Updated: Feb 17, 2019
My partner and I decided to start off 2019 by cutting out sugar and alcohol for 21 days… but eventually that goal changed to an entire month. After spending the holidays indulging on vegan pies, vegan cookies and a lot of booze, we realized we both felt sluggish, bloated, and even my skin was breaking out from the excess.
Luckily, we were both ready for a diet change, which made the transition easier than anticipated. I found that most annoying part about going sugar-free is the discovery of how many of our family’s favorite products contained added sugar. Reading the label is something I’m already used to doing as a vegan, but looking for added sugar was a whole other step. We ended up making the majority of our meals at home, but we did go out to eat a few times and asked if any of the items we ordered had sugar. I learned that my favorite menu item at our go-to vegan restaurant was FILLED with powdered sugar! That probably explained why I was always craving it…
The change to sugar free was manageable as long as we planned for a bit of extra meal prep each week, and decided to eat at home most nights. It did take extra time to make our own veggie broth, tomato sauce, and salad dressing, but it was worth it to not consume the unnecessary extra sugar.
Throughout the month, my partner and I started to notice a few patterns as to when we would want a treat or drink.
1.The first pattern we noticed was how boredom eating would creep up in the evening. After the day ended, and our daughter was asleep, we both found ourselves craving chocolate or a glass of wine. Instead, we turned to drinking herbal tea and I baked 3 ingredient “cookies” (see recipe below!)
2.The second pattern we noticed occurred during social situations. It is so much harder to order water at a restaurant or bar, when out with family or friends. Although it was challenging at first to be sober while our company got a little buzz on, we both noticed how much better we felt the next day. It honestly is hard enough to chase after a toddler, but even worse to wake with a headache from indulging the night before. We even went on a vacation with my family, and it was so nice to wake up each day feeling refreshed and ready to go instead of dragging all morning.
Noticing when these eating and indulging patterns occurred was a good way for us to learn how to avoid them and why we were feeling this way.
At the end of the 31 days, I noticed some changes within myself- my skin had cleared up, the brain fog lifted and the sensations experienced with my monthly cycle were noticeably better.
It’s been one week since we finished the cleanse. The day it ended, my partner and I decided to celebrate our accomplishment with a local craft beer, but actually haven’t had another since that day. We’ve both come to prefer our cup of evening tea, in place of an alcoholic beverage. I am, however, looking forward to a nice glass of wine during a dinner out with friends in the future. We are continuing to limit our sugar intake, looking at the labels, and have refrained from regular cookie purchases at the local co-op. I personally feel motivated to continue this lifestyle (with a few exceptions) because of how great I felt after the 31 days.
I would highly recommend doing a sugar-cleanse, as a way to reset after the holidays and help your body feel better.
While it can be challenging, here are a few tips and tricks to get started-
1. It’s easier with a friend. Whether it’s your spouse, partner, or a good friend, doing any kind of cleanse is easier when you have a buddy. You can keep each other accountable, keep each other motivated, and vent about your sugar cravings when others might not understand.
2. Read the labels! Sugar is hidden everywhere, even things that aren’t sweet- crackers, soup, tomato sauce, it’s everywhere. That doesn’t mean you have to make all the replacements- you just have to look at different brands than you might normally buy.
3. Fruits are sweet too. It can be hard on your body to detox from sugar. You might find yourself looking for ANYTHING that is sweet to curb those cravings. Fruits are good at curbing this craving, but don’t overindulge! Fruits have sugar too, even if it is natural.
4.Don’t be too hard on yourself. Going sugar-free is tough. Your body will feel like the craving, and that is normal. Keep going and soon this craving will dissipate. You can do it!
3 Ingredient “Cookies” Recipe
3 ripe bananas, smashed
½ cup nut butter (we used almond butter)
½ cup raw cacao powder
Mix ingredients well. Spoon out tablespoon-sized scoops onto a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until done.
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