Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Sugar Experiment - One Year Later

It has been exactly one year since I started a sugar-free six week experiment. One huge prayer, a lot of complaining and panic and I dove into what I thought would be an impossible goal. Those six weeks turned into seven which turned into eight and kept on going. In fact, I consumed almost zero sugar from just before Halloween until Christmas Eve, when I allowed myself the tiniest, most pathetic little piece of apple pie ever consumed by mankind. It was Christmas, after all. And when that wee piece of pie was done, I kept right on the no-sugar bandwagon. Or at least the very-low-sugar bandwagon.

I've had a lot of funny interactions over this. People will offer me a dessert at an event which, up until a year ago, I would never have turned down. Now, I politely say "no, thank you." This inevitably leads to either a hurt look on said person's face if he or she has been the one to bake the dessert or a look of confusion. What decent American turns down dessert, after all? So, I've often found myself explaining why I'm not eating sugar in a futile attempt to make them feel better. Usually this backfires because then people feel guilty for eating the dessert themselves. Rock. Hard Place. Me.

When I first started this experiment I wouldn't have thought I could go more than a week. An old high school friend, upon learning of my new endeavor, called me to give me some pointers and warned I'd not probably feel well while my body went through detox. He was right. I'm glad I was warned because I might've rethought the decision and given it up. For the first two weeks, I didn't feel great. My energy was weird, I didn't sleep well, I craved sugar 24 hours a day, I spent hours justifying in my head why this was a dumb experiment but in the end my rule-keeping won out and I didn't give in. Halloween candy entered the house but not my mouth. Thanksgiving pie scents wafted through the air and I sulkily munched on nuts. When afternoon sugar cravings hit, I ate hummus instead. A LOT of hummus.

And slowly, ever so slowly, my body began to like what was happening. My energy increased, my sleep improved, what few headaches I had remaining after earlier dietary changes and acupuncture virtually disappeared. PMS, gone. Brain fogginess disappeared. Exercise felt better than it had in years. Running three miles used to feel like an unattainable goal to this sprinter body but now it's a regular and increasingly easy jog for me. I have even, for the first time in my life, entertained thoughts of signing up for a race longer than a 5k. Woh.

Now, it's no secret that originally this was a dietary change intended to, yet again, solve my infertility. And again, that aspect of it was a big failure. No pregnancy, no baby. And for awhile, every time I abstained from sugar I was reminded of my infertility, an unfortunate side effect of a good decision. But slowly, as God has been helping me with acceptance of my uncooperative body, as I've been readying our home and my soul for the baby that IS coming through adoption, the reason for the sugar-free has faded into the distance. After all, I feel great. The change was for the better, no matter the initial reason. If I never do have a second biological child, there is nothing but good in my life for having changed the way that I eat.

So now I, Carolyn, lover of all things chocolate, former imbiber of a daily pre-slumber glass of chocolate milk (with a straw, of course), once consumer of multiple desserts per day, see sugar as yet another unnecessary ingredient in my life that I've been conditioned to need.  And the truth is that I don't need it, I barely want it now and I've found that there are plenty of other delicious foods that I can consume that won't mess with my body. Do I eat it occasionally? Sure. Little bits here and there. Do I completely abstain from any food containing even 1 little gram of sugar? No, but I try to. Do I still bake my son a birthday cake and let him eat it? Of course, I'm not an ogre and I'm not trying to make anyone else in my life adhere to my own change.

But what was an experiment is now a way of life. I'm glad I took the risk to try something I never thought possible and am humbled by the results of trusting God with something as seemingly insignificant as my crazy sugar addiction.   

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