raspberry drizzle on top. Seriously, I would kill for it. I was able to make my brain shut up around lunch time because my superhero coworkers brought in a bunch of fruit, so I snacked on a couple strawberries, grapes, and kiwi berries. If you have never seen or experienced a kiwi berry, I suggest you stop reading my nonsense, hop in your car, go to Sam’s Club or Trader Joe’s, and get yourself these adorable freaks of nature to munch on.
I know I can’t just consume fruit all day in order to get through my sugarless challenge, so I stopped myself after a few of each type of fruit. And then SMACK. My boss threw down a bag of caramel corn from his son’s recent Cub Scout sales adventures. I broke a sweat, my hands began to subconsciously reach, and then I caught myself. I may have conquered the caramel corn debacle, but my saint of a roommate, John, can tell you I was a very cranky person later that night. I was definitely “hangry,” so I won’t just blame my moodiness on the sugar withdrawal, but it definitely contributed. I would have been much “happier” with a chocolate chip cookie in my mouth, I can tell you all that much.
Anyway, ramblings aside, I have held strong and will continue to conquer this sugarless month. Look for an update for days 4-15 coming up in the next two weeks!
“Inositol: Benefits and Uses.” Mercola.com, Mercola.com, articles.mercola.com/vitamins-supplements/inositol.aspx.