My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part II

Too Many Choices

Thanks to LifeAsAHuman.com for the image.

Each time I produce another And So It Goes post, I learn something. This week is no exception. In writing this follow-up to last week’s post, I have become aware of just how mind-numbingly unaware I have been about the luxury of choice I have enjoyed.

Not what either of us was expecting, was it?

I can’t speak to how “Western” the concept of choice may be. What I can speak to is that the array of choices we are faced with, the opportunity to select from twenty different mustards and eighteen different catsups and sixteen different types of mayonnaise is not universal.

When we lived in Kazakhstan, many of the locals were surprised when I’d tell them of the wide range of variety in meal prep I was used to. AND, that was met with more than a little sympathy for me.

Here is bishparmak, their national dish, being cut up for distribution.

There were no vegetables to speak of (dill and beet greens and cabbage, but not much else) and no fresh citrus at all. The only lettuce was sorrel, which tasted far too close to sour grass for my taste.  And both bread and candy were viewed as staples.

Since starting down this sugar-free path, I’m understanding from where their sympathy sprang. Finally.  Often, too many choices can paralyze us.

With thanks to memegenerator.net for the image.

A quick glance at a google search, “Diets throughout history,” brought up way too many to even summarize. How to choose which ones to leave out?

My goal was never to “diet.” If I happen to lose some weight, fine; I can afford to lose a bit. My goal was simply a clearer head. And, having paid some attention to my body over the past few decades, I knew that sugar impacted that head greatly. And not for the better.

Surprised by the headache that hit me on Day Four, I took to the Internet to look up side effects of going off sugar. Sure enough, headache was among them.

But I also discovered there’s a lot of free advice out there, and most of it is contradictory.

I read that going cold turkey is the only way. And I read that cold turkey was too hard on the body and one must cut down on sugar slowly.

I learned of the importance to cut out ALL sources of sugar, at least for the first three days, or two weeks, or two months, depending on the article. And I learned that I could substitute honey or maple syrup for my sweeteners, since they are naturally occurring and contain trace minerals. My objective was not limited to cane sugar.

Sugar cravings? Eat fruit, said one article — fresh, frozen, canned, or dried. And I was advised to limit all fruit, especially when dried.

I read how dark chocolate is a good go-to to help abate those sugar cravings! It was dark chocolate I was running from! That was like telling the alcoholic to put a little gin in the orange juice — it helps with the hangover.  YIKES!

With thanks to humanitymedia.com for the image.

It was enough to make me swear off all Internet research.

In the exhaustive 25 minutes I had spent on this stuff, I didn’t find one source that encouraged me

  • To listen to my own body, for it knows what it truly needs.
  • To pay attention to how I felt after eating x, y, or z.
  • To be clear on just why I was going off sugar.

These are the tools I’m using as I move on down this road.

I slipped here and there — the morning glory muffin that was included with my lunch was first; the honey in my tea one morning; the single chocolate covered cashew.  How easy it is to stop paying attention.

The dark chocolate covered coconut bar at the check out line at the grocery store called my name. Temporarily forgetting I was on this sugar free path, I picked it up. Then I remembered and put it back.

I’d simply forgotten I was “off sugar” and old habits took over. So, my habits had to change. That, as far as I’m concerned, takes 40 days, minimum. Until then, I am on temporary vigilance.

In among all the contradictory advice, I did find repeated mention of the value of olive oil, avocados, and nuts.

AND THEN I discovered the FB group that had been so supportive during my headache phase, advocated for NO OILS of any sort. It made my head spin; I left the group.

Cravings were an issue during the first ten days. My strongest craving came, surprisingly, whenever the theme music from West Wing (the Netflix series we are currently binge watching) came on. Immediately I craved chocolate ice cream, for that was what I’d been getting for myself during the opening credits for the past five seasons (of the show; about two months). I hadn’t wanted ice cream, I knew. And I knew I wasn’t even hungry. But wow, was that craving strong.

To combat the cravings (there were others, but none so Pavlovian as that one), I developed appropriate substitutions.

My first go to snack was a mixture of nuts (pecans, walnuts, and cashews) mixed with basil-infused olive oil, then zapped in the microwave for two minutes. Sometimes it was plain olive oil with cinnamon. The recipe had called for roasting them in the oven, but time was of the essence at that moment. I found it filling, satisfying, and tasty.

Variety in snacks became important. I tired of nuts after a few days and moved on to pesto with celery, thinking I’d miss the crackers, but I didn’t. Seafood salad was another.  I have an apple at lunch and an avocado whenever I’m in the mood. I’m thinking I might reverse that.

