I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions. Instead of making several lofty goals on the first day of the year, I generally tend to make healthy adjustments to my lifestyle throughout the year, whenever it feels like I need some change. Chalk it up to an exorbitant amount of Christmas cookies, but this necessary change just so happened to coincide with January 1st.
I have decided that for the next month, I am cutting out sugar.
Wow. Now it’s out there. I’ve been telling everyone I know, both to enlist their support, and also simply so that I will be held accountable for this proclamation. Now that I’ve written (typed) it down — well, it’s pretty much gospel.
Yep, I’m cutting out sugar for the month of January. Now let me clarify that I am only cutting out refined sugar. Those natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables and even milk (!) are still fair game for me, and I may still use natural honey and agave nectar very sparingly. But if there is anything along the lines of fructose, corn syrup or just plain “sugar” in the ingredients list of something, it is off-limits until February.
This will not be easy. The main reason I am cutting it out is because I have gotten myself to an alarming amount of sugar consumption, and I am well aware of the effects it is most likely having on my aging body. In college, I self-diagnosed myself with a thyroid problem from being “always tired,” only to go to the doctor and have my blood tests come back borderline diabetic and possibly hypoglycemic. Was this the wake-up call I needed? No. When I saw the impossible list of forbidden foods, I knew I’d never be able to adhere to the recommended diet.
A couple years after that, I was sitting in another doctor’s office, discussing my health history during a routine physical.
“I have been told before that I might be hypoglycemic, but they didn’t do the big test to confirm it,” I told the doctor.
“That is a pretty in-depth test, including a fast and a multiple-night hospital stay,” the doctor explained. “But you do show the symptoms of hypoglycemia.”
“Do you think I should have the test?” I asked, sheepishly.
“Do you think a positive diagnosis would have any effect on your lifestyle?” she asked.
“No,” I admitted, as I remembered tossing the previously prescribed food list into the trash. “Probably not.”
The doctor smiled, knowingly. “Well that’s an honest answer,” she confirmed. “You’ll just have to keep in mind that you can eat what you want, but you will just have to deal with those symptoms. Low energy and mood swings are the biggest ones.”
And I have dealt with those symptoms. Or rather, those around me have dealt with them. But, now I’m ready to make a change to see what kind of an effect sugar really has on my health. At the end of the month I will know if the absence of sugar has made me feel better, and will know if I need to make a conscience effort to keep my sugar intake low.
I’m pretty confident that I can do it. Although chocolate is probably my biggest weakness (staging and taking the photo above was absolute torture), a close second would be cheese. However, I shocked myself more than anyone when I did a “cheese fast” for the 3 months before my wedding and successfully avoided my favorite food category. That experiment confirmed that I had a cheese problem when I saw a 10-pound weight loss from only that one dietary change.
This time, I’m not expecting any kind of weight loss or external body changes, but I am optimistic that it will be a positive change. After a few too many “food hangovers” this holiday season, and moaning regrets over just one too many cookies or chocolates or candy canes or glasses of wine or pieces of cake, I have the motivation to make this change.
Another motivation will be the image above. The sweets I received for Christmas will be waiting for me on February 1st, upon which I will gobble them down… In moderation, of course…
Wish me luck!