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Now that Janathon is out of the way, I must confess a dirty little secret:  I kinda got a little out of control with sugar over Christmas.  I baked a ton of goodies and gave a lot away, always reserving some for the home folks.  Hey, the kids would mutiny if I didn’t!  I found myself low on self-control by New Year’s Eve.  It seemed like a good time to reset the old taste buds.  So…I dreamed up an idea of eliminating as much sugar as possible from my diet for one month. January.  I avoided baked goods as well as snacks with processed sugar in them. Yes, I still ate bread.  No, I didn’t use agave or honey.  I found substituting other substances didn’t quell my cravings.  Because for me, that was the real goal:  less or no cravings.  I wanted to get my sugar needs met from fruit and such.  I found a like-minded friend to do it with me and keep me accountable.

Here’s the lowdown.

Day 1:  Coffee with creamer but no sweetener.  Guh.  A little hard to swallow but I choked it down.  Vegan peanut butter (the only sugar-free kind I could buy) is kinda slimy.  I managed to eat it. The whole pb&j, complete with “spreadable fruit”, tasted very earthy.  Get used to it, taste buds.

Day 2:  No cravings to deal with.  I have fresh and dried fruit on hand just in case.

Day 3:  I spoke too soon.  Fell off the wagon bit yesterday, but I’m back on today.  Made a smoothie for Ruby and I with frozen unsweetened fruit, yogurt and milk.  Gah!  I put honey in Ruby’s after I mixed mine.  My mind tried to convince me to add more honey and improve the taste a bit.  I didn’t.

Day 4:  I resisted last night!  Zac ate chocolate right next to me on the couch.  He even offered me a piece.  I sniffed it (it was chocolate orange, after all), and gave it back.  He shrugged.  He already thinks I’m weird, since I was wearing a pair of his sweats that were too short for him.  Hey, I have a handful of advantages to being a shrimp.  Anyway, I feel so much better without the sugar.  My energy remains steady throughout the day, instead of the 3:30 p.m. low tide feeling.  I have gained a little weight, but I attribute it to running more.  I’m finding the best way to fuel to stay active and yet keep away from treats.

Day 6:  Still can’t get over how gross coffee is without sweetener.  I’ve dosed the mug with half & half and still find myself most days unable to finish it all.  Not sure I will ever be able to give up something to take the edge off the bitterness.  On the other hand, fresh-cut pineapple is the bomb!  You can greatly improve the taste of Grape-Nuts with the addition of raisins.

Day 8:  I ate some bittersweet chocolate last night.  It was delicious with just the right amount of sweet.  However, this morning, I had a sugar hangover. I stayed awake until nearly midnight, alert from the sugar and caffeine.  No wonder I felt lethargic and discouraged today.  Time to get back on it.

Day 9:  No doubt about it.  My taste buds feel fully awake now.  But I am considering perhaps we can’t totally rewire what we like to eat.  Pleasure centers are in the brain, right?

Day 10:  Coffee with creamer only isn’t so bad.  My pb&j toast with spreadable fruit seems pretty regular now.

Day 11:  Toothpaste was the sweetest thing I put in my mouth all day.

Day 12:  I slipped again.  Seems I can go about 5 days with no sugar.  I don’t feel bad, just still in the learning curve.  I didn’t overdo on sugar, either.

Day 13:  I’ve learned that the more brown the bananas, the better they taste in regular, plain yogurt.  Cinnamon helps, too.  But not cumin.  Just FYI.

Day 15:  I’m seeing a pattern of falling down every 5 days.  Kinda stinks.  But there it is.  Something to work on.  Thank God my friend is a rock.  He’s encouraged me to get up and keep going, along with Jonathon.  Their support helped me to move past failure.

Day 17:  I’m running low on peanut butter.  And what’s left has become the consistency of aged Spackle.  Awesome.  Now to chip it out of the jar.

Day 21:  I baked a dessert for the family for the first time since starting to live sugar-free.  Here’s hoping I don’t dip into it…

Day 22:  I didn’t.  But I did eat chocolate.  Sigh.  I also learned not all sugar-free jams are created equal.  The one I bought at the store yesterday has a yicky aftertaste.  I hate to pitch it, but I can’t eat it.  Too bad we don’t have an ant problem here.  We could’ve used it for bait.

Revelations:  I think because of the explosive variety of sweets on the market, people eat less fruit.  Fruit won’t satisfy a sweet tooth accustomed to cookies, cakes, pies, etc.  As I sweated out this month, I gained a new appreciation for the variety of naturally sweet goodness that is fruit.

Also, my mission refined itself as the month wore on.  I realized I didn’t want to be mastered by sweets.  Sweets are not bad.  But my attitude toward them gave them too much power.  If they lingered on the counter, in the cabinet or freezer, I wanted them.  They became a panacea of sorts.  I remember Paul saying, “everything is permissible for me but not everything is beneficial”.  That’s what I came to understand.  I could eat them, but they might harm me in the end.  I also found when I had some emotional downs, I wanted chocolate.  What, in the end, could chocolate really give me?  I decided to breathe and pray.  The longing passed.

I should also mention my skin.  I’ve had cystic acne on my chin which erupts with regularity based on, I thought, an influx of hormones each month.  Yet one lingered on my chin for months.  It didn’t take long for it to go way down, even when hormones flooded in.  It’s like the sugar I ate fed it or something.  I’m starving the buggers!  Yay!

In conclusion, I plan to keep on eating this way.  I will start adding sweetener to my coffee.  I tried molasses this morning (thanks 2CupsNRun for the idea) and eat the occasional dark chocolate wedge as a treat.  My body has steady energy most days and I lost a couple of pounds.  You can reset your taste buds.  Mine are hypersensitive now, in a good way.  Fruits and vegetables taste amazing, loaded with undercurrents of sweet and savory.  I wouldn’t trade  this past month for anything.  The struggle paid great dividends.