Do you remember the famous scene from the Rocky movies, wherein Sylvester Stallone triumphantly runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, pumping his fists, above his head? He does this to mark the conclusion to a rigorous training regime. This moment, was similar to one that I experienced yesterday. Instead of going from rags to riches, like Stallone did in the original Rocky (1976) film. I went from sugar addict to healthy food fanatic, I was able to do something incredible [for myself]: I went sans sugar for one week [with the exception of one or two minor slip-ups]! Stafford Richter, the sugar kid was finally able to get the monkey off his back!
But it was no easy task, it required both willpower and determination. As a convenience store clerk with a sweet-tooth, it was hard to not give into my desire for sugary treats. But it can be done, even if you do get clammy and sweaty; because you are ‘jones-ing’ for a Reese Peanut Buttercup.
Having just completed this experiment, I can imagine how difficult it must be for smokers to give up their habit and go ‘cold turkey’. I would argue that white sugar [which is found in most everything we eat these days] is probably as addictive as nicotine which is a main ingredient in cigarettes. The most difficult part, of quitting sugar [like quitting smoking] is the first few days after. This is when your body experiences a sudden dip in it’s regular glucose fructose or nicotine intake. To cope with this, just keep yourself busy with other things, if you do this your cravings should ease. Then, after a little while you will be used to going without refined white sugars in your daily diet. Also you can do, as I did; continue having naturally occuring sugars in fruits and beverages. But be cautious of false marketing, watch out for drinks like Fresca, which say they don’t contain sugar but actually do- according to my girlfriend Jessie.
The way I am describing sugar withdrawal, must sound a bit similar to a drug detox program. Well, according to a friend of mine, who is a former science student at Simon Fraser University; it is. Coming off of sugar is similar to coming off of illegal drug use. She states, in a blog post response, that sugar triggers the same pleasure response areas in the brain that drugs do. Don’t get me wrong, after this week long experiment, I haven’t turned into some crazy sugar prohibitionist; I just think in hindsight, that sugar is more enjoyable when eaten in moderation. Think about it for a moment, what tastes better? That first jujube or the 25th one?
So what did I learn from this experience? First off, I learned that I should not eat so many fruits; well there are many benefits to be gained from adopting a high fibre diet, spending tons of time in the bathroom, isn’t one of these benefits. ‘Nough side, on this front. Next and perhaps more importantly, I learned that we really have to savour and enjoy the small pleasures in life, like food which we often take for granted. How many of us actually take time to chew and consider our food during meal time?
I can tell you, that the first granola bar that I had after my experiment was over, sent me over the moon. I was astounded at the flavour sensation! Subsquently, the can of coke I had with a slice of pizza and the Dairy Queen Blizzard, that I had as dessert, weren’t nearly as good, in comparison to that original peanut butter coated granola bar. So take it slow, try to only have one sugary treat every day and or every couple of days if you can. Notice, if you can taste the difference. Lastly as an FYI, I picked up my first basket of local raspberries today and wow! They are amazing.