21 days of breaking habits

Yesterday was the 21st day of my breaking/making new habits with sugar challenge. I would like to be able to say that I went a complete 21 days without refined sugar, but I’d be lying: I had a piece of chocolate cake at a family party on day 13. And I had a glass of wine on day 19. So, I almost went 21 days without refined sugar or wine.

Here’s what I learned about myself and my habit loops:

#1. If I can’t see it, I won’t eat it. As long as there is no sugar in my house, I’m golden. In fact, after 8-9 days without sugar, I forgot to keep track of my post-its. Half of them are still stuck to my computer screen:


I’ve been so busy with school over the last few weeks that it hasn’t even occurred to me to find sugar to eat. There’s no time. Given how little I can eat out, there’s little temptation to have sugar because so many sweets contain gluten, dairy and/or soy. However, I’ve realized if I can eat it, I will. If C buys chocolate I can eat, I want to eat it. All of it. I want to eat the entire bar in one night. If I make myself chocolate, I want to eat it. Every meal. Including breakfast. If there’s wine in the house, I want a glass or two every night.

Interestingly enough, this is also true with non-sugary foods: I have a hard time not eating an entire container of hummus and bag of carrots over the course of one day. Or lemon Larabars: if I buy an entire box, it’s likely that during a busy day, I’ll eat 3 of them and call that breakfast, lunch, and snack. I realize that’s not ideal, which is why I have stopped buying boxes of Larabars and large containers of hummus. It is also why I haven’t made chocolate in a month. This is the current state of the side door pocket in my car: there’s about 5 Larabar wrappers in there from eating on the go for the last 2 weeks.


#2. The most common cue for my habitual consumption of sugar and wine is social: I want to eat sugar and drink wine the most when I’m with people. I’m happy to have realized this about myself. I ate chocolate cake on day 13 for many social reasons: it was specially made and ordered so my sister and I could eat it; we were at a family gathering and celebrating a special family event; we were drinking coffee; it looked amazing. I don’t regret eating it. However, when I got a stomach ache later, I did regret eating 2 pieces and the frosting off the side of the cake plate. This made me realize how little control I force myself to have when sugar is in front of me. Clearly, more work needs to be done in the control-yourself arena.

Avoiding refined sugar was much easier than avoiding wine. We live in the city and are very social people. I’ve been to 3 birthday bashes in the last 10 days and out with friends a few times. I enjoy drinking wine when I’m with my friends. It was a bit hard to not indulge, but I found that I slept much better nights I only had a little bit of whiskey instead of a glass or two of wine and better yet when I had nothing but water and herbal teas. My body was really happy about this.

My second most common cue was my emotions: When I ate the cake, I felt like I didn’t really care that I was trying to avoid sugar. I justified it by thinking: Well, I’m not going to have this again for a long time, so whatever. I’ll eat a lot of it. Even though while I was eating it, I was thinking about how I might get a stomach ache, I just convinced myself I wouldn’t regret it later. But then I did. You would think I would learn from these stomach ache lessons…

I’ve decided to continue to avoid refined sugar and wine. My body feels better with out it. I think the last 21 days have made me realize that the less I’m around it, the less I think about it and the less I crave it. I haven’t felt like eating sugar at all lately, which is a new feeling. And I think that the less I consume it on a regular basis, the more I’ll enjoy the few times I actually do eat sugar.

I do miss wine, but not having it in the house has made it easier to avoid and not letting myself order it when out has gotten easier. I think that if I continued to limit wine to dinner with friends, I’ll have more consistent sleep patterns. I think the challenge with wine will be when spring finally comes and we are outside more because I love rosé, which is loaded with sugar. My next challenge will be attempting moderation.

One Comment on “21 days of breaking habits”

  1. Jenny O says:

    There are times when I read your blog and all I can think is, “Holy fruitbat, this girl is me.” (Well, me with harsher dietary restrictions) I cop the SAME ATTITUDE about sugar: “In for a (painful)penny, in for a (painful)pound!” even tho’ I KNOW that if I kept it to that penny I would suffer less. Still suffer, yes, but so much LESS. ::sigh:: I, too, have to keep the house temptation-free. I won’t want it if it’s not there, but if it is… boy howdy. (and your side door pocket looks AWFULLY familiar…)

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