Hi all –
(I just started a new job and this is how I’ve been writing my greetings in most emails. I didn’t start it, and I’m not too sure how I feel about it, but it comes across as relaxed yet to the point, so I’m going along with it the same way I copy – and cringe at – the all-lowercase, no-punctuation instant messaging that’s become my day-to-day communication with coworkers.) Today I want to cover some of my culinary experiences over the past month (again a very business-casual formulation – it really gets in your head!) I’m dedicating this entire blog post to telling you about how I felt not eating refined sugar for the entire month of June, perhaps somewhat hypocritically, since it was not a monumental experience, as you’ll see. (Then again, neither is this blog post, so perhaps it is precisely the right vehicle.)
I’ve wanted to attempt this “experiment” for quite some time, but I’ve never found the right month (this birthday, that trip…) and it just doesn’t have the same effect if you choose just any consecutive 30 days, say April 6th to May 5th. June was ideal: I had just started working and establishing a routine, I wasn’t planning on traveling, and I’d just have to forego dessert on the random special occasions.
Luckily, it was quite a last-minute idea, so I didn’t have time to binge on all the sweets before June 1st. I did, however, have something of a ritual last meal (although the German word Henkersmahl feels more accurate): a donut with a maple glaze and a sweet and salty tuna crumble topping from Union Square Donuts. Yes, tuna. I’m not one to order the same thing multiple times, so I thought I’d give this special a try. It was pretty good, though certainly not my favorite. But definitely worth a try.
But back to the no-sugar topic. Lots of people told me that it would be a life-changing experience, that I wouldn’t want to eat sugar ever again, and that I would stop craving sweets after a week of not eating them. One person said that she had stopped eating sugar for a while and the first thing she tried was an Oreo and it was disgusting. Here’s what I found: Was it life-changing? No. Do I ever want to eat sugar again? Yes. Did I start to feel indifferent about sweets after a week? No. Are Oreos disgusting? Certainly not. In fact, I even tried my first deep-fried Oreo a few days ago and it was delicious.
Nonetheless, I think it was worth it and I would even do it again. I definitely ate healthier (though not necessarily less) and I had to get creative to satisfy my sweet cravings. Luckily I wasn’t cutting out all sugar altogether, so I still had fruit, which was a lifesaver. But I have to say that I’m surprised by how easy it was. I didn’t ever feel tempted to cheat. When I really wanted a snack, I would just eat fruit till I was satisfied. There were really very few moments when I regretted not eating sugar. And it was only when I felt that I was truly missing out on something good. Which happened only once throughout the whole month when it was national donut day and our office ordered a ton (not really, but close) of fancy – no Dunkin’ Donuts – donuts. What’s up with all the donuts these days? Not something I’d normally go for, but maybe it’s because I know that any French-style pastries here won’t live up to my standards, so I’d rather have the over-the-top authentic American food.
Now down to the nitty gritty details. What did I eat for a month?! After all, my diet previously consisted of cake, candy, and store-bought bread only. Well, minus the bread I guess. No, but for real, I didn’t change much the first two weeks. I simply ate a lot of other things. Rice and pasta dishes, kale salads with roasted veggies and avocado, fried food; my bf and I even ordered poutine one night and if you’re looking for a definition of unhealthy – there it is. I figured that if I was going to cut out a bunch of yummy things, I’d have to ease into it, because craving cake AND being hungry would have been torturous. After two weeks into the month, I figured that I’d found good craving substitutes, so I could start eating even healthier. (The answer to sweet cravings, by the way, is dates. Yes, I know they’ve got a lot of sugar, but it’s the good kind. Also, Lärabars are wonderful – but you should make them yourself because it takes about 5 minutes and 2 ingredients and will save you a lot of money once you realize how great they are and want to eat them every day.) So for the second half of June, I was eating more salads, a bit less fruit, and mainly paying attention to portion control, which I believe is ultimately the main problem with much of our eating. I also finally purchased a Nutribullet (basically a smoothie blender)! I’m so excited and I can’t wait to try a bunch of weird combinations. I’d like to create full meal smoothies, so I’m going to experiment with protein like beans and tofu. I look forward to telling you all about it.
It’s July now and sugar is still delicious. But I still believe that I should be eating less of it, and I guess now I know that it’s not even that difficult. And once a special occasion comes up, I’ll indulge because I know it’s worth it. I guess my personal moral of the story is that I just need to think about what it is I want. Don’t have a donut just because it’s there. Unless they’re actually good quality and memorable. Then go ahead and have one. Or two. Or three.