I began discussing my nutrition journey of the past year a couple months ago in a more public way. People were astonished… and then they wanted to know how I did it, so they could too. This is my story.
I broke up with sugar.
I don’t eat the white granular sweet stuff anymore.
Let’s back up.
I self-diagnosed as a sugar addict. I CRAVED sweets after every meal and sometimes in between as a snack. Sometimes I only had sweets for my meal, like a whole bag of gummy worms for dinner. When I had a craving and I didn’t satisfy it, sugar was all I could think about. So I would end up eating something sweet, so I could move on with other things in life. Beyond this habit being physically and psychologically harmful to me, I personally feel it was spiritually harmful to me. As a Christian, I believe I should lead a life of being addicted to nothing, but Jesus. I was addicted to sugar. This was bad.
I had been thinking about my sugar problem and trying to curb the amount I ate for probably about a decade. But just eating “less” sugar wasn’t cutting it. I would relapse all the time. I knew I had to do something different and serious NOW.
I went searching on the all -knowing internet. What I found was disturbing. I’m sure if you’ve turned up on this page from a Google search, you know what I’m talking about. I won’t go into detail here about all the conspiracy theories out there, but please, go educate yourself and form your own opinion. I was looking for an answer. After doing quite a bit of reading, I devised a plan that combined strategies from psychology for addiction treatment and dietetics.
Here’s what I did and perhaps you could too (always consult with your physician before embarking on a new health journey to determine if it’s right for you):
Phase 0: Prepare yourself. Set a start date. You may want to pick a date where you don’t have to do anything important or be nice to people for a few days. Circle it in your calendar. Tell family/friends what you’re doing, your start date and most importantly why. I included all people that I interact with daily. Eat all your favorite sugary things and as much as you want one by one up until that date. Tell them goodbye, mourn them, like they were your best friend that has died. Maybe write a eulogy or poem. Maybe burn the last bite in effigy or bury it straight in the dirt (so you won’t dig it up later when a craving hits) and put flowers on the “grave.” Have a wake or play a dirge. Whatever your style is, do it. Throw out anything in the house not allowed in phase 1. You will feel like you’re wasting so much food doing this, but you’ll thank yourself later. You can give the still in-date items away if you wish. Purchase chromium picolinate/cinnamon supplement and begin taking about 1 week-3 days before your start date. This supplement helps to even out blood sugar, so it decreases the intensity of cravings. I found it at the local pharmacy in the vitamin/supplement section. You could also do chromium or cinnamon by itself.
Phase 1: Begin on start date. No sugar, nothing that creates sugar derivatives in the body, no fake sugars for 1 week. No bread or fruit. No diet sodas, coffee, tea, alcohol or juice, just drink water. (If you’re a caffeine addict, as in it will make you ill to not have it: maintain your coffee or tea only– still no soda– but take it black/plain. Or you do a caffeine supplement. Kicking 2 addictions at once is nearly impossible.) No sauces, dressings, or condiments. No dairy– milk, cheese, yogurt. No processed meats– bacon, hot dogs, sandwich meat. Basically eat meat or eggs, vegetables, nuts, beans. It’s not necessary, but I would recommend using healthy oils to cook in as well– pure butter, coconut oil or olive oil. This is a hard re-set to your system. It’s based in a keto diet. Plan on making each meal yourself, because there are few restaurants that cater to this phase.
Phase 2: Add back whole grains. This opens the door for a dry sandwich or a whole wheat pasta dish! You could go to a few restaurants! You could also do sweetener-free mineral waters or fizzy drinks, like La Croix. This phase was much more manageable for me. Keep this phase up for the remainder of the first month. Everything you add back in from here on out will taste so delicious, it’s unbelievable.
Phase 3: After that first month, add back whole fruits. This does not include fruit derived processed food like apple sauce, juice, dried fruits. Maintain this until the 6 weeks from your start date.
Phase 4: After 6 weeks, add back carefully selected processed foods, drinks— choose items that are low in added sugars, a gram or two at most– and may use fake sugars (diet soda) sparingly (like once a week treat) or natural sweeteners, like honey or stevia. If between two choices, choose the one that is closer to phase one. For example, if you’re buying lunch meat, pick the plain turkey, not the honey turkey. Really read the nutrition labels; some “healthy” items have loads of added sugar, see whole grain cereals or dried pineapple. You can feel confident that most restaurants will have SOMETHING that fits into this phase.
Phase 5, the final: After 6 months, wean off of chronimum/cinnamon supplement— go to every other day for 1 week, every 3 days for 1 week, once in a week, then none. At this point sweets are allowed IF they meet 2 criteria: 1) special occasion/celebration (like a birthday party), 2) are home-made or from a known-to-be delicious mom and pop shop. AND it can only be ONE on-the-box size “serving,” not the serving my eye balls want. Maintain this phase.
I started sharing my journey more widely about 10 months in and am sharing it with the world as I close in on my one year anniversary. This lifestyle is sustainable for me in my journey to better health and wellness. Perhaps you’re not here yet… or maybe you’ve far surpassed this and have maintained ketosis for 10 billion years now just fine thank you very much. Wonderful… on BOTH accounts. I would just encourage you to meet yourself where you are and take just 1 baby step in the right direction toward better health. You do you, just better. I’ve done this for me and I’m a healthier person all around.