Sugar-Fix Saturday

I might have mentioned that I avoided junk and sugar for a whole week! YAY ME!

And may have mentioned how I got all excited about some of the treats I was going to have on Saturday…

And you might even be interested in how it went?

Okay, maybe not…

But if you do read on, be prepared for many examples of non-hungry eating thanks to habit, opportunity and emotion.

But here’s how my days’ eating went, and how I felt about it:

  • Breakfast consisted of a piece of home-made apple cake and a chai latte, as planned. The cake was divine and I ended up having several slices by the end of the day. The chai latte shocked me! It was sooooo sweet! I was surprised at how ‘reset’ my taste buds already were. This was a ‘regular’ type treat for me before, and I couldn’t believe how ridiculously sweet it seemed at first. However, I adjusted to the extreme sweetness rather quickly, and finished a large mug of it. (opportunity)
  • At work, I had the infamous Spinach and Ricotta Roll for a mid-morning snack. I was “starving,” which actually means that I had a headache and was experiencing a painful sugar crash after a sweet and non-filling breakfast. (hunger, opportunity)
  • That actually got me through most of the rest of the day, and then I thought, “since I can, and won’t be able to for a whole week, I should eat some hot chips.” I had a small bucket and only got half-way through it before I felt queasy and sick. I had to toss them in the bin. Ick. I realised I can eat one or two here or there, but a whole lot in one sitting has been ruined for me. It just isn’t nice having all that greasy food sitting in the belly. (opportunity, emotion (deprivation))
  • I had a cup of tea with just one teaspoon of sugar (I used to have two) and found it a little too sweet! What? No way! This is so cool! And I had the drink, again, more because I couldn’t later, so decided to enjoy it. In fact, I didn’t need it, didn’t crave it, and I didn’t realise just how much my caffeine cravings have also subsided. (habit, opportunity, emotion (deprivation))
  • I had a few lollies, and rather enjoyed those, but a few was more than enough. Interestingly, when I was making lolly bags, I didn’t just instinctively pop a few in my mouth, I had been doing such a good job of stopping myself all week that I had to actively decide to have three strawberries and cream and the last jelly baby. Cool, maybe that habit has been crushed already?
  • When I got home, Mat and I sat down and shared a bag of potato chips. They weren’t very tasty, to be honest, but mindless eating did take over and we (mostly I) finished the bag off while watching footy and a movie. This was pretty much our dinner. Pathetic. I felt hungry and sickly bloated at the same time. I think I felt hungry because I needed real food, even though I was full and bloated! (habit, opportunity)
  • I had a slice of bread with some almond paste and a few more bits of cake, and a handful of cashews. I know, not a lot of real nutrients in there, but it got me through to bed time. (hunger for nutrients and opportunity)
  • I had a big cup of peppermint tea before bed, which has become a staple for me. I love the warmth and the lightness of the flavour, it settles my tummy, and I quite like the taste.

What I can take away from this experience:

  • My body adjusts very quickly to better choices, and my taste buds were ‘reset’ in a week and I could really notice my body’s reaction to the poor choices much more acutely.
  • I’ve been drinking a lot more water again. I really was replacing my water intake with food and tea, and was probably chronically dehydrated.
  • I am definitely a sweets girl, but the home-made apple cake was the hands-down winner of the day. And I feel like that cake – which was made by hand, with fruit picked from the back yard and had about 3/4 cup of sugar – was actually the best of some poor choices I could have made. In other words, even when having treats, the more ‘real’ or natural, the better. It trumped lollies, I didn’t even want or have any chocolate.
  • The main reason for eating was opportunity. I created the opportunity to eat – “It’s my cheat Saturday” – but there were few real physical triggers for eating.
  • The main emotional reason for eating was because I had decided that I had been deprived all week and deserved it, that I needed it. In fact, I hadn’t been deprived at all and really only enjoyed the cake all day!

I was really quite surprised by the results. I mostly ate because I ‘could’ and not because I needed (or even wanted) to. It is quite nice to see how quickly the body adapts and how much better I feel about my need and control over food.

It might seem from these results that I don’t actually need a Cheat Day, because the Cheat Day itself was such an eye-opening experience in cravings and non-hungry eating. It was interesting to be so conscious of the poor choices I was making….

However, I will do at least one more week of deferring to Saturday. Having the Cheat Day there (the proverbial carrot on a stick) really did help me avoid all those habit- and opportunity-based food choices and temptations through the week by knowing that I could enjoy a treat later on.

But my plan for next Saturday is to avoid eating just because I am ‘allowed.’ I’ll only eat what I actually crave, when I’m hungry, and try to avoid all that non-hungry eating!

This post about willpower and changing habits from zen habits was pretty timely for me, and I think I am following through on most of the steps he suggests for replacing old habits with new ones, and this meshes pretty well, too, with my previous post on non-hungry eating triggers, and replacing them with new habits.

Are there any habits you’re trying to change? What are you working on right now?

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