Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 5: Refined sugar fast

Today was rocky on the sugar fast front. It's my habit on a Friday afternoon to have a nice sugary coffee drink at Starbucks. I decided to forgo Starbucks altogether after realizing that it would be torturous to go there and not be able to order what I *really* wanted. I didn't want to have to look at the display of muffins, cakes, pies, cake pops and cookies or see someone order one of those million-calorie drinks like the Caramel Frappuccino.

I thought about my options at Starbucks and there are a few that come to mind: regular hot coffee (milk or cream but no sugar), iced coffee, non-sugared iced tea, juice or water. As for regular food, my options are oatmeal or a banana. I've seen some stores sell sandwich items, I guess those could be an option, too.

So it wouldn't be sure disaster to go into a Starbucks. But it's funny how when it comes to food it comes down to a primal craving. When I want to feel better after a long week of work, sugar + caffeine at Starbucks is what I use to relax. It is very difficult to deny myself this comfort.

I thought the sugar fast would get easier after the first few days. In some ways it has as I find out what foods I can make a habit of eating that don't have sugar in them -- fresh and dried fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, nuts, etc. But in some ways it is harder, as it gets harder to deny myself things like chocolate and cookies and cupcakes that I enjoy, but more than that use almost like a drug to feel better during my day.

Here is a big question I am asking myself: Emotionally, am I happier when I periodically pacify myself with sugary treats, or happier when I can control what I eat and reap the benefits? So far I really can't tell.

One perspective is that it doesn't matter, it is all what you get used to. Now that I've stopped using sugar as a mood booster, other things can replace it. When I'm used to this diet I won't even miss sugar, I imagine.

But a second perspective is the "everything in moderation" view. If I allowed myself one sugary treat per day, I don't think it would put me on the path to diabetes and heart disease. It would bring me a little pleasure, a little temporary happiness and that is nice once in a while. Do I really need to not eat a brownie for the rest of my life?

For now it is benefitting me to go without sugar for awhile 1) to realize I can do it, 2) to realize what exactly I'm doing to my body by eating so much sugar. From there I can decide how much I will allow myself once the 30 days are over.

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