Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Reaching my First Sugar-Free Goal
We're closing in on the 3 month goal I set for myself when I became sugar-free. The significance of 3 months is purely because when I gave up last time, my nutritionist told me that it takes 3 months to forget cravings. It seemed good to have a goal. Not so much a finish line, but a milestone at least.

It feels dangerous to even mention finish lines because I feel so far from finished. My psychologist friend was telling me the other night that the need for sweet things is all in our heads, so I guess it's not so much that I haven't gotten over the physical barriers of sugar-addiction, but that I haven't gotten over the mental ones.

My life has changed so much since I became sugar-free. I find it easier to wake up each morning. I'm less grumpy and impatient than I was before, although this was a conscious effort so not entirely because of sugar - just made easier by the lack of sugar-highs and come-downs. Instead of a 10am craving followed by a 3pm slump and then a pre-bed indulgence, I now think of sugar almost only when I am reminded of it, plus a real want for it once every 3 days or so. It is hard knowing that there is chocolate in the fridge left over from my birthday party (of which I had and will have none) but it doesn't do my head in like it did when I first gave up.

I don't feel as good as I know I could. When there is really good quality honey in the house, I'll eat it by the teaspoonful. I binge on it, the same way I used to do with a king-size bar of chocolate. I drink milk and eat a lot of fruit. So I just don't feel that I'm necessarily over sugar.

I'm proud of my achievements. I've had sugar-free chocolate maybe 4 times since I became sugar-free, when I had chocolate a minimum of once a day. As I type this, the idea of wanting it is in the back of my mind, but I know I will be distracted by something else soon enough. I've had a real, refined-sugar treat once a week approximately 2 out of 3 weeks and when I have enjoyed those, I've kept my serving size to less than 1 metric cup (as opposed to 'as big as I can get without looking rude and/or greedy' which trust me, is a real measurement).

OK, so, my achievements -

  • I crave chocolate once a week instead of several times a day
  • I only eat products that are below 3% refined-sugar with a 1-cup exception once a week
  • I eat a lot more fruit and veges, far less fat and far less processed foods
  • I haven't touched a soft drink other than coke-zero and diet-lift (which is sugar-free)
  • I haven't had a single glass of orange juice, which I love
  • I've had 2 alcoholic drinks - 1 shot of Canadian Club and 1 can of Jim Beam and Sugar-free Cola, which I couldn't finish
How I've done it - 

The phrase 'No thank you, I'm sugar-free' became my new best friend.

The first word is 'No'. This is important because not only does it frame the offering (sugar) in a negative light in my mind, but it is a firm and unwavering response to the offerer. If I said 'um, no' or 'i shouldn't', it would give myself an opportunity to rethink, and the offerer an opportunity to interject with 'oh come on, just one!', which they all do, bless em. I've seen this work similarly with people trying not to drink.
One person I knew complained regularly that no one understood the peer pressure he received and how hard it was not to drink when everyone was drinking. Said person would always say 'oh nah I'm alright thanks' when offered a drink, and then accept the drink when pushed even the slightest. Even though he would drink it slowly, he was always seen by his peers to have a drink in hand, therefore they didn't see their cries of 'take a shot!' or 'have another!' as peer pressure, merely fun.

A second person, unknown to the first, was offered a shot within 5 minutes of my meeting him. He responded with 'No thank you, I don't drink', and wasn't bothered again by anyone that had heard him. I learnt a lot from those two people and the comparisons I was able to make between them.

The second part of my own habitual objection, 'No thank you, I'm sugar-free' has also worked wonders. As soon as I say it, people are interested. They ask for details, have questions, they have either admiration or scepticism and share either tips or excuses. In talking about it, I reconvince and remind myself of my choice. Through discussing the detail, no one who has heard the objection has ever offered me sugar again, unless they didn't realise something had sugar in it. I've even made new friends with people overhearing said objection.

That's my only secret. Nothing fancy, nothing that would fill a self-help book, nothing particularly 'secret' at all.

So. This is why I'm not finished - 

  • I have felt better. I think this is because right now, I am not drinking enough water. I need to drink more, a lot more. 
         Goal - 1.5 litres a day.
  • I still binge occasionally, just on whole-sugars. I need to get in control of this. No more than 1 teaspoon of honey a day when I have a jar in the cupboard! If I have muffins (made with honey) in the house, have something savoury first.
         Goal - No binging.
  • I've lost too much weight. Not a gross amount, but so I'm more bones than I'm comfortable with. 
         Goal - Eat more.

Squish gave me some good tips on the water thing but I'd love to hear anything else you have to offer me, and I'd love to hear some of your own obstacles!


vegemitevix said...

I'm in awe! Well done Penny! If only I could do this with chocolate, or some of the major food groups - like wine!

Penny said...

Aw thanks Vicki! ...Haha, you CAN! You just have to want to, and I don't think you reeeeeally want to ;D

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