Only the first day without added sugar, but so far things have been good. I would say, my body has not quite realized yet, what my mind has planned for it. To begin with I want to write about thoughts and strategies that will help me (or you) to stay motivated. Also I want to quickly describe my situation now. This will help to analyse my physical and mental development throughout the project. So here is my “normal” situation, at this moment, at Day 1.
Craving food on days off
The craving for chocolate or sugar has not been too bad. But today being my day off, the craving for food in general has been more intense. I can’t really judge if this is thanks to the ‘no chocolate, no added sugar diet’ or thanks to me not being busy enough to stop thinking about food.
Yet, I would say it is a normal day off. I know my body: It always craves food when there is a day of rest, on which I usually require the energy for working with my head, rather than physically. During such days I continuously get up to find food – to get a break, to procastinate making desicions or simply to give me energy to stay focused.
Needing a midday break is also the norm
I had a good nap during midday. Napping, is a great way of resetting my brain by giving it a break to refresh. Though a nap can turn out quite long. I find that the famous power nap works better for me as a refresher, but it’s hard to get out of bed, when there are no appointments or deadlines to keep.
Unfortunately, I started this habit a few days ago. I don’t know about you, but once I start a midday nap my body picks up that routine really quickly and from then on demands it every day. Breaking this habit without feeling incredibly low in energy and sleepy is rather hard.
Know yourself and your habits
So what am I getting at? First of all, know yourself! You most likely know your habits and tendencies already. You know where you like to slack off and where your weaknesses are and what you have little resistance against. It’s really important to keep these things in mind, when you try to change your habits.
And that is what it really is: I’m trying to break my habit of adding sugar to every beverage I drink, to my musli-breakfast (that otherwise would be quite healthy) and to stop that craving for chocolate that haunts me all day long, until it finally gets satisfied. Not to mention the chocolate bars I got used to eating during work hours, sometimes they were all I had for dinner… just because working as a bicycle courier was a good excuse.
Only if you know your habits; and the excuses you like to make up to cover for your weaknesses. Only then you can make plans to counter them. If you don’t, sit down and think about it. Before you start!#
I really recommend to take that time that it needs to become more aware of them, beforehand. It often will be too late to come up with a good plan when the craving has kicked in already).
Turn it into a win-win situation
My usual excuse:
“I need food to nibble on during work – to keep up my energy levels and to stay motivated.”
So from now on, when that craving kicks in, instead of a bar of chocolate, I’ll have a nut mix to chew on ready. At home and at work. To ensure that I don’t eat it all at once: I’ll only bring about 50g of it with me to work.
Nuts and seeds are high in calories (and fibre) and probably have way more nutrients in them than what even the best 100g chocolate bar could provide me. All these benefits, without the sugar, make them a great alternative!
And that’s the win-win: I like to eat them, they are healthy, and I override my habit with eating something that will actually do me good.
The next goal: Turn naps into a win-win
To avoid midday naps that turn into hours of sleep: Set my alarm. I know, that is a no-brainer. The trick here is to put the phone or alarm far away. Far enough to force me to get up to turn it off.
It also will have to be annyoing, so I’ll set my alarm to automatically go off every 5minutes. Knowing that will hopefully help me to get up on the first alarm. Though getting up on the first signal, is the best way to do it. In the morning as well as after midday naps.
If that still doesn’t help, I’ll try meditating or relaxation practices instead. Anything that lets me rest, that is, anything that allows me to close my eyes for a few minutes will be tried. Did you know, that just closing your eyes, really makes a difference to your brain? Our eyes take in so much information all day long, that you can give your brain a rest simply by shutting them. If you find a quiet corner to blend out noise on top of that, even better!
Questions – ask many and be curious!
Back to being tired. I have no doubt it will be a continuous problem for me. But could there be the reasons other than “getting used to it”? What else could be at fault other than habituation or straining my brain and eyes too much when working in front of a screen half the day?
This tiredness could stem from all kinds of reasons, including overstraining my eyes, or eating too much bread, as I have been doing. Potentially it could be a problem with gluten, though I never noticed obvious problems after eating bread. But apparently our bodies are often so used to all the unhealthy food we stuff into it, that it becomes detective work to figure out what is causing harm and what doesn’t.
