Pregnancy and breastfeeding are not times to run self-improvement experiments. Any very stressful period in your life, whether that stress is psychological or physiological, is better handled by getting back to the basics of self-care as opposed to engaging in 30-day challenges. That said, at almost seven months postpartum and with no breastfeeding for me, it’s time to make some big changes. Why? Because my sugar cravings have gotten OUT. OF. CONTROL.
I have always been a moderator as opposed to an abstainer. When it comes to treats and treat-like behavior, I do better including these at a reasonable level in my life instead of setting bright line rules about not ever eating certain foods, etc. Some people, like me, stress more about the idea of missing out on something when they do that. However, this comes with the responsibility of actually moderating the food or activity in question.
When I was pregnant, I honored my (frequent) hunger and gave into most of my cravings in moderation. I wasn’t devouring bags of chips and pints of ice cream, but let’s just say I ate more than my fair share of dark chocolate almonds and the like. I definitely craved chocolate and fruit and other sweet things, while proteins and some rich foods left me nauseated. After my girl was born, I continued with these same eating patterns and choices under the guise of stress management as above. But it has gone on long enough, and it has morphed into something I don’t like. I now need sweet at every meal (even breakfast), sweet in every drink, sweet when I’m bored, sweet when I’m stressed, sweet when I’m being social, etc etc. I have gotten into a habit of eating sweet things that before I would normally refuse, to the point where I was recently forcing myself to replace those foods with protein bars. Then I was eating 2-3 protein bars per day, trading one bad habit for a just slightly less bad one. Not a good cycle.
So I decided to start Diane San Filippo‘s 21 Day Sugar Detox. Before you roll your eyes, this is not your typical Hollywood cayenne pepper/vinegar detox. The program, similar to the popular Whole 30, is a whole foods eating plan designed not as a weight loss diet but more as a vehicle for habit change and mindful eating. It nixes any processed/packaged food, added sugars, artificial or natural sweeteners (stevia is a staple for me), and limits fruits, starches, or other non-vegetable carbs like those found in grains. Why not Whole 30 for me? I decided on the 21 DSD because 1) it’s 21 days instead of 30 days and 2) it allows for whole dairy products, which I love (esp half & half in coffee) and didn’t think I could practically stop eating right now without being too stressed about the whole thing.
While I’m not out to eliminate all sweet foods from my diet long term, I’m hoping this will help me reset my palate and change my habits. As I have learned from following Gretchen Rubin‘s work, habit change is quite complex and individualized. Different personalities respond better to different types of habit reinforcements. Some tactics I’m trying so far are to tell people about my plan and to journal (one of my favorite ways to beat stress). Not only am I quickly jotting down all the foods I eat, but I am also journaling about my WHYS. Why do I want to do this?
- To set a good example for my daughter
- To not lead a “double life” in terms of health, where I spend so much time and energy exercising and talking about balance/self-care all the negating my healthy habits with poor food choices
- To be free from the highs and lows of sugar and sweet flavor dependence
- To prevent downstream health consequences of constant sugar/sweet consumption, such as diabetes and weight gain.
Have you ever done or wanted to do something like this? Share your experience with us here! I’ll be following up with a post on my results later this summer.