Most of you know that I’m in the midst of training for my half marathon (which is happening next month!), but I’ve received a lot of questions about my sugar fast that I completed a few months ago. I honestly didn’t know that this would be part of my training, but my Coach encouraged me to partake in a sugar fast after having me record everything I ate for one week straight.
Let me just stop there and say, if you haven’t ever done this, do it! Record everything you put in your mouth for 1 week straight, including snacks and drinks. It is a great snapshot of your eating habits – good and bad :].
Naturally, when I first considered it, I had a million questions. What could I eat? What couldn’t I eat? How will I survive? (Ha!) As a girl raised in the South (biscuits, casseroles, sweet tea and desserts), I was not sure how my body was going to handle it. Not to mention, I was comfortable. I liked my morning coffee with sweet creamer, I liked making cookies every night with Will, and I am a bread-lover. I didn’t want to go without my comfort food! However, I figured that I could do anything if it was just for two weeks, right? And I knew I wasn’t making the wisest choices with my diet.
So, after talking with Coach I realized that my sugar fast was to be viewed as a fast from sugary, processed foods; a cleanse for my body. I was basically making my body do a lot of work processing a lot of sugar that it didn’t need. It was causing me to be groggy and tired, and was causing a lot of little health issues that I didn’t know were related to my diet. My body needs nutrients and real food, not processed sugar. When I understood the why behind the fast, it really made it much more attractive to me!
So, I had to say goodbye to these…
along with any starches, chips, fries, desserts of any kind, toppings (like brown sugar / butter / sour cream on potatoes), salad dressing other than balsamic vinegar, lemonades, sodas…. you get the idea. NO processed foods. I also gave up any red meat, and I focused on getting my proteins from nuts and lean meats, like chicken and fish. I avoided dairy, (my weakness is whole milk!), but I did keep yogurt and a little bit of cheese in my diet.
Then, I said hello to a lot of this :
I drank so much water (the cleansing aspect of the fast), and I really increased my fruits and veggies intake. I ate lots of salads, a ton of fruit, plain low fat organic yogurt, plain oatmeal (with nuts, craisins & cinnamon), almonds, cashews, chicken, fish, and wraps.
Here is a quick timeline of my fast:
Days 1 – 4 : These days were awful. I felt terrible, I had a headache, and I literally craved sugar! Drinking black coffee was a major sacrifice for me, and it took some getting used to. I allowed myself to eat as much as I wanted, as long as I was eating the right things. Late night snacks of Cashews were my favorite 😉
Days 5 – 10 : These days took a lot of discipline and consistency. I began feeling more like “myself” and I didn’t think about sugar as much, but I still wanted it. My biggest temptation : an enormous dessert bar at a wedding! And I couldn’t eat any of it! Saying no to that was a defining moment.
Days 11-14 : This is when it all changed for me. During these last days, I felt incredible. I have never, ever felt this good in my life! I knew that this was going to change my lifestyle forever because of how it made me feel.
Days 15-21 : [After the fast] We did not even have dessert. Crazy! I thought I would be rushing back to the cupcakes, cookies, and bread, but really I just craved more fruit and nuts! I did incorporate wheat bread and coffee creamer into my diet, but this time it was not nearly as much as it was before. And I replaced my processed creamer with this creamer.
Now I live a life of balance and health. Yes, I have desserts occasionally, and I do put yummy toppings on my potatoes :]. However, I now shop around the parameter of the grocery store rather than the middle (processed) aisles! I mainly purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, and lean meat. My snacks are completely different – not many chips and cookies, but more nuts, hummus, and water. And I am voluntarily doing another intense sugar fast in 3 weeks, just because I want to. (I never thought I would say that.) I just feel SO much better when I’m not eating so much sugar.
Here are some tips I learned along the way, in case you want to try the fast too :
– Keep busy. Make a lot of plans during your fast! It will make it go by faster and will keep you mind off food.
– There is never a perfect time to do this. You literally have to schedule it and do it. You will be glad you did!
– Write encouraging verses / quotes all over your kitchen.
– Do a pre-fast kitchen cleanse! THROW EVERYTHING OUT that you cannot eat. Then, go grocery shopping the day before you start. Get excited about the fresh, healthy foods in your home!
– Get acquainted with your local farmer’s market. It makes it more fun.
Have you ever done anything like this before? What healthy habits do you practice?
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