Or maybe switching to more complex carbs is the cause. These carbs take longer to break down, meaning it doesn’t cause a as high blood-sugar level in my body as sugar does. Therefore my brain might be thinking that it is getting too little food?
Be aware of how your body is changing and what signals you are getting
To make it short: Ask yourself what could be the cause for the change? How you could improve the situation? Be curious and if you have some time, try to look for answers. Don’t just ignore it or blame „the change“ for it, without wondering ‘why?’.
Hopefully you won’t have to look far, as I’ll try to cover anything that comes up in my mind and that I go through during these 60 days. But if not, I would love to hear about it! So drop me a comment below 🙂
To keep myself motivated I have set the goal to read a few pages or more out of ‘garantiert gesundheitsgefährdent‘ every day. After all, it has been the inspirational source that made me jump into this whole mess. Nothing is better for an early morning support or daily reminder to not add my beloved sugar to the coffee, than an author that mastered the art to rub in the fact (of how bad sugar really is) and make you feel guilty during every paragraph you read.
I would even go so far to say that a good book like this, would be sufficient as the only support a strong-willed individual on a no-sugar mission needs. Hans-Ulrich Grimm keeps slamming that messagee into your face: sugar is poison. And that on such a constant basis, that it seems impossible that someone could not get the message. It’s quite the masterpiece. Now if you happen to not know German, there are also Robert Lustig’s books: The Hacking Of The American Mind. Or ‘Pure, white, deadly’ by author John Yudkin.
They both are well known fighters against sugar, so even though I have yet to read these books, I dare say they are also great reads.
Imagine the results
Of course I’m also a bit sceptical, we were taught in school to be sceptical, if nothing else. But when I imagine all the benefits I’ll gain; how my poor teeth will thank me first, how my terrible longterm- memory hopefully will be able to hold more information, or let me access it. Not to mention my vessels, heart and liver who, though outwardly less obvious, will thank me for the lowered blood sugar as that will make life for them easier. And the aged me that will tell heryself: well-done for not developping the metabolic syndrom!
problem challenge I see, at the moment, is how to keep up with todays energy needs. Our world has become so much more fast-paced, hectic, stressful, I dare say we need way more mental energy today, then we required some hundred years ago. Just to stay aware and focused between all the daily distractions, expectations and daily stressors we experience. Back then, I’m sure, protein was a much more important energy source than it is in the age of fast dissolving sugar. So there is a possible solution:
Eat more healthy proteins through lentils, chickpeas etc. And no, not through meat. I consider myself a flexitarian, but I’m definitely no great carnivore. I often have the feeling that meat makes ppl (especially young men) just as addicted to it as sugar. What is bothersome about meat? Think about how it was raised, processed and treated. How a lot of animals get stuffed with antibiotics… all this makes meat a healthy food source questionable, but that shall be a different topic, to be covered another day.
Awareness – where ‘think consciously’ comes into the game
The more I get started on this project of 60 days without added sugar and chocolate, the more questions come up. I already have a basic understanding that the foods, which we eat or have grown used to eat, are not exactly healthy. Just to mention a few: wheat or gluten in bread, lactose in milk, hormones in meat and genetically modified food in general, fish full of mercury or plastic…
So the greatest question seems to be: What is there left for us to eat, that we can safely consume without great concerns?
With veggies supposedly having less vitamins and nutrients inside, and on top of that, having been treated with chemicals that also end up on the plate. Same with fruit. That is, unless they are 100% organically grown (and handled accordingly afterwards.) But can we be sure that it really is so? How often do I hear that those organic labels are probably fake? That some capitalist industries are pulling the strings from behind the scenes. Meaning many things carry the label and price, but not the quality the label promises? Can we really trust the labels?
Upon a closer look, even nuts are not perfect, though they sound like a great solution. Why? Because they usually are not produced locally. They come shipped from far, far away countries. Meaning eating certain nut varieties will likely increase the C02 footprint.
Honestly, I’ve been through this carousel of thoughts a lot these past two years
…and I’m looking forward to finally explore these topics more, find answers and solutions and eventually start implementing new, more economic and sustainable habits into my daily life.
If you have any tips or advice to get me started, let me know! Or if I made you even a bit curious – stay with me by signing up for my newsletter for new updates and then we can learn how to make the world a better place together 🙂
Continue to part 2: The beginning – Thoughts and Strategies to stay motivated (Day 2)