A Few Reflections on the Sugar Fast

The best part of the experiment was the awareness it brought into my eating habits. It was quite eye opening seeing just how many foods I thought were healthy options turned out to be tainted with added sugar. Going to the grocery store was a challenge indeed … dried mangos covered in sugar, breads injected with sugar, fruit juices with added sugar, nuts glazed with sugar. It became quite clear that the dentists were in cahoots with the grocery stores…it is no wonder I have a cavity issue. It is amazing to me that most of the items I picked up.. even many of the health conscious options could not do without adding some processed sugar. I realized that not eating sugar has decreased my body weight by about 4 lbs. When thinking about why this occurred, I feel like it is a combination of not eating nearly as many processed items and eating less in general. With the removal of sugar from my diet I found myself eating many more whole foods such as fruits, veggies and nuts.  Furthermore I found that without all the additional sugars I was actually able to gain a greater appreciation of the subtler and more unique flavors that real food has to offer.   Overall I felt as if my energy levels fluctuated much less during this fasting period.    During this experiment I realized that most of the food that is eaten in excess is often sugary items. It is quite possibly more challenging eating just one cookie than eating none at all. During this experiment I would often be sickened when watching people consume hundreds of calories of desert despite having eaten a large lunch to begin with and then hear them complain later that they shouldn’t have eaten so much. These are the same people who think I am the strange one for not partaking in sugar. There were a couple of situations where I failed myself during the experiment. The first occasion came when my mother-in-law brought banana-nut muffins to our house. My first response was I can’t eat these, but then I thought a little more about how my wife does not like banana and then my mother-in-law will feel as if we do not appreciate her efforts. I decided eating the muffins was the right thing to do. I will not lie, I enjoyed them quite immensely, but it did get me to thinking about the pressure we are often put under to eat even though we should probably not. It brought me to thinking about the many of birthdays that people, including myself, have persuaded someone into going into excess.  Why do we do this to each other? Perhaps so we do not have to feel like gluttons alone, thus making it OK. The second time I cheated on my experiment was completely out of habit. We had just eaten at a delicious Italian restaurant and were exiting the restaurant and out of complete habit I grabbed a mint and popped it in my mouth before I had even left the restaurant. Halfway out the door, I thought to myself “oh crap”, but the deed was done. This was a great insight to me; as I thought myself quite disciplined and conscientious during this period, but I have so much further to go in breaking the mindless consumption mind. The third excuse I gave myself for breaking the sugar fast was again due to the fact that my team members at work had baked homemade breads for our team potluck. It was easy for me to let go of my fast because I halfway convinced myself that I was doing it for the bakers and also because it was Halloween…of course you have to eat sugar on Halloween.   Upon going home on this Halloween day and having broken my fast already I devoured several sweet treats and realized halfway through that I wasn’t even really enjoying the treat all that much. Upon digging into my thoughts the only reason I had for eating the sugary treats was defiance.   I am worn out of all this “pain of disciple”, I’ll settle for some “pain of regret”. Being a vegetarian and not drinking alcohol, I am already seen as somewhat judgmental of the cultural norm…. saying no to something as “harmless” as sugar puts me even further out there in the minds of the general population. I sometimes feel like “purifying” myself too much could separate me from people. When we sat and talked over the experiments in class I was given a sense of relief with the idea of 80-20 rule. The 80-20 rule seems to be a way for me to continue to grow without getting to a state of burnout and also allows room to partake in shared traditions that gives me a sense of unity.