Once upon a time — about a year ago — I decided to go completely cold turkey on all sugar. Sugar that isn't found in nature and consumed in that same, unprocessed state was no longer on the menu for me. So, unless it came from fruits or veggies, I was no longer eating it.
My husband and I decided this very suddenly, and I didn't even have a farewell scoop of chocolate ice cream. In the beginning I kept telling myself that it was only temporary, a 30-day cleanse of sorts.
That isn't at all how it worked out. It has been 14 months since I made that decision and I have no intention of going back. Eliminating sugar from my diet is one of the best gifts I've ever given myself. The quality of my life has improved in countless ways, and the following are five valuable lessons I learned on this journey:
1. Food tastes good.
After completely eliminating all sugar from my diet, including artificial and processed sweeteners of any kind, I began to taste food much differently. Eating in general has become a very different experience. I can eat a bite of a meal and taste all of the ingredients and make a pretty good guess at all of the seasoning included in the recipe. Food, especially the organic stuff, is bursting with flavor on my new palate.
Your taste buds will naturally adjust to the tastes of food without added sugar. Food items you never thought you could eat unless they were covered in highly processed salad dressings or sugary beverages become enjoyable all on their own.
2. I don't have an attention deficit problem.
For years I was sure I needed some kind of medication or meditation to calm me down to focus. I would never take any kind of mood-altering medication, but it felt like an ongoing challenge to be productive and avoid distractions.
Since eliminating sugar entirely, the ability to focus and follow through on tasks has become second nature. Also, being present isn't such a challenge. This is a common benefit of removing sugar from your diet, and one that is well worth the commitment.
3. Sugar-filled foods make you feel awful.
A spike in blood sugar levels causes a burst of energy followed by an immediate drop in energy, making it difficult to concentrate and causing you to feel sluggish. Occasionally, and by occasionally I mean about once a month, I'll come up with a reason to have some organic, dairy-free, 5-ingredient ice cream that has agave in it. And, like clockwork, I feel like garbage after I eat even a small amount.
This always causes me to reflect on my sugar-full life and how awful it must have been to feel uncomfortable all of the time. Life in this body off processed sugar simply feels better.
4. I actually have nice skin.
I always reasoned that some people have nice, glowing, well-toned skin and others had to work hard at it with the best moisturizers and beauty products. Within weeks of quitting sugar my skin began to change.
5. Mood swings don't have to occur.
As a woman with lots of hormones already running through my body, combined with Type A tendencies, it was a breath of fresh air to relieve myself of these other sugar-induced mood swings and crankiness.
You can have control over your moods. It's possible to remain calm and levelheaded with little effort in situations that commonly trigger unwanted moodiness, when you aren’t constantly battling the effects of sugar on your system.