I quit sugar: A reprise.

A number of months ago, I declared that I had quit sugarand all things sweet, and I think it’s time for an update.

[Leaf Parade. I quit sugar: A reprise.]

It has now been five months since refined sugars have crossed my lips, and, while the first couple of months were really extraordinary and actually life-altering, lately I’ve been feeling much less super-heroic in my pursuits. The initial benefits made me feel certain that I had made one of the greatest choices that I had made in a long time, and I still very much feel that way. But from my current perspective, which allows me to reflect on the changes that I’ve made and the work-arounds that I’ve managed to rationalize, I see now that my approach to my sugar quit needs to be revised if this pursuit is going to go on and be anything more than anecdotal.

[Leaf Parade. I quit sugar: A reprise.]

At the end of April, after a ten-week-long hiatus, I began to eat fresh fruit again — the first significant source of sugar that I had had in what felt like ages. It was wonderful. I was eating fruit, but  I was enjoying it in moderation — a sprinkle of blueberries maybe, or an apple after lunchtime. Since then, I’ve added some dried fruits, but still nothing with added sugar, and nothing with honey, maple syrup, or agave either. This transition also went well. I was casual about it all — and surprised by my own reserve, given what a notorious sweet tooth I have.

[Leaf Parade. Blueberry breakfast bowl.]

In the month of June, though, my sweet consumption (albeit from natural sources) got way, way, way out of control. I could blame it on the time of year, and all the fresh apricots, the juiced-up strawberries, the plump little plums. Or that I’ve been running 50+ miles a week and need the extra sugar to keep me going. I could also do very well in blaming it on my discovery of Lärabars (which I sincerely wish were less delicious and, therefore, less addictive). But, while I’m sure those things have contributed to the re-triggering of my sweet addiction, the real problem is that I’ve lost sight of why I was doing this to begin with. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks evaluating my reasons why, and working towards putting them back into play.

[Leaf Parade. Quinoa salad with strawberries, goat cheese, and balsamic.]

When I first wrote about my sugar quit, I cited five things that I had learned from not eating sugar. Here is a quick summary:

  1. I have the ability to be in control.
  2. I have the ability to sleep well every night.
  3. I have the ability to feel well all the time.
  4. Removing sugar means adding other things.
  5. Food that is good to eat is also food that is ‘good to think.’

So I’m doing it again — I’m starting from scratch again. For the next few weeks there will be no more bulk boxes of Lärabars and no bucketfuls of fresh angelcots. If this is what I have to do to see those five things clearly again, then so be it, because they mean something to me. And if you’ve stumbled on my page wondering why this is so hard and why it sometimes feels so unrewarding, I challenge you to try again until you see those five things clearly as well.

[Leaf Parade. A marmalade of blueberry, ginger, and lemon.]

My goal is not to live a life entirely devoid of sugar. In fact, thinking about that kind of life sends me into a panic. I want to be free to have ice cream one day, free to have a birthday cake! I think, overall, it’s a good decision for me to cut out refined sugars for good, and I hope that I can keep up that quit for the long term because it’s important to me. But my current wish is to one day return to naturally-sweetened foods with self-control and with appreciation. I don’t want to shove cookies in my mouth ad infinitum. I want to really taste cookies and then love cookies for their taste — not for the way they make me feel, or the void that they so momentarily fill. I want to really get to know the cookie again.

So let’s get back to work!


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