Every year I try to give up something for Lent. One year it was tea. One year it was TV. One disastrous year it was Facebook – right in the middle of when my sister was having her baby girl and I missed out on all the important updates. This year I was intrigued by all the blogs and websites devoted to sugar detoxes and sugar free lifestyles. Quitting sugar is trendy right now. It’s also necessary in Western society where most of us are addicted to the stuff. I even offer a detox where my clients give up sugar (among other foods) for at least 7 days. Now it was time for me to take a deep breath and go in for the long haul. I needed it. During the miserably long NY winter, I had started a nasty habit of snacking a little bit here and there on chocolate and cookies. Suddenly, my skin changed and I was feeling the extra pounds. I was becoming moody and irritable. Sugar makes you fat and cranky. A sugar detox was sorely needed and what better time to start one than the Lent season.
Here’s what I learned from my 40 day sugar detox:
- Sugar is extremely addictive and is very difficult to give up. It’s in everything (even in some bread in America!) and avoiding it becomes a part-time job. If you haven’t already seen this video about the effects of sugar on your brain, then take 5 minutes to do so now. Even though I allowed myself fruit and a small amount of maple syrup and honey, I found myself craving it during the day and annoyed when my usual routine of tea and a piece of chocolate would come up and I couldn’t have any of it.
- You become socially awkward. Oh sorry, I can’t eat that slice of birthday cake. Sorry, I can’t indulge in after-school ice cream. No thanks, I don’t want that very tempting homemade cookie you just offered me. I can’t split this amazing dessert with you at this wonderful restaurant. It’s funny how quickly you can lose friends over sugar.
- After a few days, something amazing happens. Your palate changes and you start craving saltier and bitter foods. Olives, pickles and strong cheese take the place of any cake and cookie cravings. It’s quite satisfying.
- Good things happen to you. Your skin clears up, the muffin top slowly shrinks, the belly flattens out and you become happier, calmer and lighter.
- By the time you can eat sugar again, you hesitate. There I was on Easter Sunday morning with a huge pile of delicious European chocolate and I didn’t have any. I sipped my green tea and watched my children dive in. Later, I did indulge and the first bite of a Lindt chocolate bunny was indeed quite beautiful. But then it tasted quite acidic and terribly sweet after 40 days without it and I didn’t crave more.
Now I’ve decided that sugar for me will be the occasional treat. I won’t ban myself from it for a while but it won’t be a part of my daily routine like it used to be. Perhaps that slice of cake will have to wait until the weekend.
Life really is sweeter without sugar.