My second Sunday morning I fixed myself another recipe I’d found: a “raw cookie dough” snack — nuts, agave, vanilla, oatmeal all pureed together with a little cocoa powder mixed in (The recipe called for chocolate chips!). Roll them into balls and they’re reminiscent of the peanut butter balls my son was addicted to as a youngster. My first inch long bite left me feeling a bit too familiarly fuzzy. But today (the 15th Day), another one went down with no noticeable after effects. I doubt I’ll make this again though.

Here are few of the headlines that caught my eye (and garnered a few minutes of my time) but produced nothing of particular value for this post. I include them only to give you an idea that there is LOTS of information out there.

Five Ways to Cut Down on Sugar
Nine Ways to Quit Sugar for Good
Ten Easy Ways to Slash Sugar From Your Diet
Eleven Ways to Stop Food and Sugar Cravings
The 30-Second Trick That Might Stop Your Food Cravings
How to Eliminate Sugar from Your Diet in 21 Days

We have lots of choices yes, but I think they make this pathway rockier than it needs to be.

In one of those “How to stop your sugar cravings” articles, I found a recipe for chocolate chia seed pudding, sweetened with maple syrup, which I want to try. The question is, when? I only know it’ll not be soon, for maple syrup was one of those sugar sources that could wreck havoc on my ability to concentrate. I don’t want to go back to that.

I haven’t decided how long this sugar fast will last. I don’t know, truly, if I’ll still be claiming me a “sugar-free” zone a year from now, or even two months from now. I started out committed to two weeks.

I’ve passed the two week mark and had thought not much had changed — I still woke up groggy; I still wanted to grab some chocolate; I’d yearned to quaff down a simple homemade egg cream.

Then came January 15th and I suddenly felt great. I woke up with more energy than I’d felt in a few years, and that lasted all day.

I went back to the pool with Woody Tuesday afternoon and got in 25 minutes of laps. Weekends we’ll be back snowshoeing in the woods with Sasha. I’ll check back with you all after Day 40, when hopefully all my “new habits” will have settled in.

… And so it goes.

How about you?  Any of this seem familiar? 

33 Responses

  1. Bryntin
    | Reply

    Hi Janet,
    Choices eh? Do you choose cold turkey, 9 ways to give up sugar completely or the thirteen tips to reduce sugar? Do you trust anything on the internet and in the wisdom of people you don’t know or think maybe they are new zealots just regurgitating and cherry picking from what they’ve heard to suit their own beliefs?
    I can’t remember ever having a sweet tooth, perhaps never being weaned ON to it at a young age made me sensitive to it and I reject most ‘manufactured’ foods for tasting too sweet (yes, including ice cream and ‘chocolate’). I love fruit, honey and maple syrup though.
    So my trick is only to have sugar from where it should be and in the form it came in, not in something it’s added to as a refined product in itself.
    We’re all different though.
    Bryntin recently posted…#BlogBattle January: FlowerMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello Bryntin, and Welcome. This is your first post on And So It Goes and I’m curious how you found me? I’ve looked at your blog and it looks like you like to write fiction. How fun for you. I envy you your absence of a sweet tooth; I think I could make that claim that for the first 45 years of my life. Alas, that was some time ago. If you stick around here, I think you’ll find most of us already adhere to your very wise philosophy of listening to our own inner voice.
      Janet Givens recently posted…My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part IIMy Profile

      • Bryntin
        | Reply

        Thanks Janet, I already had your blog as a follow on my reader… possibly found on a FB group share or something… I used to do SIPB on there?
        Anyway, yep, I do mostly silly verse and nonsense with very little detectable sense or seriousness, so if I turned out wise this morning when I commented it was accidental.

  2. Merril D. Smith
    | Reply

    Good morning, Janet. Good luck with your sugar-free journey.
    Merril D. Smith recently posted…Grey Clouds, White Snow, and Beautiful as You FeelMy Profile

  3. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    It sounds like a lot of deprivation, Janet, but if you’re feeling better, soldier on! I’m glad to hear you have a pool and a snowy woods for exercise.
    Marian Beaman recently posted…My Word, it’s 2019My Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Interesting that’s what you picked up on, Marian. I don’t feel deprived at all. When I get down to it, and what’s coming up in my journaling and meditation times, is that I feel like I’m taking care of myself in a new way. Giving myself a gift. And, as of yesterday, it’s starting to pay off.
      Janet Givens recently posted…My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part IIMy Profile

      • Marian Beaman
        | Reply

        It sounded as though you were struggling. Great that you have found a new, healthier normal!

