WHAT I LEARNED FROM QUITTING SUGAR

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Submitted Date 06/26/2019
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I have always liked sugary things, and a few years ago I was on the pathway of loving sugary things, whilst already being a chocoholic. I was also an aspiring pastry chef and wanted to get my certification. That sent me down to discover an array of desserts and lots of taste-testing recipes. I was also working as a Barista, where I was able to take home unbought pastries quite a bit.

It really was not an issue to me. I never paid attention to added sugar in foods or beverages, and I was very open about being a chocoholic and loving baking and decorating, and mostly eating cake.

Sugar was affecting my mood and giving me headaches. Work became even more stressful during the peak of my college semester. I found myself during a hectic shift reaching for the giant chocolate chip cookies to ease my stress and rewarding myself after a hectic shift with more pastries. It became a routine. I thought it was the key to avoiding stress. I'm also not kidding when I say I was a chocoholic. I remember days where I would eat nothing but chocolate. I just loved anything chocolaty or sweet.

I came across a program called 'I Quit Sugar' and curiously read ahead about all the detrimental things sugar can do to our bodies and why it is addicting. It made sense to me because I was the epitome of all the symptoms of a sugar addict. I wanted to try and quit sugar for a month because I was curious about how I would feel after, and if I could even do it. I also saw it as a steppingstone to quit other things in my life after I completed a month. I told myself 'if you can do this, you can quit anything'.

Let me just say, I put quitting sugar as the least expected thing to be the hardest, and decided to try and quit that first, but man, it was pretty darn hard. I learned a lot, though, and I became a lot more mindful of what I put in my body, and how it affects me.

My past with sugar.

My sugar lifestyle was not just from being a straight-up sugar addict. It was because I was a college student and needed to be on the go constantly. My diet was made up of a lot of granola bars. I still ate somewhat healthy (so I thought), making smoothies and smoothie bowls, parfaits, or grabbing a wheat bagel on the run. All these things have lots of added sugar to them, though. Even smoothies. I thought quitting sugar would be fine because I love making smoothies, and to my surprise, a lot of fruit needed to be left out of my diet. On top of that, quitting sugar meant cooking your own food because there is added sugar almost everywhere, just check out your store-bought tomato sauce, or canned anything. Hidden sugar is amongst us constantly.

I decided to at least have one mildly sweet thing available to me during the thirty days. Something with only natural sugars, and not too much. My choice was green bananas. As unappetizing and starchy as that sounds. You can simply buy some plantains, which are known to be less sugary than regular bananas, due to the unavailability of plantains I was stuck with green, hard to peel, bananas.

What was cool about this whole green banana thing was that they started to taste even more sugary to me as the days went on. At first, I had a need for sugar, and just one cookie or chocolate bar was never enough. Then, suddenly, one banana was too sugary for my taste buds. They became sensitive to it, even natural sugars. I was excited to see how different a slice of chocolate cake would taste like after thirty days. Would it be too sweet? Would I not be able to deal with even a few bites? I wanted to know.

Sugar is addictive. It messes with your energy levels, hormones, and leaves you unbalanced and still reaching for more. Our brain becomes accustomed to craving sugar and it becomes a circuit from getting the high and rewarding feeling from sugary foods to crashing and needing another sugary filled bite or gulp. Because of this, there is also going to be a withdrawal period. Especially for me at the time, I had headaches and was irritable for a few days.

But sugar isn't something I decided to fully swear off. I just knew that my body needed a bit of a reset, so I took on the thirty-day challenge and learned that I couldn't even eat bread with the added sugar it contains! Condiments were also off limits. The biggest prep for this is just to plan ahead with your meals. Read up on all the hidden sugars in the foods you usually grab for a quick bite. I highly doubt one can really succeed (if you're a super sugar head) without prepping meals or planning out what you will eat. The first week is the worst, and small daily stressors may make you want to quick and reach for a sugary bite unless you've prepped beforehand (like me and my abundance of green bananas).

But overall, it's something you have to do for yourself to see how it will go! I highly recommend it, because not only does it help with being less dependent on sugar, but I felt so enlightened by seeing all these foods I thought did not have added sugar in it, with sugar. Realizing that more than a day worth of the recommended sugar content is in a cup of yogurt is crazy! Also, your taste buds will be enlightened. You might feel like a normal yellow banana is too sweet at the end, it's a really crazy thing. But nevertheless, don't forget to reward yourself with natural sugars at the end of thirty days. I had something I called 'candy bread'. I slice of sourdough with sliced bananas, a drizzle of honey, and chopped up some dates. The best.

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