January is my sugar free month. No fruit, no added, no processed, or raw. And for once, it’s not simply a New Year’s resolution, it’s a plan.
Let’s start with the why. December was a sugar overload month, and I wanted to give my body a chance to fully reset. Also, Zac Efron said I should do it. And at the core of it, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I’ve struggled with sugar for most of my life. When people would say too sweet, I (with a sense of pride) would say bring it on. When Derrick and I first started dating, he would bring me a Tupperware full of homemade cookie dough blobbed out and ready to bake. He said these were to share with my staff. I would eat the container myself within the week (this was my version of a “raw diet”). Mentally, it was taking its toll. Sleep, stress, cravings that felt out of my control. I needed to change my behavior.
I tried cutting desserts. I tried going to one ‘cheat day’ a week. I felt empowered when it worked for a week or two, yet when I relapsed week after week… I let it happen. I started to run, and go to the gym, which inspired me to try again. Then, if it got to cold, or I had an injury, I would revert right back to eating sugar. I stopped bringing sugar into my house, at the same time I was gaining a passion for decorating cakes and cupcakes. There was always an excuse.
When we moved to Philly, cutting sugar down was one of my first priorities. Yet, I was finding myself in an empty house with 4 spoonfuls of nutella. There was half a birthday cake frozen in the fridge when I moved in. I thought “I could throw it out, but that would be wasting” (I hate wasting food). So a slice a day for that week became my after breakfast snack. Those Bad Idea Bears from Avenue Q are real.
In September, a friend left a large pan of a creamy chocolatey dessert in our freezer. I found it, and took one bite. And another. I put the spoon in the sink. A minute passes. I get a clean spoon and have another. What if I keep eating it until I feel sick then I’ll be so turned off by it… right? Mindlessly, another 10 spoonfuls. I had to physically force myself to put the dessert in the sink and soak it. I had to destroy it to stop myself. I needed a better way.
So in November, I decided January would be my No Sugar Month. There are clear rules. No exceptions. No decisions to be made, so I can spend my energy elsewhere. There is a timeline: 31 days. Long enough to make new habits. Long enough to reconsider how I want to learn to live with sugar, instead of having sugar. I’m learning what has sugar (roasted nuts?!), and what doesn’t (coconut milk). I want to get to a place where I can take one piece and appreciate it, without arguing internally about taking another.
I was one day in (the realization came quickly) that I realized that this resolution is less about sugar, and more about self regulation. I eat quickly. I buy quickly. I needed, and wanted to create a sense of natural mindfulness around my choices.
I’m almost midway through the month, and in a nutshell, I feel capable. I’m actually doing it. I can say no, and already I’m noticing the cravings are changing.
Here’s how our January is going:
Jan 1: Day One. Meal One. It’s breakfast on New Year’s Day. Eggs and vegetables for me please. Out of nowhere, my mother: “Here, try this homemade jam!”
“No thanks, we’re good.”
“Oh, well, Audrey made it. They’re local. It’s fresh, and really good.” Slides jars closer to us. Self regulation is being tested. I leave it.
Jan 2: We head to the grocery store to pick up some basics. I will leave it up to the labels: Any sugar in any form is a no. Derrick wants to find a cereal. Rice Krispies: added sugar. Maybe Cheerios? Added sugar. On the cusp of giving up we find the grandparent classic: Weetabix. No sugar. No flavor. We’re doing it for you, Grandma! So we bought it, but have yet to open this box. But thankfully, I learn that my chocolate protein has zero sugar (Thank you Vega gods!). And instead of frozen fruits in a smoothie, ice does a similar trick.
Jan 8: I’m in class, and the treat today is frozen sorbet. I grasp my almonds from home to my chest as I wander into the break space. Social settings and food grazing. (Flashback to pie day when I ate the equivalent of one pie in “mini slices” over 6 hours). I look at the sorbet, glistening with sweat, colored with bright fruits. I pick it up, share a brief cuddle with it, and put it down. Will power used, but it wasn’t as hard to walk away. It actually seemed easy this time. I feel motivated. For the first time that I can recall, I stayed by a dessert without trying it.
I’m now 13 days in. In some ways, it seems like a life time. I still will walk around the kitchen, craving a spoonful of some artificial spread. Yet, having a detailed clear goal grounds me enough to walk away. The nutella has been sitting out for almost a week, and I don’t want it like I used to. I’m drinking more water, and just eating less. I’m grateful to share this with you (Mom, no more jam!), and hopefully I can help you with something you are working on. Short term pleasure for a long term gain. What started off as a Sugar Free Month, has become a Super Size Self Regulation Month. Instead of seeing what I’m missing out on, I’m seeing the gains.
New Year’s is just another day in a year long adventure of goals and resolutions, yet it is a good time to start off fresh. When February rolls around, I will reevaluate how sugar fits into my life, and I’m so excited to be in a place to actually make the choice for once. And feeling like I have more control over my choices is the best resolution I could give myself this year.
What are your one or two resolutions that you are driven to work on? Once I stopped trying to do so many changes and focused on one with a clear actionable way of achieving it, that’s when the change started to happen. What challenges do you face with achieving your goals? What’s your favorite sugar free meal? Is there one you’ve been wanting to try? Share below!
Song of the Day: The Greatest (Sia)