At the beginning of this month, I undertook another one of my periodic sugar fasts. I’ve done this several times over the years and each time I pretty much go through all the stages of grief:

1. Denial and isolation:  “I can stop whenever I want.” Followed by, “Everyone else is eating sugar, but not me. I’m all alooooooooone.”

2. Anger: “Dammit, I want a cookie!”

3. Bargaining: “Okay, I can have sugar, but only one square of dark chocolate a night. No? Okay, how about every other night? Twice a week? Once on the weekend?”

4. Depression: “I’ll never beat this addiction. If I have even one bite, it will be like giving an addict the keys to the evidence room in the police precinct.”

5. Acceptance: “Hell YES I will do this. I will be all zen and shit. Me? Eat sugar? No, I’m better than that.”

I know it seems extreme, but for me, it’s necessary. I don’t even eat many processed foods with added sugar. I rarely drink sodas or other sweet drinks. Most of my diet is really healthy.

But… I have a weakness for chocolate, cookies, pastries, and more. That’s where my problems begin and end. I’d like to think I can have just a little bit, but a little bit turns into more, which turns into more, which turns into one night when I scarf down an entire two-serving chocolate bar and still want more after that. And then I wake up the next morning with the mother of all headaches and feeling like I am in the midst of the world’s worst hangover.

And along the way, as my sugar intake increases, my weight goes up, my skin breaks out, and I generally start to feel like crap.

So, it’s best for me if for now I stay away from sweet treats. I still allow myself one-quarter teaspoon of honey in my one cup of morning coffee and that’s it. If, later in the day I start jonesing for sweet things, I have a clementine or some of my homemade applesauce* or some grapes.

* Just apples and cinnamon and that’s it.

Surprisingly, I’m feeling fine about not having chocolate. Not pining (too much) for the things I’m not allowing myself to have.

Yes, I know that the timing of this sugar fast could be seen as unfortunate, what with the imminent arrival of the holidays, but for me, it’s actually the best way I can prepare for the holidays. Seriously, staying away from what is basically street legal heroin now makes it easier for me to resist temptation later.

Take Thanksgiving. This year I’ll be making all the desserts for my extended familys’ feast. I volunteered for duty, in fact. No, that’s not lunacy talking. Because luckily for me, none of the Thanksgiving desserts tempt me. So while I might have a sliver pumpkin cheesecake or a tiny bit of apple crisp, no one’s going to find me under the table with pumpkin smeared all over my face and bits o’ crisp all over my shirt.

The month of December, however, will be more of a challenge. There are so many things available only this time of year that I utterly adore — pfeffernusse, vanilla cookies with colorful frosting, gingerbread… The list goes on. So I have to decide how I’m going to approach the 31 days of December.

What’s worked in the past for me is negotiating with myself in advance: “Okay Jen, you can have one cookie at this holiday party. And you have to wait an hour before you do and afterward you have to walk away from the dessert table and not look back.” That tactic works surprisingly well for me.

Some years, I’ve exercised moderate caution with my eating in December, but then used exercise as the crutch that keeps me from getting to January 1 feeling bloated and gross. Unfortunately, in August, one of my Achilles tendons started to bother me, got worse, and has reached the point that I’m in twice-a-week physical therapy. The PT told me it could take months for the tendon to heal and in the meantime, I have limited exercise options. So I have to actually eat properly and not power walk off the cookies.

I could about this, but I’m not going to. I’m a grown-ass woman who needs to take care of her health now, lest she end up like some of the people she’s seeing at the physical therapy clinic: 70 years old and in constant pain and with limited mobility because they didn’t take care of themselves all along. No, nope, no way.

So that’s what’s going on around here. (With me, at least.) How about you? Are you doing anything to prepare for the holiday food orgy? How are you keeping yourself healthy?

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16 Responses to Sugar-free

  1. Little Miss Sunshine State says:

    I have been diabetic for over 4 years. In the past 4 years I have had zero birthday cake, cupcakes,cookies, doughnuts, pastries. It is still really hard. I still crave things. I thought I’d be over it by now. My rare treat is a child-size cone of ice cream or some peanut M&M’s. I admit that sometimes a craving for a brownie or piece of pie will be so strong that I pull out a Splenda recipe.

    I log every single thing that I eat. Just from an extra serving of fruit I can go over my daily allowance of 50 grams of sugar per day.
    I know that I can put on 10 pounds in a month just by little cheats, so I have dropped my calories by about 200 a day since Nov 1st. My motivation is a doctor appointment Jan 9th!

    I am taking two 30 minute walks a day because the weather is glorious but certainly not power walking. I had a foot injury in June, a knee injury in July and my ongoing spine issues, but a slow hour is better than nothing.

