La vie sans sucre: 5 things I’ve learned by avoiding sweet foods

 

 

I’m now 9 days away from finishing my month without sweet food and drink to raise money for Mind. Thanks to Tom, Sarah, Helen and Duncan who’ve donated already. If you would like to join them then please visit my page on Just Giving.

Here are 5 things I’ve learned so far:

1. A tougher rule can actually be easier to follow

I’ve spent more of the past few years than not trying to moderate how much sugar I ate. Frankly it’s been a bit of a waste of time. If I try only to eat sugar on ‘special occasions’ then an awful lot of occasions become special. If I resolve to only to eat small amounts, I start noticing that the marginal impact of a ‘little bit more’ is insignificant, and eat a little bit a lot. If I limit myself to certain days, then they become a 24 hour long bout of gorging.

Having a blanket month long ban, removes these loopholes. That makes it harder for me to defeat my own good intentions.

2. That said it’s still hard because sweet things are so nice

I’ve spent a fair amount of time looking longingly through the windows of bakeries or into supermarket freezer cabinets. There’s something uniquely tempting about sugary foods. Eating a muffin gives me a warm feeling that say a packet of crisps just doesn’t. Sweet foods feel so much lighter and smoother than most savoury ones.

There is science that explains why I feel like this. The brain rewards us when we eat pleasant foods by releasing a chemical called dopamine. With most foods, the more reguarly we eat them the less dopamine is released when we do. However, with

3. It’s hard to snack without eating sugar

This is a not unrelated point. A chocolate bar or a pastry are by far the simplest way to pick up something quick yet pleasant on the go. If they are not an option I’ve found I’ll often opt to go hungry instead.

4. It’s harder to give myself a treat

This is – besides the taste of chocolate – the thing I miss the most. I’ve come to realise that before this month that if I wanted to celebrate or cheer myself up then the way I did it would almost invariably involve sugar in some way.

5. My mood swings around a lot less than it did

This has been a definite upside, which tempts me to continue going without sugar beyond this month. I don’t know if this is a real effect, a placebo or just something I’m imagining but I do feel like more stable blood sugar levels have translated into my mood and energy levels also being more stable. For me that’s a big deal.

 

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