Written by contributor Tiffany Larson.

I‘ve gotten off to a good start on my green goals for 2012.   I’ve knocked the Oil-Cleansing Method off the list (and I’m loving it) and I’m working on cutting down the sugar in my diet. We all have a sweet tooth.  But the more I read about sugar, the more I realize that it can’t be a part of my family’s diet on a regular basis.

I started my sugar-free diet on January 1 and by sugar-free, I don’t mean “sugar-free.”  My intent was to avoid all high-fructose corn syrup, white sugar, cane sugar, and the like.   No alternative sweeteners like Splenda or Stevia and I reduced my use of natural sweeteners, like honey, as well.  I was hoping my body would stop it’s daily craving for a sweet treat.

Day 1:  Run through our cupboard and refrigerator and find a few things with added sugar that I hadn’t thought of before like organic ketchup, bread and pretzels.  I write ‘find sugarless alternatives’ on my to-do list.

Day 2: After putting away the Christmas decorations and cleaning house, a Coke sounds so good.  Giving up on day 2 sounds pathetic.  I grab a glass of water instead.

Day 4: Our gracious dinner guests bring dessert.  Chocolate truffles. Somehow I resist.

Day 5: Joe (my husband) gets out the ice cream and I can taste the chocolate peanut butter in my mouth. I remember that we are headed on vacation next month and I will be wearing a swimsuit daily.  I’ll take whatever motivation I can get.

frozen grapesPhoto by Courtbean

Days 6 – 8: Most intense sugar cravings EVER. After trying multiple things, I find frozen grapes to calm the beast.

Days 9-13: Cravings were definitely down this week. I still had them every day, usually right after lunch but they didn’t last very long. I felt more alert in the mornings, even my husband commented on how energized I was for 6:30am.

Day 15: Made baked pumpkin oatmeal, forgoing the brown sugar normally called for in the recipe. No one noticed the difference.  Can’t believe I’ve been making it so long with a sweetener it never needed.

Day 17:  First day without sugar cravings.  Hurray!

Day 19:  Sugar cravings back.  After lunch, as usual.  More frozen grapes. Tomorrow I’m going with apples and cinnamon.

Days 20-24: Victory, no sugar cravings this week but I’m beginning to realize just how much sugar I was eating every week, purely by noticing how many times I have to turn it down.  I’m in the homestretch, only 7 more days to go!

Day 28: I’m down 2 pounds, what a bonus!

Day 31: Can’t believe I made it. (Honestly, I didn’t know I had that much will power in me.) I celebrate with a chocolate hazelnut milkshake from a local restaurant that only makes them once a year.  I can’t decide if it’s a blessing or a curse but it’s TOO SWEET, I can’t even finish it.

Post Detox

After my celebratory milkshake, I can’t believe how quickly and effortlessly I got back into my routine of almost daily sugar use. Apparently, I have willpower, but not a lot of it.

After some reflection, I realized that while all or nothing was a good start, it’s not a long term approach for me.  A 30 day fast, if you will, was a great way to see how my body reacted to less sugar:  less highs and lows during the day, a palate that can be genuinely pleased with fruit and a happier digestive system (I’ll spare you the details).

I’ve decided to continue my sugar detox but on slightly different terms:

  • continue to replace products that have sugar by buying something different or making my own
  • establish a number of days per week or per month that I’ll have conventional sugars – I’ve found it to be available so regularly that if I don’t establish some rules for myself, I’ll eat more than I should
  • make sweet treats for our family using natural sweeteners – I’m starting with the recipes in Smart Sweets, an eBook by SO contributor, Katie Kimball

For further reading, several of the Simple Organic contributors have written about using less sugar and sugar alternatives:

Is sugar a weakness for you? I’d love to hear your personal ‘rules’ for sugar consumption. What kind of sweeteners do you use? Please share your favorite recipes that use natural sweeteners.