Quitting Sugar, Week 1

This marks the second installment of a series of posts I will be doing over the next few weeks as I attempt to kick my sugar habit for good. I sat on the idea of blogging about this for several days, so I apologize for being a little behind on the updates. Sharing your weaknesses with the world is a heck of a lot more intimidating than sharing some recipes, let me tell you. Fortunately, I kept plenty of notes, so you can still follow along my progress from Day 1.

Day 1

After seeing my personal trainer yesterday and finding out that I had actually lost some of the progress I had made since quitting my desk job (which was wreaking havoc on my health), I’m decided. I don’t want to live like this anymore. I’m tired of being bloated after every meal, tired of feeling like a failure every time I give in to a craving, and tired of not seeing the results I want out of my fitness regime. I feel otherwise healthy, strong, and fit, and for that I am grateful, but it would be nice to feel like I looked it too.

Really I’m just sick of feeling like I need something sweet after a meal. I don’t smoke cigarettes for that very reason (and others, obviously), but somehow I’ve got a habit that’s almost as bad.

I’m also absolutely terrified right now. It feels like I’m giving up my best friend, like all the joy is about to go out of the world. Is that crazy? I have no idea how I’m going to marry my desire to cut sugar out of my life with my love for baking, entertaining, and sharing recipes. But I’ve managed to avoid sweets today, aside from a small portion of dark chocolate, which for the purposes of this exercise I am considering a “safe” food – so long as it’s a small portion.

I’ve already warned Conor that I might be just a wee bit irritable in the coming days… truly, I feel sorry for him!

 

Day 2

I woke up this morning feeling, well, exhilarated. It just occurred to me that by cutting out all the desserts, I can basically eat whatever I want. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go gorge on junk food and takeout, obviously, but simply that I can fill up on the healthy food I already make at meal time without worrying if I’m eating too much. Without all those extra calories it would be pretty difficult to overeat. I’m actually feeling pretty liberated just thinking about it!

(We’ll see how long that feeling lasts.)

As for the rest of the day, I again had a couple squares of dark chocolate, and that’s it. I didn’t feel as bloated after dinner as I normally do, and (sorry if this is gross) haven’t been burping as much. That seems like a good sign, no?

 

Day 3

I’m still riding that happy train from yesterday, looking forward to my meals like I never have before. I used to always eat a little less at lunch and dinner so I would have room for dessert, but with that out of the equation I can really fill up on the good stuff. Party time!

Tonight I took Conor out for his birthday and we had the most amazing dinner. Probably the best dinner I’ve had in months. If you ever get a chance to eat at Dandylion on Queen West, DO IT.

The decor is rustic, minimalist, and welcoming. The food is seasonal and changes regularly, which is why you won’t find a menu on the website. And the menu is the definition of streamlined – 3 appetizers (1 veg, 1 fish, 1 meat), 3 mains (same deal), and 3 desserts. Each item gives you just a hint of what is actually going to arrive at the table, and that little bit of mystery is actually pretty exciting. You don’t know exactly what’s going to arrive at the table or what exactly is in it, but you can be assured it will be something spectacular. Every dish was sheer joy, with intricately layered flavours and interesting textures all perfectly balanced amongst fresh, wholesome ingredients. Almost everything on the menu was gluten free, too, with the exception of the pasta and one of the desserts, and they were kind enough to bring me some freshly baked flax crackers, still warm from the oven, to accompany the house made cheese before the meal. Conor’s bread smelled incredible, and I was super grateful to be offered something else to distract me from staring longingly at his crusty loaf.

Food porn alert:

In case you’re wondering – for appetizers we had a zucchini flower and baby broccoli salad sprinkled with bonito flakes that was crazy good, and a tuna sashimi salad with beets and pickled radish that was literally perfect. My main was a perfectly sized, perfectly seared piece of halibut with a side of kohlrabi, string beans, and smoked potatoes. Smoked potatoes! AMAZING. I know I’ve used the word perfect about a million times in the last two sentences, but there’s no other way to describe it. Conor had a ravioli with sugar snap peas, walnuts, and runny egg that looked incredible. 

