Sugar was the enemy out of control and I had to tame it. I read somewhere that it was like cocaine to the mind. Therefore, I concluded that my problem should be treated in the same way that drug abuse is treated: going cold turkey.
I pictured shaking like recovering drug addicts do when I didn’t get my daily dose of sugar.
I’m an overall healthy eater, so I make it a point to measure my meal portions, avoid rice at night, and consume the recommended two cups of green tea a day. As a general rule, I tried not to give up any food group entirely, and it worked for me because I was losing weight. Then I hit a plateau. I stopped losing weight, and my body didn’t see the same results as before. That’s when I was told that sugar was the poison.
The effects of sugar on our hips and waistline are barely debatable anymore. But now there are innumerable theories about how sugar impacts our brain and heart and hormones even! It’s gone so far as to be termed the ‘new crack cocaine’. As it turns out, excessive sugar consumption spikes dopamine levels (as does cocaine). But the long-term consumption of sugar eventually causes an overall reduction of dopamine in the body, and the body will need copious amounts of sugar to increase dopamine levels. For those who don’t know, dopamine activates reward centres or pleasure points in one’s body (as does cocaine). So, to be happy, I will need a chronic supply of all things sugar.
I was not about to let my life’s happiness depend on a cupcake!
So I decided to stay off all added and refined sugar for one week to begin with. I was told to see this as a lifestyle change rather than a diet. In that one week, I had many trivial realisations. Here goes.
Realisation 1: Everything Has Added Sugar
I realised that the reason why cutting off sugar helps you lose weight is because it basically cuts out so many things that you’d want to eat.
Want a nice healthy breakfast of cereal and milk? Don’t think so. Most cereals have added sugar. Want a fresh salad for a light lunch? Salad dressings have SO much sugar. Bread, ketchup, peanut butter, chips? They all have it!
Side note: Oatmeal without sugar tastes awful.
Realisation 2: Your Family Members Will Make Dessert and They Will Offer It to You
Your family doesn’t care that you’re attempting a life-changing diet. They will still make dessert every day, and that’s okay, because why should they have to suffer? But they will offer it to you, and you will salivate at its very sight. If you shout back with an “I’M OFF SUGAR!” response, your grandmother holding caramel custard in front of you will say, “What nonsense! What do you need to diet for? You’re beautiful the way you are.”
Bear in mind, she will be heart-broken when you don’t eat her caramel custard.
Realisation 3: My Ability to Be Incredibly Cranky
Never has it been clearer why I crave a large pack of mint-milk-chocolate-chip ice cream when I’m in a bad mood.
I was irritable and tired, and by the time I got home from a long day at work, I wanted to have no communication with anyone.
Realisation 4: I Found Myself Reaching for Excessive Amounts of Natural Sugar
I felt raging hunger pangs that would not be satisfied with carrot sticks for a snack. I realised that I was constantly looking for anything with a remote taste of sweetness, or anything that could substitute dessert. As a result, I went for the fruits and dry fruits with a vengeance.
Don’t be fooled when the Internet advises you to eat three to four almonds when you’re hungry. Three or four almonds are a pathetic excuse for a snack, and they will never replace the good old chocolate milkshake.
Also, ‘hangry’ is a real thing.
Realisation 5: I Was Constantly Checking the Mirror for Abs
I’ve eaten healthy for four days straight now, I have a mirror, the lighting is perfect, and my camera is out. Where are my abs?
Every instance of looking into the mirror was a greater disappointment than the last.
Realisation 6: Food DIY Videos Were Never a Greater Torture
I’ve always been a fan of these DIY food accounts. They are so innovative, and they make cooking look so simple, and perfect, and easy. I’m always looking forward to trying a two-ingredient-microwave-made chocolate brownie recipe.
On my one week off sugar, they felt like a curse. It was so bad that I had to resort to un-following most accounts. I only kept the ones I was truly attached to, the ones that had touched my soul.
Realisation 7: The Scale Did Not Budge
At the end of a very rough week, for the first time ever, I was hopeful about stepping on the weighing scale. The scale had not budged a millimeter. By that point, I didn’t even have the energy to be furious. I was just sad. I was questioning myself whether that skipped brownie was even worth the effort.
And that was the end of my week.
If you’re wondering whether I binged on a huge Nutella-oozing brownie, then no, I didn’t. I had a small little piece of marzipan chocolate, and left it at that. At the back of my mind, I knew that I shouldn’t let my efforts be in vain. So having a conscience was the one good thing that came out of it.
As always, I started my phase two of a week-off-sugar-diet on an auspicious Monday. I’ve been told that it takes 21 days to develop a good habit, and it takes 21 days to see results on yourself. I’ll be patiently waiting.