People have asked me why they should go through the trouble of giving up sugar and flour, when there are so many other ways you can lose a few pounds instead. My initial response typically lets them know that giving up sugar and flour does have weight loss side effects, but there are many other benefits people just don’t think about. Then I try to recap my experience below, which is coming up on its year anniversary.
In February of 2016 I put together a plan to eliminate sugar, flour, and processed foods from my diet for an entire month. As March approached, even though it was my choice to do it, I still felt like a prisoner facing death row and actually made a list of my final meals before I started. There were restaurants I felt I had to eat at one last time, desserts I wanted to say goodbye to, and drinks I thought I needed to enjoy once again before I started the month of March. It’s pretty silly now that I look back on it, but I have no doubt that other people in their current preparation process might be feeling the same way. My advice to you is that you don’t overdo your “last meals” since it might make things harder for you when you go cold turkey.
I started on March 1st and was completely focused on not wavering from my objective. Yes, it was tough at times, but my intent was to show myself that I was better than food cravings and treats that I “wanted” versus “needed”. When March ended, (and yes, I was counting the days), I realized that going without sugar and flour had such a profound effect on my health, mind, and body that I didn’t want to stop. I decided to approach it week by week after that and see how long I could last. Well, I made it through a couple additional months and the results were getting better with each passing day. Clothing sizes were dropped quickly, my energy level was up and consistent, and my self-image was great.
I think it was around June that I decided to eat my first flour and sugar on a special occasion and while it was an enjoyable experience, it made me realize quickly that those foods didn’t have the emotional power over me like they used to. In fact, after enjoying my meal out, I went back to no sugar and flour the next day, quickly moving on. This mindset change was completely different than other “diets” I had tried in the past where I typically fell off the wagon, into a barrel of chocolate, which then rolled into a valley of candy. I found that severing the emotion bond I had with food was the biggest change I ever experienced.
As the summer months progressed, I continued going without flour and sugar for a majority of the time. Yes, I still indulged at special events and picnics, but I found myself having no interest in the sweets that I used to gorge myself on in the old days. For me, indulging meant I might have a hamburger or some pizza, while still not being tempted by plates of cookies at a picnic. A little flour took the place of the “lot of sugar” I used to enjoy, and trust me when I say that I used to “enjoy” sugar in the old days, especially at picnics where I could graze through the desserts without people realizing the quantity I was putting away.
When fall arrived, I found my weight loss results slowing down a bit, simply because I started to rely too much on the higher glycemic fruits, vegetables, and sauces for my weekly meals, while cutting back on the amount of exercise I was doing. While plateauing is never a fun experience in a healthy lifestyle, something interesting did happen. As the weather grew colder, my desire for sweets didn’t grow. My mind was still able to override any sugary “wants” I had, looking at everything from a new point a view. The wagon was still rolling and I was riding along just fine.
In October I realized something amazing. For the first time in over a decade, I didn’t “need” to eat those tasty candy corn pumpkins that show up in piles at the grocery store. Every year prior had me craving around three or four bags during October, which I would snack on throughout the month. You might crave your Pumpkin Spice in the fall, but I was always a Mallocreme Pumpkin guy, that’s just the way I’ve always been. This time, as I would go to the grocery store, I would look at the pumpkin bags and my mind would try to recall why I always needed them so much, but I no longer understood why. The same thing hit me about Halloween candy in general, I just didn’t see the point in it any longer. This initially struck me as odd because as an overweight guy with a sweet tooth, Halloween was typically my favorite time. I went that month without eating any candy and I didn’t suffer or feel like I was giving anything up.
As fall continued I found myself eating flour more often, but still didn’t feel the pull of sweets like I used to. It had to be a pretty special treat or occasion for me to eat a really unhealthy dessert because my mind still tried to recall why I loved it so much. As we moved into December, the opportunities for special occasion snacking increased and while I didn’t fall off the wagon completely, I will admit that I was dragged behind it for a few weeks. Interestingly, the more I ate, day after day, gave me a constant feeling like I was physically dragged behind a wagon too, especially since I could so clearly recall how good I felt every day just a month or so before.
January has arrived and I begin my prep for tackling the month of February completely without sugar and flour again. My hope is to experience the month along with others this time so I can compare my journey to theirs. Strangely enough, a few of days ago I decided my prep for February was to just give up sugar and flour early and I did it without much thought. Unlike my first time, there was no fanfare or “last meals” I had to have, but just a quick decision that from January 6th on, I wouldn’t be eating those things. This has helped reinforce the idea in my brain that my emotional ties to food have pretty much disappeared.
If I had to summarize going without sugar and flour for you based on my experience this past year, I would simply say that it gives you an idea of what your body is like without all of the garbage and chemicals. Sure there are lots of programs and prepackaged foods out there that you can spend hundreds of dollars on, but they don’t allow you to experience what your body is like once you get everything out of your system. I don’t want you to feel like you’re signing up to go without sugar and flour for the rest of your life because that isn’t my intent with these blogs, the book, and by talking about it. I just want you to feel after one month what life is like without all of the interference, and then make a decision for yourself. I know the dramatic effect it had on my life and I was one of the most sugar and flour addicted people I knew of, so you should have no problem.
Thank you for taking this journey with me.