I did actually eat a little too much at dinner, but it was impossible not to – the food was just too good. And since it was a special occasion I let myself have some dessert – house made raspberry ripple ice cream with salted cashews. It was pretty amazing. I definitely felt mega bloated after, thanks to the combination of too much food, sugar, and dairy, but we walked around after dinner and I felt better pretty quickly.

 

Days 4-5

On Day 4 I managed to go the whole day without craving sugar, but then after dinner I was jonesing pretty bad. I really just wanted a handful of fresh dates, but I settled for some blueberries instead and just kind of dealt with it. Success!

On Day 5 I made it to lunchtime without wanting any sugar, but then I had some pretty intense cravings. I made myself have a hot  cup of herbal tea, and since I still wanted something after that, had a small piece of dark chocolate. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with that but I let it be.

 

Day 6

Today was pretty interesting. It started off like any other, as my morning routine is the same every day – upon rising, meditate for 15-20 minutes and have a cup of hot lemon water, then have a latte shortly after that. On gym days this is followed a little later by a serving of BCAAs (branched-chain-amino acids) to aid performance and muscle development, half a banana or some other source of quick fuel, and then obviously tons of water while I’m working out. After the gym I’ll have a serving of Vega Sport protein powder while I prep my lunch.

Lunch was a giant salad with lots of chopped veggies, seeds, and avocado, with a flaxseed oil + apple cider vinegar  dressing. I always feel the best after big servings of raw veggies, and crave sugar the least. Conor and I then went walking around Queen West during the day so it was pretty easy to forget about sweets altogether. It’s a lot easier to turn off my brain and just enjoy things moment-to-moment when I’m out and about and the sun is shining.

After walking around for a few hours we met up with an old friend and took Conor out for dinner again (today was his actual birth day) at Terroni – another must-visit in the city – and I decided to indulge a little since I had eaten super light all day and we had been really active. Dinner was a really fantastic beet and arugula salad with chickpea fritters, and some grilled calamari. Dessert was the most heavenly warm, flourless chocolate cake on the face of the planet. Or maybe it tasted so good because it was such a luxury – isn’t that how treats are supposed to work? Either way, time seemed to stop while I was eating it.

Here’s where things get interesting. You would think I would have felt totally satisfied after having a real, honest-to-goodness dessert. However, that dessert was most definitely packed full of refined white sugar. And all it did was make me want more sugar. REALLY BADLY. Like, I would have gladly gone home and eaten half a jar of nutella badly. If we hadn’t been far from home and enjoying someone else’s company, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have done just that.

Scary stuff.

I’ve seen over the course of the last few days that a small amount of unrefined sugar in the form of dark chocolate doesn’t make me feel sugar crazed or crash an hour later. But a dessert with an unknown quantity of refined sugar? That brings out the demons. And we feed this stuff to our kids?

 

Day 7

I haven’t noticed a difference in my muscle tone yet, but generally speaking I’ve been feeling a lot less bloated after my meals and a lot more energetic in the afternoons. I had a detox smoothie for breakfast and some to-die-for cashew corn chowder with cilantro cream, along with a brown rice cake and hummus for lunch, and neither one gave me any issues. For a snack I had some berries with yogurt and noticed bloating immediately, but I already know I really should be avoiding dairy. No surprises there. Dinner I forgot to write down, but I think it was more of that amazing soup.

It was another hot day today and after dinner I really, really wanted some ice cream, but I compromised and settled for some banana ice cream instead (1 frozen banana, 2 tbsp raw cacao, a splash of almond milk). I don’t think that’s cheating, though it kinda feels like it. Even though bananas always make me bloat, I figure it’s better than going out for the real stuff.

 

Week 1 over and I’ve managed not to kill anyone. Success? I’m gonna go with yeah. Stay tuned for Week 2!

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