Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The 7 Day Sweet Stop

I'm stuck in court listening to a civil hearing (yawn) so it's a perfect opportunity to jot down some thoughts about last week's "No Sweets" project. 

The Goal: no sweet snacks, candy, or "added" sugar for 7 days. 

All in all, it was a really great challenge. While it didn't totally change my life, I did gain some serious perspective about my eating habits. 

I have more will power than I thought 
The first two days were nothing more than will power. Why is it that when you tell yourself you CANT do something, that one thing is all you want? Sure enough sweets are the same way. The first two days it was all about wanting sweets. Particularly since work was slower I found myself sitting at my desk a lot. I'd think, "oh, I could get up and walk around...and grab a kit Kat from th candy bowl". It was hard to push those thoughts out. However, I found that by Wednesday I gained more satisfaction from exercising my will power than I did from  actually eating the treats. 

Your taste buds can change 
One thing I was hoping for was to adjust my sense of "sweet". My diet includes so much sugar I wasn't aware of (more on that later) and I think my palate had become accustomed to that. I was shocked at how a few days without it really impacted my taste buds. Case in point: I take my coffee with sweet&slow and cream. I have since I was 16. This was the hardest thing to give up initially. Coffee tasted terrible. However, by Thursday it didn't taste awful anymore. In fact, this morning I even found myself thinking "wow, this is pretty good". Similarly, I had something with aspartame in it on Monday and it tasted sickeningly sweet. In just 7 days my palate adjusted. I think this has helped keep me from craving sweets most days and being satisfied with other "sweet" treats. 

There is added/fake sugar in everything
When I set out on Sunday for this challenge I thought it was simple: no candy, no sweet&low in my coffee or tea. One benefit was I was drinking a lot of water. Lots of water for me also means lost of crystal light. Well on Saturday at the grocery I actually looked at the crystal light package and, sure enough, aspartame. This may have been obvious to everyone else, but I was shocked. I cut out candy but keep chugging down aspartame in my water! As I finished my shopping I checked labels and often times opted to go with "regular" foods over their non-fat or "diet" substitutes for this same reason. 

I don't need sweets - I just want them
I've always known I'm an emotional eater. But I'm also a habitual eater. Finish lunch? Have a dessert. 9pm? Time for dessert. Have a bad day? Pie will fix all emotions. So some of the bad things I eat are out of habits, things I've done since I was a kid (i.e. Dessert every night) or emotions (i.e. Stress is cured by sugar). What I found is that I can overcome both of those. One thing that helped me was to change around my eating schedule. If I eat dinner a little earlier and have a cup of tea at "dessert time" it fulfills the ritual need to eat something at that time. Figuring out how to get around emotional snacking is just more difficult. It's still a work in progress but I'm open to suggestions! 

Overall - I'm glad I did it
I'm going to keep up my efforts to cut back on sugar. I noticed my afternoon "lull" wasn't as bad most days, which is a plus. Also, now that the challenge is over I've noticed that treats really do taste better when they're actually a treat and enjoyed as something special instead of an every day thing. I'm excited to see if it has any overall changes in my body. I'll keep you posted! 

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