For those of you that know me, you know that I love chocolate chip cookies. So, you may be surprised to hear I have embarked on a no dessert experiment.
I find it helpful to swing the pendulum far in the other direction once in a while to shake things up. By experimenting with no desserts, I’ll get back to the place that when I do reintroduce desserts, I’ll savor them for what they are, a sweet treat that fuels a smile.
What is this experiment and how am I staying motivated?
The experiment First I defined desserts.
For this experiment the definition is sweet treats that include: cookies, cake, brownies, ice cream, chocolate bars, anything with chocolate chips, candy, and anything else that could be put into a similar category. I acknowledge and would like to be clear, I do think a person can find high quality desserts (like high quality chocolate or wonderful natural macaroons). But this is a pendulum swinging exercise for me, so I wanted to start with the long list. Once the experiment is over, and I reintroduce desserts, my focus will be on those higher quality yummy treats.
– No sweet-treat desserts for the entire month of January 2012
– After January, desserts 2 times per month for Feb-December 2012
To me it is an experiment worth trying, so I am going to go for it. When I told Antonios I was considering this experiment, it felt real enough to motivate me through that first challenging week in January. But now that I am declaring it publically, it feels completely official, the line has been drawn in the sand.
The motivation (aka my “why”)
There are a few.
1) I have noticed that sugar seems to have more power over me than I would like. I was eating it every week, and sometimes even every day. I don’t mind needing air, water, and hugs every day…. but in my opinion sugar does not belong in that sacred circle of needs.
2) I have been reading more and more about the effects of sugar on our bodies, and although some of the researchers disagree about the degree of the negative impact, everyone agrees that sugar should be consumed in much smaller quantities than the average American currently does. Here was the most powerful thing I read /watched about sugar. Dr. Lustig, professor in the endocrinology department at UCSF, speaks about the effects of sugar.
3) I recently recovered from an injury that knocked me out of 30-years of competitive sports. Now that I can workout again, I am embracing my health. I want to take the best care of my body that I can so I can enjoy an active life into my nineties and beyond. Since sugar can cause inflammation in the joints, it is worth being mindful of my sugar intake.
My first 3 weeks I am on my 26th day of no sugar desserts. It has not been too bad. The first week was a little challenging, but I kept reminding myself of my “why” so I was able to stay on track. And as time goes on, it seems to be getting easier.
There is some sugar in the foods that I eat. For the purpose of this experiment, I am not attempting to eliminate every last bit of sugar, just the desserts. I eat mostly whole foods, so it wasn’t a long exercise to check the sugar content of the packaged food I am eating.
Some tips based on my first 3 weeks
- I keep a bowl of clementines on the table, so after dinner, when I traditionally would think about dessert, I reach for a clementine. And as time goes on, my “need” for dessert has diminished and I don’t always go for the clementine either.
- I keep raisins in the house. Raisins are not a low-calorie alternative, so be cautious if you take this tip—if you eat a container of raisins every day, the scale will let you know. But with that caveat out of the way, I’ll say that I enjoy having a handful of raisins on most days. It satiates my sweet tooth. (post-publication note: it is now month 10 and I no longer eat raisins, they are way too sweet and I don’t enjoy them the way I used to)
- I drink herbal tea when I am with someone that is eating dessert. This gives me something to do with my hands, and something to think about rather than focusing on the other person’s dessert. With time, I have stopped noticing the other person’s food. It is cool to notice how quickly I was able to change my pattern. I am finding that it feels wonderful to shift my focus to the person I am with– good company is certainly a nice way to fuel the body well.
- I eat pickles. Yes, I really said pickles. On the days that I find myself craving sugary desserts, I find that eating a pickle cuts the craving. Sauerkraut is another food that helps with cravings.
With 11 months to go in my experiment, I am sure I’ll have more to share with you in the coming year.
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