Last month I deleted sugar from my diet and started eating low-carb. So far so good.
Here is what I’ve learned:
Beware of withdrawal symptoms
To my surprise I experienced them on day 1: Intense sugar cravings, a mild headache and total brain fog. My productivity was non-existent.
I increased my water and salt intake. By the next day the listlessness was gone. However, the sugar cravings lasted another week.
Apparently I’m quite lucky. Many people need several weeks for their body to adapt. Maybe it’s because I don’t drink any alcohol or soda?
Lesson learned: I was more addicted to sugar than I thought. Luckily, even Dr. Weil agrees that I don’t need to give up my dark chocolate of 86% cocoa. The universe smiles upon me.
People get emotional about food
Lately I’ve been listening differently to friends and family. Some of them struggle with diabetes, overweight or a history of eating disorders. Everybody has an opinion, often a strong one. Not everyone has an open mind.
Vegans and vegetarians speak to my conscience and remind me of my “meat is murder” stint that lasted 3 years.
Now I eat bacon on most days, even though I know pigs are smarter than dogs. And when I prepare mussels, I’m aware that I’m boiling them alive.
But the guilty feelings are short-lived and easily trumped by my bodily reactions.
As it happens, I’m almost drooling on my keyboard right now. My wife just took a large chunk of Tony’s Chocolonely from the fridge and passed behind me while I’m writing this in our kitchen. It’s “milk caramel sea salt”, my favourite flavour!
This makes me very emotional.
Lesson learned: Nature trumps nurture. Emotion trumps logic.
Cheat days, fails and Belgian junkfood
One of our finer family traditions is to eat junkfood on Saturdays. We go to the “frietkot” (chip shop?) for fries, satays, sausages, burgers and all kinds of delicious rubbish… As if that’s not enough, the owner always gives the kids candy.
In the past I’d sometimes get all holier-than-thou. Then I’d eat something proper anyway (like a salad) while my wife and daughters feasted on deep fried high-carbs.
But who am I kidding? I love that stuff just like the next Belgian. So I allow myself a cheat day a week (more or less) because I don’t want to be that guy at family outings, visits with friends, baby showers, weddings…
Lesson learned: Perfection is pointless. Cheat days are crucial.
They put sugar in everything
I heard about this, but never paid much attention until now. Ingredient lists show that there’s dextrose, glucose, fructose… (sugar by any other name) in foods like prepared bacon, chicken filet, sausages…
I tweeted this question to a supermarket I buy from. After some reminding, I got a friendly, lengthy direct message.
Their answer in short:
- Sugar syrup is used as a carrier for flavours (herbs, aromas),
- It helps with colour rentention
- 1 portion (30 grams) of the product in the photo (chicken strips) contains 0.3% of the recommended daily allowance.
I appreciate the reply, but… Sugar in meat? Seriously? I just want my chicken to be chicken. I’ll gladly add salt & pepper myself.
Lesson learned: Processed food is no good.
Just test it. Give it a month.
I thought it would be harder to go low-carb and give up on sugar. I guess these are the keys why it’s going rather smoothly:
- I wasn’t eating that bad to begin with.
- Science convinced me that sugar is poison. I keep that in mind.
- Keeping a foodlog on Twitter is very helpful.
- Cheat days!
- Sticking to it 1 month at a time.
I believe that last one is a big key.
If you want to try the low-carb life yourself, just test it for 30 days and see what happens. Less than that is too short. The first week(s) might suck because of withdrawal symptoms.
These are the benefits I experience so far:
- Bacon and eggs for breakfast!
- Back on my weight from a decade ago.
- Less hungry. I eat breakfast around 7:30. I used to be famished by 10:30. Nowadays it’s around 12:30 or later before I’m hungry again.
- I feel calmer.
- It’s great to be free of sugar cravings.
I’m curious about your experience.
I thought I’d be tired of keeping a food log by now. But it still doesn’t feel like a chore, so I’m sticking to it for now.
My new parenting habits are going well too. The next post will probably be about that.
I want to share how I now manage to spend daily one-on-one time with both of my daughters. It’s magic how they behave better because of it. Well, most of the time at least.
Oh, one more thing.
If you’re at a family party and want to start a heated debate, just ask people “Which is worse for your health: sugar or fat?” Or even better: “How many eggs are good for you?”
Then just sit back and enjoy the show. 😀