How have I fared with my plan to quit sugar again?

Dr. Jen Kerns

Dr. Jen Kerns

As you know, I was recently caught up in a firestorm of feeding my sugar urges with mini-binges on treats like ice cream, cookies and brownies. The more I ate, the stronger my desire grew. It was completely distressing, but fascinating. If my desire for sugar was a bonfire, each episode of overeating ice cream was adding fuel to that fire – it would only increase its heat and light. This “bonfire of desire” analogy came from Dr. Jud Brewer, an addiction psychiatrist who says that in the beginning, the fire might be small enough that you can just choose to stamp it out… but as the addiction fire grows, it becomes too big for you to stamp out, and the only way to handle it is to let it burn out on its own: just stop feeding it fuel.

I was anticipating a week of strong urges for sugar when I decided to stop eating it again after Labor Day. But in another fascinating twist, I had ZERO URGES to eat sugar that Tuesday morning on my first “quit day.” The desire was just gone, like magic. I can only explain it by saying that I was feeling deeply unhappy with how my body and mind felt on all that sugar, and it was an embodied disenchantment. I truly felt in my gut (rather than simply intellectually) that it was making me sick. And when my mind had decided I was done, I was just done. I didn’t have to force myself into it because I felt it in my bones. And that is an important part of habit change: paying attention to the results you are getting from falling into those habits, how you TRULY feel after indulging, and making a conscious choice about what you want. Yes, I got a high from sugar – from anticipating it as much as from those first delicious bites. But the way my body felt and how my sleep was affected was a big downside that I hadn’t paid that much attention to in my past life. Noticing all of those negative physical and mental feelings after sugar binges helped me to make a different choice.

I’ve been pretty good, if not perfect, about avoiding sugar for the past 11 days. I did have about 4 ounces of a leftover margarita at a friend’s house last Sunday, because it was placed in front of me, and, well, I wanted it. I also made the mistake just last night of ordering a Thai chicken salad from The Cheesecake Factory for dinner, which I came to realize (as I tasted my first bite of sweet peanutty dressing) was packed full of sugar. And I ate it anyway because it tasted good. I also snarfed a bunch of sweet dark bread that clearly had a ton of sugar in it, too. (I’m actually shocked that my weight this morning is still down from last week, considering the amount of salt and sugar and calories in my dinner last night!)

So it’s clear that I have NOT remained 100% abstinent from sugar, and yet I still feel good physically, and confident about my ability to avoid it. Somehow those slip-ups didn’t trigger my sugar demon’s desire in the same way that cookies, ice cream, or brownies did. I still plan to try one of those desserts again in a planned way in the future, but I don’t quite feel ready yet. Maybe in October? I am actually prepping this weekend for my quarterly DIY fasting mimicking diet which I’ll undertake next week, so I expect to lose a few pounds. If you’d like to download a PDF version with instructions and do it along with me, you can get that at the bottom of this page. I’m not gonna lie, I will be REALLY excited to see the 140s on the scale again, and am hoping that will happen next week (if only temporarily!) as I fast in the name of Alzheimer’s and cancer prevention.

Project 135 stats:

Starting weight: 159.6
Week 1: 157.2
Week 2: 155.6
Week 3: 155.4
Week 4: 153.8
Week 5: 151.0
Week 6: 152.8
Week 7: ? (Dad’s death)
Week 8: 150.8
Week 9: 152.6
Week 10: 154.2
Week 11: 152.6
Week 12: 150.8
Week 13: 150.6
Week 14: 151.6
Week 15: 152.4
Week 16: 152.4
Week 17: 155.2 (sugar binges)
Week 18: 154.4
Week 19: 153.8

Total weight loss: 5.8 pounds (3.6%)

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