If there's been one consistency in my life, it is my dear friend Sugar. Sugar with a capital "S" because it is always with me. I'm never an hour or two from my favorite vice.
So with much trepidation I gave up sugar - namely desserts - for Lent 42 days ago. (Let's not even go into that Lent is more than 40 days or why I'm participating in Lent because my relationship with Catholicism is tenuous at best.) I didn't give up fruit, and I know that can be divisive. I did try to stick to berries and an occasional banana, apple or orange.
I resisted a chocolate fudge cake at a baby shower. I resisted several yummy-looking desserts at a party. I looked mournfully at Legendary Doughnuts as I drove by every week.
It was difficult but not impossible. They say it takes three weeks to develop a new habit. No, not long enough! But I did turn to substitutes. Probably my biggest substitute was cheeseburgers. My cheeseburger intake was insane.
Which leads me to...I wish I had a before and after CBC (blood panel) done. I would be interested in knowing my glucose (sugar?) levels before and after. I would bet a lot of money that my cholesterol went way up. My whole life with mainly white meat/fish and then a huge influx of fatty beef? And who would have predicted that taking desserts from me would make me become such a carnivore??? That was completely unexpected.
I've never eliminated sugar so much from my diet. In fact, I had a few days in the past month where I ate 0 grams of sugar, which I don't think has EVER happened for me. In the past whenever I went on anything close to a traditional diet, I would mainly focus on keeping my daily calories within a specified number. I didn't necessarily ban a specific food or my favorite foods. I just ate a smaller portion of it.
In weeks 2-4 of my Lenten experiment, I lost 8 pounds. Same calories per day, but merely cutting down the sugar gram intake and basically substituting cheeseburgers. In the first few weeks, I was still eating my much-loved Lara Bars...until I realized they had 26 grams of sugar in them!!!! Then I switched to a bar with 0 sugar grams. But, yeah, 8 pounds in a month, which puts me comfortably in the normal BMI range and into jeans I haven't been able to fit in many, many years.
Weeks 5-7 haven't brought me any weight loss. I've actually cut back on the cheeseburgers (my cholesterol is thanking me!) after getting burnt out on them, and I've seemingly plateaued.
Here's what I ate yesterday:
2 salmon burgers (Trident brand, found at Costco in the orange bag)
2 cups of mashed potatoes with a bit of butter...I really love mashed potatoes.
1.5 cups of blueberries (frozen, found at Costco)
2/3 cup of almond milk (Blue Diamond)
8 oz baby spinach (Costco...see a theme?)
Think thin bar (Business Costco...peanut butter flavor is my fave....0 grams of sugar)
1/2 cup buttered noodles
It's not perfect, but I know when I'm having a "must have carbs!" moment and try to fulfill it in a better way than eating 12 cookies.
I've also figured out what the dessert I most crave is. Apple fritters. I would have thought it was 20 different things, but the consistent craving I've had over this month+ is apple fritters. The hard outer shell coated with glaze. So really I'm only craving the outside of an apple fritter. I don't even need the dough inside.
What I hope will stay with me after Lent ends: Cut back on sugar. When I looked at nutrition fact labels in the past, I mainly looked at three things: calories, fat, ingredients list. Things like Lara bars slipped by me because it passed my three criteria. Now I know I also need to look at the sugar grams. I don't need to be a sugar Nazi, but making sure I stay within a reasonable sugar threshold per day would be good. Since I've never done that before, that could be a wise step for me.
I just looked it up. A Snickers bar has 27 grams of sugar, and a Lara Bar has 26 grams of sugar. The World Health Organization recommends 25 grams of sugar per day.
I wonder what my daily sugar intake used to be. Back to that blood panel, wish I had gotten that done.