    Being mindful about what I’m eating is probably the best thing I do for my health.
    All the diabetics in my family have ended up with serious issues.

  2. Cassi says:

    I am sorry that sugar does that to you. I feel lucky in that I don’t seem to have those kinds of reactions to things like sugar and caffeine. I’ve also found that as I get older, I crave sweets a lot less, which has made it easier to eat healthier.

    We are not doing much to prepare for the holidays yet. Emma turns 14 tomorrow, with a low-key celebration, and I’m looking forward to cooking a turkey this year, since I can be on my feet so much more now.

  3. Smalltown Me says:

    The big food orgies always seemed to be at my past places of employment. Since I’m no longer working, problem solved. We are making a small Thanksgiving dinner. I do have a bag of dark chocolate covered almonds I am working through. We found them in the cupboard when we cleared my dad’s kitchen and I couldn’t let them go to waste.

  4. jen_alluisi says:

    Total sugar addict, with no will power to boot. And such a busy schedule between myself, the husband and the toddler that I either have little time for exercise or I’m too exhausted to do it when I have some time. Exercise has ALWAYS been a chore to me, never fun, which means I have little motivation. I know all of that sounds like a cop-out, and it is. I just haven’t found whatever magic words or thinking will force me to prioritize getting off the sugar and making time to exercise. I’ve tried many, many things over the years. I haven’t given up; I just haven’t found the right answer for me. Yet.

  5. Patience says:

    I love sweets too, especially chocolate. I haven’t started planning our holiday menus at all yet.

  6. Jeannine says:

    I am almost powerless over scones, cookies, and cakes. I have to cut myself off cold-turkey. After a few days, the cravings go away, but the second I have some little treat, I want ALL the snacks.

    I have to completely avoid my favorite place to get coffee when I’m trying not to eat sweets because the woman who works there in the mornings has a scone in a bag and on the counter before I even get to the register.

    I think I need to go eat an apple now.

  7. Not Beehive says:

    I don’t have sugar problems but I will eat all of the crunchy, salty snacks in sight. And even those in hiding.

    I’m thrilled that my kids are spending Thanksgiving with their father so I don’t have to cook.

    My workplace doesn’t do treats at all. We’ve got people with food allergies, a vegan, and others with big food issues so there’s nothing there to tempt me. Well, nothing except the vending machines…

  8. You know how most of my comments begin and end: Me too.

  9. I do like chocolate-really all sweets. I do better with permission to eat what I want and sticking with the truly irresistible things.

  10. It’s amazing how we can train ourselves to lose the taste for sweet things, but that first couple weeks, I hear you. It’s so tough. I try to logically weigh the benefits over the temporary pleasure, mind over matter, you know.

  11. Becky says:

    We are currently dessert free here, prepping for the holidays, otherwise known as “I will fit into my jeans this year, dammit.” I can’t go sugar free, I need it in my coffee and I need my coffee. Otherwise, I can go without.
    Although I’ll admit, I’m totally craving an apple pie right now. I even prepped one and put it in the freezer the other day, just to have. I have almost talked myself into the idea that it’s not a ‘dessert’ if you eat it for breakfast, but the salted caramel ice cream I like to pair it with definitely makes it dessert.

  12. auntjone says:

    I find that if I’m eating healthier (more vegetables, 2 servings of fruit per day max, lean proteins and shaky attempts at unprocessed carbs) my sugar cravings lessen. This weekend I made a ‘cookie in a mug’ recipe and it was so sweet I couldn’t finish it. Yesterday I ate with reckless abandon - not so much in quantity but in dubious quality - and I could feel it at the end of the day. I think my age (40 is literally around the corner) is urging me to nourish my body, not just feed it. And exercise? I’m craving it, but 40+ hours of work plus a 6 year old who needs alot of attention and a very, VERY active 10 month old are keeping me from exercising at all. My plan is to get up before the baby (HAHAHA!) and exercise in the wee hours, even if it is just yoga. I haven’t been able to execute it yet but soon…..soon. My holiday plan is to continue eating healthfully and spend my splurge calories on the treats I truly enjoy, not just the ones that are in front of my face. That means I can’t visit my in laws until February.

  13. You have just described me. I so need to do this…being a grown-ass woman myself.

  14. The addiction behavior is so ME. I have gone off sugar in the past (Atkins diet) and that experience made it clear to me how much of a sugar addict I truly was (*am*) but I don’t think I can take the headaches and whining right now. I had cut back until recently when emotional/stress eating reared its ugly head. Time to increase the water intake and the V8 juice intake, and time to put on blinders around molasses cookies. (Just writing that made my mouth water.)
    I waited until Christmas Eve last year to make treats because I didn’t trust myself without witnesses in the house. I am a grown woman who acts like a toddler around cookies.

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