  4. Frank V. Moore
    | Reply

    Janet,

    I’m a firm believer in the Lost Horizons diet – – “everything in moderation”. I’ve gotten the “everything” part down pat. It’s the “moderation” part that has stumped me.

  5. KM Huber
    | Reply

    It is confusing, isn’t it? Nine years ago, I decided to change my eating habits for various health concerns. Like you, I found a lot of of the Internet advice contradictory, so I just educated myself about food itself, nutrients and nutrition. Apples and berries helped me the most as I freed my system of sugar, as well raw and unfiltered honey (which I am able to get up locally). For me, in addition to refined or cane sugar, I avoid sugary fruits, starchy vegetables, and yeast. The infrequent times I eat sugar, such as peppermint bark, I do feel a bit of a hangover the next day.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hi Karen, Thanks for joining us today. I know you know where I am. I don’t feel confused though; I think my writing must have been a bit foggy on that one. I was just bedazzled by all the conflicting information out there, all the absolutes, and all the claims of the “one way.” Yet again. I’m a huge advocate of tuning in to our body and listening. Not always easy; we are certainly not taught that at any point and there’s no user manual. I’m focused this week on identifying those old habits (grab that chocolate covered nut; oh, what the heck, grab a handful . . .) and replacing them with something else. But I also keep stumbling upon stories of the sugar lobby, hundreds of years of them too. Another example of corporate bottom line impacting policy, to the detriment of the people at large. After racism, culture, and embracing our demons, this may be my next project.
      Janet Givens recently posted…My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part IIMy Profile

  6. Joan Z Rough
    | Reply

    I went through this kind of routine a number of years ago, and yes, confusion is the byword. I’ve come to believe it all depends on what my body needs. In winter I get wild cravings for citrus … could it be I need more Vit. C? I get oranges and grapefruit and enjoy it until the craving goes away.

    We are all different and so are our needs. Moderation is the other thing I think about often. I find I can cheat a bit, but if I go over board the fuzzy head returns and it’s time to start over.

    You will find what is best for you and continue to enjoy one of the best parts of living, EATING!

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I’ve never gone totally off sugar before, Joan. Only cut down, which never lasted very long. This is a new path for me. Moderation? I like Frank’s take on that. Impossible for me. At least currently. Thanks for weighing in.

      Btw, I’m starting to feel the difference when I don’t get enough exercise. That’s interesting. Just simply feeling a lot more, period.
      Janet Givens recently posted…My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part IIMy Profile

  7. Laurie Buchanan
    | Reply

    Janet — I admire your intestinal fortitude. You’re a rock star!
    Laurie Buchanan recently posted…Pucker Up!My Profile

  8. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Hey Janet – I don’t have much to add here, but wanted you to know I’m still reading your blog with interest, and am intrigued by your current dietary journey 🙂

  9. Janet Givens
    | Reply

    And of course you subscribers among us have seen next week’s post slip through the gate. I thought I was past that. Please disregard.
    Janet Givens recently posted…My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part IIMy Profile

  10. Carol Taylor
    | Reply

    Moderation is my mantra and for me, it works, Janet…It sounds like you are coming out the other side which is great…Sugar here is not so much of a temptation neither is lots of choices unless it is all the lovely fruits and vegetables and as I shop at the local markets they don’t have sugar or aisles of goodies just stalls or the floor surrounded by their home produce so temptation is less here or who knows I may still be eating doughnuts in triplicate…One was never enough 😉
    Carol Taylor recently posted…The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peels PieMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      I’m appalled lately by all the mass produced sugar products waved before the public. Aisles after aisles, here in the US, of poor quality but sugar filled (or hgcs more likely) crappy confections. How lovely it must be to live in a country where that is not so, where sweets are simply one part of a wider selection of whole foods. Thanks for painting that picture, Carol.
      Janet Givens recently posted…My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part IIMy Profile

      • Carol Taylor
        | Reply

        It is, to be honest, Janet and the kids ( 6 and 13) don’t miss it..even things like ketchup they don’t use any more…Today the request was little tiny shrimp for Lily which we lightly dry fry and Aston tiny silver fish which he loves in a larb which is a Thai salad they are not cooked but eaten live…They were chuffed to bits..Not that I tasted the larb I draw the line at eating anything live which is jumping out of the bowl …But they love them and better than sugar products…Enjoy your weekend 🙂

