Someday I plan on owning a bakery where I can make treats from dawn until dusk, powdered sugar on my cheek and sprinkles under my fingernails. Until that day, however, I have realized I need to be okay with only one cookie or the smaller slice of strawberry rhubarb pie. If you're anything like me, sweets, chocolates, candies, and basically anything else containing corn syrup is an unhealthy weakness that needs to be reigned in.
A few years ago Harley and I started a 30-day sugar fast that we strictly maintained until Valentine's day, upon which we ate office treats until we decided another 30-day sugar fast was in order. I've never been that extreme (on either side) in sugar fasts since then, but I think I've refined the methods. Here's how to make it an entire 30 days guilt free.
1. Do it with a friend.
A support system is good for any goal you have, but you may need more than a thumbs up when you're doing No Sugar. Har and I text each other when the sugary temptations seem too much ("Help...my boss brought doughnuts to work today!") and reply with encouraging and diverting comments. Having a friend actually doing it with you makes all the difference.
2. Understand the concept.
Decide your purpose and limitations at the very beginning, based on how extreme you want your sugar fast to be. Are you trying to avoid all processed sugar? Do you want to wean yourself from wanting a treat after every meal? Whatever your reason is, you need to understand it. This will help you in knowing what to give up.
The first time I did No Sugar, I went to the extreme: I only bought plain, unsweetened yogurt, I didn't eat crackers, and I stayed away from granola bars. It was a great experience and I definitely felt cleaner, but it's too extreme for me to maintain. Right now I still put a teaspoon of brown sugar in my oatmeal and jam on my toast--the purpose of my sugar fast is to break the habit of junkfood being my go-to and after meal snack.
3. Use a daily checklist.
I don't like food logs, they're too high maintenance for my schedule, but I do keep a calendar next to my alarm clock where I check off whether I went the day without sugar. It's a little easier to say no when you remember you have the choice between a check mark or an X. Accountability. That's the key.
4. Pay attention to how you feel.
I find motivation in remembering how clean I feel when I go without sugar for long enough. Pay attention to your body and remember how good you feel. More energetic? Happier? Fewer slumps during the day? Let those be incentives as well.
5. Know it's not forever.
When I remember I only have to make it for 30 days, skipping dessert seems more doable. Another great thing about No Sugar: you'll become more appreciative of the smallest piece of chocolate if you're careful and aware enough. On the days I slip up (it happens!), I usually manage to only give in to something tiny. It's enough, since it's better than nothing!
Comment to let us know if you're taking the pledge!