I’ve always believed in healthy eating, not dieting per se. I do limit my calorie intake, but I don’t restrict myself from any food item on principle – as long as I can fit it into my calorie budget (with or without exercise) I can eat it. If I exclude certain foods from my diet, you can be pretty certain that’s what I’ll crave for the next few weeks. Mostly, this approach works well.
But recently I’ve begun to notice a trend. Sometimes, when my self control fails and I splurge several days in a row, there are some food types that pop up again and again and again. I’ve looked for clues as to why I seldom manage to pull myself together after just one day, and without fail I’ve eaten things with plenty of sugar.
Yesterday it was candy (technically it was crisps the day before, but that was because I always crave crisps when I’m exhausted), and today it was some kind of dessert (I don’t know what it’s called in English). Last time, and the one before that, it was chocolate at work. Before that, it was brownies. And so it goes.
Now, I try not to be one of those that blame everything that’s wrong with them on one particular food item. But I know that I easily get addicted to specific types of food, and I have been addicted to sugar before. There are plenty of reasons why I think cutting drastically down on sugar will be a good thing for me:
– Sugar is known to mess with the body’s ability to feel full. That definitely explains why I eat far more on some days than others, and why it takes so long before I get back on track after I’ve been splurging on sugary items. I had actually noticed this long before I read about it.
– Sugar can make you fatigue – that would explain why the fatigue I get from my medication for my chronic illness sometimes is out of control, but have been far more controllable now that I’ve eaten healthier. I tend to get long periods where I feel incredibly exhausted, no matter how much I rest.
– Sugar is also linked to depression. I’ve suffered from depression in the past, and I really, really don’t want it back, but this is also a correlation I’ve noticed before I read about it. However, it’s hard to say if the symptoms come because of the sugar, or if I eat sugary snacks because of the symptoms (I am a comfort eater, after all). Still. I’m not sure I am willing to take the chance.
– Sugar apparently promotes belly fat, and while I’m not 100% certain about the credibility of my source, that would explain why I, who normally am very pear-shaped, suddenly have most of my fat on my belly.
– Sugar makes my illness worse, and it’s possibly also causing bloating. It took me some time to realise it, and in the meantime I considered both yeast, gluten, dairy products and several other things, without finding anything that I always reacted to. But I never really thought to consider sugar. But I do know that the pains are worse and that I generally feel more out of it if I’ve eaten a little too much sugar. Some articles say that it messes with your hormones, and that would explain it.
– There is of course the diabetes risk too, but I was thoroughly tested for it last year, and I showed no signs of being anywhere near developing diabetes, so it’s not an immediate risk for me. Still, endometriosis is more than enough for me, I don’t need another disease.
I’m still not 100 % sure if sugar really is the problem, but the risks are quite a few, and this is not the time to risk anything. So here’s the plan:
For the next month, until the 18th of October, I am going to avoid sugar as much as possible. However, I will not turn into a fanatic who will avoid any and all foods with sugar in them, nor things that naturally contain sugar, such as fruit. Here are the rules:
– No sugary snacks (candy, chocolate etc)
– No other sugary desserts
– No sugary coffee drinks (this might pose a problem, but perhaps they have sugar-free versions)
– No cereals that require sugar on top (I don’t like cereal without extra sugar, but they have such high sugar content anyway that I might as well just avoid cereal)
– No recipes that contain sugar
– No microwave meals/ready-made lunches etc. that contain too much sugar (a very fluid boundary there, I know, but at least sugar should be far down on the ingredient list). I have a feeling both of my favourite “I didn’t have time to eat breakfast and need to eat something when I get to work” snacks go out the window.
And here is the game plan for sticking to the rules:
– Always eat breakfast before going to work. If there absolutely is no time, buy a banana at the store. I’m not overly fond of bananas, and they do contain fructose, but it’s better than the alternative (and contain far more nutrients).
– No more eating chocolate at work meetings. I’m not generally present at the meetings, but I do make everything ready for them, and it’s SO easy to just grab one piece. And then another one. If I really, really want something, there’s always the fruit.
– Sugar-free drinks at Starbucks. I don’t go there often, but I probably will go there during the next month.
– Try not to shop when hungry. I can eat salty snacks, but not sugary ones. No, I do not plan on avoiding snacks altogether, no matter how healthy that would be. One step at a time.
– That being said, I need to break the habit of having candy when going to the movies. Popcorn is probably the only remaining option – but at least it’s tasty.
– Check the ingredients list of everything. If sugar is among the top three ingredients, find something else.
– Regular meals, since I crave sugar the most when it’s a long time since my last meal (even if I don’t feel hungry)
– Ensure that I get all the nutrients I need, particularly those that, when lacking, cause cravings for sweet things.
– Plenty of exercise, as it may keep the cravings away. Will not be a problem now that competition draws near.
Will keep you updated on the progress!