Jen's World: Sweet victory in the low-sugar challenge
When it comes to my love of sweets, there's only one thing you need to know. I'm the girl who called her husband at work, before 9 a.m., and asked him where he put the KitKats.
Our conversation went something (exactly) like this:
Jay: Hello, this is Jay.
Me: Where did you put the KitKats? I can't find the KitKats.
Jay: You told me to bring them to work so you wouldn't eat them.
Me: And you took all of them?!
As it turns out, I'm also a girl who likes a challenge. So when my cousin, Simone, told me she was doing a 30-day, low-sugar challenge, I decided to jump on that bandwagon. But I made mine a five-day challenge because I do better with short-term goals. And also because 30 days is a long time to go without chocolate.
Here's how it went down:
Simone tells me about the challenge on a day when I've eaten a package of Smarties, three snack-size sleeves of Twizzlers and a cup of caramel chai tea latte for lunch. Cutting back on sugar seems like something I should look into.
"You're cutting out all sugar?" I ask.
"All desserts, candy, soda and such," she answers. "I'm not going to poo-poo soy sauce just because it has sugar in it. … Believe me, sweets alone is a challenge."
That seems doable. I'm in.
That night after dinner, I steer myself away from the pantry three times. Then, to seal the deal, I brush my teeth before 8 p.m. to keep myself from eating.
I finish off a bag of Funyons for breakfast and realize my problems extend far beyond sugar. Looking for something more appropriate, I forego the Honey Nut Cheerios in favor of peanut butter toast.
When I make my tea, I opt for herbal peppermint instead of the high-sugar chai latte I usually drink in the morning.
I make it through the morning, but by 2:02 p.m., I long for something sweet. I try to stifle my craving with a couple dried apricots.
2:38 p.m.: It doesn't work. I make microwave popcorn. I'm trading sugar for fat, but I can't stop myself.
I wake up cranky. I have a headache. I'm running late for work. When I get to the office, Steve says, "There's free hot chocolate in the lunchroom today."
I want to cry, but I make a mint tea instead.
The table at the center of our office is filled with peanut brittle and chocolates left over from the holidays, bags of chips and Twizzlers. To distract myself from this bounty, I eat the salad I brought for lunch. It's only 10 a.m.
After work, I stop at the store for milk. On my way to the checkout, I go to the freezer aisle for ice cream. I opt for vanilla. And then, I remember I can't have ice cream.
This day sucks.
I'm learning the art of substitution. I pop raisins whenever I want something sweet. I grab Wheat Thins every time I reach into the pantry for a handful of chocolate chips.
At 5, I go to the grocery store to pick up dinner and some more Wheat Thins. And I don't buy M&Ms at the checkout. I call that progress.
It's getting easier. I'm not thinking about candy and desserts … much … and I'm eating better overall because I'm not filling my body with sugar.
I attend a two-cake birthday party and am surprised I don't even want a slice. I'm feeling all kinds of haughty about this until I realize I'd ordered not one, but two, Sprites during the course of the evening. That has to be against the rules.
Technically, my five-day challenge is over. If I wanted to, I could drink a big, fat cup of chai this morning and eat a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch the size of my head. But I do neither.
Diligently checking the sugar content of my favorite foods this week has been awakening. Yoplait blueberry yogurt? 10 grams of sugar. That chai I love so much? 27 grams. That's the equivalent of eating three bowls of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (9 grams) in one sitting.
The truth is, now that I know how much sugar is in some of these foods, I'm not so eager to put them into my body.
Which is a pity. Because there are a whole lot of chocolate chips in my pantry.