In late May 2014, I watched the movie Fed Up, which essentially goes into great detail about the harmful effects that added sugar has on your body and how the food industry has conspired to develop increasing ways to facilitate the consumption of added sugar by Americans.
Fed Up encourages movie goers to take their 10 day challenge where you don’t eat any foods with added sugars and no foods that have the same effect as sugar (like white rice, bread, etc.). I’ve had it on my list for quite some time to try to kick the sugar habit since it was the last arena where I really struggled to be consistent, but I just couldn’t mentally seem to get over the addictive nature of sugar. Now seemed as good of a time as any to tackle my sugar addiction once and for all. Therefore, I jumped into the FedUp 10 Day Challenge and here are some of the surprising things I experienced:
- The first 2-3 days, I felt really tired and out of it. I just wanted to take extended naps and lay out.
- Days 1-4, I craved lots and lots of protein and started eating like a horse! I eventually realized that I had reduced my carbs intake significantly, so I needs to increase the amount of healthy fats I ate in order to balance out everything and to help me feel full. Eating nut butters, coconut oil, and Omega 3 rich fish totally saved me!
- Initially, I was craving items with hidden, more trace sources of sugars like my gluten-free bread and popcorn, than blatantly sugary items.
- It was very challenging starting this 10 day challenge without a well thought out game plan of what to eat for the next week and a half because a good number of staple items we had in the house had added sugar (albeit generally low amounts), so we couldn’t cook with several sauces, eat almost any cereal, or have turkey bacon or chicken sausage, etc.
- Towards the end, I started noticing that my overall energy and mood were much more balanced throughout the day vs. more dramatic highs and lows.
- I suddenly had an urge to start exercising and get more physically active. I found this truly shocking because since becoming a parent of two young children and being either pregnant or breastfeeding ever since, I have had NO desired to exercise until now.
- I have had no desire to eat white potatoes, corn or tortilla chips, and dark chocolate since the first couple days of the challenge. These were all items that I’d randomly crave and have a tendency to overeat.
- The thought of desserts or other sugary, decadent items is no longer appealing to me. I think alot of us romanticize about certain sugary items that we associate with happy and fond childhood memories, so sometimes we are more in love with the concept of the sugary item than the actual taste of the sugary item.
- Seemingly by default, I started eating and wanting more vegetables. It’s like once I removed all the added sugar items that my body kept craving, it actually had more room for and could better appreciate fresh vegetables.
- Everything sweet now tastes sweeter. Once I actually disconnected the sugar IV and gave my body a chance to adjust, my taste buds now are more sensitive to sweetness. The same thing happened when I significant reduced my salt intake. A piece of fruit or even a homemade gluten-free, dairy-dree strawberry and banana muffin with no added sugar now taste plenty sweet enough.
I have a story that sums up my experience. On day 5 of the challenge, a co-worker brought to work a homemade vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar free german chocolate cake with pecans! It was sweetened with maple syrup and agave syrup. Usually, I would have attacked this cake within about 5 minutes of seeing it and ate at least 3 pieces during the work day. On Day 5, even though I wasn’t really craving random sugar at that point, the thought of the tastiness of the cake was so strong that I insisted on still packaging up two pieces in my glass tupperware and storing it in my refrigerator with full intention on having it once the challenge was over. Over the next 2 days, the cake’s presence in the fridge haunted me and not only did I start feeling guilty, but the more I looked at it, the less appealing it actually seemed. By day 8, I decided to regift the cake to another gluten-free co-worker that wanted to try it when it was originally brought in, but hadn’t had a chance to get any. When I was actually able to let go of the cake, I knew I had finally won my battle over sugar.
Since the challenge, I’ve been sticking to no more than 24 grams of added sugar (or 6 teaspoons) per day as most credible organizations recommend for an adult woman, and I really try to keep it down to 4-8 grams (1-2 teaspoons) per day.
I must say, I am really enjoying feeling more balanced and like each day, I’m able to get more physically active than the last day. The Fed Up 10 Day Challenge finally helped me kick the habit!