        • Janet Givens
          | Reply

          Do you have flowers or buds you eat there too? I’m thinking of borage flowers here, and how sweet they are. And nasturtium blooms — spicy. Those I have no trouble sampling. But silver fish? The things that crawled around my bathtub as a child? Makes me shiver. And I’m so glad we have such differences in our world. How bland it would be without them.
          Janet Givens recently posted…My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part IIMy Profile

  11. Pamela
    | Reply

    I’m so impressed with what you’re doing. Me? I try to tread lightly with the sugar, but truth be told, I can’t imagine a day without a piece of chocolate. Yes, I can see how addictive it is, but I do try moderation, and fortunately I’m not addicted to salty or oily or fattening foods. I laughed at all the choices you found on-line. Sounds to me like you’re being practical and smart about the choices you make. Good luck! But maybe you better not watch West Wing for a while. 🙂
    Pamela recently posted…Thrift Shop ShoesMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh I love salty and oily, my two favorite food groups. Thanks for your words of encouragement, Pam. I’m definitely over the hump. And feeling so energetic. I hadn’t really known what to expect. Had an assumption I’d two, but we know about assumptions! At this point I’m starting to think of getting back to that prequel.
      Janet Givens recently posted…My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part IIMy Profile

  12. Sheryl
    | Reply

    Now that the holidays are over, it seems a bit easier to avoid sugar-laden foods.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Hello Sheryl. And welcome. I love your blog: Ahundredyearsago.com Great info. I’ll be following. As for sugar laden goodies, I’m afraid I’m still seeing them pretty much wherever I go. But st least they aren’t screaming my name. It’s more of a husky whisper. Thanks for stopping by.
      Janet Givens recently posted…My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part IIMy Profile

  13. Ally Bean
    | Reply

    I’m fascinated by all of this. I’ve read lots of contradictory info about sugar consumption, too. I think you’re sensible approach to this is the way to go. Pay attention to what works for you, do more of that, & don’t sweat the details.

    A funny aside story: A few years ago I was going to start a diet in which you stopped eating sugar entirely, then slowly added it back into your diet in limited ways. I didn’t do the diet because as I read it I came to a point where the dietician promised that at week 3 I’d suddenly find that apples tasted sweet. Apples always taste sweet to me, so I couldn’t figure out why I’d want to do this diet when I already had my reward. 🤷‍♀️
    Ally Bean recently posted…In Which I Notice The Sky & Share My One Word Of The YearMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Grest story, Ally. I imagine it depends on the apple too. Some are sooo tart. I add sugar to my apples and that helps them taste sweeter. I love your response. Curious to me why the nutritionist would have you add sugar back into your diet once it was out. What possible benefit could there be, once it was already out? Weird. Glad you saw through. Here’s to thoroughly enjoying whatever it is we ingest.
      Janet Givens recently posted…My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part IIMy Profile

  14. Fancy
    | Reply

    It is very interesting to follow your progress- I would find sugar very hard to eliminate. I did do it once! I lost a pound each day I was off it. Hard to believe now.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Yes I’d probably be losing weight too if I hadn’t discovered that pesto (on some celery) is a GREAT snack. But I’m not gaining any weight either. I think if I start too, I’ll have to increase my laps. The sugar, now that I can look back on that first week with some detachment, was relatively easy to stop. I really wanted to and I think that made all the difference. I was just tired of feeling tired all the time. My energy is back, I’m sleeping better, and I think I’m thinking more clearly. Well, what I should say is I’m now able to remember when I screw things up. Hmmmm. Thanks for swinging by.
      Janet Givens recently posted…My 2019 Sugar Resolution — Part IIMy Profile

  15. Cheryl
    | Reply

    Hi Janet, my motivation right now to give up is money. Sugar is such an empty calorie and has no value at all in nutrition. Right now, having no job and no home, we’re watching our money. While we were shopping today, I looked at some sugary snacks, and the price, and although they weren’t really expensive, I preferred to spend that money on fresh fruit and vegetables. I hope I manage to do these even after the ‘difficult times’ have disappeared. Good nutrition is absolutely the key to health. 🙂 x
    Cheryl recently posted…Introducing CheburashkaMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Now there’s a motivation that would certainly work for me. In college I recall, I tried smoking. Then, went to buy my first pack and was aghast at how much it cost (52 cents back then). No smoking for me. Thanks for the reminder.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Suffering on the SofaMy Profile

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